Florida falls to FSU for the first in four years, finishes season 6-6




 

Florida football's 2022 regular season ended with a 45-38 loss to the Florida State Seminoles, but there was plenty to like about what was mostly a disappointing game.

The Gators kept pace with FSU early, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and taking a three-point lead into the half, but things fell apart in the second half. Anthony Richardson went cold and struggled to find any of his receivers with a decent pass. Even Ricky Pearsall, who was outstanding in the first half, couldn't buy a reception in the second half.

Fortunately, Florida came back after allowing the 'Noles to take a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. Trevor Etienne was instrumental in the comeback effort, even if his 45-yard game-tying score was in vain. Florida's defense was simply unprepared to stop a mobile quarterback, and Jordan Travis made the difference for FSU.

It's not the outcome anyone in Gator Nation wanted, but it was a predictable one given the way the rest of the season has gone. All in all, staying competitive with a team ranked No. 16 in the country is a good result for a now 6-6 team.

Billy Napier needs to produce much better results in year two at the helm in Gainesville, and enough mistakes were made throughout the year that he should have been able to learn a lot about his team.

Here are five major takeaways from Florida's disappointing loss to Florida State on Black Friday.

Talk about a shootout!

 

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Well, that was about as exciting a rivalry game as you could ask for, huh? There's so much to say about this game but somehow so little.

In many ways, Florida was the same team they'd been all year. The defense was embarrassing, even after [autotag]Ventrell Miller[/autotag] returned to the field, and Anthony Richardson gave his impression of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Big plays (and bad penalty calls) made the difference in this one for both teams. Jordan Travis ran all over Florida's defense, and Ricky Pearsall and Trevor Etienne etched their names into the history books of this famed rivalry. In the end, we saw the highest-scoring game in the rivalry's history, and Florida looked a lot better than most expected them to.

Call it a silver-lining outlook, but Florida State was ranked No. 16 coming into this one, and there's an argument for them to fall after needing every last second to beat a now 6-6 Florida team.

Trevor Etienne almost saves the day

 

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Trevor Etienne has had plenty of big moments in his first year with the Florida Gators, but none have been bigger than the 45-yard touchdown he scored in the fourth quarter to tie up the game against Florida State. Sure, there was the 85-yarder against South Carolina, but Florida didn't need that score to win the game.

Etienne is the future of Florida football and possibly the present. It's a bit ironic that his national coming out party came against the Seminoles, the same club his brother spent his entire college career at Clemson running all over, but that's the beauty of football, right?

The win would've been the cherry on top for Etienne's career day, but it's hard to say that 129 rushing yards and a big-play touchdown is anything but promising from a true freshman.

Have a day, Ricky Pearsall

 

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

[autotag]Ricky Pearsall[/autotag] was electric in the first half. He hauled in a pair of long touchdowns in the first two quarters, one in the first quarter that went 52 yards and another in the second quarter that went 43 yards. He also brought in a 32-yard pass right before that second touchdown.

Simply put, without Pearsall, Florida doesn't stay competitive in this game. Anthony Richardson wasn't at his best in the second half, and Florida knew it was running thin at receiver coming into this one. For a guy that was listed as questionable during the mid-week depth chart update, Pearsall didn't show any signs that he was laboring during his career day.

Pearsall finished the day with 148 receiving yards and two touchdowns on five receptions and nine targets.

This team cannot stop a mobile quarterback

 

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

There's no need to be kind about this: Florida's defense can't handle a mobile quarterback. It happened against Tennessee. It happened against LSU. And it happened again against Florida State.

Jordan Travis is elusive, but there were at least six plays where Florida's defense allowed him to scramble in the backfield until he found a hole. Two of those plays ended in touchdowns, and suddenly FSU's quarterback looked like everything Anthony Richardson was supposed to be.

It's too late to fix things now, and missing Ventrell Miller for a half didn't help, but Florida has to address its issues against running quarterbacks before next season begins. There's no doubt Billy Napier has looked for some answers through recruiting (Florida boasts one of the top defensive line classes in the current cycle), but he may need to dip into the transfer portal to ensure things go better in that department in 2023.

Anthony Richardson isn't NFL ready

 

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

As much as the national media wants Anthony Richardson to go to the NFL this spring, this game proved exactly why he needs another year at the college level. After a strong start, Richardson failed to connect with receivers on 11-straight passes. [autotag]Daejon Reynolds[/autotag] did drop a pass in the third quarter and Jonathan Odom couldn't hold onto what would have been a touchdown in the fourth, but Richardson simply wasn't his best self under center for most of the night.

True, Florida didn't have its normal weapons at receiver, but Richardson has proven that he's able to make things work with anyone on the other end of the ball when he's at his best. With NIL money treating him well, spending another year at UF should be a no-brainer.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire

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