Dooley’s Grades (Florida Spring Game)

Pat Dooley grades the Gators after Thursday night’s spring game at the Swamp.

Offense D

First half: Well, if Gator fans showed up for this game to see if the offense is in good hands, the first half was not a convincer. Graham Mertz seemed to find himself late in the half and Jack Miller continued to struggle.

Second half: My biggest takeaway from the second half was that this staff has to find more ways to get the ball to Travis Etienne in space. He looks even faster than a year ago. Quarterbacks were not helped by bad snaps and penalties. And Florida did not show much.

For the game: Obviously, Florida is still trying to get the base offense down pat with two inexperienced quarterbacks. It looked pretty obvious that Mertz will start and that Florida has some talent on that side of the ball, but the offensive line may be a work in progress for a while.

Defense B+

First half: This might have encouraged some people because of how bad Florida has been defensively the last three seasons. New defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong is not afraid to blitz and the secondary was way better than a year ago.

Second half: You have to give the defense credit because they guys were all over the receivers for a majority of the game. They were aided by a handful of bad snaps, but the tackling was crisp and the quarterbacks struggled with places to throw.

For the game: There weren’t too many games (if any) where the defense got a B+. Does that mean anything? Maybe. I thought this looked like a defense that could cover people and disrupt offenses. Or maybe the offense is this bad. It’s difficult to say.

Special teams

First half: Trey Smack saw his 24-yard field goal from the west hash smack off the left upright. Adam Mihalek’s kickoffs were fine. Jeremy Crawshaw’s first punt was not good, but his second was a 48-yarder with no return.

Second half: Smack missed another one, this from 47 yards. And then he won the game with a 46-yarder. So there’s that. Crawshaw clubbed a late punt that went 43 yards and pinned the Orange back at the 10 and then a 56-yarder with no return and then a 61-yarder at the end.

For the game: Nobody goes all out on special teams in terms of returning kicks. So we didn’t get to see much there. Special teams were just kind of out there.

Overall C-

It was a spring game that certainly did not get the crowd riled up very often. We also know that spring games can be meaningless. But the lack of offense was either negated by the positive vibes on defense or part of the reason. Enjoy talking season because it is now officially on

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