After a mistake-ridden effort in their season-opening victory over the Miami (OH) RedHawks, the Florida Gators rebounded nicely, defeating the South Florida Bulls 38-14 Saturday.
While the game eventually turned into a romp, a sluggish first two quarters saw the Gators enter halftime tied with the Bulls at seven points apiece.
However, a 31-point second half saw Florida open up on offense and rack up 266 yards of total offense on an overmatched Bulls defense.
Now, as the Gators prepare to open their SEC schedule in Knoxville next weekend, here are the things we learned from Florida's performance against South Florida.
While the Florida Gators struggled to contain South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels in the running game, they made the Bulls' air attack non-existent.
Daniels completed just five of his 20 pass attempts for 84 yards, one touchdown, and four—yes, four—interceptions Saturday.
With their performance Saturday, the Gator defense has already picked off eight passes this season, taking two of them to the house, as well as setting up three additional touchdown drives against Miami (OH) and South Florida.
With a secondary that features players like safeties Ahmad Black, Will Hill, and Matt Elam and cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown, Florida should have one of the nation's best secondaries this season.
While the Florida Gators have ended their first two games strongly by outscoring their opponents 44-13 in the second half, improving on their effort in the first two quarters has been pretty easy.
Florida has yet to score in the first quarter this season and they needed a clutch interception from Ahmad Black in South Florida territory just to get on the scoreboard in the first half against the Bulls.
While the Gators can get away with slow starts against the likes of Miami (OH) and South Florida, coming out flat against conference foes like Alabama, LSU, and South Carolina will doom Urban Meyer's team.
If Florida wants to reach Atlanta and play in the SEC Championship Game at season's end, then they need to shake off the early-game rust and jump on their opposition early and often.
After he dropped a deep would-be touchdown pass from Tim Tebow in last season's opening game, Deonte Thompson was labeled as a wide receiver with bad hands.
Frustrated by this characterization, he told The Gainesville Sun before the season, "I really don't drop balls."
However, a three-catch, 24-yard performance against Miami (OH), which included a dropped ball on an early third down play did nothing to help his reputation with the Gator Nation.
Fortunately for the redshirt junior, he had a good game against the South Florida Bulls, overcoming an early dropped pass to record six catches for 83 yards in Florida's 38-14 victory.
Now that Thompson has shown some consistency with his hands, John Brantley will be a lot more comfortable throwing to the guy in blue wearing No. 6.
While this may have been common knowledge before Saturday's game, there is no question that Jeff Demps is the most dynamic weapon in the Florida Gators offense.
Demps rushed for a career-high 139 yards against the Bulls Saturday, including an electric 62-yard touchdown run that gave the Gators a 14-7 lead that they never gave up.
For a Gator offense that has struggled so far this season, Demps has been the team's lone bright spot with the football in his hands, averaging 14.8 yards per touch and scoring two touchdowns.
After his showing in the season's first two games, expect Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio to keep finding ways to get the ball into Demps' hands.
Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey is a man of his word.
After making multiple bad snaps to quarterback John Brantley in the Gators' season opening 34-12 victory over Miami (OH), Pouncey promised to work hard fix the issue.
Despite one dropped snap by John Brantley on Florida's third play from scrimmage, the quarterback-center exchange was not a problem for the Gators on Saturday.
Pouncey's inclusion on the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy is warranted and despite last week's performance, he is one of the nation's best centers.
On a humorous note, when Brantley took the first snap of the game, the crowd at "The Swamp" roared approvingly.
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