LAS VEGAS — At least Florida didn’t get shut out.
That’s the best thing that can be said as the shorthanded Gators suffered their most lopsided loss of the season, falling 30-3 to No. 16 Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.
Florida avoided a shutout — barely — when Adam Mihalek connected on a 40-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining. That extended Florida’s streak of not being shut out in a game to 435 straight games, which leads all of FBS.
The loss dropped the Gators to 6-7 in head coach Billy Napier’s first season with plenty of work to do heading into Year 2. The Gators have posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1978-79. Florida played without four key starters — quarterback Anthony Richardson, All-American guard O’Cyrus Torrence, wide receiver Justin Shorter and linebacker Ventrell Miller — who all opted out of the game to declare for the NFL draft.
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Here are five takeaways from the game:.
A tough starting debut for QB Jack Miller
Florida quarterback Jack Miller was unable to take advantage of his opportunity to make an impression as a potential starter for next season. Miller completed 13 of 22 passes for 180 yards. He led Florida on a pair of drives in the first half, but one ended with a Mihalek missed 52-yard field goal and another ended up turning the ball over on downs. It didn’t help that Miller was on his back for a good portion of the game, as he was sacked four times and pressured throughout.
Gators can’t get ground game going
Oregon State’s run defense, ranked 20th nationally and second in the Pac-12 at 114.0 yards per game, completely smothered Florida on the ground. The Gators wound up with just 39 yards rushing on 33 carries. Clearly, Florida missed the run-blocking ability of Torrence.
Penalties a problem
For the third straight game, Florida had issues playing clean. The Gators were flagged 11 times. A key penalty came in the third quarter when Antwaun Powel-Ryland jumped offside on a third-and-5 play, keeping an Oregon State 10-play, 64-yard TD drive alive. In the first half, back-to-back false start penalties on right guard Kamryn Waites and left tackle Richard Gouraige dropped Florida back 10 yards from Oregon State’s 32 to the 42-yard line, stalling momentum on a drive that ended with a Mihalek missed 52-yard field goal attempt.
A special play by CB Jordan Young
Young came up with a big play to end of the first half when he broke through the line to block a field goal attempt by Everett Hayes, keeping the score 10-0 at halftime. It was the first blocked field goal for the Gators since Adam Shuler blocked a kick against Towson on Sept. 28, 2019, a string of 46 games.
WR Ricky Pearsall a bright spot
Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall was one of the few bright spots for the Gators in the bowl game with four catches for 65 yards. Pearsall is an offensive piece the Gators can build around for next season, but more playmakers will need to emerge for Florida to make progress in 2023.