Florida, Meyer get humbled in Tallahassee 31-7
Florida coach Urban Meyer refused to point fingers - again.
This time, he didn't have to.
It was obvious what went wrong with the Gators. The three-quarterback system failed miserably, there were costly turnovers, a failed fake punt, a nonexistent pass rush and cornerback Moses Jenkins getting picked on left and right. The result was a 31-7 drubbing at Florida State that snapped Florida's six-game winning streak in the series and left the Gators with five regular-season losses for the first time since 1988.
''I can assure you we are going to rebuild this thing and build it up the right way and do it right,'' Meyer said. ''Obviously we are down a little bit. I didn't believe we'd be that far down, but we are. How do you build a program up? You build it up with tough players, tough coaches and you have got to play better.''
The Gators couldn't play much worse.
Andre Debose returned a kickoff 62 yards, setting up a 20-yard touchdown pass from John Brantley to Robert Clark on Florida's opening possession. But the next five drives were pretty much one mistake after another for the Gators (7-5).
Backup quarterback Jordan Reed fumbled to end one drive. Chris Rainey fumbled on the next. Meyer tried to stop the momentum by calling for a fake punt, but Chas Henry was stopped for a short gain on fourth-and-5.
''I just wanted to make something happen. It didn't happen,'' Meyer said. ''It killed us.''
The Seminoles turned the mistakes into 14 points and a 17-7 lead.
Things snowballed from there.
Florida punted, and Christian Ponder drove the Seminoles 73 yards for another score. Meyer responded by turning the offense over to Reed - but only briefly. After Reed led Florida to the Florida State 20, Brantley re-entered the game and promptly threw an interception.
''Turnovers, period, just killed us,'' said center Mike Pouncey, who left the game with a chest injury and will have X-rays back in Gainesville. ''Every turnover we had hurts a lot. That one pretty much put the dagger in us.''
Florida finished with 276 yards, only 89 in the second half.
Reed ran for 74 yards but left in the third quarter with a concussion. Rainey added 73 yards on the ground, and Jeff Demps chipped in 44.
But trailing big, Florida simply couldn't throw the ball. Brantley completed 6 of 12 passes for 52 yards. Reed threw four times for 12 yards.
''Just really ineffective in certain areas, really, really ineffective,'' Meyer said. ''So if that's because of three quarterbacks, we'll blow that thing completely out of the water. If it's not, then that's our best opportunity to win right now.''
The Gators lost for the fifth time in seven games, but they're still headed to a bowl - likely the Gator Bowl or maybe the Music City Bowl.
Meyer said he ''wasn't going to get into'' any potential coaching changes right now. He said the immediate goal is to do everything he can to win the bowl game and recruit ''our tail off.''
''The fix starts tomorrow,'' he said.
It's unclear how much house-cleaning Meyer will do. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has been under fire all season. His three-quarterback system and hurry-up scheme worked well against Georgia last month but has been inept in losses to South Carolina and Florida State.
The defense hasn't been a whole lot better, though it's been overshadowed by the offense's struggles.
The Seminoles clearly targeted Jenkins, who missed most of the season with an elbow injury. Jenkins got beat on several players early and was eventually benched.
''We did not play well on the back end,'' Meyer said.
Or anywhere else, really. The biggest question is how long will it take Meyer to get back to the elite level.
''These guys got to learn how to prepare, how to practice,'' Pouncey said. ''We've got to get the right players playing the right positions and then just rebuild this program back to a winning program. ... He's a great coach. He's obviously going to get the right players in and he's going to turn this program around fast.''