Instant Analysis: The big bounce back

Florida 49 - McNeese State 7

by Joseph Torviso
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The second game of the Graham Mertz era, the first in front of the home fans, ends in a resounding victory for the Florida Gators over the McNeese State Cowboys 49-7.

Inside the Gators’ Instant Analysis takes a quick look at how the game unfolded.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Trevor Etienne ran for 22 yards to the McNeese 19 yard line with 1:26 left in the 1st quarter. Early on Florida understood that the Cowboys did not have an answer to their run game. The Gators ran 8-of-11 plays that drive on offense. Two plays after Etienne’s run, the Gators scored their second touchdown of the game.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: The Gator offensive line. After allowing 5 sacks and 7 total tackles for loss versus Utah, Florida was able to keep Mertz’s jersey clean, allowing no sacks all game. The redshirt junior also had a lot more time to make decisions compared to the Gators season-opening loss. Florida’s offensive line was the key component for Florida’s spectacular run game today. They created hole after hole for the backs and only allowed two tackles for loss.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: 30 rushes, 212 yards, and 4 touchdowns to end the first half. Mertz went 9-of-12 for 83 yards. Yes, Florida’s running was dominant and McNeese State couldn’t stop them, but will it work versus Tennessee? Mertz threw at or behind the line of scrimmage for most of the half. It was the yards after the catch that gave the Wisconsin transfer all of those yards. When he would go deep, Mertz would overthrow his targets. He had one good throw over the middle to Ricky Pearsall for an 11-yard gain. That was Mertz’s best throw of the half.

THIS MATCH-UP PROVED KEY: The big boys up front on defense. McNeese State had little time to breathe when they were on offense. The dominant defensive line earned a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss, most notably the safety by Jamari Lyons. McNeese quarterback Nate Glantz ended the game 7-of-14 for a total of 66 yards. The defense’s performance is a big positive heading into the Tennessee game.

WHAT A PLAY: The Scooby Sack. With 6:38 left in the first quarter, Glantz rolled out of the pocket due to great coverage by the Florida secondary. Instead of electing to throw the ball out of bounds for a potential field goal, Glantz was rocked by inside linebacker Scooby Williams. On 4th & 20 on the UF 42, the Cowboys had no other choice but to punt the ball back to the Gators.

UP NEXT: Florida (1-1) plays #9 Tennessee (2-0) in the Swamp to open up SEC play for both teams. The Gators will look to extend their nine-game home unbeaten streak versus the Volunteers.

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