First Quarter Grades: Offense

The Florida Gators have started off 3-0 in the first quarter of the 2011 season. Although the record may be what was expected, I think most Gators fans are pleasantly surprised at what they have seen overall from the group. Here is one man's look at grades for each position on offense as we move closer to the meat of the schedule.

Quarterback: (B-) the position was the biggest question mark on offense coming into the season and Brantley has answered a number of questions while there are still a few. He hasn't been able to open it up, mainly because of how teams are playing the Gators, but he has done a marvelous job of taking what defenses have given him in the short passing game.

One note that hasn't been discussed about Brantley is the few times he has been out front on a broken play blocking for Rainey or Demps. Brantley has not been afraid to lay his body out in front of defenders and in fact in the UAB threw his body out there to block two Blazers at the same time.

Knocks on him have been not getting into the end zone much (only three touchdowns), and not getting the receivers more involved.

------Depth: (B-) the little we have seen from Jeff Driskel, we know he can make all the throws. He hasn't been turned loose yet to run the ball like we also know he can do. His first pass as a Gator was an interception, but he has been much better since. His grade would be higher if he kept up the same play and had more chances to do so.

Running Back: (A) Not sure they can ask any more from the dynamic duo of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. All the accolades we heard and reported about Rainey in the preseason he has lived up to and more. The two have combined for 721 of the 1327 offensive yards this season or 54% of the entire offensive production.

Rainey not only has been great, he has been a highlight reel in motion in almost every game. He has made some kind of highlight play in each match. Demps while more of a pure speed guy, has had his moments of excitement as well.

I have to throw Trey Burton in here as well even though he is really the fullback. He is starting to get some plays at running back and we all know what a play maker he is. Behind him at fullback is freshman Hunter Joyer who has been outstanding for a freshman and will only get better.

------Depth: (C) it was very obvious they don't feel too secure with Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown just yet when they put Rainey back in the game in the last drive of the game with the match firmly in hand. The little we have seen from the two running the ball means they don't get a failing grade, but they have had few moments on the field that have really mattered so far.

Receivers: (C) I may be a little lenient here due to their lack of production and really the lack of play making we have seen so far this season. To me we have seen these guys in the right place to make plays and yet they just haven't made them. In the UAB game I remember three instances where a receiver caught a ball, had room to make much more after the catch, and went down instead. Add that to the many jump balls that the gators haven't come down with in the field of play and you have quite a few missed opportunities.

Like I have mentioned they have been in position to make those plays for the most part and the thing that keeps them from having a lesser grade is their attitude on the field and their supreme ability to block. It seems every receiver out there for Florida has had some really great blocks and some like Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar have excelled with it.

-----Depth: (D) the Gators have three main receivers in Deonte Thompson, Frankie Hammond, and Quinton Dunbar. Omarius Hines is likely to get back more in the mix with the return of A.C. Leonard at tight end and Andre Debose has had his moments, but doesn't play enough.

That just isn't enough and with the lack of production from the front line guys I would be trying to get something going with the backups.

Tight End: (B) it isn't a position that usually is a big stat maker, but in this offense it should be. Jordan Reed, when healthy, has been great. Trey Burton gets some time at the position as well and does his thing. Once A.C. Leonard gets some strength back he will add another dimension to this offense, especially if Reed is back and healthy.

-----Depth: (B-) Gerald Christian hasn't been thrown to too much and has been open at time without getting the ball. He is also an excellent blocker, but he can be better at all of them. They need another added to the depth in my opinion.

Offensive Line: (B+) this group has played better than expected. I think most would agree with that. Their biggest tests are of course in front of them, but they have really outmanned every group they have faced so far. I love the athleticism of the tackles with Chaz Green and Xavier Nixon starting. The guards had a so-so first game and have been great in the last two with Jon Halapio and Dan Wenger manning the spots. They have allowed only one sack in three games and they have been to go very run heavy through the second half of every game to finish off teams and run the clock. Again I think special props should go to sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison for his play at center so far in the early season and he was named the OL of the week this week.

-----Depth: (B+) Kyle Koehne was a surprise coming out of fall camp and has played some really strong minutes in all three games. Matt Patchan is basically a third starter at tackle. If they could find one more that they really like this grade would be an (A).

We will grade the defense tomorrow.

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