By: CJ Rooks (@CJRooks0415)
The Florida Gators took care of business Saturday night with a 30-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tyler Murphy and his core of receivers put on a show. Most noticeable was senior wide receiver Solomon Patton. With the help of Patton and Murphy the Gators picked up their third win in SEC Play. The Gators have now won 10 out of their last 11 SEC games and are gaining more confidence after each week.
The offense overcame another slow start. Failing to do anything with the ball after two drives and also giving up a blocked field goal. The rushing attack of Matt Jones and Mack Brown did not have the same success as the week before and Arkansas was forcing the Gators to throw the ball. Tyler Murphy rose to the occasion and helped lead this team to victory with his arm and pocket presence. Murphy finished the day going 16 of 22 for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 turnovers. He also eluded the pass rush and extended important drives with his legs. There were a few occasions were Murphy was trying to do too much by avoiding the sack, and he was very fortunate to get away without turning the ball over. Muschamp will need to correct that type of play, because against more talented SEC teams he might not get away with that.
Not only did Murphy throw the ball well, but these Florida receivers had their best game of the year. If you didn’t know the name Solomon Patton, you do now. Solomon Patton has mostly been tagged as another underachieving Urban Meyer recruit. I believe those discussions can be laid to rest with his play this year. Solomon finished Saturday evening with 6 receptions for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both of his scores came after catching short passes and turning them up field to get into the end zone. Solomon showed off his speed and athletic ability by gaining valuable yards after each reception. He only stands 5 foot 9, but he produced like a giant on Saturday night. He is quickly becoming the Gators go to receiver.
The Gator defense had its own shaky start to overcome. After giving up an early touchdown drive and allowing Arkansas to take the lead, the defense turned up the pressure. Arkansas was able to run the ball with success early, but was forced to throw the ball after falling behind and that’s when the mistakes showed up. The Gators were trailing 7-3 when Brandon Allen threw an interception to Loucheiz Purifoy. Purifoy showed what he can do with the ball and returned the pick for a touchdown. After that turnover the Gator defense gave up only 3 points. Arkansas was moving the ball well, but could not finish. The Razorbacks receivers did not help Allen out with numerous drops, but they also had to adjust to some balls being thrown behind them. The Gator defense also held Arkansas rushing attack in check by only allowing 127 yards on the ground and well below their average of 237 yards per game.
The Gators are still a team making adjustments. They seem to have made the transition to Murphy at quarterback, but struggled on defense Saturday night and are still missing Dominique Easley. The Razorbacks had success running up the middle and the Gators must correct that with this weekend’s upcoming matchup against LSU. The Gator defense will not be able to rely on LSU struggling in the red zone. A better team will capitalize on those scoring opportunities. Specifically the Gator secondary will get their biggest test of the year. There were occasions where Arkansas wide receivers were able to get open, but could not hold onto the ball or the throws were too difficult to catch. LSU is loaded at wide receiver and the Gators will be playing against a much improved Zach Mettenberger. The Gators are number one against the pass in the SEC and it is time for this defense, with gushing amounts of talent to show it. If they can get past LSU, the Gators will no longer be flying under the radar. They will be a legitimate threat in the SEC East race.
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