Grading the Gators
Florida vs. Utah
Final score: Florida 29, Utah 26
First half: Anthony Richardson did a lot of good things in his first half under Billy Napier. If not for the early fumble by Montrell Johnson, Florida was the more dominant team in the first half because of Richardson’s 74 yards rushing and two touchdowns and his 101 passing.
Second half: The Gators only had 10 plays in the third quarter and fell behind, but Richardson drove them to 75-yards for the game-winning touchdown. Florida was able to run the ball with toughness and Richardson made a huge scramble run for a first down on fourth-and-2
For the game: We all wondered about Richardson and whether or not he was as good as people thought he might be. On this night, he was. Richardson only threw one bad pass on the night that should have been picked but it was not and he had 272 all-purpose yards against a pretty fair Utah defense.
First half: The short field the defense was handed to start the game did not go well, but they did hold Utah to two first downs on six attempts. However, they had no answer for tight end Brant Kuithe, who had seven catches in the half. They did limit tailback Tavion Thomas to 26 yards rushing.
Second half: Florida never figured out what to do about Kuithe and the lack of depth on the Florida defense showed in the second half. But the Gators had a goal line stand and Amari Burney’s diving pick in the end zone saved the day.
For the game: This defense struggled against the run in the second half. Cam Rising hurt Florida with his running and throwing. But in the end, the Gators made just enough plays. It would have been better if Ventrell Miller hadn’t dropped that pick, but he played his rear end off.
SPECIAL TEAMS C
First half: Other than the two penalties, the special teams had almost no impact. The two holding penalties on Dante Zanders and Nay’quan Wright put the Gators in a couple of holes. UF returned four kickoffs for an average of 18 yards a return.
Second half: Not much of a factor again, but Jeremy Crawshaw did pin Utah deep with a third quarter punt. There were kickoff returns that looked like they were one block away from breaking it. So, let’s get that extra block next time.
For the game: It was important that the last kickoff went into the end zone to make Utah go 75 yards to win the game. Those two holding penalties in the first half have to be cleaned up.
Well, I guess the Gators will be ranked this week. The Swamp was in full throat and made a difference and Florida overcame some tough breaks to make one more play than Utah. That’s still a really good team on the other side. That made the win in what a lot of people felt was the biggest opener ever that much sweeter.