From Saturday: first thoughts.
Auburn has had a rough go of it this season in terms of defensive performances. The Tigers gave up 110 points in their first three games before holding FAU and South Carolina to 27 combined. Auburn’s defense would take a step back against Arkansas and give up 38 to the Razorbacks – the third time the Tigers had given up that total in their first six games. Due to the points and yards put up against Auburn, it was easy to expect more from Florida’s offense on Saturday night. Then the game started.
With the quarterback position being manned by two true freshmen and a sophomore that had only been asked to throw the ball a handful of times during his career the worst was feared, but progress was hoped for. Jacoby Brissett’s arm and escapability would be accompanied by Trey Burton’s ability to run the option and Jeff Driskel occasionally coming off the bench to give the defense different looks. We didn’t expect a 35-point explosion or 400 yards from scrimmage, but we expected more than two field goals and a total of 194 yards on 59 plays. What could be most frustrating is that the Gators were in the game according to the scoreboard. The Tigers’ offense wasn’t lighting the world on fire either and Florida had its chances, but couldn’t capitalize.
We’re all aware the quarterbacks were going to struggle. Inexperience will do that. It’s not a surprise to anyone that neither Brissett nor Driskel looked like All-Americans. What was surprising was Charlie Weis’ rotation of his passers. No one knows which one will be the Gators’ quarterback of the future, but neither is getting a chance to get into any kind of rhythm. Brissett threw an interception early, but was far from awful. He throws a nice ball when he plants and has the chance to fire it in to a receiver. It’s easy to see why Florida wanted to add him as the second quarterback of the class. No one on the offensive side of the ball was great during the first half, but why bench your quarterback in a one-point game? Again, it goes back to rhythm. Brissett was only given one half to find his and Driskel coming off the bench cold didn’t have any either. If John Brantley isn’t able to go in two weeks against Georgia, Weis may have to pick one QB and stick with him unless the wheels completely fall off.
The running game was a liability yet again. What was the Gators’ most dangerous weapon during the first four games has become something Florida can’t rely on. Brissett enjoyed the long of the night with an 11-yard scamper, but that was it for excitement. Chris Rainey shouldn’t be getting the ball as much as he does. Not to say he can’t be a great asset to the offense because he definitely is one, but he’s not an every down back and it shows. Unfortunately we didn’t see Mike Gillislee nearly as much as we were led to believe. He carried the ball only three times for 16 yards and at one point we saw his ankle being taped on the sidelines. Regardless, all of this goes back to one key item we keep having to bring up: offensive line play.
What more can we say about the offensive line at this point? We can’t. They aren’t opening lanes for runners and they aren’t protecting the quarterbacks. It’s a unit that struggled for most of 2010 and came into 2011 with even less experience. That lack of experience has shown and it was apparent last night. At the seven-game point of the season, you have to have a solution. Correction: Weis has to have a solution. This line will continue to get dominated if it doesn’t improve now. And if this is the best they can be, the points won’t come. 10 points. 11 points. Six points. 4-3 will quickly become 4-4 if that keeps up.
Next up: the defense.