After a tough loss at LSU, Florida bounced back Saturday.
It was a game that was everything Gator fans thought it would be. A rainy, sloppy, way too stressful game resulted in a 38-27 win over South Carolina.
The Offensive Line: Yes, this is not a drill. This is a position group that has been slandered by everyone in the fan base. It’s somehow found its way into being in “The Bad” or “The Ugly” section of this column damn near every week. But, they finally made it to “The Good.” The unit deserves its credit. The overall talent ceiling is significantly lower than last year’s group. However, in similar fashion, the unit is slowly improving and getting better every week. Kyle Trask only took one sack. The tun game was miles better compared to anything Florida has had the entire season. The overall performance was capped off by a perfectly blocked 75 yard touchdown run from Dameon Pierce. The O-line needs to continue to build off a solid performance against LSU and a good outing against South Carolina throughout the bye week headed into a showdown with Georgia.
Jacob Copeland and the rest of the WR Room: I had someone tell me in fall camp that Jacob Copeland is the most talented Wide Receiver we have. Through eight games, I honestly believe it. Despite not putting up Jerry Jeudy type stats, Copeland has been phenomenal the past two weeks. Saturday’s stat line of 3 catches for 89 yards (including a 37 yard touchdown) made this his best game so far as a Gator. The scary thing is Copeland still can get better and that’s encouraging for the 2020 season.
Aside from Copeland, the rest of the room was fantastic again. Despite playing in a storm that can be labeled stronger than whatever one Coral Gables is; Tyrie Cleveland put on a blocking clinic on Dameon Pierce’s touchdown run. Josh Hammond made an underrated clutch catch like he seemingly does every week. Freddie Swain had an amazing go-ahead touchdown catch. Kyle Pitts Found the end zone. Tre Grimes also added an insurance TD. The unit might not have a clear WR1 but its depth and consistency continue to win football games.
Vari’s lies about Amari Burney: After last week’s disaster at STAR in Baton Rouge occurred, Trey Dean bounced back and had a solid game. Despite this one thing was clear about Saturday defensively.
Listen to Vari and start Amari Burney at star.
In a crucial third down in the fourth quarter, South Carolina took a deep shot to Bryan Edwards out of the slot. The Star position has been such a liability all year I had no doubt in my mind the ball was going to be caught and switch momentum back to the Gamecocks. The ball felt like it was in the air for an hour, only for the pass to be perfectly defended by Amari Burney.
Folks, that was the best play of the entire season made by anyone at the star position.
If you’re not going to move Marco Wilson inside and have Kaiir Dlam on the boundary, Burney is the guy for the slot position now and possibly for the future.
Other Small Good things:
- Florida scored 38 points on the road in the driving rain.
- The 21 fourth quarter points are the most by Florida since a game against Arkansas in 2008.
- Despite the absence of Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga the defensive line had a solid game with good performances from Adam Shuler, Zach Carter, and TJ Slaton.
- South Carolina only drove down the field and into the end zone once the entire game when not aided by a flea flicker and 2 penalties.
- Kyle Trask continues to improve and grow as he has every game so far.
The Linebacker room: I don’t understand how a unit led on the field by a throwback 1980’s linebacker can consistently get beaten consistently by running back draws. David Reese bit and gave up a touchdown on a draw on 3 and 11. Ventrell Miller has looked bad since his injury in the Kentucky game. A little more James Houston might be what the doctor ordered for this room. With a run heavy team in Georgia in two weeks, gap integrity and eye discipline have to improve if they want to stop D'andre Swift.
Injuries: Dear football Gods, we have suffered enough. Our starting Quarterback is out for the season. Kadarius Toney has played five quarters. Defensively, we can’t buy a break and get the best eleven on the field at once. Not having Jabari Zuniga and Jon Greenard again has truly limited the potential in what could be a very special defense. The bye week could not come at a better time for this team.
Donovan Stiner: This is a PG rated column so if you saw my tweets from Saturday you know my instant reaction thoughts on this. Put bluntly, this rotation has got to stop. This man’s angles in the run game make Nick Washington look like Keanu Neal. Every play he's at least half a step slow. There are also consistent missed tackles on air, and on the person with the ball. He almost single handedly allowed a touchdown drive Saturday. It has only cost us mildly so far, but I can’t stress this enough: POOR ANGLES AND NOT TACKLING THE RUNNING BACK WITH THE BALL IN JACKSONVILLE WILL COST FLORIDA THE GAME.
The Ref show: I seriously don’t want to keep putting this topic here. However, that was absolutely atrocious on both sides. Florida got screwed about four times in the first quarter and a half on missed offsides and pass interference calls. In the second half the refs missed an obvious pass interference call against Josh Hammond on the go-ahead TD. I damn sure am not complaining about missing a couple penalties Florida may have committed. However, the common theme is that Florida has played in eight games and the only three of them included competent officiating. Those three happened to be against two meaningless FCS teams and somewhat of a SEC team in Tennessee.
Via: Harrison Tenzer
(Above Photo via: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)