Florida Gators: 5 Things We Think We Learned From The Loss At Auburn

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 15: DeAngelo Benton #3 of the Auburn Tigers is congratulated by teammate Jay Wisner #84 after scoring a touchdown against the Florida Gators at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

SB Nation Tampa Bay shares 5 things we think we learned from the Auburn game.

The slide to the middle of the SEC East continued for the Florida Gators as they quite literally dropped a 17-6 decision to #24 Auburn. It was troubling defeat for the Gators, who once again couldn't generate much offense and turned the ball over far too many times to beat a decent team.

With a week off before facing arch rival Georgia, the Gators have some serious soul searching to do.

Here's what else we think we learned from the Auburn game.

1. If you have three QBs, you have none.

Three different Gator QBs took snaps from center on Saturday night, none of them were very effective. Florida's dismal passing game has suck to epic lows, averaging just 4.4 yards a pass play.

Those should be average rushing numbers, folks, not average passing yards per play.  Neither Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskell looked ready to take on the challenge of being a QB for an SEC school. Trey Burton is what he is, an option/spread QB with limited passing abilities.

Florida hopes to have John Brantley back for the Georgia game in couple weeks. They better hope so, because with this trio the Gators might not win another SEC game this season.

2. The lack of a solid running game is becoming very disturbing.

Another week, another failure for the running game. With Jeff Demps still nursing an ankle injury, Florida tried to use Chris Rainey as a workhorse - but the Gators failed to get a consistent running game going against one of the worst run defenses in the country.

Florida finished with a paltry 66 yards rushing on the night, averaging 2.2 yards a carry. Once again, Mike Gillislee was left under utilized despite being Florida's most effective back in his limited opportunities.

We know that teams are bringing eight, nine and maybe even 10 guys in the box to stuff the run, daring the Freshmen QB's to beat them with their arms but at the same time, without balance in the offense Brissett and Driskell have no chance.

3. Perhaps they should have practiced fielding punts under the lights this past week.

Florida had two devastating muffed punts that led to Auburn scores and really put the game out of reach. Rainey had a terrible time fielding the ball, struggling to secure it most of the night. Then, with the Gators poised to get the ball back in good field position with an opportunity to score - Robert Clark muffed a punt that would eventually lead to Auburn's game sealing field goal.

Florida has enough difficulties in winning football games without beating themselves with silliness like this.

4. Can't pin this loss on the defense.

The Gators defense did their job, hold Auburn to just 278 yards of total offense and keeping Michael Dyer in check with just 73 yards on 23 carries (a 3.2 average) and no scores. The one thing Florida probably could have used the most was a turnover and that was something the Gators defense could not generate.

Still, 17 points (10 of it set up by muffed punts), shouldn't be a death sentence for any defense. On this team, it is.

5. The bye week certainly helps their cause.

If Brantley is going to be back, the bye week gets him that much closer to 100%. If he can't return, this bye week will enable Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis to properly prepare either Driskell or Brissett to hopefully get more out of the passing game.

It will also give Weis time to figure out what the heck is wrong with the running game. We know Jeffrey Demps is a world class athlete and the Gators dearly miss his contributions to the line up. However, truth be told, would Demps really have made a difference in any of these three defeats? I think he also would have been bottled up like Rainey and the rest were.

Defensively, Florida needs to get better at generating takeaways and make sure they maintain focus.

Special teams wise, Caleb Sturgis needs to get healthy and the Florida punt returners need to figure out how to field balls under lights.

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