Florida football: Grading Gators in their tighter-than-expected game against South Florida
The plus side is that the Gators have shown they can run the ball. Montrell Johnson showed some surprising breakaway speed on his 62-yard TD run and finished with 103 yards on just six carries. Trevor Etienne continued his freshman ascension. Just remember, this was against the 126th-rated run defense in America.
The downside is running is the only dependable component. Other than a 16-yard run, USF kept Anthony Richardson bottled up and made him beat them through the air. He’s not developed that ability, as two interceptions could attest. Other than an eye-popping 30-yard grab by Justin Shorter, the receiving corps hasn’t done much to ease Richardson’s growing pains. Through three games, he has more tackles than TD throws. If UF's going to win, it'll be on the ground.
Five takeaways:No. 21 Florida Gators survive USF scare 31-28
David Whitley:USF gives Florida far more fits than expected in 31-28 Gators escape
Postgame Swampcast:Wrapping up the No. 21 Florida Gators 31-28 win over the USF Bulls at The Swamp
Gerry Bohanon is sort of a Richardson clone, and the Bulls utilized him well. Their option attack confused the Gators and racked up 216 yards rushing in the first half. The Bulls finished with 403 yards of total offense, including 16 plays that gained 10 or more yards.
Some of that can be attributed to Ventrell Miller being sidelined and confusion among the young linebackers. But a lot of it was USF’s offensive line simply beating UF up front. If not for an offside penalty on a fourth down in which they were set to go for it, the Bulls wouldn’t have punted all night.
The defense salvaged the night with one goal-line stand, a pick-six by Jalen Kimber and a Tre’Vez Johnson interception. It will need far more than that against Tennessee.
Special Teams C
Move along, nothing to see here. Zero return yards, though for the third straight week UF’s kick return team was penalized, this time for a personal foul. Adam Mihalik made his only field goal attempt, a 31-yarder. Jeremy Crawshaw punted only twice, averaging 43 yards. His 54-yarder almost outkicked the coverage and set up a 20-yard return.