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Florida Football

Former Florida Player Feedback: 10 Observations

September 9, 2019
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Former Florida walk-on kicker (and scout team body bag) Zack Brust (10-12) shares 10 observations on Florida football after the Gators 45-0 victory over UT-Martin in the 2019 home opener.

1) Our receivers tell you all you need to know about the culture Dan Mullen has built thus far in Gainesville. They fight for every inch, block like grown men, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments as brothers would. It was great to see them have some of that effort translate to the stat sheet, with 11 different guys accounting for 312 + 3 TDs. Looking forward to that momentum continuing. 

2) Feleipe Franks is our guy. The dart to Van Jefferson encapsulated his progression + ability: looked the safety off and put touch on a ball that caught #12 in stride. Call him Sherwin-Williams, because he hand-delivered the paint. It ain’t easy to be a quarterback at the University of Florida. You walk by statues of quarterbacks from glorious past eras on the way to each and every practice. He loves being a Gator and works his ass off  - what more can we ask of a kid? 

3) Our defense absolutely swarms. Again, back to the culture thing. You can teach technique and scheme all day. You can’t teach relentlessness. Like in years past, they give us a shot no matter who we line up against. I found myself wanting UT-Martin to have the ball Saturday just so I could watch the beautiful symphony that was our pass rush.

4) The offensive line gave Franks a damn eternity to throw the ball. Giving up only two sacks thus far this year, especially considering one game was against a defensive line like Miami’s, is fantastic. A lot goes into that - Franks getting rid of the ball, our receivers giving him an option, and running backs picking up extra rushers. Its encouraging that we not only have the talent to physically keep up with opposing defensive lines, but that our guys knew their assignments throughout the game as well. 

5) The run game just doesn’t feel there yet. Jumping from a putrid 1.8 YPC in Week 0 to 6.1 YPC last night looks okay on paper, but most of that should be attributed to our backs making something out of nothing. It also felt like Franks deliberately handed off options instead of keeping them for himself. I am more than good with that against an opponent like UT-Martin, but down the road he’s going to have to tote the rock.

6) Penalties, mistakes mitigated. A big improvement from game one, we went into the third quarter without a penalty flag. Didn’t turn it over once. Of course, an opponent like UT-Martin makes that a bit easier. Whereas there were a lot of mind-numbing plays against Miami, this week the only thing that hurt my brain was watching Kyle Pitts eat grass without a defender within 10 yards. There will be some laughs in film this week, guaranteed.

7) Our specialists are weapons. You might say I’m a bit biased (I am), but I’m telling you. they make the really difficult look easy. Because we had 1 punt (a 50-yard sky missile, downed at the 4 for no return), I’ll look at Evan McPherson’s kickoffs: he averaged a 4.23 hang-time and put the ball in the absolute perfect spot, between the numbers and the sideline, 2-3 yards deep. I promise you - he has the ability to kick it out of the endzone. But by putting it there, he tempts the returner to try his luck. With that hang-time, and our speed, you’re just not gonna have a good time taking that kick out. The one time UT-Martin tried, their return man got dirted at the 8. Thanks for coming.

8) The injuries are a major buzzkill. Although UT-Martin mustered as many points as their brethren from Knoxville have wins (0 of them, to be clear), can’t help but feel a bit somber when arguably our biggest playmakers on offense (Kadarius Toney) and defense (CJ Henderson) go down. Chester Kimbrough, Jaydon Hill and Kaiir Elam showed out in their Swamp debut, as did Jacob Copeland on the other side of the ball. Unclear on the Toney/Hendo prognoses, but thankfully we have the time + depth for the next men up to find their place.

Related: Mullen update’s Henderson/Toney status

9) The great debate of the student section. Looked unimpressive at kickoff, and then filled up nicely by the end of the first, only to (understandably) fall off towards the end of the game. As a player, you just hate to see it. There seems to be a ton of chatter on social media about it, and I know for a fact the topic is on the athletic department’s radar. Here’s my idea: as a student, if your ticket is scanned in by kickoff at each home game, you don’t have to enter the lottery in order to buy post-season tickets. If it means you could get first right at a ~$100 face value ticket to the SEC Championship…you put the White Claw down and get to the Swamp.

10) Did we just beat Auburn? Anyone else notice how UT-Martin had identical uniforms to the War Eagle Tiger Plainsmen of Auburn? I still have nightmares of that nerd Wes Byrum Gator chomping across the field after squeaking his 43-yarder inside the right upright. Knowing our luck with them, any preparation against those uniforms in the Swamp can’t hurt. Gators by 100. 

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