After Further Review: The UAB Game

After getting a chance to quickly skim through the UAB replay I jotted down some extra notes beyond what I took at game time, and will present them in their simplest form here. I don't care what anyone says a shutout of any kind is so impressive, especially when you play backups for most of the second half and when anything can happen. Here is a closer look at what I liked and disliked.

We'll just jump right in with a recap of the Florida and UAB game…

OFFENSE

What I Liked:
As far as scheme and philosophy is concerned, the running game was completely lethal and everything that was called in the running game seemed to work. Charlie Weis worked outside of his box so to speak and called a few "Wildcat" plays for Chris Rainey and Trey Burton. You have to believe somewhere down the line we will see Jordan Reed lining up there as well. The issue they are having right now is finding two tight ends to line up out there to make some of these things work for them. The injury to Reed didn't help in that game.

I love what Weis is doing with John Brantley and in turn Brantley is playing very smart for Weis. There are virtually no vertical throws to the middle of the field right now (one exception was a post pass to Deonte Thompson on 3rd and long for 19 yards and a first down) and that is in large part to the way teams are playing this offense. The success for the running game will only make this more apparent, but teams are stacking the box and playing a man defense either cover-1 or cover-2, with safety help in the dead middle or inside of both hashes deep and dropping back.

With that in mind, the post and seams are tough routes right now, so Weis is attacking the sidelines. Not much success on the deep routes, but we will get into that in a minute. A great change up was the crossers just between the backers and the safeties and the corners trailing the receivers because they were playing behind. Brantley actually seems to throw a better lead pass to a crossing receiver than he does to a receiver running deep. However, I don't think that is all his fault, and again I will get into that in a bit. The crossers were marvelous late in the second quarter and really sparked the passing game in my opinion.

As for Brantley, I thought he played very well. He didn't throw into coverage that I can remember. He checked down when he saw the receivers covered and did well with that yet again. He ran out of the pocket and threw the ball away on the lone pressure he had. Even the under thrown deep ball on the opening flea flicker, he was having to lean back to throw it because someone clobbered him as he threw it. He threw it up and gave his receiver a chance to come back for it.

I also liked how Brantley has directed the blocking up front. All he may be doing is calling out the designated "middle of the defense" for blocking assignments, but it is clear he is doing a great job of it and something that didn't happen last year.

As for Jeff Driskel, he went one for one, but again the pass he made showed you everything you needed to know about his ability and his arm. It was a deep 17 yard deep out pattern from the opposite hash to the sideline. As they say on TV, that is a "big league throw" right there.

Not sure I need to really recap the running backs, we all know how good Chris Rainey was and Jeff Demps before he got hurt. The thing that is becoming more apparent with Rainey is that he is just a "ball player" If he was 30 pounds heavier you would think a guy with his ball playing acumen could line up virtually anywhere on the field. Right now he is the Gators best back and probably would be the best receiver if lined up at that position.

Mike Gillislee showed real power and cutting ability. There isn't much more you can ask for when he gets to tote the rock. Mack Brown just continuously drives his legs when he runs the ball. It takes more than one to bring Mack down and he will carry a single defender for yards.

Got to give major props to Trey Burton who is listed here as a fullback but played his best at other positions. Burton is certainly one of the top four to five play makers on offense at Florida and did everything on Saturday in terms of showing off his ball carrying skills. One surprise of the night was when fullback Hunter Joyer crossed the goal line for the first touchdown of the game. He carried three times in hard yardage situations and did well. If he can catch a swing pass or dump off on a screen, he will be a complete weapon for Weis and they will really be able to put Burton in more key places to help the offense move. Be thankful for Charlie Weis with this receiving corps, because while I think the group is solid, there seems to be very few stars ready to shine. We will get into that in a bit, but let's talk about what they did well.

Outside of Thompson's drop, there weren't any more. These guys seem like they are good ball catchers. They also continue to block well. Thompson, Frankie Hammond, Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose, and Solomon Patton all made big catches and most would be called somewhat difficult.

I am really starting to get on the Andre Debose band wagon. A sweet kick return to start the game is going to help him in the eyes of the staff, but catching the ball he seems fearless and most of the time he looks to make something happen after the catch. My understanding is that he has come light years since the second week of fall camp.

The only other receiver I want to point out is Solomon Patton. In a group of guys that don't have that extra move to make something happen after the catch most of the time, Patton has almost made a big play twice because he does have the ability to catch and get moving vertically fast. His 17 yard catch was a tough one and he spun away from his defender to get a few more yards before being tackled. It was very close to being a huge play for him. I want to see Patton line up in the slot a little more than he has been.

With Reed out of most of the game with injury, the tight end position was near critical mass. I can only really comment on Reed who continues to show he is one of the top 4-5 play makers on the offense. I almost forgot to point out Omarius Hines who played tight end Saturday. He had a couple of huge blocks while out there and simply is not afraid to throw himself around.

No sacks in the first two games and on the offensive line I want to start with the tackles. Chaz Green and Xavier Nixon started and both are playing terrific in my opinion. Brantley has hardly been touched in the two games. But, what I like about them the most is how they make themselves a part of the running plays. With these active backs, if you stay on the play you are likely to be able to hit someone and make a difference and green and Nixon do that a lot. Patchan isn't too far behind, but doesn't seem to move as well as those two right now. I would almost venture to say there are few if any schools out there right now with a tackle trio any better.

What I liked at guard and center is that they seemed to get a greater push this week and they probably should have given the opponent. Still, they followed through. I also loved that the starting guards in Dan Wenger and Jon Halapio were able to move aside and give a lot of playing time to Nick Alajajian and Kyle Koehne who both came in during the early part of the second quarter. They are certainly building some depth on the offensive line.

What I Didn't Like:
Schematically, as much as I liked the move to the mid to deep crossers it seemed to take a quarter and a half for them to come to fruition. In fact I would almost like to say that Weis took a cue from the UAB offense and when they started hitting on some crossers, he started calling the same thing.

The penalties were frustrating and at the time people were having doom-and-gloom thoughts of last year's offense. The chat room was in complete melt down. They have to get that fixed and they did it Saturday by slowing things down a bit.

Like most I wish they would let Driskel throw some more, but I still think he will get his chances this year. That time is coming.

For Brantley there isn't much to gripe about in my opinion except he has to stay away from those penalty situations that bogged down the offense. He has to be the leader at all times and top of it all. If I had a gripe about Driskel I think it would be he looks a little uncomfortable handing the ball off right now. There is a little delay / hitch when he comes out from under center and it slows the play down a little bit.

For the running backs I just want to beg and plead for Gillislee and Brown to figure out the blocking assignments so that they can get on the field more and do their thing when they get the chance.

My biggest gripe this week is going to be at receiver. I see two guys wanting to make plays after the catch. I watched Deonte Thompson and Andre Debose catch the ball, have room to make a huge play beyond the catch and then stumble to ground. The play resulted in long first downs, but they could have gone for much more. These are Carl Moore catches, if you will.

I love Quinton Dunbar's tenacity on the field, but I have yet to see him really work past a defender and go and get the ball. Again, he can make a nice catch on mid to deep routes, but he has to show he can climb over a receiver on the run and make a play.

I mentioned Debose negatively, but I think he and Patton as mentioned before are the two guys that can really make something happen.

They have to find help at tight end in this offense and we even saw Clay Burton hit the field on offense in the second half. Where was Gerald Christian on the day? He was there, but didn't do much.

I'm just going to go with the penalties for the offensive line. A 36 yard TD run was called back because of holding. Too many procedure penalties as well and these things should be easy to clean up, and maybe wouldn't be called at all in the SEC.

DEFENSE

What I Liked:
Schematically we saw the nickel and strong safety up in the box and making things tight for UAB in close. Although they didn't get to the quarterback to sack him because of a quick throwing game and a somewhat crafty QB, they did hit him a lot and they forced him to go a bit deeper f he wanted to throw.

On the defensive line, they continue to be disruptive even without the sacks. Unless a team has a dynamic cut back runner it is going to be hard to run laterally on Florida. The linemen are really set on getting to the backfield and do a good job of it.

We all know about Easley and he played well minus the penalties, but I think we need to take note of Leon Orr who batted a ball down in this game and also made a couple of nice plays in the first game. If they can get Orr playing at a true second team level, they will have a solid two-deep across the board heading into the SEC season.

At linebacker it was Jon Bostic's best game and he was second on the team in tackles with five. Consistency is Bostic's big thing and it seems to start to be happening for him. I still like the play of Michael Taylor and think he will get a ton of playing time this year. He flies around so much like Jelani Jenkins those two are menaces.

Josh Evans played much better and finished fourth on the team with four tackles. I noticed him playing in the box more than he was and he did some nice things closer to the line of scrimmage. Matt Elam led all tacklers from his safety position, not exactly the thing you want to hear except we all know he plays close to the line of scrimmage himself. He forced the only turnover of the year for the Gators as well. Pop Saunders also played well from his safety position and played a lot of nickel also making plays close to the line of scrimmage. Josh Shaw got a lot of playing time as well and showed well of himself.

For most of the game the corners played well, but there were about five plays where they didn't. I thought Moses Jenkins played pretty well against a team that threw the ball 28 out of 45 times.

What I Didn't Like:
Schematically I am going to hurt someone if they don't hurry up and get to the quarterback. I know all the reasons why it wasn't a great time for that, but they threw the ball 28 times and there seemed to be some opportunities. The lone solace here is that they rarely if ever blitzed and that will change big time next week.

Hard to complain about the play up front when they average 3.1 yards per carry but I missed Jaye Howard showing up. We can say the same for Omar Hunter. I saw Ronald Powell flying around even though his name didn't appear much in the stats book at the end of the game.

Loved the safety play but the corners got caught a few times in no man's land. Cody Riggs and Marcus Roberson were victimized a couple of times each. It is imperative that that is out of their system now with a pass happy Tennessee on the way to Gainesville next week.


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