Parting ways with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham didn’t solve all of the Florida Gators ’problems.
Six days after coach Dan Mullen announced that Grantham had been released, the Gators conceded 42 points in the first half – the most Florida has ever allowed in the first two quarters – to FCS program Samford on Saturday.
The Alligators retreated in the second half for a 70-52 victory at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“I’m an offensive guy, so I love earning points,” Mullen told reporters on Saturday. “Obviously, I don’t like to give up points, but I love to score points. Offensively, we needed guys to step in and guys to execute, and I think we did that today. I think our guys came out and executed. It’s over. Being tiny gunfire back and forth, and our offense continued to respond and make games. “
Mullen added: “Calling a win disappointing is disrespectful to the game and our players.”
The Bulldogs, who had not defeated an SEC opponent since 1934, had 530 yards of offense, including 416 rounds. They scored on five of their first six possessions to take a 42-35 lead at the half.
It was the most points ever scored by an FCS team against an SEC opponent, and it tied for the most ever allowed by a Power 5 team against such an opponent since the FBS / FCS split in 1978. East Washington equaled the winning total of Samford in a 59-52 loss to Washington in 2014.
“One, you have to give [Samford] some credit, “Mullen said.” They’re a team that will earn points and throw the ball all their style. The biggest, if there is disappointment in some of our guys, are the opportunities to do plays they haven’t done. You know, there were a few missed tackles, a few chances for sacks we didn’t make, we ended up with penalties. … We have to clean it up. “
Linebackers coach Christian Robinson led Florida’s defense for the first time on Saturday. Mullen also sacked offensive line coach John Hevesy after last week’s embarrassing 40-17 loss at rebuilding South Carolina. Graduate assistant Mike Sollene was promoted to replace Hevesy for the rest of the season.
“I thought they handled it very well,” Mullen said. “I’ve met them a few times and told them to relax and be yourself. You have a great opportunity, so take advantage of it. Don’t go out there and try to do too much … Just be you. I just thought the two young guys today were really excited about that opportunity. They enjoyed it and found a way to win. “
According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, the Alligators have allowed 175 points in their past four games, their largest in a four-game stretch since 1917.
Florida’s lamenting defensive performance tarnished a brilliant outing by quarterback Emory Jones, who completed 28 of 34 passes for 464 yards with six touchdowns and ran for 86 yards with one score. Jones’ 544 yards of total offense surpassed the previous UF record of 533 yards set by Tim Tebow in his final college game, a 51-24 win over Cincinnati in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
“Just get kids together and just let them know we have to win every ride,” Jones said. “That’s what we planned to do anyway. Just keep that mindset and just try to attack every drive and go there and execute. It worked for us.”