Season report card: Florida

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
5:00
PM ET
It's time to hand out grades for the 2012 season to the Florida Gators:

OFFENSE: When the Gators weren't running, it was very hard to watch Florida's offense in 2012. For most of the season, Florida's passing game was basically nonexistent, as the Gators finished the season ranking last in the SEC and 118th nationally in passing offense (146.3 yards per game). Quarterback Jeff Driskel won the starting job after Week 1, but parterned with an inconsistent offensive line and receiving corps, he struggled for most of the year. Driskel finished the season with 1,646 passing yards and 12 touchdowns to five interceptions. Tight end Jordan Reed was Florida's top pass-catcher, hauling in 45 receptions for 559 yards and three touchdowns. After Reed, no receiving target managed to cross the 400-yard mark. Driskel passed for more than 200 yards just twice in 12 games and was held under 100 four times. Florida averaged 187.7 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. Mike Gillislee spent some time as the SEC's top rusher and finished the season fourth in the SEC with 1,152 yards, becoming the first Florida back to rush for 1,000 yards since 2004. Driskel and backup running back Matt Jones ended up being solid running options for the Gators as well. The Gators averaged just 26.5 points per game and the problem with Florida's offense for most of the year was that it just wasn't built to come back from double-digit deficits and it cost the Gators in losses to Georgia and Louisville. Grade: D

DEFENSE: While the Gators didn't move the ball effectively, they knew how to stop their opponents from doing it. Florida didn't allow a team to register more than 363 yards of offense all season and ranked fifth nationally in total defense, allowing just 286.7 yards per game. The Gators' defense also allowed just 4.4 yards per play. The Gators ranked third in the SEC with 30 takeaways and led the league with 20 interceptions. When it came to stopping the pass, the Gators were terrific until the bowl loss to Louisville. Florida gave up less than 200 yards through the air a game and teams had a pass efficiency of 95.5, which led the SEC and ranked second nationally. Florida gave up just seven passing touchdowns on the year and surrendered less than 3 yards per carry against the run. There was a lot of talent to go around on the defense, as three underclassmen declared for the NFL draft early, including safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who were All-Americans and All-SEC first-teamers. Even though the defense was pushed around and looked lethargic against Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the season, as a whole, was a major success for this group. Grade: A

OVERALL: Despite an anemic passing game, the Gators ended the regular season with arguably the nation's best résumé. Florida rose as high as No. 3 in the BCS standings, won 11 games, went to a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2009 and beat four teams ranked within the top 10 of the BCS standings. Florida was a missed Pittsburgh field goal away from playing in the national championship. The Gators beat Texas A&M during the second week of the season, blew out South Carolina by 33 points and left Tallahassee with a convincing 37-26 win over archrival Florida State. But ending the season with an embarrassing 33-23 loss to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl put a major damper on the year. It erased much of the good that came out of a season in which Florida wasn't supposed to win nine games. Still, the Gators greatly surpassed expectations. Grade: B+

Past grades:

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