Only one game into the season, Florida’s opponents already have a blueprint on how to attack and stymie the Gators’ offense. It was provided by Michigan in the Wolverines’ 33-17 smackdown Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
The Wolverines crowded the line of scrimmage with seven defenders and confused and physically overwhelmed a Florida offensive line that was supposed to be a team strength this season.
Michigan blitzed, stunted and dominated the offensive line, and as a result the offense went nowhere, especially in a second half that saw the Gators get outscored 20-0.
The offensive line is sure to see more of the same, especially when SEC play begins in two weeks against Tennessee.
“They want to get better,” wide receiver Josh Hammond said of the offensive line. “They want to get back and go get it cleaned up, see what they messed up on, see what Michigan ran and definitely get it fixed.
“A lot of other teams will probably try to mimic what Michigan did, so we definitely have to get what they did cleaned up and get ready to face that in upcoming games.”
Certainly, there were a lot of mental errors and missed assignments up front that contributed to the meltdown. But most of the problems seemed to stem from the fact the offensive line was not physical enough to cope with a strong and aggressive Michigan defensive front.
There was no push in the running game (the Gators managed just 11 yards rushing on 27 attempts), the quarterbacks had no time to effectively run the offense (six sacks), and UF’s potential playmakers were taken out of the game.
UF coach Jim McElwain said after the game that he and the offensive coaches do not need to revamp the offense. But it’s clear they need to rethink some things now that it’s evident the offensive line is not as sturdy as everyone thought heading into Saturday’s game.
“We’ve got to look at a lot of things,” he said. “And yet, it’s not time to hit the panic button. We’ve got a good football team. We’ll come back and do the right thing and be OK.
“I think we just continue to challenge them (on the offensive line). I like those guys. They learned some lessons today. We’ve got to give them an opportunity to be successful.”
McElwain said the coaches need to work out a plan that not only will help out the beleaguered offensive line, but put the quarterbacks and playmakers in a better position to make plays and sustain drives.
“It’s one of those deals,” McElwain said. “It’s disappointing, and yet I can see where we’re at and I can see the pieces. More than anything else, cleaning up that get-it-to list and let those guys go make some plays.
“I think we have an opportunity to grow and be a really, really good team. And that’s what we’re planning to do.”
McElwain said the offensive staff put together a good game plan, but it failed because the Gators were beaten so badly on the line of scrimmage.
“It was foiled by getting whooped by big, strong guys. And that was disappointing.”
Not only do the Gators need to rethink their offensive options and clean things up on the line, they have to determine the best route to go with the quarterback position.
Feleipe Franks was benched in favor of Malik Zaire early in the third quarter, but the results were basically the same for both QBs. They did not have enough time to execute most phases of the offense.
McElwain said the coaches would examine the situation at quarterback this week and come up with a plan for Saturday’s game.
“We’ll put a plan together and get a look at it,” he said.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.