Florida Gators Recruiting: Quarterback Treon Harris Flips from Florida State

Florida pulled off one of the biggest gets of National Signing Day, flipping quarterback Treon Harris from Florida State to the Gators.

Treon Harris, Florida Gators

Once hired as Florida’s new offensive coordinator, Kurt Roper made Harris one of his top targets. Despite being committed to FSU, Harris was open to listening to what Roper had to offer. The quarterback seems to fit well into the offense Roper hopes to run and brings a different skill set to the position than early enrollee Will Grier.

Jeff Driskel will be the starter, but the junior has a history with injuries and, at times, inconsistent play. While many fans hoped Grier could come in and win the job immediately, the best course of action for the Gators was always to bring in two quarterbacks. Two transferred out; two are coming in.

Harris could actually be the one to relieve Driskel during the 2014 season as he may fit the offense better from day one. That’s not to say Grier is now on the outside looking in, but the best course of action for him may be to redshirt while the offense evolves. There are worse things than three quarterbacks all learning during the transition season to be ready for 2015.

Fans will instantly think back to John Brantley and Cam Newton and then to Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Keep hope that this time around, the two quarterbacks will have bright futures for the Gators.

Transfer News: Florida Gators Bid Farewell To Jacoby Brissett, Chris Johnson

We all knew this was coming. As much as we may have wanted a talented, highly-recruited quarterback sitting behind Jeff Driskel for the next two seasons, we knew that QB wouldn’t be Jacoby Brissett. The sophomore quarterback has now made it official, he will leave the Florida Gators, transferring to another school.

Jacoby Brissett - Florida Gators

This really is the best decision for Brissett. The ball had been given to Driskel and he wasn’t losing it any time soon. While Driskel took his lumps during the 2012 season, he also had moments that made us excited for 2013 and beyond. His stats won’t jump out at you, but 10-2 as a starter is something to build on. And because it has become obvious that Will Muschamp and Brent Pease will build behind Driskel, Brissett had to leave.

There are no hard feelings coming from this side at all toward Brissett. He went to battle against Driskel and lost. Now he has decided to move on. There will always be the “what could have been,” but it’s that case with any departing player. We (and by we, I mean me because many are split on this) wanted to see more of Brissett’s arm, but not necessarily at the expense of the overall package Driskel brings. They are two different quarterbacks and the coaches have to build the offense around one. So farewell Jacoby, we truly wish you luck.

Also announcing his intention to leave was one-time defensive back and current running back Chris Johnson. While Johnson was a special teams standout at times, he wasn’t able to crack the lineup on either the defensive or offensive side of the ball. Johnson had a less-than-memorable end to his Gators’ career after being ejected from the Sugar Bowl.

Florida Gators Vs. Florida State Seminoles; The Rivalry Is Back Where It Belongs

I was thankful for a great many things yesterday–some sports-related; many not. Among those things I was thankful for was the return of the rivalry. I should clarify that before fans from both sides scream foul. When the Florida Gators face the Florida State Seminoles, the rivalry that comes along with it is always present. It wouldn’t matter if these teams had losing records. A rivalry of this kind is intense regardless of what the outcome means to the larger landscape of college football. That said, for many years it has taken a hit due to one or both of the programs underachieving. This season, that is not the case and, therefore, I’m thankful.

Ike Hilliard - Florida Gators

The Gators and ‘Noles enter Saturday’s game a combined 20-2. Not only do both teams have identical 10-1 records, they are both firmly (well, that could be argued) among the top 10 in the nation. Florida sits at No. 4 in the current BCS Standings thanks largely to the computer polls. FSU, on the other hand, holds the No. 10 spot due to those same polls. Let’s take a deeper dive, shall we?

The Florida Gators ranking line reads like this: No. 5 in the Harris Poll, No. 6 in the Coaches Poll, five computer rankings of No. 2 and one of No. 6. The computers have the Gators behind only the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which pushes Florida to No. 4 overall. Then look at the Florida State line: No. 6 in the Harris Poll, No. 5 in the Coaches Poll and computer rankings ranging between No. 15 and NR (that’s right, the ‘Noles are unranked in one of the computer polls). That hurts FSU in a number of ways and is what pushes them down to No. 10. All but one computer ranks the Clemson Tigers–a team the Seminoles beat–ahead of Florida State and you have to go all the way down to No. 18 to find a team with a lower computer average. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher may have been on to something when he spewed venom at the BCS.

But he only has half of an argument. Yes, the computers are screwing FSU to a point. As orange and blue as my vision is, I can admit that. However, there’s a little thing called strength of schedule that has to be taken into account. It’s not Fisher’s fault his ‘Noles play in the ACC where the level of competition isn’t always high. That’s not the fault of the FSU players either. He does have to live with it though. He also has to live with the fact that his team lost to a team they shouldn’t have–the NC State Wolfpack–that is now 6-5. Florida State would be either No. 1 or No. 2 right now if that hadn’t happened, but it did and Fisher has to live with the No. 10 ranking.

That doesn’t mean they won’t beat our mighty Gators tomorrow. The fact that FSU lost to NC State doesn’t necessarily give Florida an advantage either. Flip a coin and take your pick. What we’ll see if anyone’s guess, as it has been with most Gators’ games this season. There’s plenty to expect, but only one team will come out of this 11-1 and the best guess is to say something surprising will happen.

On both sides, we have elite defenses. Defenses that have won games for their respective teams. Defenses that will probably rule this matchup. Then we have the offenses and a whole lot of looking away from the television. I fondly remember the days when this game was always of national importance and with that came excitement over the offenses. The Florida offense would get the ball and you would move to the edge of your seat. Today, there are times when you’d rather go to the bathroom than see another three-and-out. On paper, Florida State holds the advantage in terms of offensive production. The problem with that is that you can throw away everything on paper from this entire college football season. Do I really need to prove that to you? Okay, here goes.

First of all, the Gators are 10-1. There’s joy in that record, but also genuine shock. The nation’s top team–the Alabama Crimson Tide–lost to one of the SEC’s newcomers in a game that didn’t feel as close as the score. Notre Dame is 11-0 and No. 1 only one season after I watched the USF Bulls beat them in South Bend. Florida State is 10-1 and NOT in the top five. Boise State has two losses and for once no one is talking about the Broncos. Only one week ago, we were discussing a National Championship featuring Oregon and Kansas State (?!?). And of the top 23 teams in the BCS Standings, only two have more than two losses this late in the season. Basically that means whatever the outcome on Saturday, it wouldn’t be surprising.

I hope for a Gators win, but I’m nervous. I’ve watched a determined team put together an impressive record with several notable victories and a lone loss to the nation’s No. 3 team. I’ve also watched an offense that looked to be improved early in the season, only to become something of a train wreck over the last month. I don’t know what to make of tomorrow because I don’t know what to make of the offense Brent Pease is attempting to get off the ground. Jeff Driskel will play, but I can’t be sure if that gives Florida a better chance than if Jacoby Brissett was taking snaps. The Gators have a primary running back and have run him ragged toward what will be the first 1,000-yard season since 2004, but he can’t do it alone. And, as always, there’s the offense line that we’re never really sure about. Put it all together and all I can manage is a shrug.

On Saturday, that shrug could turn into a raucous cheer or absolute anger. Time will tell on that end. The rivalry feels right again though and I am excited. Nervous, but excited. These teams should be playing for more than mid-tier bowl games. The rivalry means more to fans on both sides than that. Saturday will give us another chapter and another reason to hate each other. It’s part of what makes being a Florida fan or an FSU fan great. Both have the same philosophy for the game (even if we only promote it for one): just win.

Florida Gators Vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks; 10th Win Is On The Horizon

There are milestones each team sets for the season. Steve Spurrier made sure the Florida Gators’ goal was to get to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game. That was goal number one. Following that came the goal of playing for a National Championship. Spurrier’s Gators teams made good on that first goal numerous times, so did Urban Meyer’s squads. In year two, Will Muschamp’s Gators won’t make it to Atlanta, but at 9-1 (7-1 SEC) this season has been a step in the right direction and Florida now sits one victory away from another goal.

Jacoby Brissett - Florida Gators

I don’t run the Florida Gators’ football program (I think I’ve mentioned that before), but I have a goal of my own. It’s not a lone goal independent of the other two because it lends to their accomplishment. That goal is to get to 10 wins. A conveniently neat number, 10 wins makes a season stand out. It gives you a measure of success. If you can win 10 out of 12, 13 or 14 games, you’re doing something right. If you can get to those 10 without the help of a conference championship or a bowl game, even better. At 9-1, the Gators have a chance to reach that milestone in only game number 11.

That wasn’t expected at the beginning of the season. 10 wins was a possibility, but not necessarily by game 11. Many–myself included–thought a 9-3 regular season was in the cards with a chance of one win worse at 8-4. 10 wins could have come, but the Gators would have needed the added advantage of a second-tier bowl against a middle-of-the-road Big Ten opponent. Then the season began to unfold and that goal came to light quicker than we could have imagined. The Gators were 7-0 before we knew it and were in the SEC Championship Game hunt right up until last week. At 9-1, this team has had a phenomenal season, even if at times you really had to wonder how that record could possibly be what it was.

On Saturday, the Gators face their first non-FBS opponent of the season–the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Florida has already accomplished a lot this season in terms of their record, and looks to accomplish more on Saturday. The Gators have a chance to go 7-0 at home for only the third time in school history. They are only the 14th Florida squad to go 9-1 in their first 10 games and can become only the 7th to go 10-1 in their first 11. There’s some prestigious company among those other six seasons: four of those Gators’ teams played for a national title (three won) and another finished the season 13-1. And the Gators have done that this season while facing the nation’s toughest schedule.

Jacksonville State is not the Gators’ toughest opponent of the season, but Louisiana-Lafayette wasn’t supposed to be either. We all saw what happened last week and I’m fairly certain not a single one of us could handle something like that again. At this point in the season, we want Brent Pease’s 50 points more than he might. In order to do so though, the Gators’ offense will be in the hands of the backup quarterback. Jeff Driskel is out; Jacoby Brissett is in. The (necessary-due-to-injury) change is intriguing and there isn’t a single fan that isn’t somewhat curious about Brissett’s ability. Do the Gators open up the offense and go for broke? Or do they play it safe and give us another win typical of all the rest we’ve seen in 2012?

Saturday marks another test. I’d like to say that test doesn’t involve getting the win because that’s guaranteed, but…well…that doesn’t seem like the right thing to say this season. The real test is how the offense performs. Perhaps most important is how the offensive line performs. The line looked much better early in the season, but has regressed the last few weeks. There are times (too many times) where linemen are turning around to watch Driskel get sacked or running backs get tackled behind the line of scrimmage. A very good defensive team takes on the Gators in only one week’s time and all of that has to stop. The key to the offense starts with the line. As green as you may want to believe Driskel (or Brissett) is, no quarterback can work miracles without time. The challenge is on the line. Get that 10th win and get the offense going.

I’ll enjoy my Saturday; I always do. I want to enjoy it more though. I want last week’s maniacal laugh to turn into a joyous one. First though, I want win number 10. Go Gators. Just win.

Preview: Florida Gators Vs. LSU Tigers; The Cross-Divisional Rivalry Hath Cometh

On Saturday, the Florida Gators play host to the cross-divisional rival LSU Tigers. Only three schools have won BCS National Championships and these are two of them.1 But that’s not the story line for tomorrow. No, the story line is a match-up of top-10 teams and the arrival of October. This month doesn’t present much of a scare for that team from Louisiana, but for the Gators, it’s frightening.

Florida Gators - LSU Tigers

Frightening because of last season and what October brought to the Gators. 0-4 one year ago put Florida at 4-4 on the season and an even worse 2-4 in the SEC. But this time around it feels different. I’m generally positive (to a fault) heading into most games, but it seems many more others are as well. October will once again be a battle, but a battle the Gators are ready for, not one we fear.

It starts with LSU this October. The Gators have a quarterback; one that is still learning and growing, but a quarterback all the same. One year ago, no one really knew what Florida had at the position. John Brantley had been knocked out of action against Alabama. For a few moments at least, it felt like the Gators were in the game. When Brantley went down, Jeff Driskel came in and only attempted six passes. Fast forward one week and it was Jacoby Brissett under center against LSU. The game was effectively out of reach by the half.

But 2012 should be different (even if the results could be the same). The Gators have more confidence on offense and Brent Pease has parts he has yet to unveil. The Tigers on the other hand appear to have taken a step back in recent weeks. This is a game that has an NFL feel to it. The likelihood of a college-style shootout seems rare. Instead, clock control, smart defensive play, and a steady running attack may win it. And realistically, that could be either side.

LSU is ranked higher, but it doesn’t feel like it did one season ago. There wasn’t much hope in the land of the Gators in 2011. While we all know hope can be a dangerous thing, it appears to be back. We’re roughly five hours until kickoff, giving us plenty of time for that hope to grow. There is a win out there that both teams need for different reasons, but for the Gators, that reason could be a return to prominence.

1First, yay for footnotes! Second, the other team is the Alabama Crimson Tide, but you knew that because you’re a Southeastern Conference fan and, well, SEC, SEC, SEC!

Florida Gators 38 – Kentucky Wildcats 0; Shutouts Are A Wonderfully Beautiful Thing

The Florida Gators were kind enough to treat us to a shutout on Saturday as they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 38-0. The win marked the 26th straight for the Gators over the ‘Cats which ties an SEC record. Oh what a far cry from the rivalry that has developed on the basketball court between these two schools. Before we get to my thoughts on the entire game, yet another edition of What I Wrote at the Half.

It wasn’t the fastest of starts for the Florida Gators, but we didn’t necessarily have to wait until the second half to see improvement either. 24-0 at the half is definitely workable and something to be happy about. That’s 24-0 with some obvious improvements to be made as well, so it’ll be interesting to see this team actually firing on all cylinders for 60 minutes.

Both sides of the ball suffered that slow start, but the defense managed to keep the Kentucky Wildcats out of the end zone and off of the scoreboard. All the while causing three turnovers. This one is for One Eyed Willy, but JAYLEN WATKINS IS THE GREATEST TO EVER PLAY THE GAME OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL! Now that that is out of my system, moving on. The Gators upped the pressure on Morgan Newton as the half went on, but at the same time are lucky he can’t hit an open receiver to save his life. Seriously, if Newton’s accuracy was even slightly better, this could be a closer game. Then again, as the defense warmed up, they started to shut down more of the run game that kept the Wildcats in it early.

As for the offense, well, things got going and the points did come. Jeff Driskel was a little off in the first half, but also on when he needed to be. He had a couple of throws get away from him, but also made the ones that counted. The interception wasn’t pretty and definitely a throw he wishes he had back. It should have been thrown right after the pump fake. The delay allowed the defense to tighten position. But hey, one interception in three and a half games is good for me, Driskel, Brent Pease, Will Muschamp and the entire Gator Nation.

So the Gators get ready to come out for the second half and I head back to the coach. All eyes are on 50 points.

As for the entire 60 minutes, there was offense and there was defense…neither of which came from Kentucky (HA HA HA). Sorry Kentucky fans, I have a 10 week old, which means sleep is no longer in my vocabulary, so the jokes get worse and worse and worse (not that they were ever top-notch to begin with).

The second half was quieter than the first with the Gators only scoring 10 points. Still 10 points to 0 from the Wildcats is a win. Florida kept mostly to the ground. Driskel had an impressive third quarter in which he completed seven of eight attempts, but that would be all Florida would throw the ball. Jacoby Brissett got decent time in mop up duty, but only handed off the ball or ran himself. Yes, that’s right, Brissett didn’t put the ball in the air once. I have to admit that’s a little surprising to me. Surely, the coaches didn’t want to embarrass Kentucky, but it wouldn’t have been an awful idea to let the backup throw the ball in a game situation. Any way…

Driskel is growing up right in front of us and looks like he will have no problem manning the job for the foreseeable future. There were the throws that got away from him, but he’s still a much improved quarterback and oh my the composure. The difference from last season to this is night and day. Nothing gets to him and that’s an attribute you want from a quarterback, not only in the SEC, but in any conference or even in any level of organized football. It’s looking more and more like this is a position the Gators don’t have to worry about.

If we had a true negative from the game (yes, there were needs improvements, but let’s go with the negative side for a moment), it was penalties again. Seven is about three or four too many. I’d even take five consistently at this point. While they are becomimg less and less stupid – if that makes sense – they are still there and there are still too many of them. In a 38-0 victory, that’s reaching for something to be upset about, but it is what it is. (I apology for that last line. I hate that saying and will blame my keyboard on putting it out there.)

The Gators move to 4-0, but what’s more important is three of those victories are conferences ones. A third of the way through the schedule and the Gators are already 3-0 in SEC play. That’s big and needed with a team like LSU on the horizon. The bye week comes at a good time. Work on penalties, shore up the areas of improvement, and get people healthy. October 6 looms over us now, but until then we can breath a heavy sigh of relief, enjoy the rest of the college football world, and remember how great it is to be a Florida Gator.

Football Preview: Florida Gators @ Texas A&M Aggies – September 8, 2012

Road games this early in the season aren’t common for the Florida Gators. It’s not that we haven’t seen them, but there’s an infrequency to traveling this early in the season. This time around it’s different. It’s Welcome to the SEC Weekend. The conference’s newest members are hosting two of its most storied programs. Florida travels to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies while the Missouri Tigers host the Georgia Bulldogs.

The Facts

Opponent: Texas A&M Aggies
When: Saturday, September 8, 2012 – 3:30 PM (Eastern)
Where: College Station, TX
Television/Radio: ESPN
Records: Florida: 1-0, Texas A&M: –
Rankings: Florida: 24/23, Texas A&M: –
Current Streak: Florida: W1, Texas A&M: –
Point Spread:
Over/Under: 49.5
Calculated Score: There are no ties in college football anymore.
Points Scored: Florida: 27, Texas A&M: –
Points Allowed: Florida: 14, Texas A&M: –

The Preview

The Gators have a starting quarterback, which shouldn’t be something we have to say two games into a season, but they didn’t have one for week one. At least, they’d like us to believe they didn’t have a starting quarterback. Plenty has come out following the season opening win that suggests that Jeff Driskel had the upper hand over Jacoby Brissett going into week one and it would have taken a disastrous performance for him to not get the ball in the second half.

So the Gators have their man, for now, and move forward to SEC play with a quarterback that has plenty to work on, but gave us one thing that makes us smile. That one thing? Confidence. If you had to pick one big difference between Driskel and Brissett during the 2011 season, it was confidence. Neither played well and they weren’t really expected to right out of the gate, but Brissett looked composed as Driskel looked scared. In week one, Driskel had his confidence under control. The Gators never got much of that from John Brantley during his two years as a starter, but desperately need it from whoever holds on to this job for the long-term. Driskel can get better, but game one was an improvement and that’s what we want to see.

If Driskel hasn’t made that game one to game two leap we all hope for (or maybe we don’t; it really depends if you were pulling for him or Brissett from the beginning, doesn’t it?), it will be a heavy dose of Mike Gillislee and the run game. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing. The Gators ran the ball 42 times in the win over Bowling Green. On those 42 carries, they totaled 220 yards, which was good for 5.2 yards per carry. An effective passing game needs to complement that, but it was good to see the senior running back take control and lead the unit to success. If Gillislee even gets close to his week one performance, he’ll set career highs in carries and yards some time during game three. The challenge presented to him is keeping it up.

Given how early it is in the season (it’s ridiculously early people; please just realize that), we won’t get too critical when discussing the wide receivers just yet. Frankie Hammond Jr. showed some burst and we might be okay if Quinton Dunbar can get multiple passes thrown his way each week. The issue is the player wearing No. 4. Kick returner extraordinaire he is, but reliable wide receiver he needs to be (sorry for sounding like Yoda there for a second). Andre Debose needs to be put into the passing game, but he needs to prove he should be on a consistent basis. We’ll reserve full judgement for a few more games, but Debose needs to make the offensive leap.

The defense was expected to be the strength and they were. There were first-game wrinkles, such as a few tackling issues and not enough aggressiveness in the run game, but it was an overall serviceable performance that showed us this side of the ball can be something special. Allowing 327 yards in your opener to Bowling Green is far from ideal, but, again, it was game one and Will Muschamp appeared to be figuring out his personnel rotation. We learned that no one can take plays off, the defensive backs need to wrap up, and the line needs to bring pressure whether it’s a running down or a passing down. The defense needs to be as great as everyone predicted. The offense is figuring itself out and it will be rough at times. That’s where the defense needs to step up.

And then there are the penalties. We’ve already covered penalties and the problem they present. Our main thought: fix it.

The Gators welcome the Aggies to the SEC and the Aggies welcome the Gators to College Station. It’s the beginning of a new era for the Southeastern Conference. Exciting for all of us that are fans of SEC football, but as fans of the orange and blue first, we just want to win. Go Gators!

The Florida Gators Have Found Their Quarterback; What Happens Next?

The Florida Gators had a number of questions entering the 2012 college football season. Among those was the one everyone wanted answered the most: who will be the starting quarterback? Jacoby Brissett? Or Jeff Driskel?

Through the Spring and then the Fall, the question wasn’t answered. Head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease never waivered in their resolve to keep us guessing. Most likely, because they themselves didn’t know. Not long before the season opener against the Bowling Green Falcons, we learned Brissett and Driskel would each get one quarter in the first half. During halftime, the coaches would determine which one they would move forward with.

There was a ray of light at that point, even for those of us that didn’t like the idea of rotating the two during games that count. That ray was that we would at least know the name of the quarterback given the first quarter by the Thursday before the opener. That day came and went and suddenly it was no longer “there hasn’t been a clear cut leader,” but instead started to become “the coaches have no clue what they’re doing.”

Then the game came and, we really should have seen this coming, both quarterbacks were on the field for the first snap. Brissett behind the center, Driskel split out wide. The result? No gain on a hand-off to running back Mike Gillislee. Following the play, Brissett went to the sideline and Driskel remained in the huddle.

The rest of the first half would be eventful and uneventful all rolled into one. Neither quarterback looked great, but neither looked awful. Both led the Gators into the end zone, but did they really? The last 10 plays of Driskel’s scoring drive were all runs and none of them him. Brissett’s scoring drive lasted one play – a 38-yard touchdown run by Gillislee. The entire first half gave Brissett just 10 snaps, and it gave Driskel the job.

To Brissett’s credit, he has an absolute rocket for an arm. He finished the day just 3-for-5 for 31 yards, but it’s surprising those three completions were actually held on to. When Brissett plants his feet, he fires passes with amazing velocity and he’s fairly accurate as well. However, the issue in the end is that he doesn’t pose much of a threat to run. Earlier this week, Pease mentioned a running quarterback being part of the game plan. That quarterback is Driskel and why, for now, he has the advantage.

There are definitely some things to work on. Among them, accuracy. Going 10-for-16 is far from awful, but if Driskel is going to throw on the run, he needs to hit his receivers in stride. Two plays come to mind where accuracy played a big role. Those two could have been the difference between 27-14 and 41-14. On 3rd-and-13 from the Bowling Green 49 in the first quarter, Driskel threw behind a wide-open Quinton Dunbar. As for throwing on the run, in the third quarter on 4th-and-1 from the BG 45, Driskel couldn’t hit Trey Burton. Those were two big plays where a quarterback, veteran or not, needs to make a play.

Overall, Driskel was serviceable and gives the Gators something to work with. He’s a threat on his feet, but needs to become more aware of the entire field (starting with knowing where the sidelines are). The Gators will move forward to Texas A&M with him in the huddle. We have no idea how long that will last, but for now Muschamp and Pease believe he’s the best fit. Brissett is on the sidelines and ready to hear his name called if needed, but for the moment, it’s Driskel’s team. The question was answered after only one half of play. Some love the answer, others don’t. Regardless of which side of the fence we’re on, we’re moving forward with it.

Football Recap: Florida Gators 27 – Bowling Green Falcons 14

We’ll run through the quick recap and start with a positive: it was a win. Is it time to just start cheering for wins and not have a desire for any style points? The Florida Gators defeated the Bowling Green Falcons 27-14 in the season opener for both teams. The Gators won; that is true. Otherwise, it felt like a deflating victory that didn’t answer many questions.

We know the name of next week’s starting quarterback. It’s Jeff Driskel. Driskel and Jacoby Brissett took their turns in the first half and Driskel came out on top, leading the Gators in the second half. There were moments of joy and moments of doubt. This we do know: Driskel needs to become more aware of the field. Be that making throws on the run, hitting receivers in stride, or knowing where the sidelines are. Overall, his performance was serviceable and those on Team Driskel are happy he’s the guy coming out of the first game.

The defense looked like it can be a good one and even a great one. It also looked like tackling from the secondary needs to improve. Marcus Roberson is a dangerous cover corner and Jaylen Watkins had his moments, but they and their unit mates need to wrap up the first time and not allow any additional yards. The first hit must result in the ball carrier hitting the ground. Among things we like from the defense was the pressure from the line. During passing plays, the line got into the backfield. During some running plays, it was a different story. The defense was solid, but can clearly get to the level of being an impenetrable rock. There’s something special there that comes out in bursts. We need it to be apparent on every down.

And then there were the penalties. And the penalties. And the penalties. And the penalties. They need to not just be eliminated, but whatever stronger word for “gotten rid of” we can find.

The star was Mike Gillislee. His lofty prediction for the 2012 season he would have doesn’t seem so lofty now. He’s good and can carry the offense. Gillislee is cleary the primary running back and we’re all okay with that. The Gators will rely on him to continue to put out performances like that. He’s gets our immediate reaction game ball and there’s a good chance he’ll hold on to it when we reevaluate the game in a day or two.

For now, the Gators have won and the rest of college football Saturday continues. It’s been a while since we’ve been calm watching Florida games. Every time a pass play develops, we sit on the edge of our seats and it’s been that way for two-plus seasons. That may not end anytime soon and it does make us all nervous. But we can relax for a few days at least. Game one is over; game two is on the horizon. More analysis will come in the next few days, but at this moment your to-do list should include having a great long weekend. It was rough at times, there were signs of maybe a little progress during others; all-in-all, Go Gators!

Football Preview: Florida Gators Vs. Bowling Green Falcons – September 1, 2012

Football is back. More important, Florida Gators football is back. We were patient – as much so as we could be. We waited and waited and waited until we couldn’t wait anymore. The Gators are finally back in action today, home at The Swamp hosting the Bowling Green Falcons. Pre-outcome, it’s a very good day. A great one. Post-outcome, we hope for the same. College football and our beloved orange and blue are back.

The Facts

Opponent: Bowling Green Falcons
When: Saturday, September 1, 2012 – 3:30 PM (Eastern)
Where: Gainesville, FL
Television/Radio: ESPN2, ESPN3.com, Gator Sports Network, GatorVision
Records: Season opener.
Rankings: Florida: 23/23, Bowling Green: NR
Current Streak: Season opener.
Point Spread: Florida -29
Over/Under: 48
Calculated Score: Florida 38-9/39-10
Points Scored: Oh yeah, season opener.

The Preview

It’s year two for head coach Will Muschamp. This is the one that could make or break his career as the leader of the Florida Gators. Muschamp needs his team to take a step forward from 2011. Most coaches get three seasons these years and that’s the guess with Muschamp, but another rough go of it in 2012 and athletic director Jeremy Foley could begin a new search. The record doesn’t have to be perfect, but the play on the field has to be close. The Gators have stumbled through the last two seasons and that’s more than enough for the school, the coaches, the players and the fans. This is a defining season for more than just Muschamp, but for the entire program.

The quarterbacks are the biggest topic of discussion. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will each get a quarter during the first half. The rest of the game will be figured out from there. This game may or may not give us the answer of who will carry the Gators through the rest of the season. It’s a true QB battle and one carrying into the regular season. We aren’t the only ones watching with anticipation. Everyone wants to know how good the Gators will be in 2012 and if both or either of the quarterbacks can bring a spark back to the offense.

Of course, that also means the running game has to improve and the wide receivers need to step up (well, more than step up). There’s talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end, but it’s largely unproven. With plenty of questions, we hope Saturday brings answers. What will Brent Pease’s system bring? Can Mike Gillislee really rush for 1,500 yards and cross the goal line 24 times? Can the Gators find a go-to receiver? Can the converted defensive linemen contribute at tight end? Can the offensive line hold up and stay healthy? So many questions and the answers will soon start pouring in.

Defense could be what gets us all the most excited about this season. Plenty of the “experts” believe the Gators have one of the nation’s best defenses. We like to hear that, but we’d love to see it. The defense was the strength last season and kept the Gators in some games, but when you post a final record of 7-6, it’s hard to be too excited about the play of any unit. Regardless, the defensive talent (and potential) keeps us going. This could be a special season for the Gators on that side of the ball. There are, however, to big musts: LIMIT MISTAKES and CREATE TURNOVERS. The Gators need to do both to truly move to the elite level.

And then there’s special teams. Many think this unit is the best in the country. The Gators have one of the nation’s top kickers in Caleb Sturgis and most dynamic kick returners in Andre Debose. If the punt team can get a feel to it of the Eric Wilbur and Chas Henry days, things could be special. And then there are the blocks. Under Urban Meyer (GASP! I said his name!), the Gators brought the pressure time after time, to great results for the most part. A block can change the entire outcome of a game. We know this. We’ve experienced it.

We’re getting close. The game is mere hours away. Enjoy the day. Enjoy the season. Enjoy the Florida Gators.