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Reactions Follow As Utah Defeats Florida, 24-11

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The Gators’ second season under Billy Napier at Florida got off to a sluggish start. On Thursday night in Salt Lake City, UF was thoroughly defeated by Utah, 24-11, as a result of offensive struggles and special teams miscues.

The reasons why Florida lost its season opener versus the Utes are summarized in All Gators’ quick response below.

The play designs Napier came up with early on helped the Gators, despite their struggles to finish drives with points on the board, as quarterback Graham Mertz displayed exceptional poise in the first quarter in his maiden start with the team.

But things started to go south in the second quarter.

In his first game with the Gators, Mertz threw for 330 yards—a personal best because he had never in his career gone over 300 yards in a game—and a score while completing 70% of his throws. However, Florida lost out on potential points due to poor playcalling and poor downfield execution.

In contrast to the team’s overwhelming ground-game performance from the previous season, Florida only gained 13 yards on the ground in 21 tries during the whole game. Additionally, the Gators’ total offensive yards were outgained 112 to 8 in the second quarter alone.

Despite the Gators outgaining Utah 214-38 during the remaining 30 minutes, the problems persisted in the second half with three failed fourth down conversions, an interception deep in Florida territory after Ricky Pearsall dropped the ball, and an interception.

The Gators were at that point attempting to catch up. They were simply unable.

The Gators had problems in Week 1 with penalties and special teams. Only one of Florida’s thirteen efforts at third down conversion was successful, and “game-changing” mistakes allowed Utah to score.

Florida committed nine penalties for 45 yards on the night. However, because of the timing and size of the errors, the yardage does not fully convey the tale. They committed seven penalties on third or fourth down.

All three of Utah’s touchdowns were the result of either a Florida special teams error or a failed fourth down conversion. Jason Marshall Jr. and Tre Wilson were both wearing the same number when the Gators were flagged for a punt return, which prolonged Utah’s drive and resulted in a touchdown.

On important occasions, Florida consistently suffered self-inflicted injuries that cost them points and benefited their opponent.

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