Florida Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Gators' Win Against the Aggies
The Gators come out of College Station with what is probably the biggest win in the Will Muschamp era. Florida was able to come from behind in the second half, take the lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter and hold it through the rest of the game.
In the first half, Florida looked very much like the team that we saw against Bowling Green but they were able to make adjustments and play like the team that Gator fans expected to see in the second half.
What did we learn about this Gators team in their first win? Let's take a look at the top 10 things we learned about the Gators in their first SEC victory.
10. The Offensive Line Is Still a Work in Progress
The Gators offensive line looks improved at times and other times looks as porous as a sponge.
Jeff Driskel was sacked eight times on the game, but you can attribute three or four of those to Driskel's indecision and holing onto the ball too long. The other times the line was getting beat off the ball and left Driskel scrambling for his life.
Another area where the line needs to improve is getting a push on obvious running downs. On the Gators' first drive, the line was pushed back almost two whole yards and Hunter Joyer was stuffed for a loss. This is unacceptable. For two weeks now, we have watched the offensive line get manhandled on running downs and simply put, they need to be better.
Chaz Green's injury is a major concern for the offensive line. With Matt Patchan's health being a major question mark, Kyle Koehne was forced to take over for Green. Nothing against Koehne, but he shouldn't be in the game. He was blown by on several occasions and I don't know how he would handle starting a game in Knoxville. The Gators need to try D.J. Humphries or another option at right tackle if Green cannot go next week.
9. Caleb Sturgis Is Clutch
Caleb Sturgis is a player you can rely on.
Sturgis, a favorite to win the Lou Groza Award, connected on two field goals and both of his extra points. Sturgis got a little lucky when he missed a 51-yard field goal in the first half. Kevin Sumlin called a timeout prior to the kick that banged off of the right post. Sturgis wouldn't miss twice and connected on his second chance.
With the new kickoff rules I think that Sturgis could kick the ball out of the endzone every time, but the two times he didn't, he got great hangtime that allowed the kick coverage team to make the tackle before the 25 yard line.
Gator fans should feel the utmost confidence whenever Sturgis is lining up for a field goal.
8. Jeff Driskel Is Playing Like a Guy Afraid of Losing His Job
Competition can get the best out of your players, but sometimes it can lead to insecurities and cautious play.
The quarterback battle was essentially over when the third quarter started against Bowling Green, but Driskel knows that if he doesn't play well, Brissett is breathing down his neck.
Almost the entire day, Driskel played like a guy who was afraid of making a mistake rather than going out and trying to make plays. At times he would hold on to the ball too long rather than take off with his legs or trying to hit a receiver downfield.
The coaching staff needs to let Driskel know that this is his team. When Driskel starts playing like he knows he is the starting quarterback, his confidence will rise and his play will get better as well.
7. Jon Bostic Is Capable of Leading This Defense
Losing Jelani Jenkins could have been a devastating blow to the defense. Jenkins is responsible for taking signals from the sideline and relaying the play to his teammates. Without him the defense just didn't look right in the first half. Antonio Morrison filled in nicely for Jenkins but the Gators were missing Jenkin's leadership.
Bostic stepped up in a big way today. He took the reins of the defense and is going to be a great leader the rest of his senior season.
Bostic finished with just five tackles but had a huge pass breakup on a third down late in the game. Bostic is a prototypical Mike linebacker and will be the glue that keeps the defense together in the absence of Jenkins.
6. The Gators Are Still Looking for a Wide Receiver to Step Up
The theme from last year and during the offseason was that Florida was searching for playmakers on offense.
Well, after two games the search continues and you may want to pack a lunch while we try to find one.
The Gators had two wide receivers catch passes today, Frankie Hammond. Hammond caught two passes for 27 yards and Quinton Dunbar caught one for 11.
Solomon Patton was successful on three end around that all resulted in a Florida first down.
The Gators need to be able to line up and execute a downfield passing attack. They can't do that with Driskel playing as cautious as he was today, but the receivers need to do a better job of getting separation and running crisp routes.
5. The Gators Can Handle Adversity
In the first half, it was the Gators, not the Aggies, who looked like they were playing in their first SEC game. A&M was moving the ball at will on offense and was doing a good job of keeping Florida's offense in check. The crowd was into it, and the Gators went into the locker room down 10 points.
The second half was a completely different game. The Gators came out and played like the team everyone thought they were in the second half.
They handled adversity on their first offensive possession, answering a long A&M scoring drive with a touchdown and started the third quarter with a nice drive ending in a field goal.
The Gators withstood their first road test of the season like a veteran team and proved that they can win in the SEC on the road.
4. The Gators Are Still a Work in Progress
With all that being said, this team is still a work in progress.
The Gators have yet to put a full game together.
Offensively the Gators are still searching for playmakers and will need a little more production from Jeff Driskel the rest of the season. Other than Mike Gillislee, the Gators are still looking for a running back who can consistently pick up positive yards and the lack of production from the receivers is somewhat alarming.
Defensively the Gators played a fantastic second half. The defense only gave up 65 yards in the second half but got bullied in the first half. The defense is capable of playing up to that level of play for a full game, we just need to see them do it.
3. Mike Gillislee... Still as Good as Advertised
Despite suffering a lower body injury, Mike Gillislee still was able to rush for 84 yards and almost six yards per carry and two touchdowns.
Gillislee is showing us that he may not have been crazy to set his goals at 1,500 yards for the season. He will continue to be the centerpiece of the Gators offense as long as he can stay healthy.
2. Will Muschamp Can Make Halftime Adjustments
Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn most likely gave their defense a speech at halftime that would make a sailor blush.
Whatever they said, it worked.
After giving up a ridiculous 269 yards in the first half, the Gators' defense held A&M to just 65 yards and a shutout in the second half.
The Gators didn't appear ready for Kevin Sumlin's spread attack but were able to make the necessary adjustments to secure the win.
This is a big win for the head coach and the program and should give the Gators some momentum going into Knoxville next week.
1. The Coaches Made the Right Call with Jeff Driskel
Despite playing most of the game like he was worried about losing his starting role, Jeff Driskel did a very good job of managing the game and securing the win.
The coaches made the right decision to go with Driskel, and the more he plays, the higher his confidence will get and they better he will play.
Driskel was indecisive getting rid of the ball and need to learn to throw the ball away rather than losing yards. Too many times, Driskel would hold onto the ball waiting for a receiver to get separation when he could have picked up a first down with his legs. Driskel is a dynamic runner who should be taking advantage of his mobility, especially with the offensive line playing mediocre and no receiver stepping up to give him a reliable weapon.
The coaching staff made the right call naming Driskel the starter, and now they need to let the sophomore know that this is his job so he can stop looking over his shoulder.