I don’t believe many Gator fans are surprised with the outcome of the SECCG. I suppose there is some solace to be found in the final score of 52-46, with the Gators having a chance in the second half, albeit a slim one, to pull out a victory. After trailing 35-17 at the half and Bama scoring on five possessions while running twice as many plays, most college football fans had already penciled in the W for Nick Saban and the Tide. They were simply perfection with the football. Actually, their only hiccup was a great takeaway by Trey Dean that was immediately turned back over to Bama when Dean coughed the ball up when he was KTFO’d on the return. When Bama scored on the next play, the pride of a lifelong fan allowed the thought that this probably won’t be our night to creep in. To their credit, the Gators and Heisman hopeful (unfortunately not shoe in) Kyle Trask kept competing and made it close. The defense, as beleaguered as it was the first half and for all of the season, really, was able to keep Bama out of the end zone in the third quarter and all of a sudden 35-31 didn’t seem insurmountable. But it was not quite enough and the Tide out scored the Gators 17-15 in the final stanza, securing their place in the CFB playoffs. Florida, on the other hand, slinked back to Palooka-ville on the heels of a two game skid and the fear of an 8-4 record looming, depending on the bowl matchup. What could’ve been unfortunately turned into what was and Mullen and Co. begin the self-reflective phase that must require some honest appraisals of what went wrong and what has to change lest this be our high water mark for the second consecutive coaching staff. *However you cut it, Harris and Smith were more than our defense could handle. I don’t think I’ve seen as much diving at the ankles in one game since my middle school football days. Obviously, Harris engendered some fear in many of our defenders, but that was a total reversal of the grabbing and high tackling that has been our trademark. And it wasn’t any more successful. We couldn’t cover Smith consistently, even playing quite a bit of zone and his TD over Marco Wilson, who was giving him a big cushion in the red zone, pretty much punctuated our futility. Bama’s Mac Jones may well win the Heisman, but if so it would truly be a team award. He was good, but all he had to do was keep the car out of the ditch. *It seems like there are some head scratchers from Mullen each game in terms of critical play calls. One that sticks out was a Trask keep on third and nine in the first half that was woefully short and killed a possession. It was mentioned that it may have been an automatic if we formationed a numbers advantage in the box and Trask scored a couple of times on this, but third and nine was too big a gamble at that point in the game. *Bama’s OL is what we wish ours was. If you didn’t see anything else, their two tackles kept our guys on roller skates with their drive blocks and did a great job riding our edge guys up the field on pass plays. They paved the way for 605 total yards that included 187 rushing (178 by Harris). We rushed for 54. It’s Bama, I know, but that’s a pretty staggering difference. *Trask wasn’t quite as sharp as he could have been, missing a couple of long throws that he usually makes that would have gone for scores. Still, he passed for 408 and three scores while rushing for another as well as a two point conversion. That’s probably good enough to beat anybody else, but not Bama. I appreciate that he left it all out on the field and his competitive spirit, though not as demonstrative as we’ve seen, is there every time he takes the field. He may not win the Heisman, but he is worthy of mention with the other great QBs we’ve enjoyed. *Toney was a man last night. Eight receptions for 153 yards and a score was big. He has electrified us with his speed and quickness, but the development of his hands and route running was very special. *What could’ve been. If we hadn’t shot ourselves in the foot in the first half with three Bama drives we had stopped or had a chance to. The winners find a way to make it happen. The other guys talk about what could have been. *I’ve enjoyed watching Kyle Pitts. Bama was definitely aware of him, he still wound up with seven catches for 129 yards and a score on a great catch over the defender. He’s a special talent and it’s been a pleasure to get to see him develop. I wish there could’ve been one more game we could have seen him . *Boo Chris Doering! It wouldn’t have hurt you to give Trask a little love last night while talking about the Heisman hopefuls. The three Bama guys you pegged are very worthy and I suppose you wanted to avoid the “Homer” tag, but Trask is more than deserving. You’re a great Gator, but the optics were that there was some embarrassment-induced separation. One more game. Against who is yet to be determined. It doesn’t really matter. There simply has to be a good conclusion to the anti-climax of last evening. Mullen needs it. Even though this season has been anything but normal, some of Dan’s decisions and comments have certainly lessened the confidence and enthusiasm of his leadership in year three. What he does, or doesn’t do, with the defensive personnel will likely make or break him. It’s pretty widely held that he’s a loyal guy and that’s commendable, but ultimately what good is a captain who goes down with the ship? In parting, I want to thank Ox and all the readership of Gator Chatter. You guys make it easy to get up on Sundays, win or lose, and talk about Gator football! I hope you all have a great Christmas amid this topsy turvy time in our nation’s history and that Santa brings us all a little respite. A lock down D would also be nice! Merry Christmas and Go Gators!