There were warning signs strewn all over the last few weeks of Florida's football season that the Gators' offense was in deep trouble. In the last three games, Florida had only averaged more than five yards a snap once -- against South Carolina. Getting just 4.3 yards a play against Vanderbilt is one thing, but only managing 4.1 against Florida Atlantic is quite another.
And all those problems came cascading down on the Gators in a 27-2 shellacking Saturday against Florida State. Florida averaged just 3.3 yards a play, generating a paltry 262 yards on 79 snaps. Yes, the defense limited the Seminoles' offense to just 304 yards of its own. And yes, it did a great job of stifling Dalvin Cook early, only to have the dam break after offensive ineptitude on the part of Florida and repeated hammering by Cook took their toll on the defense. (Injuries didn't help.)
But when a team is in the kind of offensive funk Florida is in -- breaking 30 points three times all year, and only once against a Power 5 opponent -- it does things like go 0-for-3 in the red zone. Treon Harris gets sacked four times. Five of its thirteen drives last for more than five plays. (Not counting the final drive of the game.) The only points end up coming on a safety. Kelvin Taylor, who carried the ball 24 times for 136 yards, is the only one whose numbers are even really worth mentioning.
Which, again, takes a toll on a defense. Cook, who deserves to be in the Heisman conversation, gained 33 yards on his first 13 carries. He gained 150 yards on his final 13 carries, many of those coming during the 14-point FSU run in the fourth quarter that put the game entirely out of reach.
For Florida, the objectives for the season are now pretty clear-cut. There is no national championship race to concern themselves with. Beat Alabama in the Georgia Dome and the Gators can claim the SEC title and are headed to a New Year's Six. (That would likely end the SEC's streak of having someone at least make the playoff field, but that's not Florida's concern.) Lose, and this becomes a great debut season for Jim McElwain, but not an historic one. That means the stakes of the next game against Alabama are not as high as they once were, but they are still significant. Almost as significant as the issues that Florida needs to fix over the next week.