Florida Gators in Week Two: Big Improvement but Need More Work

Jim FolsomContributorSeptember 14, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 17: Running back Jeff Demps #2 of the Florida Gators rushes upfield against the University of Arkansas Razorbacks October 17, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Week two for the Florida Gators was a thousand times better than week one.

In fact, it was as much of an improvement as I've ever seen between week one and week two. That being said, the Gators are still nowhere near good enough to compete for a championship.

In week one against Miami of Ohio, we saw the Gators at their worst—they were flat out awful.

25 yards of total offense in three quarters against a MAC team is probably the worst performance in decades. So, the fact that Florida was tied with South Florida at the half was not all that surprising. But yet, it was still hard to watch.

Florida took the opening kickoff and went three and out, with another botched snap thrown in to boot. "Here we go again" was probably being said all over the Gator Nation.

Then a nice punt pinned USF inside the five yard line. No matter. USF went 95 yards in 17 plays to go up 7-0. The Gator defense was gashed up the middle, and outside.

USF quarterback BJ Daniels carved them up like a Thanksgiving Turkey. Visions of a bowl trip to Birmingham were dancing in Gator fans' heads.

Then the second quarter came; suddenly, Florida started to slowly get out of their own way. Pretty soon, they actually started making positive yards. Quarterback John Brantley started hitting some passes and, what do you know, some of them were actually caught.

Maybe not as many as should have been, but hey, you have to walk before you run.

And the defense showed up. Pretty soon South Florida wasn't running it down their throats every play. It was maybe every other play.

Then late in the second quarter, Ahmad Black picked off an errant Daniels' throw and voila, a scoring opportunity. The Gators scored with less than a minute left in the half on a Brantley throw, in traffic, to Carl Moore and we were all tied up.

OK, so the fact that Florida was tied at the half with South Florida is a bit embarrassing. But considering how awful the Gators had looked so far this season, we'll take it.

In the second half, a transformation happened.

The defense was flying around, almost like the Gator D we've come to know and love. They forced turnovers and capitalized on unforced ones too. They put heat on Daniels when he tries to pass, sometimes causing him to get rid of the ball in a panic. Once it went right to Justin Trattou, who took it back for a touchdown. And the rout was on.

Jeff Demps ran like a man possessed. He blasted past Bull defenders on long touchdown runs and believe it or not, I actually saw him break a tackle.

But do not be fooled by the 38-14 score people. This team still has a long way to go.

Right now the Gators are getting ready for their eight game SEC stretch. If they go 6-2, I will be happy.

Right now, they are vulnerable against the run. They are especially vulnerable against the inside running attack. Alabama and South Carolina both have the type of backs to exploit this.

It will be imperative for Florida to get leads on teams if they want to be successful. Their pass defense is excellent, so they need to get opponents into a passing situation.

Their first quarter blahs will be very detrimental to this strategy; it's tough to get teams into passing mode when you stumble early in games. To say the Gators have struggled in the first quarters of games is like saying the Titanic struggled in icy waters.

Florida has a ton of talent, but unfortunately, much of it is young talent. For them to be a contender for a championship, they need to grow up in a hurry.

An early October trip to Tuscaloosa awaits them—things could get ugly very quickly there. It starts with a road trip to Knoxville this week. That's a good test. Knoxville has never been an easy place for the Gators. They will get Tennessee's best shot. Hopefully we will see as much improvement this week as last week. We'll need it.