Sorry for the wait, guys. I feel like I cheated you a bit by being a featured columnist and no–showing until four days after the game. I was not slacking off though, I was working my tail off collecting on–the–scene information, err...actually I road tripped and partied.
I went to both Gainesville and Tallahassee for the respective games there, and did not have Internet access until late Tuesday when I got back home. Though my recollection is a bit fuzzy and the game was no good, I do believe that I learned a couple of Gators–related things from opening weekend.
First and foremost, don't write off the defense yet. Sure they held a team to three, but it didn't feel that dominant. Everyone around me felt that the Gators defense didn't look elite, but I promise you next week will be a different beast for a couple of reasons.
For one, Wondy Pierre Loius will not start in the future. In fact, that future starts Saturday, as Janoris Jenkins will start this week. Don't worry about JJ. He wasn't hurt; he was suspended for channelling his inner Andrew Meyer over the summer.
Also, Cunningham was out. I don't know what he did, but don't be surprised when the defense looks better against Troy than Charleston Southern.
Secondly, the receivers need to step up. Two did just that, but a lot of questions remain. Hernandez' performance was expected; he's the go to guy this year. However, Riley Cooper kind of showed up out of nowhere and impressed me. Hopefully he can finally fulfill his potential and be a true deep threat.
Deonte's drop concerns me more than Brandon James, although with one pass a piece I'm not losing any sleep over either performance. James fills a niche outside of the offense with his phenomenal special teams play. Honestly, he's the fourth RB on the depth chart. Who really cares if he drops a pass?
Deonte might be WR No. 2 though. Hernandez will be the #1 target, and Cooper looks like the No. 1 WR, but who fills in the rest?
Nobody really stepped into the No. 3 role on Saturday, and limiting Tim Tebow's options means he'll be running a lot more often on passing plays. Hopefully, it was just the nature of the night and the 369 rushing yards that kept the Gators' offense from really opening up in the air.
Outside of those two observations, it's hard to take anything else from that glorified scrimmage, except for the fact that it should have never been played. Go ahead and mark it down; if the Gators miss out on a championship chance it will be because of Charleston Southern and FIU.
While nothing else could be gained by the Gators' victory, by watching opponent's games Gator fans could learn a few things about their schedule.
For instance, Joe Cox sucks. That is both good and bad news for the Gators. Good because a repeat of 2007's Cocktail Party looks extremely unlikely at this point, bad because the Bulldogs might lose five games and worsen Florida's already weak schedule.
LSU looked very vulnerable as well against last year's NCAA doormat, Washington. I'm not ready to be as hard on them as I am on Georgia, because they did find a way to turn it around and win.
Still, an eight-point win against Washington, even when the game is all the way in Washington is not much of a opening performance for a supposed SEC title contender.
UF's only remaining ranked opponent showed us improvement and a glaring weakness all in the same game. Christian Ponder looked good Monday, FSU's secondary looked atrocious. This may sound eerily familiar for Gators fans, a good QB playing on a team with a bad secondary, unfortunately for the Noles, Ponder isn't as good as Tebow.
Florida State will do well enough, but I don't expect their offense to play to such a level that they keep up with the points that the high scoring opponents they face will be putting up. Still, they are closer than some Gator fans may be willing to admit to being a great team again.
Finally, around the rest of the FBS, Alabama is my No. 1 out West, Ole Miss went from overrated to definitely overrated to probably rated correctly in the span of 60 minutes, Oklahoma's done, Texas and USC look good, and the ACC (two FCS losses), Big 10 (nearly laid a big egg against Navy and Northern Iowa), and Big East are in a battle for worst BCS conference.
Also, we have a very real shot of BYU slipping into the title game if a situation like last year plays out (no undefeateds except for the MWC champ).