Whitley grades the Gators
Gainesville Sun sports columnist David Whitley assigned grades to Florida's 35-14 win over Florida Atlantic:
With 400 yards rushing, the running game was A+. That was promising, but do the Gators really want to turn into Army, or is it a matter of necessity? Dan Mullen is tailoring the offense to fit players’ skills, and a lot of guys can really scoot. That includes quarterbacks Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson, who combined for 235 yards rushing. The passing game wasn’t nearly as impressive, with Jones throwing two interceptions and rarely connecting with his wide receivers. Sounds like Army.
That might be grade inflation based on last year’s performance, but the defensive front looked about 500% better. The Gators line accounted for six sacks, three by Zach Carter. The secondary did not look 500% better. Three new starters and a slew of backups made too many mistakes. The soft coverage allowed an average of 13.7 yards per completion. But the defense held FAU scoreless until the final 4:27. After last year, nobody can gripe too much about a near-shutout.
SPECIAL TEAMS B
It’s tricky to judge special teams when you don’t attempt a field goal. Speaking of which, who is the field-goal kicker? Hard to say, because Jace Christmann and Chris Howard alternated kicking extra points. The other units showed promise. Jeremy Crawshaw averaged 49.0 yards on two punts, and Xzavier Henderson had a 33-yard punt return.
There were bound to be some opening game kinks. It’s just that not many people expected the passing game to be so kinky. Jones was sharp on the first two drives, then he looked more like a redshirt freshman than a fourth-year junior. Richardson had two highlight-reel runs but was 3-for-8 passing. That was OK against the Owls, but UF is not going run for 400 yards against Alabama. Saturday’s game at USF is the last dry run before the Crimson Tide hits Gainesville. The passing game needs to get better in a hurry.