Florida Gators entered this game as 32-point favorites over the Florida Atlantic Owls in Will Muschamp‘s first game as head coach, and Howard Schnellenberger‘s last opening day game. I expected Florida to not crack open its offensive playbook very much as it preserves the element of surprise for later games, but for the defense to not hold back as it irons out some wrinkles in its hybrid 4-3/3-4. I had predicted a score of 45-10 with John Brantley IV passing more than 30 times for over 300 yards. Looks like I fell a little short. I had also assumed Jeff Driskel would have looked better in his first outing.
- 28 Jeff Demps opens up the Will Muschamp Era by returning the opening KO 58 YDS for a TD, but called back for penalty on 13 Dee Finley.
- First play of the Muschamp Era, handoff to 1 Chris Rainey for 12 yards and 1st down
- Rainey stuffed running to the right edge
- 5 YD swing pass to the edges seem to work. This is a good way to attack the edges out of a pro style.
- 8 Trey Burton nice grab for 11 YDS, 1st down
- Single back set 28 Demps stuffed on strong side, -4 YDS. Yeah. Demps needs a blocker.
- Dual back set, 28 Demps blocks for 1 Rainey, 13 yard gain. Demps blocks well for a little guy.
- 12 John Brantley can run! 2 YDs, 1st down on a QB sneak. Calls his own number. Quite a difference from last year.
- 28 Demps 1 YD run up the gut.
- JB4 once again nice pass in the flats to Rainey 10 YDS 1st down.
- WTF! Bad snap sails 15 yards over JB4′s head. NOT AGAIN!
- That should have been PI on the incompletion 12 Brantley to 11 Jordan Reed.
- 9 Quinton Dunbar great 14 YD pitch and catch, even though short of the 1st down. Gives the kicker more room to kick.
- 1st points of the Will Muschamp era, 51-yard FG by 19 Caleb Sturgis. Welcome back, Caleb Sturgis!
3-0 at 8:28 of 1Q. Scoring drive 12 plays, 47 yards, 6:32. 0:32 per play, 3.92 YPP.
- Smothering defense by Florida. FAU does not look too snappy.
- 3 Jelani Jenkins, Marcus Roberson, swarm to the ball. Good defense out of the 4-3.
- 4-3 defense is like a tornado! Strong side push, weak side follow up. FAU getting overpowered from the front and back.
- SS LB 34 Lerentee McCray quick at stopping the up the gut run, but needs help to stop 6-yard run
- 1 Rainey no chance at punt return. This punter sucks. Maybe this is to prevent punt return.
- Dude, I am falling in love with Muschamp. No homo.
- JB4 goes deep for 9 Quinton Dunbar, nice throw, but incomplete.
- 28 Demps run right stuffed, -1 YD. Needs to be shiftier. 3rd and long. Demps will either gain 9 yards or lose 1 on any run.
- Charlie Weis timeout to think of the next play.
- Deep left 85 Frankie Hammond 15 yard reception. Nice touch.
- 28 Demps 1 YD underneath pass from no huddle. Nice command of the huddle from JB4, but would like to see him gain confidence to go deep from time to time.
- Flare-out to 1 Rainey 14 yards. This may become a staple play for dependable yardage.
- Incomplete quickout to 4 Andre Debose.
- 11 Jordan Reed goes upstairs and takes a sweet draw play roll out from Brantley for 15 YDS and 1st down. Good play from both.
- 12 Brantley rolls out, chased, throws ball away. Smart move.
- 12 Brantley missed in the end zone to 32 Gerald Christian. Double post – receivers too close.
- 84 Quinton Dunbar makes the 12-yard REC for 1st down on the out route weak side. JB4 finally has a dependable weak side Y-receiver.
- 28 Demps up the gut, loss of 1.
- Flare out to 1 Rainey 14 yard TD REC at 2:41 of 1Q.
10-0, good guys at 6:10 of 1Q. 12 plays, 67 YDS, 3:29.
- 3 Lerentee McRay great stuff on the FAU RB Morris.
- LB corps a little iffy on transition to pass coverage. Definitely look built for LOS attack
- DL great push up the middle, DB 26 Pop Saunders good stop
- 85 Hammond kick return 6 YDS, shifty, good cut, no help. Penalty on kicking team.
- Gators in the I, Rainey avoids his blocks and goes to the outside for 6 YDS.
- 28 Demps takes the draw play HO for 22 yard gain. Great opening by OL. Saw a few pancakes in there, and I ain’t talking about IHOP.
Notes on 1st Quarter: Offense is clicking on limited playbook. CW attacking the perimeter with Rainey, testing Demps up the gut to show he can handle it. Good use of Reed as receiving TE and Burton as blocking TE. I would have expected to see the reverse.
- 28 Jeff Demps goes around the corner 35 yard TD run. I had just stated that Demps cannot run as the single TB in the I, and he proves me wrong. Boy, that was fast. 18th career TD for Demps. Great block by Xavier Nixon. Good kick out block by Jordan Reed.
17-0, Florida. 14:52 of 2Q. 3 plays, 63 yards, 1:01.
- FAU 33 yard return to midfield. Florida ST still looking quite soft.
- Lerentee McCray swallows the FAU offense for 3 YD loss.
- Poor FAU. Switched QBs and now the Pensacola Catholic grad gets to meet 7 Ron Powell. Ouch. 13 and 6 Howard from Florida nearly attacked each other meeting the QB!
- FAU net on this drive: -15 YDS. Great job, defense!
- Strange ST formation. No attempt to attack the punter. I guess I miss Urban Meyer’s attacking special teams.
- 1 Rainey runs around the strong side for 16, bouncing off defenders along the way for a 1st down.
- Burton shifts from FB to slot. Rainey’s rush as lone TB did not work. Loss of 2. Note: Demps is better at lone TB than Rainey.
- 6 Deonte Thompson takes an ugly pass, short for 4 yards.
- 11 Reed great separation 13 YD REC, 1st down. I like this very confident JB4.
- Strange audible and formation change. 28 Demps fumbles after hitting his own man, but gains 1 on FUM REC by Matt Patchan.
- 85 Frankie Hammond 12 YD REC. Great jump catch on check down from the Y-receiver.
- Play fake, great roll out pass to Gerald Christian 9.5 yards.
- Penalty on Florida. Illegal substitution for breaking huddle with 12 men.
- 14/19 147 1TD so far from Brantley. Looking good.
- 6 Deonte Thompson great catch in the flats 1st down after take end around. Penalty on defense for late hit out of bounds.
- 1 Rainey easily runs left 14 YDS for the TD.
23-0 at 8:34 of 2Q. 9 plays, 91 yards, 4:35.
- FAU returns Sturgis kick 68 yards. Really?
- FAU QB David Kooi trips, loss of 9
- Florida defense swarms to the strong side and stuffs the edge runner. Why would anyone want to attack Florida’s perimeter? These guys are fast.
- Moses Jenkins hits Kooi short of the 1st.
- Bad punt hit 31 Cody Riggs in the back, and he falls on it. Yuck. I think FAU punts ugly on purpose to avoid the return.
- The first snap by freshman phenom, 16 Jeff Driskel, results in 5 YD rush, as expected.
- 16 Driskel avoided the sack, cannot see the openings(?). 3 YD gain. Mixture of good and bad on that play.
- 16 Driskel lucky to have that penalty. Delay of game erases the fact that the ball slipped out of his hands and was recovered by FAU.
- 16 Driskel fizzles by throwing a ball that was 10 feet too high to 11 Reed on crossing route. Okay. Difficult throw for a first pass.
3 plays, 3 yards, 1:38.
- FAU junior rookie fares no better as his pass hits the ground.
- FAU tries a screen and 52 Jon Bostic stuffs runner for loss of 4.
- FAU completes pass in front of 22 Matt the Mohawk Elam. I imagine he won’t be tweeting this tonight.
- FAU QB ugly pass incomplete.
- Funny to see Driskel sitting next to CW.
- Uh oh. FAU moving the sticks, 1st down.
- FAU incomplete, good coverage by secondary, great 1st step by Easley as he disrupts QB
- Great swarm by Florida defense, 6 yard loss, plus penalty
- Florida defense being “tested”, but FAU offense too inept to take advantage.
- All-out blitz by Florida worked.
- FAU scores 27 YD FG 24-3 1:22 2Q
- Brantley back in at QB, pass tipped way back for INT. I do not think that was Brantley’s fault. Great tip by defense, bad blocking by strong side.
- FAU moving the pocket to avoid the rush, 15 YD REC
- Florida weak side LB 3 Jelani Jenkins stuffs the run up the gut
- 22 Matt Elam looks lost in lineup
- Howard and Easley stuff the run up the gut.
- That hybrid 4-3/3-4 seems to be working
- FAU bad pass again. FLorida did not even bother to cover. Might be a concern unless this was by design.
- FAU misses 34 YD FG
- 7 Ron Powell personal foul. Dan Quinn chewed him out. Powell was retaliating and was caught with push and swipe at opponent.
Halftime analysis: The Gators look mighty sharp with JB4 under center on offense. On defense, the DL looks mighty scary. some concern with the secondary leaving the field open. Demps and Rainey are rock solid. JB4 is confident. Reed is dependable. Bostic, Howard, Jenkins, Powell, and Jenkins all looking good. It is good to have Sturgis back. ST looks different from past few years, but livable.
- Caleb Sturgis 70 YD kick for touchback. What’s this? The NFL?
- FAU changes QB and is chipping away.
- PI on 31 Cody Riggs. Sprained thumb affecting his judgement? He got beat.
- FAU still trying to run between the tackles? Idiots. Easley and Powell stuff the run.
- Florida good swarm on FAU’s screen. Note: do not try screens or running between the tackles. Passing over the top if you want to beat Florida. Could spell danger against FSU.
- Great sack by Green, Howard, et al.
- 1 Rainey 22 YD RET TD off 83 Solomon Patton blocked punt. XP by Sturgis.
Punt block recovered and returned for TD. 31-3 Florida. 10:13 of 3Q. Together, Rainey and Demps averaging 7.5 YPC. CW looks to be adapting his philosophy to adapt to these guys, including leaving Rainey on ST for these kind of plays. We sure missed Rainey in those five games last year.
- FAU gets 65 YD KO return to 25 YD line. Soft KO coverage by Florida again. Don’t like the soft ST coverage.
- 44 Leon Orr great pursuit of FAU RB Morris.
- Penalty on 2 Dominique Easley. Muschamp pissed. Now he is cramped.
- FAU goes for it and gets the 1 YD QB sneak for 1st down, exploiting Easley’s injury. Looks like we need him at that gap.
- Florida defense still playing well, forces FAU to punt.
- Hammond loses a yard on the punt return and lands at the Florida 14.
- 12 JB4′s pass tipped and knocked back. WTH?
- 1 Rainey 19 YD scamper between the tackles. Nice 1st down!
- Demps squirts through for a 7 YD scamper. Loving this 1-2 punch of speed.
- JB4 to Rainey 5 YD with some extra shake and bake, 1st down. Speaking of shake n’ bake, I propose that we refer to Rainey and Demps as Shake and Bake. Rainey is shifty, and Demps is just plain fast!
- JB4 to Demps 8 YD.
- Back to the running game! Demps 7 YD gain off play action.
- 28 Rainey takes it around the back to the right side behind 41 block for 20 YDS. Great blocking at the edges.
- Demps 1 YD rush.
- Good rollout by JB4 to Demps 12 YDS. We might need this play against an aggressive FSU defense. Mark my words.
- 12 JB4 intercepted into the back of the end zone on a very bad throw. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad pump pass to #6. Too low. Should have been thrown to the crossbar.
10 plays, 80 yards, 4:09, intercepted in the end zone. 0:24 per play, 8 YPP. Would have been nice if we had scored.
- Florida defense still swarming.
- FAU still throwing well to the middle of the field and move the chains.
- 14 Jaylen Watkins good coverage. I like this kid.
Notes on 3rd Quarter: 344 total yards, 3 TOs, 6.7 YPP vs 2.2 OYPP. Muschamp must be happy that the offense is average nearly 7 yards per play and that the opponent is being held to only 2 yards per play, but those turnovers cannot continue when we face harder opponents. The Gators actually looked better in the no-huddle. Why did we not put Driskel back in? We do not want the memory of his first start to be the interception.
- Another quarter, another incompletion by FAU.
- Florida still being bashful on punt returns. 36 yard punt, no return.
- 1 Rainey off tackle run strong side 3 YDS
- 12 JB4 missed to Gerald Christian on a rollout. Come on, man!
- JB4 audibles, but play clock forces time out.
- 6 Deonte Thompson makes the tricky low catch, gets hit and loses helmet. At least he didn’t drop. 1st down.
- 1 Rainey slips one tackle around the right side.
- 1 Rainey 13 YD gain 1st down, zigging and zagging from the 2 hole, in front of the LB, and around
- 4 Andre Debose 8 YD quick out, taken down at sideline, defender gets flag for late hit. Tack on 15 YD penalty. We really need to get him the ball more often.
- 28 Demps 3 YDS
- 28 Demps scampers up the right 20 YD TD run 37-3 Florida at 11:18 of 4Q.
Great blocking from the receivers. 8 plays, 78 YDS, 3:23. JB4 showing great command of the offense. Weis must really trust him to run this offense. Shake and Bake are really carving up that defense. Good to see Debose get the ball.
- Sturgis’ kick goes 67 yards, and once again, soft ST coverage lets FAU return the ball 38 yards.
- Blah, blah, blah. FAU starting to find some running lanes, or Florida’s defense is going easy on them.
- 51 Michael Taylor TFL on FAU RB Fortner
- 14 Jaylen Watkins stops the FAU receiver after letting him haul in 11-yard pass.
- 93 Kendrick Johnson shoots the gap and stuffs the run for 4-YD loss. Turnover on downs at the Florida 36.
- Jeff Driskel comes out and makes the easy pitch and catch for 7 YDS.
- 23 Mike Gillislee 7 YD rush to midfield. Good to see him get the ball.
- Gillislee gets 9 YDS on another north-south run.
- False start. Penalty on Solomon Patton.
- Patton redeems himself with an 11-yard snag. 1st down.
- Gillislee stuffed for loss of 3.
- Jeff Driskel to Debose for 4. Meh.
- That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Debose 20 YD snag from Driskel!
- WTH? Why can’t Gillislee pound in more yards? 2 YD gain.
- Gillislee 4 YD gain.
- False start again, this time on T 63 Kyle Koehne.
- Driskel misses Debose. Sigh. Maybe I bought into the hype and am expecting too much too soon.
- Caleb Sturgis 29 YD FG. 41-3 with 1:46 to go.
10 plays, 52 yards, 6:15 for a field goal. Definite drop off in production with the 2nd-team in. 0:37 per play. 5.2 YPP. The youngster Driskel looks hesitant to make reads and fire away, but looked good when throwing.
- FAU does not even look like it is trying to mount any offense. Run, run, run for a total of 15 yards. Game over.
- Brantley 21/30 (70%), 229 YDS, 7.6 YPA, 1 TD, 2 INT, 3.33% TD%, 6.66 INT%, 131.8 RAT
- Driskel 4/6 (67%), 42 YDS, 7.0 YPA, 0 TD, 1 INT, 16.66% INT%, 92.13 RAT, 2 RUSH/ 8 YDS, 4 YPC.
- Rainey 11/79 7.2 YPC 1 TD, 16 LG
- Demps 12/105 8.8 YPC, 2 TD, 35 LG
- Rainey 6 REC, 67 YDS, 11.2 YPC, 1 TD, 19 LG
- Thompson 3 RED, 34 YDS, 11.3 YPC, 17 LG
- 30 1st downs
- 70% 1st Down efficiency
- 468 YDS TOT
- 271 YDS passing, 25/36 (58.3%), 1 TD, 3 INT, 7.52 YPA, 2.77% TD%, 8.33% INT%, 114 RAT
- 197 YDS RUSH, 33 ATT, 6.0 YPR
- +3 TO ratio
- 31:21 TOP, 0:27 per play, 6.78 YPP, 36/33 pass/run
1. Quarterbacks – A-. Last year, Brantley started year of the Post-Tebow Era by going 17/25 (68%) for 113 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT, 132.37 RAT. That did little to erase the memory of the first Tim Tebow start, which was 13/17 (76.4%) for 300 YDS, 17.65 YPA, 3 TD, 0 INT, 282.9 RAT. If it were not for the two interceptions from Brantley, his output today would have been a respectable 156.12. This could be a reality check that Brantley is good, but he will never live up to the high standards set by Mr. Tebow. Jeff Driskel was expected to be the next coming of Tim Tebow, but even without that interception his rating would only be 125.47. All this was against a rather weak defense, so be careful with the “Florida is back” commentary. Whomever is under center at Florida needs to throw the ball downfield more and not throw so many interceptions.
2. Running backs – A+. Wow! Shake and Bake really like the I-formation. Demps likes to go north-south, like Hershel Walker, and Rainey likes to be shifty, like Percy Harvin. Put those two in the same backfield, and I see great things happening. Both average over 7 yards per carry. Rainey has shown that he can run between the tackles and bounce off a few defenders. Demps is so fast that he runs right past the defenders. Both have great vision in the I-formation being 7 yards behind the center, versus 5 yards back in the spread.
3. Wide receiver – B. This is looking to be a run-oriented offense. None of the receivers will reach 100 yards per game like this, but they block very well. Then again, it is possible that Charlie Weis was holding back his offensive playbook so he can unleash it later. We will find out soon enough.
4. Offensive line – A. Wow! These guys have come together nicely. They really create some good holes for the scatbacks to run through. These guys need to stay healthy, for we have little depth here.
5. Defensive line – A+. ****! These guys are good! Not only do they manhandle the opposing OL, they also disrupt the middle of the trenches and seal the edges. My only concern is how they transition to pass coverage.
6. Secondary – C. I am a little concerned that the secondary did not shut anybody down, even a weak opponent. Lack of depth and experience are killing us here. On several plays, the corners and safeties were trying to hit hard instead of make the tackle.
7. Special teams – B. The punter is the MVP here. Why? We never had to use him! Just kidding. Welcome back, Caleb Sturgis! We missed you! Caleb was 2/2 on FGs, 5/5 on XPs for 11 points with a long of 51 YDS. I am not very happy with the punt and kick coverage. On kickoff and punt returns, it looks like the plan is to let Rainey return it, or down it there. When kicking and punting, it appears that we do not care if the other team makes 30-yard returns. No rush on the kicker/punter, and a lackadaisical coverage scheme. Maybe this is to prevent injuries to our playmakers???
8. Overall – A-. Yes, the Gators won. They played like the #22 team in America against a vastly overmatched FAU team. Compared to last year, this is an A+. The team shows flashes of brilliance, but enough weaknesses to make me believe they will finish the season around the #20 position. This team looks better than last year, so there is a possibility of finishing around #15. There is a lot of football to be played before anyone can proclaim that the Gators are back to their former glory, but they appear to be well on their way. Go Gators!