image courtesy SB Nation), and for coming home with a 37-20 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.
My original prediction of a 27-20 win for the Gators wasn't too far off, and I'm very happy those extra 10 points went up on the Florida side of the scoreboard. I felt relatively good that UF was only down four at halftime, even after settling for a field goal right before the half. However, I didn't expect a 27-6 scoring binge in favor of the Gators in the second half. Let's see how the Gators ended up with the victory, and how close my other predictions were.
Florida Ran the Ball Much Better
Like I touched on in my preview, Florida appeared to be the stronger rushing team entering the game. They weren't racking up as many rushes for negative or no yards as Tennessee was. The Gators were also ripping off more runs of 10 yards or more. Yes, Florida had 336 yards rushing, but they also had five rushes(not including those by Driskel) of 10+ yards versus only one for Tennessee. When your running game can break off long rushes it helps open up the field for your passing game.
The Middle of the Field Was Kind of Open
On the first scoring drive for the Gators Jordan Reed caught a nice 20-yard pass down the middle. There were a few other nice passes over the middle to Dunbar and Joyer, but most of the damage in the passing game was done on the outside.
Jeff Driskel Was Much More Than a Game Manager
I didn't think the coaching staff would ask Driskel to attempt many throws down the field or in tight spaces. For the most part they didn't, but when they did he looked far from the true sophomore player that he is. That 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Reed? Beautiful. The scrambling 17-yard throw to Salomon Patton just before halftime? Incredible.
In 2.5 games Driskel has showed everyone exactly why Muschamp and Pease ultimately chose him to lead the offense. His passing ability combined with the ability to pick up chunks of yards running makes him a tough quarterback to defend. Lots of credit to Brent Pease for utilizing Driskel in a way that's maximizing his talents.
Florida's Secondary Was In Need of a Fire Extinguisher
I don't think there were any big miscommunications, but UF's secondary certainly got burned...a lot. Marcus Roberson gave up too many big plays early, and the Gators benefited from some terrible drops by Hunter and Patterson. This has to be fixed quickly if Florida wants to compete for the SECe this season.
And what about my concerns?
Hunter and Patterson Were Going Early
It looked like those two guys were really going to make it a long night for Florida's defensive backs. Hunter schooled Roberson on multiple plays, and Patterson got free quite a few times. I'm not sure the second half stall by the Tennessee passing game was as much UF defensive backfield adjustments as it was Bray misfiring and UT receivers dropping passes.
The Pressure Didn't Get to Driskel
I thought Tennessee's blitzes would get to Driskel on a few occasions, and possibly result in sacks or an interception. Driskel did get pressured, but he took zero sacks. In fact, he made some of his best passes with pressure right in his face.
Outside of the the +17 points in favor of the Gators on the scoreboard, I really liked seeing the receivers and backs blocking way down field. To me, that's a sign that this entire offense has bought into Pease's scheme, and they are playing as a cohesive unit. These guys are willing to do whatever it takes to help their teammates be successful.