Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Winning Effort by Gators' Defense; Defenders Didn't Fold despite Being Put in Bad Spots by Offense

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Winning Effort by Gators' Defense; Defenders Didn't Fold despite Being Put in Bad Spots by Offense

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

GAINESVILLE | In a losing effort, Florida's defense might have made its boldest statement of the season against Georgia.

The Bulldogs beat the Gators 17-9 at EverBank Field on Saturday but didn't do much on offense considering the circumstances. Florida was horrendous offensively, turning the ball over six times. However, the Gators defense still managed to hold the Bulldogs to 22 points below their season average.

"Honestly, I don't know if you guys have been around as long as I have in this game," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "Six turnovers, we should've walked out of there losing by four touchdowns. It says a lot about the character on our football team and what we've got going on in that locker room."

It says more about the defense.

Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC) has an easier task this week. The eighth-ranked Gators host Missouri (4-4, 1-4) at noon Saturday. The Tigers are 109th in the nation in total offense, averaging 24.3 points a game (87th in country).

UF is fourth in the country in scoring defense (12.7 points a game) and sixth in total defense (280.8 yards a game).

Still, if UF's offense can't correct its ball security issues, the Gators might need another stellar defensive effort.

Florida's offensive leaders know the defense did all it could to bail them out against the Bulldogs. Georgia was 1 of 10 on third down and threw three interceptions.

"They were put in some tough spots," Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. "We put them in some spots where their backs were against the wall, and they still stepped up and got some huge turnovers and some huge stops. They've been playing like that all year long. Like we've been saying, that's a great defense, and we've just got to give them a chance."

Georgia began four drives inside UF's 45-yard line, with three coming from inside the 26. All of those possessions started after UF turnovers. The Bulldogs scored 10 points on the four drives.

"Our defense did a good job," Florida receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. said. "We put them in bad spots. We turned the ball over, and Georgia was pretty much already in the red zone and in field goal range. …

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