Before every Florida game, veteran Sun college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 2:
1. Will the Gators be able to establish a running game after failing to do so in the opener against Miami?
The final numbers — 231 yards rushing on 38 carries — are misleading. When the game was still competitive in the first half, the offensive line was getting zero push in the running game and the Gators were finding space and yardage hard to come by. UF rushed for only 83 yards in the first half, and 22 of it came on a run by quarterback Feleipe Franks. The reality is the young and inexperienced offensive line is playing like many thought it would heading into the season. It’s a struggle right now, and the real tests are on the horizon — Auburn, LSU, Georgia.
2. Can the UF defense create its first turnover of the season?
It finally did, and it came from true freshman cornerback Kaiir Elam with his fourth-quarter interception in the end zone. Elam blanketed his receiver and made a nice catch to kill the UT-Martin scoring threat. Just like in the opener against Miami, the defense was flying around, playing with a lot of passion and physicality. If the Gators continue to do that, the turnovers will come.
3. After a week off, will the Gators get off to a slow start or will they come out hot?
Let’s just call it a sluggish start. The offense stalled on its first possession and had to settle for a field goal. The defense was strong in the first two UT-Martin possessions, but then struggled a little bit getting the Skyhawks off the field. For the most part, UT-Martin dictated a lot of the tempo in the first half and the Gators, who probably were expecting to put this game away by halftime, led only 17-0 heading into the third quarter.
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4. UT-Martin’s offense had a good balance between the pass and the run in the opener last week. Can the UF defense make the Skyhawks one dimensional?
The goal was to shut down the Skyhawks running back, and that’s what the Gators did in a big way. Take away a 34-yard run by quarterback John Bachus in the fourth quarter against the UF backups, and UT-Martin would have had only 20 yards rushing in the game. The Skyhawks averaged only 2 yards a carry. With the running game eliminated, the Gators brought the pressure, which produced five sacks.
5. UT-Martin wide receiver/returner Terry Williams accounted for 199 all-purpose yards last week, including a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. Can he inflict some damage on the UF special teams?
Williams was little or no factor. He caught four passes for just 22 yards, his long being for only 8 yards. He was even less productive in the return game. He had one punt return for zero yards and averaged only 19 yards on two kickoff returns. Williams caught the attention of the UF special teams with his performance the previous week, and the Gators responded by eliminating him as a threat.
— Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.