Dooley Grades The Gators: Some good, some bad
First half: The Kyle Connection kept it going for two touchdowns and we also saw just how big a role Kadarius Toney is going to play in this offense. Florida struggled to get the running backs going, but they ran hard, especially Dameon Pierce. Trask ran as well (but had a bad fumble). He finished the half with 200 total yards.
Second half: Certainly the offense did some good things and Toney made us feel like Percy Harvin was back playing when he out-physicaled three SC defenders on his way to a touchdown. But Florida needed to run the clock when South Carolina was trying to fight back and could not.
For the game: The two Kyle Trask turnovers kind of kept South Carolina in the game after his four touchdown passes looked as if the Gators would cruise. This is an offense that feels a little like last year in that the rush game is still shaky at best.
First half: Mike Bobo's scripted first drive went like clockwork for South Carolina as it faced only one third-down conversion. Florida stiffened after that, but a short field helped the Gamecocks to another score. Zachary Carter's late sack helped UF get a late touchdown.
Second half: It felt like Florida's defense was on the field the whole second half, but that was kind of its fault. You can't keep giving up fourth-down conversions if you want to get off the field. Still, stopping the Gamecocks at the end was a plus.
For the game: This defense is one of two things — a work in progress or simply what Gator fans are going to have to live with this season and hope to outscore everyone. The tackling has been abysmal and the coverage did a good job not letting Shi Smith go deep but struggles to stop the Gamecocks underneath.
SPECIAL TEAMS A-
First half: Really nice job by Kadarius Toney for 16 yards to keep Florida from getting pinned in a hole. Toney had another nice punt return of 26 yards to set the Gators up in good field position. We will forgive Evan McPherson for a kickoff that went out of bounds just this once.
Second half: Jacob Finn was called on to punt when the Gators needed a big one and he launched a 51-yarder with so much hang time the returner had to call for a fair catch. Florida did a good job of taking the short kickoffs and getting good field position out of them.
For the game: Other than the kickoff out of bounds, Florida did a good job in both the return game and the kicking game. South Carolina's mistake of fumbling a fair catch on a kickoff was a bigger mistake.
Florida is 2-0 and that means the Gators have made it through a fifth of their season without a loss. That's good, but the defense has to get better in almost every way if this team is going to get near its goals. This is a good team dealing with a lot, but there are steps that have to be taken to make it a great team.