Whitley Grades the Gators
Gainesville Sun sports columnist David Whitley passes out unit grades for Florida's contest Saturday vs. USF, a 42-20 win at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Gators' Offense B
If you're into Biblical numerology, 666 is the Mark of the Beast. If you're into football numerology, it's the mark of a beastly offense. That's the number of total yards the Gators had, but we're grading on a curve because USF is so dysfunctional. After an initial 3-and-out, Florida toyed with the Bulls as it should have. The line gave the skill guys time and room to make big plays. Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson traded duties on four consecutive TD drives. After a quiet opening week by the wideouts, Jacob Copeland had five catches for 175 yards. The tight ends are still MIA in the passing game.
If it had been a 30-minute game, the offense would have gotten an beastly A. But Jones was only 3-for-11 passing after halftime and threw two bad interceptions. He seemed to regress as the game went on. As the QB goes, so goes the offense. Richardson was scintillating until he pulled up with a bad hamstring. The big thing this game produced was a beastly QB controversy.
Gators' Defense B-
Again, we’re grading on the USF curve. The Bulls hadn’t scored a touchdown against a Power Five opponent since 2018. They got two against the Gators. Granted, it was after the game was decided and UF was trying to get a lot people in the game, but the Bulls never came close to scoring in Week 1 against NC State. UF's subs too often looked like subs.
Florida held USF to 2.3 yards rushing on 41 carries and regularly swarmed USF’s QBs. But the Gators gave up 188 yards passing, and it could have been a chunk more if USF receivers had made a couple of diving catches. Newcomers Avery Helm and Jason Marshall Jr. had their struggles at the cornerback spot opposite Kaiir Elam. More reason for UF to worry with Alabama coming to town.
Gators' Special Teams C
Jeremy Crawshaw averaged 45.7 yards on three punts, including a pooch punt. It looks as if distance won’t be a problem with the punting game. Coverage was the issue against the Bulls, who had a 45-yard return. The Gators again didn’t attempt a field goal, and it’s still unclear whether Jace Christmann or Chris Howard (or both) would handle that chore. Neither was overly impressive on kickoffs. In seven attempts, they managed only two touchbacks.