To say it has been a rough October for the University of Florida football team would be an understatement.
The Gators went 0-4 and are in the midst of their first four-game losing streak since 1988 (which is, coincidentally, the last time Florida lost to next week's opponent, Vanderbilt).
Saturday's 24-20 loss to rival Georgia eliminated Florida from contention for the Southeastern Conference East championship, but the Gators did do a lot right.
In fact, two days prior to the game, a story offering three keys to beating the Bulldogs was written. And the truth is, UF did do a pretty good job keeping quarterback John Brantley comfortable. The Gators also contained the Aaron Murray-to-Orson Charles connection, and anyone who watched the contest saw they made some special plays on special teams.
However, it didn't work out for Florida (4-4), and what could have been a season-changing victory ended in heartbreak for the Gators.
Here is a look at how UF did in 10 facets of the game.
Playing for the first time since injuring his ankle in the first half of UF's 38-10 loss to visiting Alabama on Oct. 1, Gator quarterback John Brantley was hardly 100 percent physically against Georgia. Still, he performed relatively well (especially in the first half) despite his limitations.
Florida coaches placed Brantley in a shotgun formation all game because doing drops from under center would have proven extremely difficult.
The senior from Ocala, Fla. finished just 12-of-34 for 245 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. However, he had a sure touchdown pass dropped by Chris Rainey in the first quarter and went into halftime with 226 yards through the air.
But give the Bulldogs credit: they made some defensive alterations prior to the third quarter, and Brantley had a forgettable second half. He also had expected mobility issues and was sacked six times, though the offensive line deserves much of the fault for that.
Going solely by his completion percentage (.353), Brantley might deserve a D for his work to go along with an A for his guts. But, here, while the numbers may not lie, they don't tell the complete story.
Let's not belabor the ugliness here.
Since sacks count against a team's rushing total in college football, officially, Florida finished with 22 carries for negative-19 yards.
Take away those six sacks, and here are the individual totals of the running backs:
Chris Rainey: five carries for 26 yards (5.2 YPC) and no touchdowns; two receptions for 30 yards and no touchdowns (he also dropped a sure touchdown pass in the first quarter). He also lost a fumble that set up a Bulldogs touchdown.
Jeff Demps: eight carries for 12 yards (1.5 YPC) and no touchdowns; one catch for 72 yards.
Trey Burton: two carries for negative-4 yards (negative-2 YPC) and no touchdowns; one reception for 14 yards and no touchdowns
That totals 15 carries for 34 yards (2.3 YPC), half of which came on one carry by Rainey. They also totalled four receptions for 106 yards (26.5 yards per reception), a number skewed greatly by Demps' 72-yard reception on the game's opening series.
Not all of the blame should be heaped on the backs, as the offensive line played a major role in the troubles here. But we'll get to those guys later.
Jordan Reed led all Gator pass-catchers with four receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. He has proven to be one of the three or four best tight ends in the SEC.
The wide receiver corps had a quiet afternoon.
Quinton Dunbar finished with one catch for 24 yards. Andre Debose had a 14-yard reception, Deonte Thompson had a 13-yarder, and Frankie Hammond had one catch for nine yards.
In fairness, Brantley's injury limited his mobility and also forced UF into a lot of quick throws, meaning the receivers weren't really afforded the opportunity to run deeper routes.
Simply put, Florida's offensive line was offensive.
They allowed six sacks, four by linebacker Bulldogs' Jarvis Jones, a Southern Cal transfer who looked like an All-American on Saturday afternoon.
The Gator running backs had very little space to run through, and the line was flagged for what seemed like countless penalties. Left tackle Xavier Nixon, a great kid with a lot of ability, had perhaps the worst game of his career. And talented right tackle Matt Patchan had a tough time trying to play with a large cast on his hand, the result of a thumb injury.
Burn this tape.
It is difficult to find much fault here.
Playing much of the contest in a 3-4 (moving Ronald Powell from end to outside linebacker), Florida was effective up front against a Georgia offensive line that is bigger on average than any in the NFL.
Jaye Howard and Sharrif Floyd each registered eight tackles, with two of Floyd's coming for a loss of four yards. In what was his best game so far this season, Floyd also had a quarterback hurry.
Omar Hunter recorded a sack to go along with three tackles in a reserve role. Dominique Easley didn't do a lot, recording a one-half of a tackle (though it was for a loss of a yard).
As a team, Georgia managed just 3.8 yards per carry, though the Bulldogs were able to grind it out late when it mattered.
It was a pretty good afternoon for Florida's linebacking corps.
Jon Bostic led everyone with nine tackles, one of which was for a loss of three yards. Michael Taylor may have had the most effective game of his Gator career, recording six tackles. Jalani Jenkins finished with five tackles (one for a loss of two yards) and a quarterback hurry.
Meanwhile, Ronald Powell had three tackles, including a sack for a loss of five yards. Darrin Kitchens was credited with three tackles, half of which went for a loss of a yard.
Georgia finished the day with a so-so 49 carries for 185 yards and a touchdown, though Richard Samuel was able to pound out needed yardage late, not allowing the Gator offense to get the ball back. The linebackers also helped cover tight end Orson Charles, a potential All-American, and he was limited to four receptions for 31 yards with no touchdowns.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was pretty much kept in check.
The third-year sophomore from Tampa finished 15-of-34 for 169 yards with two touchdowns and an interception (by Marcus Roberson). So, the UF secondary did a decent job.
However, they get marked down because of two plays.
Murray was able to complete 4th-down touchdown passes to Michael Bennett (over Pop Saunders) and Tavarres King (over Roberson). The coverage on each play wasn't bad, but the Bulldogs' receivers outfought the two Florida freshmen for the scores.
Florida thoroughly outplayed Georgia on special teams.
The Gators finished with 200 kickoff return yards, 99 of which came on a touchdown by Jeff Demps. Andre Debose added a 63-yard non-scoring return of his own.
After missing a 38-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, Gainesville native Brad Phillips—attempting his first career field goals—rebounded with successful boots from 43 and 40 yards.
Making his second career start, true freshman Kyle Christy averaged 39.2 yards on five punts with a long of 48 and one kick downed inside the 20.
Coach Will Muschamp and his staff can't be faulted for the loss.
They provided some trickery (running freshmen quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett with the first-team offense in pregame warmups instead of Brantley being one) and had a sound game plan.
The Gators were done in by two 4th-down touchdowns, too many penalties and a complete inability to block Jarvis Jones. Perhaps some of the weight from those issues should fall on the coaches, but the majority belongs with the players.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis called plays from the press box, something that didn't appear to be a negative factor in any way.
The Gators were flagged 14 times for 106 yards. Compare that to Georgia (four penalties totalling 22 yards) and there is a major problem UF must fix. Three of the Bulldogs' 23 first downs were the result of penalties, while Florida did not pick up any of its first downs via penalty.
UF also fumbled three times, losing two, while Georgia didn't put the ball on the ground once. On the flip side, Florida intercepted Aaron Murray once, while UGa was unable to pick off John Brantley.
In an odd stat, Georgia had two 4th-down touchdown passes and the Gators had one.