Notebook: Florida finally finds fumbles

The Florida Gators fight for the ball against UAB Blazers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the first half of the game. [Kaila Jones/Correspondent]

Entering the game Saturday, Florida’s defense was the lone unit in Division I football that hadn’t recovered a fumble this season.

While the Gators had recovered a fumble on special teams in the team’s loss at South Carolina, Florida was dead last in the nation in fumbles recovered.

And against the Blazers, Florida’s defense ultimately found a way to get the ball, out as the Gators recovered both of UAB’s fumbles before securing a 36-7 win.

“Defensively, we caused turnovers. Got sacks and we caused turnovers and stopped the run game,” UF interim coach Randy Shannon said. “That was the one biggest emphasis that was going to try to get done today.”

Pineiro on display

Those clamoring for kicker Eddy Pineiro to display his strength finally got their wish — twice — on Saturday. The former junior college transfer booted two 50-yard field goals in the first half, making him the first kicker in UF history to hit two field goals of 50 yards or more in one game.

Pineiro would hit five field goals on the night, a career-high, while pushing his consecutive field-goal streak to 15. And Pineiro became just the third UF kicker to hit five or more field goals in a game and the first since Arden Czyzewski made five against Notre Dame in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.

“The first one, I felt the first 50-yard that I hit it didn’t come off clean off of my foot. But I felt the second one, I put some juice on it. It felt way better than the first 50-yarder,” Pineiro said. “It feels great. I’m trying to hit the ball the same, trying to be as consistent as possible and just trying to get some points on the board for this team. That’s my main goal.”

Gators break out the checkbook

The University of Florida has paid out hefty sums in recent seasons, but Saturday’s match-up with UAB took the cake and then some. UF paid the University of Alabama-Birmingham a cool $1.5 million to host the Blazers for a non-conference showdown, eclipsing Florida’s previous payouts by a hefty chunk of change. The Gators previously paid $500,000 to Florida Atlantic University and $450,000 to Furman University, and Georgia Southern received $550,000 in 2013, meaning Saturday’s showdown may have been Florida’s costliest non-conference bout to date.

While Townsend breaks records

The offense’s futility continues to be Johnny Townsend’s gain. The redshirt senior punter continues to break Florida records, as Townsend’s four punts gave him 234 punts in his UF career, breaking Eric Wilbur’s record of 231 punts. And Townsend already holds the record for most punts in a season with 83 in 2015. While he wasn’t named as a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to college football’s most outstanding punter, Townsend’s peers know just what he brings to the Gators.

“The most important part of special teams,” Shannon said bluntly, “is your punting.”


    • Wish him the best too if he does go. Those are circumstances that are hard to fight with, for sure. Both he and Townsend are great talents, fine young men as well, hate that the latter is being snubbed so badly at present.