Florida Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Gators' Win vs. the Wildcats
For the fifth straight time, Florida completely dominated Kentucky, earning a 38-0 shutout on a sweltering day at the Swamp.
Led by quarterback Jeff Driskel, the Gators moved the ball efficiently on offense for most of the game, totaling 404 yards on the afternoon.
Thanks to a trifecta of interceptions, UF held the Wildcats to a pathetic 60 yards passing on offense.
With the Gators sitting at 4-0, let's take a look at 10 things we learned from their win against the Wildcats.
The Ground Game Is for Real
Although Mike Gillislee was well on his typical pace, the senior back still put on a solid showing in the Gators' 38-point victory. The 5'11", 209-pounder fought for extra yards on a day where the team carried the ball 44 times for 201 yards.
Gillislee finished the day with 56 yards on 13 carries and scored his fifth touchdown on the ground.
Florida showed off its impressive backfield depth, as freshman Matt Jones saw his most extensive playing time as a clock-killer. Jones—who measures in at an imposing 6'2", 226 pounds—proved tough to tackle, averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry.
With Jeff Driskel buying time with his legs, and backups Mack Brown and Chris Johnson also showing flashes of talent, the Gators have a wealth of options in the run game.
Driskel's Mobility a Difference Maker
Compared to John Brantley, Jeff Driskel looks like an Olympic athlete.
The 6'4", 237-pounder tends to hold onto the ball too long (more on that later), but the strong-armed sophomore displayed an impressive ability to buy extra time with his feet.
With the pocket collapsing, Driskel maintained his poise and was able to move around the backfield until one of his receivers found space in the defense. I don't expect that to happen as easily against better defenses, but it was an encouraging sign for a young player who often appeared flustered in the pocket as a freshman.
Andre Debose No Longer Featured Receiver
For all the talk about Andre Debose being the next Percy Harvin, it appears that dream may have officially been just wishful thinking.
Despite his physical talent, Debose's snaps on offense have dwindled in recent weeks, and the redshirt junior barely saw the field despite Florida's huge lead.
Not good news for Percy 2.0.
Jordan Reed Needs to Be More Consistent
Jordan Reed is a tantalizing talent, but the third-year tight end is by no means a polished product.
Although he's one of Florida's top playmakers, Reed still battles through bouts of the dropsies and penalties. Reed was whistled for a holding call in the second quarter, but did redeem himself with an incredible catch in which he took a huge hit that left his helmet laying on the field.
If Reed remains focused, he could be a real player. Until then, he's just a prospect with upside.
Jeff Driskel Rapidly Improving as a Passer
I'm not ready to anoint Jeff Driskel as the next Tim Tebow, but he's shown great improvement in four starts.
After taking eight sacks against Texas A&M, the fleet-footed signal-caller has managed to avoid the rush, buy time in the pocket and deliver some big throws down the field. Florida's starter went 18-of-27 for 203 yards and a touchdown on the day.
Of those 18 completions, three of them went for at least 24 yards, including a superb 52-yard bomb to Omarius Hines.
Driskel still holds onto the ball too long and missed some open receivers, but there's no denying his upside is through the roof.
Defensive Backs Have Ball Skills
Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his players preach about turnovers every week. On Saturday, they forced three of them.
The Gators defense snagged three interceptions, including a 26-yard pick-six by Jaylen Watkins in the second quarter.
De'Ante "Pop" Saunders and linebacker Michael Taylor also picked off Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton.
You can bet Quinn will be smiling about that.
The Run Defense Has Some Holes
Will Muschamp loves him some defense, but he will have plenty to gripe about in film review this week.
Although the Gators completely stifled the Wildcats' pass offense, the rush defense left something to be desired. UF surrendered 159 yards on 32 carries (5.0 average), a pretty bad mark against a Kentucky team that entered the game with the nation's 106th-rated rushing attack.
The Gators seemed to struggle in outside containment, at times, allowing Kentucky to gain the edge and pick up extra yards.
This is certainly an area that will need to improve when LSU comes into town in two weeks.
The Gators Missed Dominique Easley
Without Dominique Easley in the lineup, Florida's pass rush was nonexistent.
In 27 pass attempts, the Gators managed a single quarterback hit and no sacks. That's pathetic.
While that may seem harsh for a defense that surrendered just 60 yards through the air, it speaks to the struggles of the defensive line. Linebacker Jon Bostic was the only player to put a hit on a Kentucky quarterback, and freshmen Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr. didn't make much of a dent in the stat sheet.
Florida's front seven needs to pick it up, as LSU's offensive line will be a much tougher test.
Florida Is a Fourth-Quarter Team
The best teams know how to close. So far, the Gators have done just that.
Although they've struggled out of the gate, the Gators have continued to show a positive trend of improvement throughout the game. In four fourth quarters, UF has allowed zero points. That's right folks, ZERO.
That's an impressive number for a young team, especially considering they've played some close games.
If that trend continues, this team might just make some serious noise.
Caleb Sturgis Is Human
Despite all the rumors, Caleb Sturgis is human, after all.
The fifth-year senior is usually automatic in the kicking game, but he had a few miscues on Saturday. UF's most undervalued weapon had his 39-yard attempt blocked in the second quarter, and he later shanked a kickoff out of bounds.
Sturgis did nail all five of extra-point attempts. Keep kicking, Caleb.