Van Jefferson’s debut in the orange and blue lived up to the months of hype.
While the opponent hardly resembled an SEC foe, Florida’s offense appeared revitalized from the jump as the Gators took a 38-0 halftime lead and never looked back in downing Charleston Southern 53-6 in Saturday’s season opener.
And Jefferson, the redshirt junior transfer from Ole Miss who only just received immediate eligibility during preseason camp, was front and center in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
After fellow transfer Trevon Grimes commenced the scoring barrage on a 34-yard touchdown reception, Jefferson got in on the action to lead off the second quarter on a slant from quarterback Feleipe Franks for six.
“It was good, my first touchdown. It was electric,” Jefferson said. “I hope for many more.”
Jefferson and the Florida faithful didn’t have to wait long for his hopes to become a reality.
The 6-foot-2 playmaker hauled in Florida’s final touchdown of the first half, a three-yard pass from Franks, to give the Gators a commanding 35-point advantage.
It was readily apparent that the slant pass, while hardly the most attractive play in the offensive repertoire, was a play UF intended to use to its advantage.
When you consider Franks’ arm strength and Jefferson’s ball skills, it’s blatant why Florida plans on employing an offensive staple to create a mismatch in the defense.
Although the play seemingly worked to perfection against the Buccaneers, Florida’s upcoming opposition take heed: Jefferson believes the play can still improve.
“Really just a one-on-one situation, just make sure I lock the DB’s hips and get in front of them,” Jefferson said. “Me and Feleipe work on that countless times in practice, and it was just showing in the game, so you know he did a great job placing the ball. And I think I did a pretty good job of locking the DB’s hip; probably could’ve did a little bit better, but, you know, I’ll get that corrected this week.”
Franks praised UF’s wide receiver contingent in the process while concurring with Jefferson that Saturday’s offensive display was a sign of things to come.
“I think all of our receivers had a really good night. I tried to spread the ball around so everybody got a little touch. And then we got some big tall guys in the red zone that are quick as well, so I was running the fade ball and (Jefferson) would run a slant or whatever,” Franks said. “I think we’re just scratching the surface. We have a long way to go where everyone can reach their full potential.”