Florida drops 3rd straight, 17-6 to No. 24
Florida coach Will Muschamp turned to freshman quarterback No. 2
in the second half.
The switch from Jacoby Brissett to Jeff Driskel didn’t
jump-start the Gators’ offense enough in the second half of
Saturday night’s 17-6 loss to No. 24 Auburn.
”We had six points at halftime,” Muschamp said. ”We needed to
do something different than what we were doing. You continue to do
the same stuff, you’re going to get the same results.”
The short-handed Gators (4-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) hung
in there this time, but wound up with a third straight loss to an
SEC West team.
Muschamp is hoping that an open date will give time for veteran
starter John Brantley to return at quarterback against Georgia.
Like Brantley, tailback Jeff Demps was out with an ankle injury,
and defensive end Ronald Powell was also sidelined with an
Onterio McCalebb opened the fourth quarter with a 14-yard
touchdown run and Ikeem Means recovered a muffed punt late for the
Tigers (5-2, 3-1).
Two schools that have combined to win three of the last five
national titles with creative attacks, turned to backup QBs in the
second half in search of some offensive life.
The Tigers got a spark from No. 2 quarterback Clint Moseley but
also received plenty of help from Florida’s three turnovers, with
two on muffed punts.
The Gators would have had the ball near midfield with about 3
minutes left but Robert Clark had the ball squirt through his arms
after calling a fair catch. Cody Parkey then put the game away with
a 42-yard field goal with 35 seconds left.
Parkey, who had two earlier misses, nailed the final attempt
after getting pushed back 5 yards by a false start penalty. The
last five meetings between the teams have gone down to the final
minute, and Auburn has won four.
Auburn starter Barrett Trotter went 2-of-8 passing, though he
also had a 25-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Benton late in the
Moseley then took over in the second half. He wound up having
the strongest night of the four primary quarterbacks, going 4 of 7
for 90 yards and a couple of big gainers when his first real chance
”That’s just something I had to tell myself,” he said. ”If
you didn’t think it’s going to come, why would I just prepare for
nothing? I had to convince myself, ‘It’s going to come. It’s going
to come.’ At first, I didn’t handle it very well. I finally calmed
Florida started Brissett for the second straight game, but he
also was replaced in the second half. He and Driskel, two of the
top-rated quarterback prospects in this year’s class, both
completed half of their passes but for mostly short gains.
Driskel was 9 of 18 for 75 yards. Brissett, whose first attempt
was intercepted downfield, completed 5 of 10 passes for 45 yards,
and both were sacked twice.
Chris Rainey also lost a mishandled punt.
”Turnovers kill us,” said Muschamp, a former Auburn defensive
coordinator. ”These three turnovers lead to 10 points and really
cost you the football game.”
The Tigers, whose defense ranked at the bottom of the SEC,
turned up the heat with blitzes and heavy pressure on the two
youngsters, and held Rainey to 33 yards on 16 rushes.
They had also stopped Florida on a fourth-down attempt from
their 16 with just under 10 minutes to play.
It was another blow for a Florida team that was coming off
losses to No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama by a combined 79-21. The
Gators also lost three straight to SEC West teams last season.
”We don’t even look back at last year,” Florida linebacker
Jonathan Bostic said.
Auburn outgained Florida 278-194 in total yards. Mike Dyer ran
23 times for a workmanlike 73 yards and Wildcat QB Kiehl Frazier
The Tigers finally stretched the lead to 14-6 with McCalebb’s
touchdown run on the opening play of the fourth quarter on a zone
read by Frazier.
Moseley got Auburn into that position with passes of 15 and 23
yards to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.
Then Driskel took Florida to Auburn’s 16 with help from two
15-yard personal foul calls.
Muschamp opted to go for it on fourth-and-4 but Driskel
overthrew Deonte Thompson. Muschamp said kicker Caleb Sturgis, who
had made two field goals, had hurt his leg and was unavailable for
After the Tigers went three-and-out, Florida lined up to go for
another fourth down near midfield but had to punt after a false
start. David Lerner buried the Tigers at the 3 with 5:31 left.
All they could do was burn a couple of minutes off the clock
with three straight runs up the gut by Mike Dyer, but the miscue on
the ensuing punt – another high, arching boot by Steven Clark –
gave Auburn’s offense a chance to put it away.
”Those things were in the clouds,” Chizik said.