Florida Gators 79 – UAB Blazers 61: Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton Lead Gators To Win

Guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton led the Florida Gators over the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers on Tuesday night. Behind a combined 43 points from Walker and Boynton, the Gators moved to 12-3 on the season after the 79-61 victory. Not only did both shoot greater than 0.500 from the field, but they went a combined 13-for-18 from behind the three-point line.

In addition to the night had by Walker and Boynton, Patric Young went 7-for-10 from the floor to add 15 points. The three helped relieve what can only be described as an awful shooting night from freshman Bradley Beal. Beal has been streaky lately and on Tuesday night was on the down end of the slope. He finished 2-for-15 from the floor while only scoring five points. He did, however, tie for the team lead with Walker with six assists.

The Gators have now won two straight in convincing fashion after being upset by the Rutgers Scarlet Nights last week. While the loss was an unwelcome result, Florida’s last two games were nice rebounds. If the momentum gained in those wins can carry over to Saturday’s game against the rival Tennessee Volunteers, a new win streak could be well in progress.

Florida’s non-conference schedule has now come to an end as the Gators move on to the SEC. The Gators head into conference play as on of the SEC’s top teams while the Volunteers find themselves at the bottom of the standings. Getting started on the right foot will be the goal of Billy Donovan and the Gators on Saturday.

Florida Gators Vs. UAB Blazers: Men’s Basketball Preview

One final tune-up. One final chance to check the oil, kick the tires, and make sure the tank is full. The Florida Gators host the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers on Tuesday night in the last non-conference game before SEC play begins. For Florida, it’s one final status check. For UAB, it’s a self-evaluation of sorts.

The Facts

Opponent: UAB Blazers
When: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 – 7:00 PM
Where: Gainesville, FL
Television/Radio: FSN, Gator Sports Network, Sirius 218, XM 200
Records: Florida: 11-3 (8-0 Home), UAB: 5-7 (1-4 Away)
Rankings: Florida: 13/14, UAB: NR
Point Spread: Florida -17.5
Over/Under: 134.5
Calculated Score: Florida 76-58/76-59
Points Scored: Florida: 85.9, UAB: 59.5
Points Allowed: Florida: 67.3, UAB: 60.5

The Preview

The Gators can score; that much we know. Florida streaks through games, putting together scoring bursts which allow them to maintain a relatively high scoring average. The Blazers, on the other hand, have trouble putting up points, but have been better at stopping them from being scored against them than you might think.

When you see a team sport a 5-7 record, you may not expect much, but UAB’s 60.5 points allowed average says something about their ability on one end of the court. The Blazers also hold their opponents to less than 0.400 shooting from the field. The problem comes at the other end where UAB only averages 59.5 points of their own. That will be the difference in this one.

To this point, UAB hasn’t played a Florida and is unlikely to hold the Gators below 60 points. It would be surprising if they held Florida to under 70 and you cold even go to 80 and possibly beyond. The Gators will outdistance themselves from the Blazers with their range and will make it hard for UAB to keep up on the scoring end. The Blazers are riding a three-game winning streak and coming off a 92-point outburst, but it won’t be enough against the Gators.

Expect Billy Donovan and Florida to use this game as a chance to iron out the wrinkles before the conference schedule begins. It will be a great opportunity for Donovan to get a final look at his roster before the part of the schedule where minutes are no longer given away. Expect the Gators to roll and hope for consistency in the way they do so.

Florida Gators 90 – Yale Bulldogs 70: Gators Bounce Back With Big Win

The Florida Gators rang in the New Year early with a 90-70 win over the Yale Bulldogs. While lost in the midst of bowl games, college basketball will soon take the forefront for the 11-3 Gators. Beating Yale was expected; defeating them authoritatively was needed. Well, maybe not needed, but good for getting back on track after the double-overtime loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Kenny Boynton was again the leader on the offensive end of the court. A 26-point outing led Florida and matched the output of Yale star Greg Mangano. Erik Murphy added 19, including five from three-point land. Murphy is quickly becoming one of the more valuable Gators, with range many opponents don’t expect. That range will be an asset for Florida as the season continues.

One of the keys to victory – as pointed out by Alligator Army’s Andy Hutchins – was the Gators’ assist-to-turnover ratio. Turnovers have been a frustrating part of Billy Donovan teams in recent years, but Saturday night showed what this squad can do when playing smart basketball. 24 assists to only seven turnovers; a ratio Donovan would take every night.

The Gators move to 2012 with one final tuneup before the SEC schedule begins. On Tuesday, January 3, the UAB Blazers come to Gainesville.

Predicting The Florida Gators Record After The Win Over The UAB Blazers

Another win is in the books and that means it’s time torevise our win probability chart for Florida.As expected, the Gators are now 2-0. That’s no surprise, but it does mean some adjustmentsare ahead.
Quick reminder (to find out what all of this means, clickhere): I started the season with 8.03 wins for Florida, One Eyed Willy came inat 8.13, and we averaged 8.08. After the first week of games, I raised theGators to 8.17 wins, Willy bumped them to 8.28, and our averaged jumped to8.23. And for those that like spreadsheets, charts and the like, here you go…
The preseason looked like this:
After beating FAU,we came in at this:
And here’s where we are after Florida’s win over UAB:
The first change is always the easiest. The Blazers alwaysgave 99 wins to the Gators; now they give the entire 100. It’s a small changethat doesn’t mean much, but a win is a win. Moving on.
This week presented a difficult challenge. Florida impressedagain and the defense posted a shutout, but other teams played well too (someoverall, some just on offense) making it hard to judge what to move and by howmuch. I toyed with the idea of bumping up the wins against Alabama a little, but the Crimson Tide defense looked good, so Idecided I’d wait one more week on that one. Willy thought the same about the South Carolina matchup, but just wasn’tconfident enough to make a change just yet. This could be a testament to “two games against lesser opponents aren’tenough.”
The first non-required change comes from Willy with Auburn. He dropped the Gators win totalfrom 65 to 55. His reasoning was based on the Tigers never-ending ability toput up points. I can understand that, but 36 points per game allowed has mekeeping them where they are. To recap: TBG – staying put; Willy – 65 to 55.
Although Auburn is 2-0 and Georgia is 0-2, I still believe the Bulldogs present the tougherchallenge to the Gators. However, another loss means I’m more confident in aFlorida win. Mark Richt’s seatcontinues to get hotter and I will jump up to come even with Willy at 60 onthis one. That’s a decent jump, but it may start to become a mental problemwith Georgia as the season goes on. TBG – 51 to 60; Willy – no movement.
We finish with South Carolina and a man named Stephen Garcia. The Gamecocks wonagain, but can’t you just feel Garcia snatching defeat from the jaws of victorysooner or later? We also heard of an improved South Carolina defense, but wehaven’t seen it yet. I’ll still give them the edge, but I’m much closer toeven. TBG – 45 to 49; Willy – LEAVE ME WHERE I AM!
Not a lot of change this week, but interesting movement. Mywin total for the Gators goes up while Willy’s actually goes down. The movementalso puts me on top for the time being. Even with Willy’s score lowering, ouraverage goes up. Still in the eight-win range, but creeping ahead if ever soslowly. Look for bigger movement regardless of what happens against Tennessee.

Swamp Talk: UAB Review; Tennessee Preview

A shutout is a wonderful thing. Stop your opponent fromscoring and you can’t lose. You may be in for quite the long overtime battle,but you can’t lose if they don’t score. Floridadid just that on Saturday night in its 39-0 win over UAB. The offensive playbook opened a little further and the defensewas determined to not allow the Blazers any points. The Gators played well inall aspects of the game we call football to move to 2-0.
In this week’s episode of Swamp Talk, Wil and I discuss the finer points of Florida’s win andalso get into some of the areas where we’d like to see improvement. The seasonis still young and while the Gators do plenty well, there is a slight marginfor Florida to take things to the next level.
We discuss the victory over UAB, but also look ahead to thestart to the SEC schedule, which of course means Tennessee is on deck. It’s Rivalry Week Part One. The Vols will belooking for an upset and the Gators will be searching for a third win. Thisgame is one of the many reasons we love college football.
To listen to all SwampTalk episodes, visit Upon Further Review Sports Talk Radio.

The Rest: Florida Gators 39 – UAB Blazers 0

Offense, done.Defense, completed. We now move on to the special teams and some final thoughtson Florida’s 39-0 win over UAB.
Special Teams
Jeff Dempsreturned kickoffs in the season opener against FAU. While I won’t say anything bad about a longtime TBG favorite,30 yards on two returns with a long of 18 just isn’t going to cut it. AgainstUAB, in came last year’s kick return surprise Andre Debose. Because of the shutout, Debose only got one chance toshine in the return game, and shine he did. No. 4 took the opening kickoff 50yards, setting up the Gators first score of the game. More Debose please. Thankyou.
Although UAB punted six times, none were returned. After twogames, this is yet another aspect of the game where we don’t know what we havejust yet. There are plenty of options, but none are sure things. There isalways the possibility of a block though, and that’s something to smile about.
Caleb Sturgis continuedhis perfect season with three made field goals on three attempts and a 4-4night on extra points. The more important thing for Sturgis at this point isjust staying healthy. With five field goals already in two games, he’ll beneeded in a number of critical situations this season.
It took Florida a while, but the Gators finally punted. David Lerner’s average looks downrightawful, but you have to ignore it. Lerner finished with a 29.0 average and along of 32, but both punts ended inside the 20. Lerner did his job and that’sall you can ask for.
Final Thoughts
The Gators may not continue to score 40 points per game andthey definitely won’t keep up their 1.5 points allowed per game average, butthere’s plenty to be pleased with. The run game looks like it will be Florida’sstrength and the pass game appears to be coming along little by little. If theoffensive line can up its consistency, the entire offense will become a fearedunit.
On the defensive side of the ball, keeping teams out of theend zone is the goal and the Gators have done just that so far. They’ll facebetter offenses as the season continues, but for now, so far, so good. The lineshould come together better once it’s whole again and the secondary needs a fewmore players to step up. Once the unit is rolling, it – like the offense – couldbe exactly what the Gators need.
It’s an exciting time to be a Gators’ fan. Will Muschamp has brought a fire to theprogram that just wasn’t seen in 2010. Just go back and listen to what he saidat the half when Florida was up 25-0. He won’t take average and he won’t eventake good. Muschamp strives for perfect and that is just fine with me. This maynot be a national championship contender, but it’s a team on the way back upwith a bright future ahead.

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.

The Offense: Florida Gators 39 – UAB Blazers 0

The longer this recapbecame, the more I realized I needed to split it up. So here’s the offense. Twomore parts – the defense and special teams/other – to come today as well.
Game two has come and gone and as expected, Florida is 2-0. That’s not a surprise,but what might be is the Gators play so far. It hasn’t been spectacular justyet, but it has been very good in areas, good in others, and improved in thefinal few. Fans will keep pointing to 2010 and say “it has been better so far this season,” but maybe it’s time tomove on. After two games it has been better, but 2010 no longer matters. 2011does. The SEC schedule begins in six days when Florida hosts Tennessee. Another win has fansconfident and ready to attack the rest of the schedule. For now we do look back,but less than 24 hours back at the 39-0 win over UAB.
The offense is still a work inprogress, but one we’re all excited to see grow. The playbook hasn’t beenentirely opened just yet and that’s just fine. Charlie Weis is known to play to his opponent. After the win over FAU, the use of screens and dump offswere excessive, but they worked. Against UAB, they were used again, but theyworked. The first thought is that they won’t work against bigger, faster,stronger SEC defenses, and that’s true for the most part, but what we don’t knowis what we don’t know. Yes, that makes sense. There’s more to Weis’ playbookthan screens. He’ll use what he needs when he needs it. So far he’s had littleneed for much more than the basics.
John Brantley wasn’t asked to throw the ball as much against UAB ashe did against FAU, but he was more efficient and got the ball down the fieldmore. The game’s first offensive play was exciting even if it didn’t run assmoothly as you’d like (trickeration isn’t always perfect). A 40-yard gain is a40-yard gain I guess. Overall, Brantley passed for 195 yards on only 12completions, compared to 229 on 21 in the first game of the season. Whenworking the middle of the field, he looked more confident and on several playsstood in the pocket, surveyed the field, and fired the ball to his receivers. Brantleyhasn’t been great yet, but he hasn’t needed to be. What he has been isconfident and that should mean something heading into the Tennessee game. Onthe season, Brantley is completing over 67% of his passes, but that 1-2touchdown-to-interception ratio is still a little bit cringe-worthy. Thepassing game needs to be a threat to opposing defenses moving forward and itneeds to not only create scoring opportunities, but actually score.
While the Gators only attempted 20passes against the Blazers, they were pounding the ball away while establishingthe run game. On the night, Florida running backs carried the ball 49 times andBrantley and backup quarterback JeffDriskel added three additional carries. The goal was to keep the focalpoint on the run game and it worked. ChrisRainey was his dynamic self totaling 119 yards on 16 carries. Jeff Demps only carried the ball twicebefore going out with what looked like a minor injury. We’ll definitely behoping it remains minor. The plus of the night was the backups. Against FAU, Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown totaled five carries and 19 yards (all were Gillislee’s),but against UAB, they combined for 115 yards on 21 runs. It was very importantto get the backups more carries especially in situations where Demps was unableto go. We’re now a little more confident in what Gillislee and Brown offergoing forward. Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer got into the action aswell. Those two along with Rainey and Gillislee all had rushing touchdowns. Twogames in and five different Gators have scored on the ground.
With only 12 completions, you’regoing to come away with low numbers among the wide receivers, but we still needto know who’s going to step up. Rainey led the way again with three receptions –only half of his total against FAU. Next up were receivers Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar,and Deonte Thompson with two each.The main reason was the use of screens, but we still have to wonder what we’llsee going forward. After two games, the leading receivers that are actually WRsare Debose and Thompson with five catches and Dunbar with 82 yards. This goesback to the “if you don’t need it, don’topen it up yet” theory, but what happens when Florida needs to rely on adeeper passing game? We just don’t know yet. Brantley looked good hittingreceivers over the middle of the field for good gains, but it was limited.Tennessee will tell us much more and hopefully tell us who the top receiverswill be.
Finally, the offensive line. Ah,the offensive line. The line has talent; we’ve said that for a while now.Plenty of talent across all positions, but also uncertainty. The main reason isa lack of consistency so far. There were a handful of plays where the linelooked phenomenal. The times Brantley worked the middle of the field were goodexamples, but the prime one was the hole they opened for Rainey on histouchdown run. The line parted and took the entire UAB defense with it. It wasa relatively short touchdown run, but if that same play had happened furtherback down the field, it could have been a huge gain. Those are the types ofplays we need to see more of. The line was improved over week one, but stillhas some work to do. The screens were designed, but many of the dump offs werebecause of the quick pressure Brantley faced. This line can be good (and in2012, possibly great), but they need to do so play after play after play. Andthe penalties have to go.
There’s the offense. Defense to come.

Swamp Talk: FAU Review; UAB Preview

Wil and I were back at it again this week. On this episode of Swamp Talk we took a look back at Florida’s win over FAU and gazed into the future with UAB. We were both pleased with the way the Gators played in their opening victory, but were cautious at the same time. The Owls aren’t expected to be a power by any means, so we’re still in “wait and see” mode, but some good things came out of that first game.

Now the Gators are on to UAB, a team that should present a better opponent…at least on offense. The Blazers pass more effectively than the Owls and could test the Gators’ secondary. It will be a decent warmup before Tennessee and a great opportunity for the Florida offense to open up the playbook even a little more.

To listen to all Swamp Talk episodes, be sure to visit Upon Further Review Sports Talk Radio.

Football Preview: UAB Blazers @ Florida Gators – Saturday, September 10, 2011 – 7:00pm

One down; 11, 12, or 13 to go. They may not be thetraditional type of preview you’re used to, but there is football coverageinvolved. You also get to learn a little something about Florida’s opponent. You really couldn’t ask for more, so don’t.Seriously, don’t. But if you insist on asking and you do want more, TBG is onTwitter and Facebook. I’ll be frequenting both throughout the day as collegefootball comes to life.
The Facts
Opponent: UABBlazers
When: Saturday,September 10, 2011 – 7:00pm
Broadcasting: FSN,Sirius 220, XM 199
Records: Florida:1-0, UAB: Nada
Point Spread forWagerin’ Folk: Florida -23
Over/Under for ThoseMentioned Above: 53
Betting Score ThatWould Calculate To: Florida 38-15
Our Gators’ WinFactor (See Here): TBG: 99, OEW: 99
Where We’ll BeWatching: TBG headquarters; multiple TVs a blazin’.
10 Things About UABFrom The World’s Greatest Source – Wikipedia
Do you think at one time it was called “The Wikipedia?” These are the types of things I think about.Football below for those not interested in learning more about our finenation’s higher educational institutions. See how I made you feel a littleguilty about skipping ahead?
1. The Universityof Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) wasestablished in 1936 and today is part of the University of Alabama System. Youknow one of the others, but do you know the third? It’s the University ofAlabama at Huntsville, home of the Chargers. (Mini UAH note: TheChargers’ ice hockey team has quite the history and in 2012 will host the NCAAHockey Frozen Four Championship in…drum roll…Tampa, FL.)
2. UAB is smallerthan the Gators’ first opponent. The school counts somewhere around 17,000undergrad and graduate students.
3. Last week, youlearned the Owlsey the Burrowing Owl is FAU’s mascot. This week, the Blazerswill be supported in mascot form by Blaze the Dragon. Not that an alligatornamed Albert is the freshest thing you’ve ever heard, but originality is takinga serious beating.
4. U.S. News andWorld Report named UAB the no. 1 up-and-coming university in 1992.
5. UniversityBoulevard is the main axis of the rectangle of land UAB sits on. Does everyschool have a “University” street ofsome kind?
6. Plans for anon-campus stadium are underway. Applause.
7. The studentbody is made up of 60% women. Well hello ladies!
8. The Mock Trialteam has experienced a history of overwhelming success. In 2006, they won anational title defeating Harvard.Well hello Blazers!
9. Sand (notbeach) volleyball and bowling have been added to the athletic program for the2011-2012 academic year.
10. Notable alumni:Roddy White – you know who he is, Deidre Downs – Miss American 2005.
When The Gators HaveThe Ball
The Gators’ offense excited us all during the 41-3 victoryover FAU. Or did it? The run gamewas dynamic…to the outside. And the pass game was effective…on short plays.Immediately after watching the game, we were all pleased. Going back and trulyreviewing the game, we were less so. But in all seriousness, we should be happywith our first glimpse at Charlie Weis’genius in Gainesville and here’s why: he plays to what the defense gives him.Unlike former Florida offensive mastermind SteveSpurrier, Weis doesn’t need to bring out the entire playbook to destroyevery opponent in his way. Weis brings a package of plays to each game and ifthey work, he sticks with them. Why call every play and use every weapon inyour arsenal when you only need a few? It’s a wise move even if it can be afrustrating one to fans. Expect to see more against UAB, but not much more ifthings go well enough early.
Where we would all like to see some change is in theintermediate and deep ball. The longest pass of the night against the Owls wentfor 20 yards; the longest John Brantleypass for 19. Fans like yours truly who grew up during the Spurrier era dig thelong ball. We don’t need a 70-yard touchdown strike every game, but we like thebig play. With Tennessee only a weekaway, I’d imagine will see more of a deeper passing game against UAB, but ifthe Gators don’t need it, we may not see it much.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Chris Rainey Show. What’s that, there’sanother dynamic running back on the roster?!? Really? Then why am I hearingvirtually nothing about him? No really, why are we hearing virtually nothingabout Jeff Demps? All Demps didagainst FAU was rush for 105 yards on only 12 carries (that’s 8.8 per), scoretwo touchdowns, and add 21 yards on three receptions. Yeah, let’s not show anyhighlights of him Worldwide Leader. Rainey was spectacular, but so was Demps.Don’t sleep on him this season. These two are quite the combo. That’s right, Isaid the TWO.
The next question is which wide receiver will be the firstto truly step up and have an “OH MY”game. Rainey led the team with six receptions against the Owls. The receiverswith the most catches were Andre Deboseand Deonte Thompson with only threea piece. Against FAU, Weis spread the ball around, but will he continue to doso? If so, and it works, count me onboard, but if the Gators get to a pointwhere they need a go-to receiver, we aren’t sure who it will be. Someone willbreak out during one of these early games. It’s anyone’s guess who.
As I mentioned last week, the offensive line is still thekey. Brantley needs confidence in knowing that he won’t get planted into theground the moment he releases the ball. That’s the offensive line’s job. Theywere okay against FAU, but not great. Protecting Brantley and opening up themiddle of the field for the run game are key. Defenses will only get tougher asthe schedule progresses. Today is a test for the line.
When The Blazers HaveThe Ball
137 total yards allowed with only 30 rushing; no touchdownsallowed; only allowing two third-down conversions on 13 attempts; only threepoints out of two red-zone attempts. I like it. Oh I like it. Will Muschamp, if this is your defense,we all applaud you.
I’ll start with LerenteeMcCray, who had a little bit of a coming out party. We didn’t know what wewould get out of McCray, but he played well, finished tackles, and was always aroundthe ball. The third linebacker spot is his now and we should all be comfortablewith that. If I were going in order, the defensive line would be first, but thelinebackers get the top spot because of what we saw, or didn’t see, lastseason. We know the talent and potential JonBostic and Jelani Jenkinspossess, and now we know they have a third member of their group they can relyon. Their numbers from the FAU game won’t jump out at you, but that mostly hasto do with the amount of players that saw the field. Expect the three to getmore time against UAB as coaches prepare for the SEC portion of the schedule.
We already know we won’t see Sharrif Floyd against UAB and it really is a disgrace. What isgreat about it though is motivation. If Floyd wasn’t a fan favorite already(and he should have been, he’s going to be phenomenal), he is now. Rumors of “Sharrif Floyd” and “Free Sharrif” chants throughout the game have come up, but whatwill truly be special is when he steps foot on the field in a week againstTennessee. For now, the Gators are in good shape because they don’t need Floydjust yet. Led by Jaye Howard (onesack against FAU), Dominique Easley(very glad he never left), and RonaldPowell (a sack as well against the Owls), Florida will be just fine untilFloyd returns. UAB is a more accomplished passing team than FAU, so the linewill need to get pressure early and often.
On to the secondary and the “not sure what we have just yet” unit. Love Marcus Roberson, have a serious man-crush on Matt Elam, and like JaylenWatkins more and more every day. Roberson and Elam have solidified theirhold on their positions, but everyone has expected that for quite some time. It’sthe other two positions that we’re unsure about. UAB will be more of a test,but a test the Gators need and we should all be happy to watch. A starting fourneed to be etched in stone before Tennessee.
And now to turnovers. Turnovers aren’t necessary against theFAUs and UABs of the world. Florida can win without them. Okay, so a program likeFlorida can theoretically beat anyone without them, but they sure are nice. Ifthe defense is going to be the strength, they need to force turnovers. We haven’tseen any yet, but expect them to start to come.
Special Teams
Caleb Sturgis wassolid in his first game of the season, connecting on all seven kicks heattempted. Expect him to continue to be the kicker the Gators thought they weregetting when they recruited him. The punting game has been non-existent thisseason and it’s a disgrace! No, no it’s not. Florida didn’t punt against FAUand you should be fine with that. While you’d like to see the punter get someexperience, not having to use him is a good thing. Kick returns? Eh. A 15-yardaverage with a long of 18 isn’t great. Punt returns? Eh. A 28-yarder by Solomon Patton highlighted things, butthat’s about it. Punt block? YES! Against UAB, the Gators need to get more outof their return game, but continue to pressure opposing kickers and punters.The block teams could be a strong point all season.
I don’t see the Gators’ offense letting up in terms ofpoints scored. We could very easily see 41 points again (yes, I know specialteams contributed a score). On the defensive side of the ball, I don’t see theunit breaking, but UAB is a better offensive team then FAU. It wouldn’tsurprise me if the Blazers put one in the end zone or even two. The game shouldbe out of reach early, but 41-10 or 45-14 are possible scores. With the Gatorscontinuing to use a large amount of the roster, UAB could sneak one in.All-in-all, nothing to worry about Gator fans.