Chomp: Florida’s blowout loss to Georgia. Recruiting. Road game at South Carolina. Where should we start?

File photo (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) (Jonathan Bachman, 2018 Jonathan Bachman)

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Where do we even begin to talk about the Florida football program?

The blowout loss to rival Georgia. The quarterbacks. Coach Dan Mullen. Recruiting. The upcoming South Carolina game.

Longtime Gators sports writer Pat Dooley wrote this after Florida was defeated 34-7 by Georgia: “This team has a knack for doing the opposite of what you think, but it is not in a good way.”

It’s rare that Mullen has gotten blown out in regular-season games during his Florida tenure — with the only being, arguably, the 38-17 loss to Missouri, following a 36-17 loss to Georgia, in 2018, Mullen’s first season leading the Gators. The 55-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl last year also comes to mind, but that wasn’t the regular season. On Saturday, the Gators held on until about the roughly 3:00-minute mark in the second quarter. That’s when Rashad Torrence intercepted Stetson Bennett’s pass and took it out to Florida’s 2-yard line. But the game quickly spiraled out of control after that, with Anthony Richardson turning the ball over three times before halftime. I thought you could count on Mullen-coached teams to keep games close, even if they resulted in defeat, but Saturday’s loss shows that’s no longer the case.

GAME RECAP: No. 1 Georgia, defense dominate Florida in Jacksonville

Going back to Richardson, I was shocked Mullen started him — I thought Mullen would at least send out Emory Jones for the first series. I was happy to see AR15 take the first snap, but I also feel like that was a tough ask of him — going up against the No. 1 team and No. 1 defense in the country in his first start. Going forward, it seems like one of the few positive takeaways that can come from this season is developing Richardson for the future.

But that’s another thing: Mullen is known as the quarterback whisperer, yet there have been constant questions about the quarterback situation throughout the season, including who should be the starter. Also, the Gators have thrown the most interceptions in the country (they’re tied with Southern Miss at 14).

The only bright side of the blowout loss? Florida’s NCAA record streak of 418 games in a row scoring points dating back to 1988 remained alive when Jones led a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

In an episode of Gators Breakdown, host David Waters reviews the Gators’ troubles versus the Bulldogs. In another episode, Gators Breakdown listeners sound off following the loss.

Mullen nixes media access

After last week’s game, Kirby Smart seemingly took a shot at Mullen, saying: “If you don’t recruit, there’s no coach out there who can out-coach recruiting.”

On the other hand, it appears Mullen doesn’t like talking about recruiting. On Monday, he shot down a question about recruiting during a media session and then canceled media access to players and coordinators for the remainder of the week.

“We’re in the season right now,” he said. “We’ll do recruiting after the season. When it gets to recruiting time, we can talk about recruiting.”

Richardson has concussion

Richardson suffered a concussion during the loss to Georgia and sat out practice on Monday and Tuesday.

The diagnosis could mean Jones will once again start.

During the Southeastern Conference teleconference Wednesday, Mullen shared that Jones has handled getting replaced by Richardson last month better than expected. You can read those comments from Mullen here.

South Carolina has similar struggles

The Gators’ hunt for a win will continue this week when they go on the road to South Carolina. They haven’t had once in almost a month — since Oct. 9 when they crushed Vanderbilt 42-0.

The Gamecocks (4-4, 1-3 SEC), like Florida (4-4, 2-2), is uncertain at quarterback. The Associated Press reports that Luke Doty, the expected starter this season, had a season-ending surgery on his injured foot last week while Zeb Noland, the grad assistant turned quarterback, had an operation to fix a meniscus problem in his right knee during the Gamecocks time off last week. Noland has practiced this week, but if he can’t go, St. Francis of Pennsylvania transfer Jason Brown would make his first start.

GAME PREVIEW: Struggling Florida, South Carolina meet with similar issues

In the latest Gators Breakdown episode, David previews the game with William Gunter, with 107.5 The Game - Columbia, South Carolina, as well as gives his path to a Gators victory starting with the Florida ground attack. In a different episode of Gators Breakdown, you can also hear David and Will Miles discuss the perception surrounding the Florida football program heading into Saturday’s matchup.

The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and be broadcast on SEC Network.

📈 Georgia, Alabama top initial CFP rankings

The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday evening, with Georgia (8-0) coming in at No. 1, followed by Alabama (7-1), Michigan State (8-0) and Oregon (7-1).

Ohio State (7-1) was ranked fifth, while Cincinnati came in at No. 6 despite having an 8-0 record, which includes a signature win over Notre Dame.

The selection committee’s initial rankings show that the Bearcats will need some help to become the first time from outside the Power Five conferences to reach the playoff. They also hint that if the Crimson Tide were to lose another game, they may have a chance of still making the final four.

You can view the rankings unveiled this week here.

📺 Top Week 10 games to watch

Here’s who all of the CFP top 25 teams are playing in Week 10 (all games are on Saturday unless noted otherwise):

  • Missouri at No. 1 Georgia — Noon
  • LSU at No. 2 Alabama — 7 p.m.
  • No. 3 Michigan State at Purdue — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 4 Oregon at Washington — 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 5 Ohio State at Nebraska — Noon
  • Tulsa at No. 6 Cincinnati — 3:30 p.m.
  • Indiana at No. 7 Michigan — 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 8 Oklahoma — BYE
  • No. 9 Wake Forest at North Carolina — Noon
  • Navy at No. 10 Notre Dame — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 11 Oklahoma State at West Virginia — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 12 Baylor at TCU — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 13 Auburn at No. 14 Texas A&M — 3:30 p.m.
  • Idaho State at No. 15 BYU — 3:30 p.m.
  • Liberty at No. 16 Ole Miss — Noon
  • No. 17 Mississippi State at Arkansas — 4 p.m.
  • Tennessee at No. 18 Kentucky — 7 p.m.
  • No. 19 NC State at Florida State — 4 p.m.
  • Illinois at No. 20 Minnesota — Noon
  • No. 21 Wisconsin at Rutgers — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 22 Iowa at Northwestern — 7 p.m.
  • Boise State at No. 23 Fresno State — 7 p.m.
  • No. 24 San Diego State at Hawaii — 11 p.m.
  • No. 25 Pittsburgh at Duke — Noon

✉️ 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

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About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.