Bowling Green at No. 23 Florida: Postgame Grades for the Gators' Win
For most of Saturday's game against Bowling Green, it appeared Florida was in danger of dropping its first season opener in 23 years.
However, with a late 13-point burst, the Gators squashed the Falcons' hopes of an upset at the Swamp.
In a game that was much closer than it should have been, the Gators displayed many of the same qualities that plagued the team last season.
The quarterback play wasn't great, the defense allowed too many yards after contact and there was almost no pressure on the quarterback.
Let's take a look at how each position group graded out in Florida's 27-14 win against Bowling Green.
Overall Unit: B
The plan to rotate quarterbacks in the season opener didn't produce fantastic results, but a leader emerged in the race for the top spot.
Sophomore Jeff Driskel—the No. 1 quarterback recruit in 2011—ultimately outplayed fellow sophomore Jacoby Brissett and earned most of the second-half snaps.
The 6'4", 237-pounder showed improved poise in the pocket and accuracy, finishing the day 10-of-16 for 114 yards and a touchdown. He also added 20 yards on the ground.
Since the Gators stuck to a short passing attack, it's tough to gauge just how much progress Florida's quarterbacks made this offseason, but they managed to avoid turning the ball over in Saturday's win.
Overall Unit: A
Any Mike Gillislee doubters got shut up after Saturday's performance.
Drawing his first start, the senior tailback responded in a huge way, rushing for a career-high 148 yards on 24 carries. The 5'11", 209-pounder found the end zone twice, consistently carving out yards after contact.
Freshman Matt Jones looked good in his debut, picking up 17 yards on just three carries.
Omarius Hines and Mack Brown combined for 27 yards on eight carries.
While it remains to be seen whether Gillislee can put up the same type of numbers against a respectable defense, he stole the show on Saturday.
Overall Unit: C
We already knew wide receiver was a weak spot, and Saturday did nothing to disprove that.
Andre Debose—the team's most talented receiver—failed to register a catch.
In fact, only three receivers even registered a catch on the day, and two of them only caught three.
Frankie Hammond Jr. led the team with 62 yards on three receptions and a score, but no one stood out on the day.
Florida's passing attack still has a lot of work to do before they face the big boys of the SEC.
Overall Unit: B-
It's tough to make a true evaluation of the Gators' tight ends.
Jordan Reed did tie for the team lead with three receptions, but no one else really stood out from the group in a positive way.
The group needs to exhibit better discipline as Reed was whistled for two false starts, and backup tight end Tevin Westbrook also committed one of his own.
Reed did show some impressive agility after the catch and was solid as a run blocker.
However, until the passing game expands, it appears the junior tight end won't be putting up huge numbers.
Overall, the tight ends did a good job setting the edge in the run game, but it would have been nice to see them featured more in the passing attack.
Overall Unit: B+
Florida's much-maligned offensive line looked much better on Saturday than it did in 2011.
Left tackle Xavier Nixon anchored a strong front five which did a mostly fantastic job opening up holes in the run game.
The O-line surrendered just one sack while paving the way for the running game to average 5.1 yards per carry.
Besides a few short-yardage situations, the line managed to have a near flawless day.
Overall Unit: B-
The Gators' fearsome defensive line showed flashes, but didn't play consistent enough up front to earn a high grade.
Playing in his natural spot, junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd displayed tremendous power and quickness for a man his size, finishing with four tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
Fans held their breath when defensive end Dominique Easley went down with what looked to be a knee injury, but the junior escaped unscathed.
The lightning-quick junior recorded the Gators' only sack of the afternoon.
Freshman Dante Fowler Jr. earned a healthy number of snaps and finished the game with three tackles, a quarterback hit and .5 tackles for loss.
This unit has the potential to be dominant, but it will have to tighten up in the run game and show more in the pass-rush department to earn a high mark.
Overall Unit: C
This may seem harsh, but I just didn't see the dominant play that should be expected out of the Gators' linebackers.
Jon Bostic—who donned the No. 1 jersey—led the team with eight tackles, and Jelani Jenkins added three of his own, including one for loss.
However, the linebackers gave up too many yards after contact and didn't contribute much in the pass-rush area.
Lerentee McCray had just four assisted tackles and failed to get after the quarterback.
I still think UF's linebackers have a chance to be among the best in the nation, but they'll have to show more playmaking ability in the future.
Overall Unit: B
Florida's secondary actually played fairly well despite facing a pass-heavy attack.
The unit surrendered just 226 passing yards, and Bowling Green completed just 48 percent of its passes.
Cornerback Marcus Roberson snagged an interception and returned it for 31 yards, and Jaylen Watkins recorded three pass break-ups.
Overall, the defensive backs still need to improve their hands and concede too much of a cushion in coverage, so they still have work to do.
Overall Unit: B+
If there's one area where the Gators stood out today, it had to be special teams.
Although he didn't contribute on offense, Andre Debose set the tone in the third phase of the game, taking back one kickoff 38 yards and averaging 15 yards on three punt returns.
His trademark speed and explosiveness helped put the Gators in good field position throughout the day, which was key for an up-and-down offense.
The Gators were also strong in kick coverage; Kyle Christy nailed two punts inside the 20-yard line, and Caleb Sturgis nailed 2-of-3 field-goal attempts.
Overall Unit: C+
Maybe I'm just upset that the Gators barely edged out an unranked team at the Swamp, but Saturday's game left me with more disappointments than reasons to be optimistic.
The quarterback rotation on offense didn't yield tremendous results, although the unit definitely looked much better with Jeff Driskel at the helm.
The coaching staff seems to like Jacoby Brissett, but I think they should stick with Driskel as the full-time starter going forward.
For a disciplinarian, Muschamp's team did not look well-coached as the team racked up 106 yards on 14 penalties.
Many of the team's flaws from last season still showed up today, and it will be up to Muschamp to get more out of his receivers, linebackers and defensive line.