Grading the Gators
By Pat Dooley
First half: After a clumsy three-and-out to start the game. The Gator offense was cranking behind both quarterbacks the rest of the half. Florida scored on five straight possessions – all touchdowns – as both quarterbacks made nice throws for touchdown passes. The way Florida threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns, it reminded you of last season.
Second half: The Gators had no trouble moving the ball until they got to the points where Emory Jones had to make a smart throw. Suddenly, all of the good things from the first half were blown away.
For the game: The Gators went over 600 yards and certainly were efficient in some ways but were also 3-for-9 in third-down efficiency. Clearly, the Gators have some weapons and one big one in Anthony Richardson. Emory Jones got more playing time than some thought he would, but the mistakes in the second half were hard to watch.
First half: There were some early moments where coverages were not good and Florida benefitted from a big drop and overthrows. Florida held USF to 142 total yards and pretty much took away the running game. The secondary also got a turnover and limited USF to 3.5 yards a play.
Second half: The defense was put in some bad spots and became the first team to give up a touchdown to USF (it only took until the seventh quarter of the season). And while Florida was never really threatened in the game, this is the second straight game where Florida did not finish strong defensively.
For the game: Florida did not show a lot in terms of its blitz package, and we know the Gators are going to be playing with a lot more adrenaline next week. But this defense on the surface does not appear ready to tangle with the Crimson Tide. So far, the Gators have played light years better than a year ago defensively, but it may not be enough. There are still many flaws.
Special teams B-
First half: Special teams made a mark early when Jeremy Crashaw hit a 57-yard punt that was only returned two yards and flipped the field. Other than that, not much happened on special teams except Xzavier Henderson taking that hit that was a penalty for fair catch interference.
Second half: Giving up a long punt return to set up a touchdown is not a good thing. Sure, it was the fourth quarter of a game that seemed over, but it’s still not good.
For the game: Again, special teams were not bad, but were not asked to do anything special. Crashaw was solid, kickoff coverage good and the two kickers made all of their extra points.
Florida has put up some impressive numbers and Dan Mullen not starting Anthony Richardson will be a huge topic of conversation (assuming Richardson is healthy). But the bottom line is that these first two games were about Mullen finding out exactly what he has. Now he knows. But the next game is where he really finds out if it will work.