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Chomp: Mullen, Gators flounder at Kentucky, raise questions about program

Florida head coach Dan Mullen looks up at the videoboard during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)
Florida head coach Dan Mullen looks up at the videoboard during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.

Painful. Disheartening. Gut-wrenching.

I could go on.

How Dan Mullen and the Gators (3-2, 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference) were able to flounder like that at Kentucky (5-0, 3-0) and lose 20-13 is still incomprehensible. Some have pointed to the road environment, but it’s Kentucky, a basketball school, with a football stadium that seats only about 61,000.

There were times Saturday night when Mullen made some puzzling decisions. The Gators had three timeouts and about two minutes to go before halftime, but ended up just going to the locker room. Right after the game, Mullen said making some errors led to him being conservative on that drive and he wanted to get into the locker room to settle down. On Monday, he further explained the process on the drive before halftime, saying they went out there looking for explosive plays, Emory Jones had to check it down and all of a sudden they were under 30 seconds.

And then, down by 10 in the fourth quarter, Mullen was about to go for it on fourth down at the Kentucky 11-yard line when the Gators needed two scores. I typically don’t knock aggressive playcalling, but it seems like the logical move would be to go for the field goal to get the game to one score — which is what the Gators were forced to do when they had one of eight false start penalties of the evening.

GAME RECAP: Kentucky upsets Florida in SEC showdown

Gators Breakdown host David Waters takes a look back at the Gators’ uninspired performance, starting at the top, in an episode of the podcast.

And with two SEC losses for the Gators, Florida’s big goals for the 2021 season are pretty much dashed. In another Gators Breakdown episode, David is joined by Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, to look at the potential for the rest of the season as Florida looks to rebound with a lot of football to play.

As Gators fans used to say before Steve Spurrier and perhaps what we should start to say again: maybe next year.

If you need some group therapy after Saturday’s loss, you can join David and other Gators Breakdown listeners for this episode.

📉 Gators drop in polls

After Saturday’s loss, the Gators, predictably, dropped in the rankings.

The Gators came in at No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 18 in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll.

Here are the entire AP Poll and the full Coaches Poll released Sunday.

👀 Homecoming uniforms unveiled

When the Gators host Vanderbilt in Week 6 for homecoming, they’ll debut another different look this season.

The Gators will be wearing throwback uniforms. You can see them here.

We’ll talk more about this matchup in another edition of the newsletter this week.

🕛 LSU game slated for noon

In Week 7, the Gators will be traveling to Baton Rouge to take on LSU.

It was announced Monday that the game on Oct. 16 is slated for noon, but it’s not yet known which network will be televising the matchup.

CBS will televise a doubleheader with Florida at LSU or Auburn at Arkansas in the first game of the day and Kentucky at Georgia in the traditional afternoon window at 3:30 p.m.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

🎙️ Listen to more Gators Breakdown

You can catch up on previous episodes of Gators Breakdown at news4jax.com/gatorsbreakdown or click one of the following to tune in: Megaphone | Apple Podcasts | YouTube | Google Podcasts | Stitcher

About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.