In the build-up to Florida’s 24-20 win over Miami in Orlando last Saturday, much was made of the Gators’ revamped and inexperienced offensive line.
A unit with just 23 combined starts among them, Florida’s protection was the focal point in the eyes of pundits and analysts around the country, as many expected the game to be decided at the line of scrimmage.
When the dust had settled and the Gators could look toward their first bye week with a sigh of relief, Florida coach Dan Mullen had time to reflect on the team’s offensive performance at the line of scrimmage.
“I thought they did pretty solid. A lot of new faces in a tough environment against one of the top defensive lines out there,” Mullen said of Florida’s offensive line. “I thought they held their own most of the night.”
Florida’s offense was whistled for just two penalties, compared to Miami’s 11 infractions amongst its equally inexperienced unit.
And when it came to protecting the quarterback, Florida’s offensive line seemingly performed admirably considering the circumstances. The Hurricanes were credited for a lone sack, in addition to three quarterback hurries — although Miami’s pressure up front late in the game did force quarterback Feleipe Franks into a pair of potentially costly interceptions.
Where Florida did leave much to be desired, however, was in the running game.
The Gators mustered just 52 rushing yards on 27 attempts, often relying on the arm of quarterback Feleipe Franks — and the occasional fourth-down trickery — to keep the offense on the field.
To the surprise of likely no one, that wasn’t Florida’s gameplan; facing a highly regarded defense in the ’Canes, the Gators simply adjusted to the opposition.
“We didn’t run many plays, and it was kind of an awkward game. We were taking some shots,” Mullen said. “They were really trying to stop the run and left us with some 1-on-1 matchups on the outside, and we were able to hit them. I don’t know if we overly committed to the run too much tonight for how the game played out.”
Mullen made sure to add he isn’t concerned about UF’s rushing attack — although there’s no shortage of improvements to make in the interim for a Florida program with lofty goals this season.
“I think there’s a lot of things we can get cleaned up and that we can get better at. We take a lot of pride in our plan to win. We didn’t follow that tonight. Usually we can put that up and say, ‘This is why we won, or this is why we lost’,” Mullen said. “I’m going to put that up there and say, ‘This is our plan to win’ and say, ‘Hey, we probably shouldn’t have won that game’. We had the heart to find ways to make plays to find a way to win the game.”
Who: University Tennessee-Martin (0-0) vs. No. 8 Florida (1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7
Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
TV: ESPNU/SEC Network
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850