Gators Struggle in Opener

A Florida offense that has to replace several key components from a year ago struggled on Saturday against Miami (OH). A slow start in the first half continued in the second half as the Gators scoring was not indicative of the actual offensive play on the field. The defense played solid all day, but the win will be dampened by the offense's struggles on the day.

Miami started the game on offense and gained a first down only to finish the opening drive with three yards. For the Gators, the big play came from Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard who busted through the middle of the RedHawks offensive line to sack Miami quarterback Zac Dysert. The RedHawks gained three total yards on the five plays.

Florida took over the ball with good field position at the Miami 43-yard-line, but managed to lose 27 yards after a third play bad snap and then a turnover giving Miami the ball on the Florida 24-yard-line.

Miami netted eight yards and a field goal when the Gator defense held again.

Florida was able to muster a first down in their second drive of the game compliments of an offside penalty from the RedHawks. A fumble by junior receiver Chris Rainey turned the ball over yet again and Miami would gain possession on their own 47.

The Florida defense rose up again and stopped Miami on three plays with a juggling interception along the Miami right sideline by sophomore middle linebacker Jon Bostic who earned the first start of his career.

Florida, starting at their own 41-yard-line was able to collect their second first down of the game with a 10-yard pass to junior receiver Deonte Thompson who was defended but dropped a deep touchdown pass the series before. Three plays later, a handoff between Brantley and senior running back Emmanuel Moody ended in a fumble that lost two yards on 4th-and-1.

At the start of the second quarter, the Gator special teams got in the bad act and gave up a fake punt for a first down when the receiver was actually covered well. The beneficiary of that bad play however was Florida junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins who jumped a pass from Dysert and raced untouched 67 yards for a touchdown.

Jenkins' nice defensive play was a bit of a tide turner in the game as the Gators would reel off two offensive touchdowns in a row and take a 21-3 lead.

Brantley threw his first touchdown of the year when he hooked up with sophomore receiver/tight end Omarius Hines for a 10-yard score. The drive was only 21 yards as the RedHawks tried a fake punt yet again and failed this time around.

Three plays after Hines' touchdown catch, Ahmad Black intercepted the ball and raced back 40 yards to the Miami 3-yard-line. Black was one of only two returning starters in the secondary on the day along with Will Hill.

With the ball on the 3, freshman Trey Burton lined up in the ‘Wildcat' quarterback. After a 1-yard run from sophomore running back Mike Gillislee, Burton kept it on the second down play in a Tebow-esque touchdown run.

Miami mounted their longest drive of the game to end the first half, gaining six first downs in the process and totaling 61 yards on 16 plays. The RedHawks settled for a 31-yard field goal and at the half the Gators led 21-6.

At halftime Miami led Florida 102 yards of total offense to Florida's 13. The Gators had a whopping 106 yards in interception returns, allowing the Gators to have the big lead at half.

Florida's offensive woes continued in the second half as they accounted for one first down, and 12 yards of total offense in the third quarter. Twice, Brantley threw passes short of the first down in very short yardage and again refused to really try and stretch the field.

The Gator defense held Miami to 63 yards and three points in the quarter.

The fourth quarter started with the RedHawks finishing a 57-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal just seconds into the quarter. But, the fourth quarter signaled a little bit of a surge for the Gators.

Having dealt with bad snaps and mishandled handoffs from the shotgun all game, the Gators seemed to simplify things a little bit and go the bread and butter route. Handing off to the Gators leading rusher from 2009, Jeff Demps ran for two yards on first down of the Gators first drive, but a zone play off of the right tackle on second down netted 67 yards and a touchdown and the longest play from scrimmage for the offense on the day. Demps got outside quick and once he hit the corner, college football's fastest player would not be caught.

After allowing one first down Florida's defense held again and the Gator offense started on their own 40-yard-line. Brantley completed a clutch 2nd-and-17 pass to Omarius Hines for 21 yards and another 18-yard first down strike in the series before another ball handling incident when Gillislee fumbled the ball at the Miami 19.

Sophomore Jeremy Brown nabbed his first interception of the year on the next series. Urban Meyer said after the game that Brown was injured on Thursday and it was a surprise that he got to play.

Gillislee tried to atone for his fumble on the Gators' next series with a 51-yard rumble bouncing off of defenders and showing power, grace, and speed in a very electric run. Another mishandled snap ended in a 13-yard loss before Brantley threw a scrambling Hail Mary type pass in the deep right part of the end zone that cascaded off of one receiver and into the diving hands of Rainey for a touchdown.

That would be the last score of the game that had more lowlights than highlights. On offense, the stars were running backs Jeff Demps with 98 yards and Mike Gillislee with 55 yards along with Omarius Hines at receiver who caught three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.

Brantley finished a respectable 17-of-25 but for only 113 yards. The deep pass wasn't in the arsenal enough today and is something he is supposed to be good at.

On defense, interceptions from Ahmad Black, Janoris Jenkins, Jon Bostic, and Jeremy Brown were big. Jaye Howard starred with two sacks.

The offense has a way to go and correcting the snaps would go a long way in helping the offense not put themselves in bad positions. The defense can be more consistent, but certainly played well enough to beat most teams on Florida's schedule.

The defensive stars included Black, who had his big interception and led the team in tackles with 12. Janoris Jenkins and Jaye Howard both tied for second in tackles with five and Jenkins with his huge interception for a touchdown. Howard actually finished with 2.5 sacks on the day and was disruptive throughout.

For those counting, several true freshmen saw the playing field on Saturday, athlete Trey Burton, running back Mack Brown, receiver Quinton Dunbar, receiver Robert Clark, tight end Gerald Christian, offensive lineman Ian Silberman, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle Dominique Easley, defensive end Ronald Powell, safety Matt Elam, safery Jonathan Dowling, cornerback Cody Riggs, cornerback Jaylen Watkins, and cornerback Josh Shaw all saw playing time…most on special teams.
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