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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Gators won the yardage and time of possession battles Saturday against the Crimson Tide, but Florida still lost the game.

UF’s struggles inside the red zone were the biggest reason for that.

Of four opportunities inside the Alabama 20-yard line, two resulted in field goals and two resulted in turnovers.

An interception in Alabama’s end zone and a botched handoff on Alabama’s one-yard line ruined two chances to put points on the scoreboard.

“The red-zone scoring, that’s a whole different ball game,” coach Urban Meyer said. “If we don’t throw those picks and have red-zone efficiency, we are in that [game].”

No. 14 Florida used freshman wildcat quarterback Trey Burton near the goal line again Saturday. But instead of scoring six touchdowns like he did against Kentucky the week prior, Burton threw an interception in the end zone on a 4th-and-goal jump pass.

“I knew it was on the road, I knew points were going to be at a premium against that offense,” Meyer said of the play call. “We had significant momentum going there so we wanted to score touchdowns.”

The next red-zone turnover came in the third quarter when quarterback John Brantley tripped over offensive lineman Carl Johnson and fumbled the exchange with running back Emmanuel Moody.

Part of the problem was a lack of balance with the play-calling. The Gators ran the ball eight times and threw it just three times when they were inside the Tide’s 20-yard line.

Leaders need to emerge: Meyer is playing the waiting game.

After the loss against Alabama, some players were vocal in the locker room. But Meyer won’t know who the team’s leaders are until Saturday’s game against No. 12 LSU.

“Some leadership really stepped up in there,” he said. “But it’s easy to stand up and say something. Now you have to be a grown man and back everything up. So I’m anxious to watch them.”

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Senior center Mike Pouncey was one of the players who made his voice heard after the loss, but he reiterated there isn’t a clear leader on the team just yet.

“A lot of people said a lot of things,” Pouncey said. “The main message was just believe in each other and we’ll get through this tough loss.”

Following UF’s loss to Auburn in 2006, Meyer said he remembers a lot of players screaming and yelling. After its loss to Ole Miss in 2008, he remembers a dejected group.

But this time, he is still waiting for leaders to step up.

“[The leaders are] to be determined,” he said. “There were some good things said, but we all can walk up and say good things.”

Injuries: After Saturday’s crushing loss, the Gators finally received some good news.

Running back Mike Gillislee, who stood on the sideline with crutches the entire second half, was diagnosed with a bone bruise after many thought he suffered a high ankle sprain. Meyer said he is probable for Saturday’s game against LSU.

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