Monday Morning Driskel: Florida Gators Thoughts After The Win Over The Tennessee Volunteers

Another win, another new Florida Gators feature at The Bull Gator. The name is inspired by our quarterback Jeff Driskel and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, which discusses a plethora of topics concerning the week’s NFL games. We hope to do something similar–but on a minor, more pertinent-to-us level. Don’t worry, it won’t be nearly as long. Let me know how you think this goes.

Also to take note: I AM NOT CRAZY. I know it’s Tuesday. Sadly, the idea came to me Monday night, so I figured why let a week go to waste?

Let me start this off by saying this was a fantastic college football week. The Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in stunning fourth quarter-shutout fashion, and Florida moved up to No. 14 in the polls, just behind Lane Kiffin and USC, who, to top it all off, lost to Stanford 14-21. And if there’s one thing Tennessee and Florida fans can agree on, I think it’s the happiness brought by seeing Lane Kiffin fail.

Beyond that, there’s not a great deal the Volunteers would be willing to agree with us about, after our 37-20 win in the hostile Rocky Top-land. For the Gators, it was a tale of two halves. The first half was slightly ugly, which featured Mr. Muschamp screaming at the top of his lungs at a referee, and the second half was, as TBG said, “glorious.”

What We Learned

Jeff Driskel is improving, quickly: I don’t think we could ask for much more than what Driskel has given us so far, and he looks like he can be so much better. He was extremely accurate, and his touchdown pass to Jordan Reed with defenders surrounding him was a thing of beauty. I feel bad for Jacoby Brissett, but Team Driskel all the way!

Driskel, calm and composed: The knock on Driskel coming into this year was his composure level. After showing he can effectively control the football game, accurately facilitate the football to his receivers, and thankfully handle the football without coughing it up, Driskel would appear to have better composure tenfold. Seriously, you couldn’t ask for much more from a sophomore quarterback who was starting in only his second game.

Against the run, Tennessee is tough inside, extremely flawed on the outside: If you noticed a trend in Florida’s results from different run plays, you weren’t alone. The Gators busted out long runs, including an 80-yard run by Trey Burton by avoiding the middle of the Tennessee defense, which was stuffing Florida at the line all night. The Vols have a few kinks to sort out on the corners of their defense.

Trey Burton can be a factor running the Wildcat: Burton was potently effective Saturday, running for 91 yards and two touchdowns on only three carries. We knew Burton had a chance to make an impact from the Wildcat, but it’s been a while since he has made much of a difference.

Frankie Hammond Jr. looks like Percy Harvin: Hammond Jr. is nowhere near the athletic level that Harvin is, or was, but Hammond sure has looked explosive and surprisingly smart in the open field.

The defense is great in the fourth quarter: Not so great in the first half, but I think preventing opposing teams from reaching the end-zone in the fourth is somewhat impressive, especially against a couple pretty good offensive teams. Jeff Dillman’s conditioning probably has a lot to do with this.

The safeties are all over the field: Josh Evans was everywhere at once during the first two games, despite getting knocked out of the second. Matt Elam also seemed to be picking up the slack during the last game by leading the team with 10 tackles.

Our defense, Marcus Roberson can’t catch: Very disappointed by Roberson’s hands. He’s always there for an interception, only to find it just beyond his grasp.

Things We Already Knew That Proved To Remain True

Will Muschamp is somewhat of a hothead: Haha, TBG seems to be unhappy about this.

Gilly’s good: Mike Gillislee is continuing to live up to his role as the probable best player on offense.

The Vols would be very sad when they lost: I wish I could have found a picture of the fans crying when they realized there was no chance of a burnt orange win, but if you watched the game on ESPN, you know what I’m talking about.

Surprise Of The Day

Derek Dooley may also be a hothead: Spiking the ball down is not an appropriate reaction after his quarterback Tyler Bray delivered a perfect pass to the disgruntled coach.

Play Of The Day

Trey Burton’s 80-yard touchdown run: This was just great. The Tennessee guy took an awful angle, though.

Drafting The Florida Gators To Go Head-To-Head Against…The Florida Gators

The football offseason brings about boredom and plenty of it. It has forced us at The Bull Gator to come up with ways to occupy our time whether they are fun or trivial exercises in futility. Some examples include past attempts at coming up with the best Florida Gators of all-time at each jersey number and a draft consisting of only players available from the schools we have attended. This is another one of those exercises.

One Eyed Willy and I conducted a draft where we each attempted to fill a starting roster made up of all Gators. The rules were simple: 1) you need to fill each position with a player that could realistically line up at that position, and 2) your only real wildcards are going with a fullback or a third wide receiver and playing either a 4-3 defense or a 3-4.

Once we were done, we gave the teams to Evandagator and he let us know which team he thought would win if they went head-to-head. We didn’t tell him which team belonged to which one of us, so he could give his unbiased opinion (we aren’t completely sure which one of us he likes more just yet). We also posted the teams on Alligator Alley (one of the message boards on Inside The Gators) to see what they thought as well.

First up, the teams:

*The numbers in parenthesis indicate the overall pick the player was selected. Some players don’t have numbers next to their names because once we realized we only had positional openings left where we wouldn’t be competing for players, we each filled our rosters in one lump selection.

(more…)

The Defense: Florida Gators 39 – UAB Blazers 0

You’ve read about the offensive performance in the 39-0 win over UAB,now on to how the Florida defensedid.

On November 18, 2006, Florida defeated Western Carolina 62-0. It was the last time the Gators’ defenseshut out an opponent. In the nearly five years since then, Florida has won twonational titles, gone 13-1 three times, and seen a coaching change. That lastone brought some changes to the defense, which was expected the minute Will Muschamp was announced as the nexthead coach. So far, so good. After a 39-0 win over UAB, Florida’s defense hasnow accumulated the following impressive statistics: 3 total points allowed,349 total yards allowed, 3.2 yards per play allowed, only three third-downconversions allowed in 23 attempts, and only allowed opposing offenses into thered zone twice. Again, so far, so good.
The biggest story of the defensive line early in the 2011season has been the absence of defensive end/tackle Sharrif Floyd. The all-world recruit had a bumpy start to hisFlorida career, but started to come on toward the end of the 2010 season.Expected to be a key part of the Gators’ defense this season, Floyd missed thefirst two games for “violating” NCAArules. If he had to miss any games, these are the two you would probably want,but his absence was more evident against UAB than it was against FAU. Againstthe Owls, the defensive line totaled six and a half tackles for loss. Againstthe Blazers, two. Against FAU, two sacks. Against UAB, none. That’s not to sayFloyd makes all the difference in the world, but he certainly will make some.This is a very talented defensive line that needs to stop the run and putpressure on the quarterback. With the players the Gators have on the roster,pressure should come easily against lesser opponents. Against SEC offensivelines it will be harder to come by. Floyd’s return could spark something.Scratch that; Floyd’s return needs to spark something. The defensive line hasplayed well, but has yet to be dominant. Sooner or later, they will need to be.
The linebackers were in a similar situation as the defensiveline and finished with only one tackle for loss after totaling three againstFAU. The Gators were led by Jon Bosticwho had five total tackles and is quickly becoming a leader on the field.Bostic is a hard hitter who nearly destroyed a Blazer or two, but they droppedpasses right before getting to him (which was very good for them, very good).Tackle numbers aren’t all that impressive yet for the linebackers, but that’sbecause Florida was still in a heavy rotation. Due to that, you won’t seeanyone with 10+ tackles just yet, but you will get to see plenty of field timefor the backups. Two to continue to watch are Darrin Kitchens and MichaelTaylor who have looked good in limited time. Overall, the linebackers arevisible again and that’s a great thing.
At times, coverage was a little soft and allowed UAB toconvert some nice plays. It was a bend, don’t break zone being run by theGators’ secondary that allowed the Blazers to put a nice play or two together;however, Florida only allowed 141 yards and didn’t allow a pass completion oflonger than 24 yards (not counting the UAB touchdown that was called back dueto penalty). The secondary is playing good enough, but still needs all of thepositions locked down. The starters in this one (yes, there were five) were Matt Elam, Josh Evans, Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson and De’Ante Saunders. Elam and Robersonseem to be the mainstays and both played well. Elam forced a fumble andRoberson recovered one – the Gators only forced turnover so far this season –but the other positions are still up in the air. A lot of players have had goodmoments, but a lot have also had struggles. On the plus side, the struggles havebeen minimal. The coaching staff will surely be watching tape all weekend todetermine who will get the most time against Tennessee.
Like the offense, the defense is a work in progress and sofar we should all choose to be happy. After two games, the Gators have given upthree points. After two in 2010, that was 26 points. In 2009, nine. 2008, 13.2007, 34 (including 31 to Troy).2006, 7. You get the point. And just in case you don’t, the last time Floridaallowed three or less total points in their first two games: 1933 after a 28-0win over Stetson and a 31-0 victoryover Sewanee (Side Historical Note: The Gators would post shut outs in their nexttwo games that season as well).
Offense and defensedown. Special teams and final thoughts to come.

Florida Gators Defensive Backs – 2010 vs. 2011

The Bull Gator and I finish up the defense. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers.
2010: Ahmad Black – SR, Moses Jenkins – RJR, Will Hill – JR, Janoris Jenkins – JR, Jeremy Brown – RSO, Josh Evans – SO, Matt Elam – FR, Cody Riggs – FR, Josh Shaw – FR, Jaylen Watkins – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: C
Although I believe that the potential was there for them to be an above-average group, when looking back on the defensive backfield for the Gators in 2010, I decided to give the unit an overall grade of C. But really you could look at this unit as a tale of two stories with one half of the unit being outstanding and the other half being downright pitiful.
First, let’s start with the good, namely safety Ahmad Black and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. To say that these two guys deserve a grade of A would be an understatement as to how good they really were. Black had the most tackles on the team (108), the most interceptions (5), the most forced fumbles (3) and the most fumble recoveries (2). He also had twice as many unassisted tackles (73) than all but one other Gator (Jelani Jenkins – 41). Not to mention the leadership that he provided both on the field and in the locker room truly was immeasurable.
In 2008, the Gators won the national championship thanks in part to a freshman CB who found his way into the starting lineup on day 1 of the season and never looked back. By doing so, Janoris Jenkins became just the second true freshman in school history to start at CB on opening day. The stats for Janoris in 2010 may not be that overwhelming: 44 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 3 interceptions and 1 sack, but his presence on the field made the entire defense better. Opposing quarterbacks were hesitant to go to his side of the field, and more often than not, when they did he was there to make a big play.
Then you have the other guys. The combination of Will Hill and Josh Evans at the other safety position left much to be desired. I could go on-and-on about just how disappointing of a season/career Hill had, but I think we have all been down that road before. And the revolving door of Moses Jenkins, Jeremy Brown and Cody Riggs at the cornerback position opposite of Janoris (for the most part) was, to be nice, less than stellar.
With that said, we did see glimpses of hope in 2010, including Brown, Riggs and Matt Elam showing that they have the potential to be stars for the Gators somewhere down the line, but for the most part, when one half of your defensive backfield fails to live up to the hype while the other half struggles to make up for their teammates’ mistakes, you know you are in for a rough year.
2011: Moses Jenkins – RSR, Jeremy Brown – RJR, Josh Evans – JR, Matt Elam – SO, Cody Riggs – SO, Jaylen Watkins – SO, Josh Shaw – RFR, Jabari Gorman – FR, Chris Johnson – FR, Loucheiz Purifoy – FR, Marcus Roberson – FR, De’Ante Saunders – FR, Valdez Showers – FR
Preseason Rating: C
If you would of told me a few months/years ago that starting in 2011, the defensive backfield of UF would be Janoris Jenkins, Will Hill, Matt Elam and a second cornerback of your choosing, I probably would have said, “sign me up!” Unfortunately that won’t be the case for two major reasons. First, Hill thought he was going to get drafted into the NFL. Well, he didn’t. But this actually might be a positive for the Gators given Hill’s lack of production on the field. And second, Jenkins really liked to smoke pot. I mean really liked to! Therefore, he will have to finish his college career in the beautiful city of Florence. No, not that Florence, but the one in northern Alabama.
So what are we left with? Well, if you ask me (which you didn’t), I say we are left with a group of guys who have yet to prove themselves on the collegiate level, but who have all the talent in the world to be great players.
At the safety position, Elam is the only guy at this point that I can say is definitely a starter. I think Elam will have a great season, but I am really basing that more on hearsay and hopes than on actual on-the-field production. The other safety position is up for grabs right now. Some think that it’s Evans’ spot to lose. Others believe that Josh Shaw or Jaylen Watkins may sneak up and take the position. And recently, there have been discussions of De’Ante “Pop” Saunders moving from cornerback to safety in order to lock down that spot. Unfortunately all of these guys have fairly limited (or no) playing time at the college level and therefore the second safety spot could be a significant point of weakness for the Gators’ defense in 2011.
As far as cornerback is concerned, I have been shouting from the rooftops one name these past couple of months and I’m not going to stop now: Marcus Roberson!!! Look for Roberson to join Joe Haden and the aforementioned Janoris Jenkins as freshmen starters at the cornerback position for the Gators. Roberson may struggle in the beginning, but he will be very good, very soon. The second CB position has the chance to be reminiscent of last year in which there are a couple of guys rotating in and out at that position. Guys like Brown, Riggs, Moses Jenkins and freshman Loucheiz Puriofy all have a chance to play at that spot and could be called on periodically throughout the season to step up.
To grade the defensive backfield going into this season is almost impossible to do. There are too many variables, too many open spots still, and too many guys with talent but no experience. I truly think that we could look back a few months from now and easily give this unit an A and just as easily give this unit a F. But with the former defensive back Will Muschamp at the helm teaching these guys on a day-in and day-out basis, I think we might all be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

TBG’s MVPs: Florida Gators 56 – Troy Trojans 6

It’s time for the individual game awards. Names for most pending.

Offensive MVP: Tim Tebow, QB, 15-of-24, 237 yards, 4 touchdowns, 13 carries, 71 yards, 1 touchdown. The Tebow we all know and love was alive and well in this one. 308 total yards of offense and five touchdowns and he’s already the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. In the very near future, Tebow will be the SEC’s all-time rushing touchdowns leader. If you don’t think that’s at least a little impressive, you need to check your historical significance pulse.

Defensive MVP: Janoris Jenkins, CB, 3 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 interception. Florida felt Jenkins’ impact on pass defense almost immediately. He has become the team’s top cover corner and we should all be happy he’s back. And…Justin Trattou, DE, 3 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass deflection. With names like Jermaine Cunningham, Carlos Dunlap, and Omar Hunter along the defensive line, many tend to forget about other contributors such as Trattou. He impact was more than felt in this one.

Play of the Game: Tim Tebow to Brandon James, 32 yards, touchdown. For a guy listed as a running back who really hasn’t played all that much offense over the course of his career to make a catch like that in traffic in that weather was beauty personified. It’s didn’t hurt that Tebow’s throw was as perfect as it could be.

Surprise Players of the Game: Another award we gave to two players. I wanted to go with Omarius Hines, but his drop was too fresh in my mind. KP however gave him the benefit of the doubt for his ability to make people miss and some great runs after the catch. After two games, Hines is third on the team in receptions and yards. I ended up going over to the defensive side of the ball with Josh Evans. Although the box score shows him only racking up one tackle, he always seemed to be around the ball when he was in the game. Evans is a guy who wasn’t a definite to even qualify then became an almost definite redshirt candidate and now he’s suiting up and making plays.

Bouskilla Award (Hardest Hit): We had two winners for this one as well, but they were actually for hits they put on Florida players. First, Janoris Jenkins picked up his second award of the game after clocking Brandon James on his return that was called back. And second, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio for body checking Riley Cooper after Cooper lost his helmet for the 19th time.

Kyle Jackson Memorial Trophy (Player Who Shouldn’t Have Been Out There): Wondy Pierre-Louis, CB. As KP said, “every time he steps on the field he’ll win it.”