Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Florida
By Jeff Barlis
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- By the end of a dismal 4-8 season, Florida's first losing season since 1979, few could recall the Gators actually opened with plenty of promise and a No. 10 ranking. It was the first time in 22 seasons that Florida didn't play in a bowl game, snapping the nation's longest active streak.
Injuries spoiled UF's season, which started 4-1 before spiraling with seven straight losses. The Gators lost 15 players, including 10 starters, to season-ending injuries. An inept offense that scored an SEC-low 226 points (18.8 PPG) was the biggest weakness and resulted in the firing of offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis.
Offensive MVP: Solomon Patton made the most of his senior season, exploding as a playmaking wide receiver. He led Florida with 44 catches for 556 yards and six touchdowns, all team highs among receivers. He also set a school record on kickoff returns, averaging 29.2 yards, which ranked first in the SEC and seventh in the nation.
Defensive MVP: True freshman Vernon Hargreaves III was a revelation. In a loaded backfield, he made 10 starts at cornerback and led the Gators with 11 pass breakups and three interceptions. He garnered first-team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman Team honors.
Best moment: It's not saying much when your best win came at home against a Tennessee team that went 5-7. So, let's face it, 2013 was just miserable. The best moment probably came as the clock struck zero against Florida State to signal a merciful ending to a very bad season.
Worst moment: There were many to choose from, but the easy answer is the worst loss in school history: a 26-20 head-scratcher to Georgia Southern at home. It was Florida's first loss to an FCS program. UF gave up 429 yards rushing to a team that didn't complete a single pass. The Gators watched the Eagles celebrate on their field.