After Further Review: The FAU Game

I was able to do a quick run through of a replay of the football game from Saturday night, and after watching it live and in person, I want to give my opinion on several things good and bad. This Gator football 2011 squad certainly has some work to do, but a good atmosphere followed by a look of great improvement in certain areas leaves this guy with a bit more optimism for the rest of the season.

We will go position by position and break this FAU and Florida game down as much as possible. Then I will finish it off with some general observations.


What I Liked:
The biggest thing I saw on Saturday schematically was the fact that every pass seemed to be made and completed with the receiver moving forward, or at least running horizontally at the moment the ball hits the receiver's hands. There were no stop passes or comebacks that I can remember, and there will be, but every pass was made for a receiver able to run forward with the ball in stride with the throw. This was especially noticeable on the swing passes to the backs and it resulted every time in Rainey getting an extra 4-5 yards in the first second after the catch. Last year many of those would have been four yard catches with a linebacker smacking the back of the receiver or running back.

I was impressed at the roll out offense, even with Brantley at the helm when you wouldn't think that was his strength. He wasn't perfect rolling out, but he made some strong throws early in the game and the design of the play helped a great deal.

I also liked the no huddle to start the game. Not because of the opponent of course, but because it is something to practice and it really showed that these kids knew the offense. It also seemed very fast paced when it was going.

I loved the look of both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey in the backfield at the same time. Talk about a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare.

What I Didn't Like:
Charlie Weis told us last week how Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey are the same in the way they run and so he doesn't have to call different plays for the two. However, the two looked completely different on Saturday in my mind,. Rainey sets up his blocks, while Demps plows into the executed hole to get their a little faster. I think somewhat different plays needed to be called, although the success of the running game was apparent, it just seemed that Demps was an all or nothing type runner in that game.


What I Liked:
John Brantley made several great throws, throws that average quarterbacks can't make. Hitting some medium range out passes that traveled a great distance and in a hurry to get to the receiver. More than anything, I noticed a confidence in Brantley. Even after making a bad play or two, he did not waver one bit on lining up and running the next play or shy away from throwing it. That has got to have a great deal to do with Charlie Weis and his handling of Brantley since his arrival on campus in January.

Brantley was also very effective in the swing pass perfectly leading Rainey and Burton all night long. As I mentioned before on those swing passes, the backs were getting five yards from the second after the catch because they were moving forward.

I also thought Brantley really followed a progression before hitting those backs on the swing. Granted he had all day to throw, he looked to two or more receivers before hitting those shorter passes.

Two plays stand out with Jeff Driskel at the helm. His first play when he looked to throw deep, nothing was there and so he tucked it, scrambled outside and picked up five yards. Then late in the game, he hit Andre Debose on a deep drag route on the left side on a very long, hard, and fast thrown ball. That was a big league throw right there. There is no doubt his dual threat abilities will be fun for Weis to concoct an offense around in the future.

What I Didn't Like:
The interceptions stood out of course. For Brantley the first was a tipped pass and may not have been his fault, but he had a few other tipped passes as well. The second interception in the back of the end zone was a no-no. It almost looked like it was thrown into triple coverage, but it really wasn't. Instead, it is about placing that ball right and deeper and let his guy and only his guy be able to run under it. That didn't happen. Driskel also had an interception that he overthrew his receiver. First pass jitters in my opinion and that is out of his system.


What I Liked:
There is a lot to like with what Rainey and Demps did. They were able to run inside or outside all night long. As mentioned above, I thought they certainly showed that they have two different running styles, Rainey is the guy that sets up his blocks, Demps hits the designed hole hard and fast.

Rainey may very well be the best receiver on the team as well. He is just a natural ball player with ball handling instincts that make him seem so natural anytime that pigskin is near him.

Mike Gillislee can run the ball and we all knew that. My fear is late in the game is the only time he will get the ball, when they are trying to run the clock and everyone knows they are going to run. Fullbacks Trey Burton, Hunter Joyer, and Gerald Christian all had good nights at the position. The blocking was very good when the latter two played fullback. I am starting to think that Joyer can have a real solid effect on this offense by being a guy that can step in there in his freshman year and play feeing up Burton to do more in terms of carrying the ball.

What I Didn't Like:
Demps fumble or near fumble is something that cannot happen on a regular basis. Muschamp just like every other coach in the world values the ball and possession more than anything. Other than not having a third guy with a lot of carries, there isn't much to dislike about what the running backs did on Saturday.

Receivers / Tight Ends

What I Liked:
Deonte Thompson played tough and made plays. I loved the fake reverse and throw on a swing. Frankie Hammond made a couple of nice catches. Quinton Dunbar is certainly going to be a target and showed some grit on a couple of hard catches. He was also a really good blocker every time he was asked to do so. Solomon Patton looked extremely quick when he got a couple of chances late in the game.

I loved Andre Debose and his play. He showed some huge blocks, he showed that he really understood the offense, and he also showed that he can make a tough catch or two. I thought his toughness really stood out and was really impressed by the different things he showed that portrayed his knowledge of the entire offense.

At tight end, Reed of course showed his play making ability and he is going to turn in freakish plays pretty often this year. Gerald Christian did some nice blocking on the edge.

What I Didn't Like
Quinton Dunbar didn't allow Brantley to get him the ball a couple of times. Working a little harder to get open on the deep sideline pass may have resulted in a big play. I also don't totally allow Dunbar off the hook for the interception in the end zone. But I will give him his props for really walking the walk. He was constantly displaying his confidence while on the field with his mouth and body language and I think this team needs some of that.

Offensive Line

What I Liked:
Outside of one horrendous snap, I thought Jonotthan Harrison did pretty well in that department. I was actually surprised at how much the Gators snapped from the shotgun, and although there were a couple that were a tad off the mark, just the one was bad enough to be called a bad snap. He also blocked well, especially in pass protection on the night.

The interior of the line had a solid night blocking the run, but really didn't plow anyone over, and that isn't a great sign when they are going to be playing bigger and better teams. However, it seemed once they got the feel of the different backs in the backfield, we saw significantly bigger and better holes opening up for those guys. I think Kyle Koehne is going to work himself back in there at left guard and maybe soon.

I loved the play of the tackle. The man, the myth, the legend Matt Patchan does exist and played pretty well when he was in there even though he had the large cast on his wrist. Xavier Nixon and Chaz Green started and I thought both were superb in all facets. Brantley was hardly ever touched and there was almost never any heat coming off the edge. They also blocked in the running game off the edge very well.

They played 11 linemen total and of the backups, Patchan Alajajian, and Koehne got a lot of work. That is a good thing.

What I Didn't Like:
Just need to step up the aggression on the interior. The power is there, it just needs to be applied and I think maybe more than anyone this group may have an adjustment issue to a new offense and that would explain a slight tentativeness going.


What I Liked:
Schematically, the defense was very vanilla, just like the offense. It is hard to really get too much out of it when they rarely played a 3-4 and I think they will play more, and they rarely brought more than four on a pass rush.

With that in mind, what a welcome thing to see a real pass rush with only four players. The Gators got a lot of interior pressure from the tackles and the ends shot up field fast forcing anything going outside to go deeper than the offense would have wanted it.

What I Didn't Like:
Again hard to knot pick, just wish they were a little more diverse. I jhave zero doubt they will be. One area I want to see the diversity is theswitch play of the SAM and BUCK.

Defensive Line
What I Liked:

What we all hoped for fro the interior of the line we got and maybe even more than what we expected. Dominique Easley was freakish and totally outmanned anyone he faced. Jaye Howard played great at times and seemed to always be around the ball. It dropped off a little bit with Omar Hunter and Leon Orr in the game, but they also both did some nice things with getting up field and in a hurry when they needed to.

Easley was the story of the day on defense and it will be interesting to see how well he can do against better competition. However, this was no surprise to anyone as he has been practicing this dominant all fall. I expect it to continue.

At end, I liked the push that William Green got when the ball came his way either by roll out pass or wide runs. He got a really good early push and often made the ball carrier / quarterback run wider and deeper than they wanted to. Ronald Powell was disruptive, had a sack, and almost another one. He tends to run into blockers a little too often, but he can definitely make some plays and will make plenty more before he is done.

One guy that played well in my opinion was Kedric Johnson. Not the most popular name ion the defensive side of the ball, he has had a quietly good fall camp and showed a couple of nice plays including one and a half tackles for loss. He will be a player for the Gators.

What I Didn't Like:
I wanted more from Hunter, a little more from Powell and that was about it. The defensive line was the reason the defense played so well on Saturday. I don't know if we were able to say that at all last year.


What I Liked:
I think the second biggest night on defense (behind Easley) came from Lerentee McCray. He was really disruptive early in the game and did some things that I have been saying to watch out for this fall. McCray is one of those guys that when he gets a bead on the ball, he is going to get to the ball carrier. McCray's backup Darrin Kitchens also showed signs of nice play, but really is a different kind of player overall.

Of course Jelani Jenkins showed up. He led the team in tackles with five, but it was the huge hit and the great break and dropped interception on back to back plays that really stood out. Jenkins was in on the ball from the first play of the game. Dee Finley backed him up and id okay, he will be fine down the road.

Jon Bostic showed flashes of brilliance, including one huge tackle for loss and played pretty well. I didn't see a missed play from Bostic. I just thought that back up Michael Taylor May have more impact and played far fewer plays. As I keep saying, I think Taylor is going to have a big influence on this 2011 defense before all is said and done.

What I Didn't Like:
Bostic, Bostic, and more Bostic. That is what I wanted to see and didn't. I just want him to be more of a fixture in the defense, but my guess is that they played vanilla and we will really see more and more pressure coming and that should mean him playing closer to the line of scrimmage and getting more involved.

I said Kitchens played well, but they really need some depth at SAM and maybe more size to do the things they want to do from that position.


What I Liked:
The highlight had to be the play of true freshman Marcus Roberson. He played physical and with confidence. Not flashy yet, but showed he is going to be a good one. Cody Riggs played well for most of the night on the opposite side. He got caught on a pass interference call, but he played physical even with a cast on his hand.

The corners benefited from all the pressure up front and weren't challenged too often. Moses Jenkins played his zone well and it was good to see Jaylen Watkins and Loucheiz Purifoy getting a lot of work.

Matt Elam was at home in the box and up in run defense. He finished second on the team with four tackles and that should be expected in a defense that plays aggressive and with their strong safety type player in the box most of the time.

It looks like it will continue to be a battle between Pop Saunders and Josh Evans for that other safety spot. Both made plays while they were in the game. It was good to see players like Josh Shaw and even true freshman Jabari Gorman get some playing time in the game.

What I Didn't Like:
Elam was late to the long pass on FAU's first 1st down play that resulted in the only score for FAU when they kicked a field goal a few plays later. He has to make that play either on that guy or on the ball.

There were a couple of pass interference plays that need to be cleaned up as well. That is to be expected when you start two freshmen and two sophomores in the secondary, but something to pay attention to.

Special Teams

What I Liked:
The opening kickoff minus the penalty (which was unnecessary), it just shows you that Durkin can really design kickoff returns. Caleb Sturgis is back. No punts doesn't happen very often.

What I Didn't Like:
The penalty on the opening kickoff. The overall kickoff coverage wasn't good, but had its moments. Frankie Hammond had a terrible time catching and returning punts. Someone else probably needs to back up Rainey at that spot.

Extras: What I Liked:
I loved Muschamp's persona on the sideline. I got to see more of it on replay, but the crowd really got into it when he got animated on the one penalty in the second half.

They played several true freshmen, which was a surprise for some, but a good sign for those particular players. Driskel, Joyer, DL Tevin Westbrook, LB Graham Stewart, Saunders, Roberson, and Purifoy all got on the field from a class of 15 after attrition. A.C Leonard would have seen the field as well. If you throw in redshirt freshmen Mack Brown, Quinton Dunbar, Chaz Green, Ian Silberman, Leon Orr, Michael Taylor, and Josh Shaw, 14 scholarship freshmen saw the field Saturday night and most played well.

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