Waking up and watching a stress free 34-3 victory over Tennessee was extremely enjoyable.
Coming off a tough road win vs Kentucky that included the loss of starting back Feleipe Franks. The Gators bounced back nicely at home against the Vols.
Marco Island: Marco Wilson was off the football field last season for the second time in four years due to a torn ACL. His first 3 games post surgery weren’t up to his standards. He committed a bad pass interference vs Miami and got bullied by a large human that plays the wide receiver position against Kentucky. With CJ Henderson out due to injury, he has been tasked with guarding the other team’s best wide receiver. On Saturday, Wilson responded by getting his first interception as a Gator and being directly involved on another interception that ended up being caught by Amari Burney. He continued to dominate Tennessee just like he did his true freshman season helping prove once again that ducks don’t pull trucks.
The #TraskTrain : If you played a drinking game every time someone mentioned this was Kyle Trask’s first start in seven years, you would’ve been hammered by the end of the first quarter. Trask’s first start was a successful foundation to build on going forward. A total line of 20/28 for 293 yards with 2 Touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a fumble lost. The final line could’ve easily had an extra 70 yards and a touchdown if not for a freshmen moment from Jacob Copeland. The UF Quarterback checked a lot of boxes off Saturday by hitting deep throws, tight throws, even checking down at times. The performance was enough to smoothly beat Tennessee and is something Dan Mullen and Brian Johnson can build upon with the gauntlet of SEC games beginning in two weeks.
The Linebackers: Despite no Ventrell Miller for a majority of the game, The linebackers absolutely dominated the Vols on Saturday. Amari Burney was a heat seeking missile that had five tackles and an interception. David Reese contributed with another solid performance. While Lacedrick Brunson had a nice under the radar game that included 5 tackles and a TFL. The real show stoppers came at the BUCK position, Jonathan Greenard, Jeremiah Moon, and Khris Bogle has a combined 3 sacks (1 each) 2 TFL’s 4 Pass Breakups and a forced fumble. With no Jabari Zuniga until likely the Auburn game the BUCK unit answered any doubts whatsoever about their impact in the pass rush and in the running game.
Kyle Pitts: This is not a drill, for the first time since 2012 and Jordan Reed, the Florida Gators have an elite tight end. The early big winner of the quarterback change in Gainesville is Sophomore tight end Kyle Pitts. The Pennsylvania product had his best game as a gator with 4 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown on the games opening drive. Pitts has the athletic ability of a wide receiver and is a matchup nightmare for teams to defend. With Kyle Trask’s ability to get the ball out quickly, look for Pitts’ role to expand as the season progresses.
Running The Damn Ball: This has been a common theme throughout the start of the season. Run blocking has consistently found itself in “The Ugly” section of this column. However despite another underwhelming performance that resulted in 3.5 yards per carry, there are signs for encouragement. Overall the slim improvements that were shown Saturday are the reason this gets moved from ugly to bad. The Emory Jones experiment seemed to help even though it appeared there wasn’t one designed pull the entire game. While the Offensive line played a combination of musical chairs throughout the afternoon with Richard Gouriage moving all over the line. When you combine those two things with Dameon Pierce seeing his carries increase and providing a spark. The new unconventional ways to improve the running attack proved to be a step in the right direction. Overall there’s some hope for this and with two weeks of practice and a cupcake game next week. The Gators have one more dress rehearsal before playing the best front four they’ll see the entire season.
Terrible Tennessee: I’m going to be blunt with this. That was the worst SEC team I have seen Florida play in years. We all expected Tennessee to be a bad football team but dear lord that was twenty two steaming piles of Smokey the Volunteer shit thrown on a football field. Tennessee was bad at almost every level and I have serious doubts if they can even get to four wins. A 1-6 start seems like a lock. Godspeed Jermey Pruitt.
Trask’s Turnovers: Let's talk about the elephant in the room. The three turnovers Kyle Trask committed were atrocious. Despite Jacob Copeland running the wrong route on an RPO, Trask had all day to throw and held the ball way too long on his fumble. The throw into double coverage to Krull was just awful and indefensible. While the deep pass to Trevon Grimes that has been dissected and debated for two days was the most defensible but still not a good idea to throw the ball. Dan Mullen said it best following the game that the turnovers are coachable. After all it’s the first real game action Trask has had in seven years (drink). More experience will help Trask over time, however if those turnovers continue they will eventually cost Florida a game. If that happens, the energy will not be from Florida's fan base.
The Usage of the Two QB system: Personally, I love the concept and think it can actually work. While on Saturday it did open up the run game a little bit and get Emory some valuable in game reps. The overall timing of the drives were horrific. Sending Emory Jones out with a white hot Trask fresh off a turnover while having a chance to get the kill shot in the second quarter was just confusing. It was maybe the least confident drive and the worst 3 and out there’s been since Dan Mullen has been at Florida. If this is going to work at all Emory Jones needs to throw the football. He finished the day 4/6 for 20 yards with a majority of those attempts being swing passes and for the run game to be a consistent threat there needs to be some other routes besides a swing.
Overall this weekends thrashing of the Vols was a success with way more good than bad. Towson should be the final stress free Saturday until the bye week. Let’s enjoy it y’all.