Nine first downs.
And perhaps the most telling statistic, eleven rushing yards.
Yes. You read that right. The Gators only had eleven rushing yards total against Michigan.
I’ve refrained from blogging about Florida’s opening game until now because quite frankly, I’d rather pretend it never happened.
We heard from Coach McElwain all offseason long that the offensive line was the strength of the team. More than once, he said the “Florida speed” was back. I have one question: Where was it?
Because from what I saw, our offensive line is far from the strongest unit on our team. Who knows? Maybe that Florida speed is back, but our running backs never had a chance to do anything because Michigan’s defense was right there as soon as they got the ball.
I know I’m being really critical and slightly harsh here. If you’re a frequent reader, you know I love my Gators to death. I feel terrible for writing about Florida this way. But… this is getting ridiculous. We haven’t had a solid offense in about eight years, and McElwain was hired because he’s an offensive guy. He was supposed to be able to come in and fix this mess. I understand it’s going to take some time, and we’ve been dealt a tough hand with the injuries and suspensions we’ve had since he began his tenure. But it’s been three years, and we still have a less than stellar offense. Something’s wrong, and I have a feeling if McElwain doesn’t fix it and fix it fast, his time in Gainesville may come to an end sooner than he would like to think.
Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that out, let’s get to some positives, shall we?
Here’s What We Know.
- Felipe Franks has potential. He went five of nine for seventy five yards, including a thirty-four yard bomb to Josh Hammond on the opening drive. Could he have been better? Of course. But it was his first collegiate start. I chalked things like the fumble where he dropped the ball up to that, and honestly, I don’t think it would have mattered if Tim Tebow was under center with the way our offensive line played. From what I’ve seen of Kyle Trask and Malik Ziare, I think Franks is our best option moving forward, and I think as he plays more and gains more experience, he’ll become a lot better.
- Our defense is the backbone of the team. They carried us through that game. No, they weren’t perfect. Yes, they have work to do, but let’s be real here: if Duke Dawson and CJ Henderson hadn’t snagged a pair of pick sixes, the score would have been a lot more lop-sided and a lot uglier. They played pretty well, especially when you consider how young of a unit they are. And they’re only going to get better.
- We have the entire season ahead of us. That game was far from pretty, but I think we all need to keep in mind that it was only the first time those guys have played together. Like Franks, they’ll get better as they play together and gain experience. One game does not make our season, and I think we’ll see improvement with each passing week.
That being said…
We have questions to answer if we want to beat Tennessee tomorrow and go on to win the SEC East for a third year in a row.
How can we protect Franks and give him an opportunity to throw?
What can we do to get the ground game going?
What would our offense look like if Doug Nussmier opened it up and play-called more aggressively?
How can the defense continue to grow?
What can we do to begin righting the ship and take home a win tomorrow?
And perhaps the thing every Florida fan wants to know: What will we look like when we get the nine suspended players back?
We can beat Tennessee tomorrow. I truly believe that. We just have to come together, eliminate as many mistakes as possible, play smart, and be aggressive. We have the talent and makings of a successful season, and that success starts at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon. We need to take home a win, get a little confidence back, redeem ourselves, and maybe, gain a little respect.
That’s what tomorrow is: a chance for redemption.
All stats taken from floridagators.com and Scott Carter’s Twitter.