JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Here are the grades from Florida’s 24-10 win over Georgia on Saturday.
The Gators had less than half of the yards (season-low 231) they gained in their last game, but in some ways their offensive performance was better than the 523-yard outing against Missouri. They scored 3 touchdowns in the red zone, had just 1 turnover on the game’s opening drive and committed zero penalties in the second half.
Florida had one of its best touchdown drives this year in the third quarter, but the offense did not sustain enough drives throughout the game and finished with 4 three-and-outs. Quarterback Luke Del Rio had his least productive game of the season, but made some clutch throws on third down. Jordan Scarlett did well as the featured back. His three first-down runs in the fourth quarter sealed the game.
Jacob Eason was the latest SEC quarterback to fall victim to this Florida defense, which pitched a shutout in the second half and allowed just 47 yards. Eason completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts and was hurried 16 times. He hit one deep ball on a scramble, but made few plays other than that.
The Gators held UGA to 21 yards rushing, the fewest by a team in the history of this rivalry. The front seven received a big boost with the return of linebacker Jarrad Davis and the three injured starters on the defensive line, though Jabari Zuniga stood out once again in his first career start at end. Seven of Georgia’s 13 offensive drives resulted in three-and-outs, and two others ended on downs. Forcing UGA to settle for a field goal after Del Rio’s pick was also huge.
Special teams: B
Eddy Pineiro missed a kick under 35 yards for the second consecutive game, but he gave the Gators a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter with his 38-yard field goal. Johnny Townsend punted well and UF did a good job against UGA returner Isaiah McKenzie. Florida’s Chris Thompson returned two kicks for 55 yards, but Antonio Callaway fumbled on a punt return.
Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins had a great game plan for Georgia. Florida’s defense continues to thrive in his scheme. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier called a good game for the most part. The Bulldogs clearly wanted to take away the run game, but Del Rio was not able to make them pay. He looked for the home-run pass too much and did not see other open receivers, and he missed several of them Saturday.
Gators coach Jim McElwain believes the Gators can win the SEC with defense, and it’s understandable why. Florida’s offense still needs to improve, but the unit did enough to beat the Bulldogs and moved the chains when it had to. Now the Gators are two conference wins away from an SEC East title.