Andreu's answers: Gators defuse Rockets
Published: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.
Before every game, veteran football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here's Week 1:
1. The Gators won the fourth quarter last season, but were notoriously slow starters. Will UF get off to a quick start today or will it be more of the same?
The Gators got off to a really quick start, driving 84 yards for a touchdown on their opening possession. UF did it mostly on the ground, running nine of the 11 plays, although quarterback Jeff Driskel did hit a big completion (16 yards) to Trey Burton. The offense slowed down considerably after that, but the Gators go the quick start they were looking for.
2. There has been an emphasis on trying to make more big plays in the passing game. Will we see some today?
Driskel did not hit any deep passes, but he threw some really nice balls downfield on play-action passes, giving everyone a glimpse of UF's potential in the passing game. He completed two, both to Trey Burton, and the third was dropped by Solomon Patton.
3. The UF defense is anticipating having a stronger pass rush with Ronald Powell and Dante Fowler Jr. coming off the edges. Will the Gators get to the quarterback today?
Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens got rid of the ball so quickly on all those short pass attempts that he was tough to get to. Still, the Gators sacked him twice and caved in the pocket on numerous occasions. The one who brought the most heat was tackle Dominique Easley, who was close to unblockable at times with his lightning first step. And he was doing it against a top-flight center.
4. What will the Florida running game look like minus No. 1 tailback Matt Jones and two starters on the offensive line (Jon Halapio and Chaz Green)?
It looked good, really good. There were indications earlier in the week that the Gators would have a tailback-by-committee scenario Saturday, but Mack Brown got the hot hand early and kept it, earning the bulk of the carries for the rest of the day. He rushed for 112 yards and two TDs. Kelvin Taylor was impressive in mop-up duty on the game's final drive.
5. On what should be a hot, muggy day in The Swamp, who wins the fourth quarter?
Neither team scored, but the Gators clearly won it. Dominique Easley and those big defensive linemen were still coming hard trying to get after a quarterback that's hard to sack, and the defense prevented Toledo from making a serious threat to UF's 18-point lead. The offense then wore down the Toledo defense, running off the final 6:49 of the game with a strong inside running game.