FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
- Instant Analysis: Second half dominance leads to blowout victory
- WCC: Post-game press conference coverage
- No. 11 Florida vs Tennessee Game Thread (All Game Talk in Here)
Here are Five Fast Thoughts after Florida's convincing 38-14 win over Tennessee. Included is a look at the Gators running the ball down the throat of the No. 5 rush defense, Emory Jones continued improvement passing the ball and more.
I write the outline for this as the game is being played and then go back in and fill in the blanks post-game. Thus some ‘takes’ might seem a bit dated or perhaps even over the top as I write my thoughts ‘in the moment’. Plus, this is a bit more of a ‘raw’ update in that I write what I write and really don’t go back and check the game tape before publishing the article.
1) Back in the spring tight end Kemore Gamble commented that before this year, he believed that he was more of a 'finesse' type of player, and considered himself 'weak' when it came to run blocking, but that was changing under tight end coach Tim Brewster. According to Gamble, the motto for the position group was 'Be the hammer, not the nail.' He has certainly taken that to heart through the first four games of the season. Not only has Gamble become more of a focus in the passing game, but he has had several notable blocks over the first four games of the season, including a couple that helped to spring explosive runs the last two weekends.
- Related: Players post-practice news conferece
2) Let me preface this by saying I wholeheartedly support the NIL legislation passed by the NCAA over the summer. For years, all of us, schools, coaches, media outlets (including myself), television, etc… have profited off of student-athletes, while not sufficiently compensating them. So, it goes without saying that I hope every single player, whether they be Gators, Seminoles, Bulldogs, or Tigers, makes as much money as humanly possible off of their name, image, and likeness. At the very least, they deserve that. My one concern was that it would become a distraction. Players would chase this easy money and lose sight of the main focus, receiving an education and maximizing their developmental opportunities to get to the next level – where the real money is. Though I know what kind of worker he is going back to seeing him in high school, I thought that perhaps because he was so active with clothing, endorsements, etc… early on that perhaps Gervon Dexter might fall into that trap. However, what he has shown in the last two games, against Florida's two toughest opponents, is that he has his eye on the prize. Dexter had his best game as a Gator against Alabama and followed that up with a dominating performance against Tennessee this evening. As he continues to mature, he is going to develop into one of the top defensive tackles in the nation.
3) Over his last five quarters of play, Emory Jones looks like a true dual-threat quarterback rather than a willing running and reluctant passer. Since finishing the Alabama game by going 6-out-7 for 70-yards down the stretch, after tonight's game Jones is now 27-of-34 for 279-yards and 3 touchdowns passing. While of course, he is no Trent Whittemore (1-of-1, 13-yards, and 1 touchdown), he has shown dramatic improvement in his decision making and ball placement while also remaining a threat running the ball. What was particularly important was to see him take some deep shots in the second half after playing a dink-and-dunk game throughout the first half. With the way the first quarter of the 2021 season has played out, there's likely to be a two-loss team in the CFP. IF that is the case, IF Jones continues to improve as a passer, that November 30 showdown with Georgia will have implications outside of just who wins the SEC East.
4) If it wasn't already clear after last week's performance, what Florida undoubtedly proved tonight is that the Gators can run the ball on anyone. Tennessee entered the game with the No. 5 rush defense in the nation – giving up an average of 1.7 yards per rush on the way to allowing a paltry 54.3 yards per game on the ground. Tonight, in the win, Florida ran the ball 40 times for 283-yards and an astounding 7.1 yards per rush. As things currently stand, other than Georgia at the end of October with the No. 14 rush defense, the Gators don't face another top-tier run defense this season. A strong running game will continue to help keep the pressure off of Jones as a passer and give Florida more freedom to allow him to pick and choose his spots.
5) I know he was playing in the middle before Ventrell Miller went down and now Miller's absence has created even more of a need there, but from what I've seen in the last two games, the further away from the line of scrimmage Jeremiah Moon plays, the less effective he becomes. Moon has a chance to be an upper-level type of Buck, a player capable of making plays in the backfield and at the LOS, but he doesn't have the skill set to consistently drop in coverage and be able to hold his own much less make plays.