It has been a long time since Florida fans have been able to look at the offensive product on the field and come away thinking that their offensive football staff was able to put their players in a consistent position to win. The Gators did so in nice fashion with a 61-13 victory of New Mexico State on Saturday.
Granted it was against New Mexico State Saturday night in The Swamp, but the offense showed the ability to complete the forward pass, and do it quite a bit, and do it laterally and vertically down the field. They had players make a play here and there when needed, most importantly, they showed ways of getting people wide open to make things easier.Too many times I have put a lot of blame on lack of play makers at Florida and to a certain extent that still holds true, but Jim McElwain and his offense found ways to turn a lot of those same players into wide open scoring machines Saturday night.
14 different receivers caught the ball.
A dynamic play maker like Brandon Powell is utilized to a great deal and we all know he will be for the rest of the year. Last year he showed some early signs of brilliance and disappeared a great deal during the season.
Cyontai Lewis redshirted a year ago. In his steed played two senior tight ends that came to Florida as defensive linemen. Lewis scores two touchdowns on the night, finishes second on the team in in reception yardage, and looks like a future star at the position.
We now have a coach that isn’t afraid to play true freshmen and play them early. True freshman receiver Antonio Callaway was in on the first series, caught the first pass of the game, and carried the ball on a reverse in that same series. Two freshmen running backs scored touchdowns.
The issue on offense I believe is going to be running the ball. It didn’t appear they could exert their will running the ball and that should be expected in a game like this. But, with a very young offensive line, the strength and maturity are things that have to be groomed over time.
That is why you have to coach around the issues and they did that Saturday. On a night when the only two penalties from the most penalized team in the SEC for five of the last six years came on two special teams plays midway through the fourth quarter, this team showed great preparation and execution for an offense that looks more intricate than anything we have seen lately.
Routes that include crossing patterns well down field that result in touchdowns??? That is when coaching can make a big difference on offense.
The defense gave up too many big plays in the first half. They were aggressive and got caught with their pants down a few times. They were also playing without their starting two safeties. While the backups should have been able to handle it, the shakeup at the position means guys are playing a lot more in spots they aren’t used to.
That should be cured by the next game.
The quarterback battle…
Both Treon Harris and Will Grier did a lot of good things. Grier made the biggest mistake in the game giving up a fumble on a sack. Harris seemed to throw into too much traffic at times, but got away with it.
I am sure they aren’t going to name a starter anytime in the next few days, but McElwain and company will figure this out. My take is that Grier looked sharper and more often than Harris hit his guys in stride with sharp passes. However, I believe Harris looked as good as or better than he ever did a year ago.
It is amazing hat coaches can do and look to have two competent looking quarterbacks that combined for 29 of 36 passing for 379 yards and four touchdowns and constantly finding the right guy to throw to.
It will still be a battle, but it will be fun for a change.