FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
Florida fans hyped up the Week Zero opener against Miami in Orlando all off-season. This was a chance for their team to prove to the nation that they’re back and ready to content for championships again.
They didn’t get that. Instead, they got a sloppy, eyesore of a game filled with costly penalties, sacks, turnovers and poor execution offensively from both teams. It wasn’t pretty, but the Gators escaped Camping World Stadium with a 27-24 victory.
Here is our Instant Analysis of the first game of the 150th season of college football.
It Was Over When: The Hurricanes spoiled a golden opportunity to put the game away early in the fourth quarter. On first down early in the quarter, defensive end Jabari Zuniga tackled Miami running back DeeJay Dallas for a loss of four yards on first down. However, defensive tackle Kyree Campbell was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct foul that gave the Hurricanes new life on the series. On the next play, Dallas ran 50 yards down the left sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.
On the ensuing UF possession, Feleipe Franks overthrew an open Freddie Swain over the middle of the field. Swain tipped the ball, and it was intercepted by Amari Carter and returned to the Florida 21. After the defense held strong, James Houston was called for a late hit on a fake field goal attempt that gave the Hurricanes a first down. UM kicker Bubba Baxa missed a 27-yard field goal attempt.
On Florida’s first play after the missed kick, Franks connected with Josh Hammond on a perfectly thrown ball down the right seem for 65 yards. Franks concluded the drive with a go-ahead three-yard rushing score.
UF’s defense held the rest of the way.
They Stole the Show: Despite making his first career start and being sacked six times, Miami quarterback Jarren Williams kept his composure and turned in a solid performance, throwing for 220-yards.
Say what you want about Franks and his uneven performances, but you’ve got to admit that he’s tough. Despite missing some throws in the first three quarters and throwing the interception, he bounced back with a clutch drive to take the lead. His final stat line showed 17-for-27 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.
Punter Tommy Townsend had a ginormous impact on the game. In addition to his usually stellar punting, he executed a fake punt on fourth-and-3 from the UF 36-yard line. The drive ended with a screen pass thrown from Franks to Kadarius Toney. Toney broke at least four tackles and outraced the defense to the end zone for a 66-yard score.
Linebacker Ventrell Miller played more than expected at outside linebacker, and he made the most of his opportunities, recording six tackles and two sacks.
The Stats Don’t Lie: In one of the weirder stats in recent memory, the Gators were just two-for-10 on third down but 4-4 on fourth downs. They needed every one of them.
Miami committed 14 penalties for 125 yards. The infractions kept UF in the game long enough for them to work some fourth quarter magic.
Florida ran for just 52 yards. Mullen’s offense is predicated on a strong rushing attack. Not having it forced them to rely more on Franks’ arm than they would’ve liked to, and Franks wasn’t completely up to the task. But, he made just enough plays when he needed to.
What A Play: This goes to the Franks to Hammond connection. Just when it looked like the Gators were left for dead, they found a way to make a huge play.
These Matchups Proved Key: This award definitely goes to Florida’s defensive line versus Miami’s offensive line. This was viewed as a huge mismatch entering the game, and it proved to be just that. Ten sacks and 16 tackles-for-losses is utterly ridiculous.
The Gators’ secondary locked down the Hurricanes’ receivers for most of the game. Speedy Jeff Thomas caught just two passes for 28 yards, and K.J. Osborn was held to four for 41 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Gators weren’t able to take full advantage of Miami’s depleted secondary. Van Jefferson caught just one ball for 14 yards, Tyrie Cleveland caught one pass for 13 yards and Trevon Grimes caught just one for 10.
Up Next: The Gators have a bye week prior to taking on UT Martin in their home opener in two weeks. They’ll be searching for a much cleaner performance.