GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville State entered Saturday's game against Florida with the 108th ranked defense in the country.
All-purpose back Omarius Hines is tackled during Florida's 23-0 win over Jacksonville State.
In the Football Championship Subdivision.
Yet the Gators offense managed to score just 16 points in a 23-0 win over the Gamecocks. In the last two weeks, Florida's offense has scored just 36 points against lowly Louisiana and Jacksonville State, begging the obvious question: Can Florida beat No. 10 Florida State with an offense this putrid?
"No," Florida coach Will Muschamp answered after the game. "We need to get better. We need to be more consistent, there's no question."
Florida's offense managed to total 356 yards of offense against Jacksonville State. Yet, the Gators turned that yardage into just one touchdown, forced to settle for three Caleb Sturgis field goals.
The Gators could have gone into the locker room up 17-0 after starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett worked the team down inside the 5-yard line.
Instead, a false start penalty on Xavier Nixon and an illegal formation penalty cost the team yardage and stalled the drive. Sturgis came on to attempt a field goal and had his 27-yarder blocked and Florida went to the break up only 10-0.
"Consistency is the issue to me right now, just consistently making some plays vertically downfield, catching the football, finishing some plays. Finishing drives," Muschamp said. "You jump offsides twice and you've got a chance to make it a 17-point game and we've got the ball to start the second half and you don't do it."
Senior left guard James Wilson echoed Muschamp's comments about not being able to win in Tallahassee without a much improved effort on his side of the ball.
Returning from a knee injury, Wilson wasn't able to help the offensive line up its play enough to make the offense run like the well-oiled machine it should have been playing against a vastly inferior FCS defense.
"We definitely got a lot to work on," Wilson said. "We've just, we gotta be physical."
Physicality was certainly an issue in the first half on a couple short-yardage third downs. The Gators didn't bully the Gamecocks like they wanted to in the trenches.
As a result, Florida finished the game just 2-11 on third-down conversions.
"That wasn't by design," Muschamp said. "Again, we've got to go back and just be able to get better in those situations, there's no question."
But after 11 games, the Florida offense has continued to regress, not improve. At this point, it's safe to say the Gators' chances of knocking off the Seminoles will rest on the team's defense, which scored as many touchdowns as the offense Saturday.
Right now, things are pretty simple for the offense. The issues won't be fixed in a day.
With a banged-up offensive line, no playmakers at receiver and questions at quarterback with Jeff Driskel trying to recover from a right ankle sprain in time to play at Florida State, the offense just has to do enough to get by.
"They're a great defense, we have a great defense," receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. said. "Eventually something has to give, so we just don't want to shoot ourselves in the back with turnovers. That's basically what it's going to come down to."
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