The Gators got some much-needed relief with a 36-7 win over UAB. Here is the Gator report card:
Rushing Offense: C
Football is often a game of confidence and effort. This is especially true when you are the better team against a seemingly mismatched opponent. A good, confident Gator team would have brushed aside UAB with no issues after a week with no questions about their ability to win the game. After the Mizzou blowout loss though, there were plenty of questions about whether this Florida team was phoning in the season. Saturday proved that this is not the case.
The rushing attack played with outstanding effort, but there were still problems that need to be fixed. Adarius Lemons rushed 11 times for 89 yards and Lamical Perine shouldered the bulk of the workload as he rushed 20 times for 86 yards and a score. The 50 rushes Florida had allowed them an absurd 24-minute edge in time of possession, but a good team would not have settled for field goals at the end of drives at the rate that Florida did.
Passing Offense: B-
The stats look far from amazing, but the Florida quarterback play was as good in this game as it has been since Luke Del Rio went down. Feleipe Franks was 15-of-30 for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but if Franks had received any help from his wide receivers then he would easily have passed for over 200 yards.
This was the most comfortable Franks has looked under center for the Gators. While UAB doesn’t have the same level of pass rush as the SEC schools he has been facing, he was much calmer every time that pressure did come. He was stepping up in the pocket to make throws and – importantly – Franks was checking off of his primary receiver and going through his reads before passing the ball. This is the type of progress the Gators have been looking for from their quarterback of the future.
Rushing Defense: A+
This is the version of the Florida rushing defense that has been AWOL for the last month. The Blazers carried the ball a total of 18 times for a net of three rushing yards. If we take away the negative 24 yards picked up quarterback A.J. Erdely on his four carries, the Blazers still only rushed for 27 yards over the course of the game. Starting running back Spencer Brown – a player who has been hot of late – managed eight yards on 17 carries.
Florida also held UAB to just 1-of-7 on third down. The Blazers couldn’t get the ball, they couldn’t maintain drives when they had the ball, and they ran into a brick wall every time they tried to rush that ball up the middle. All in all, it was a dominant defensive display.
Passing Defense: B
The passing defense was also on course to get a top grade. This was until the first UAB play of the fourth quarter when Erdely hit wide receiver Xavier Ubosi on a 74-yard catch and run for a touchdown. It was a frustrating play for the Gators for a number of reasons, not least because it was an obvious mental breakdown on a day where Florida has out thought their visitors.
Other than this one play, the passing defense was stifling, with the Florida pass rush getting to Erdely three times and affecting his throwing mechanics on many other passes. I guess it does give the defense something to work on though after an otherwise imperious display.
Special Teams: A+
The one acceptable part of the Gators struggling to finish drives and settling for field goals is that Florida has one of the best kickers in the country waiting to step onto the field. Eddy Pineiro was outstanding once again on Saturday, kicking all three extra point attempts and really making his mark by going 5-of-5 on his field goal attempts. These were not all chip shots either, as Pineiro hit a couple of 50-yarders while putting on a clinic in successful place kicking. Pineiro even admitted after the game this his first 50-yarder didn’t come clean off of his foot, showing the remarkable leg strength that he has.
This was the Gators first win in over a month and a half. They played a hot – if not overly talented opponent – and they squeezed the life out of them with an outstanding defensive effort. The issues at Florida are still there and the Gators cannot expect to own the time of possession in every game like they did in this one, but the coaching staff – on this day at least – put the Gators in a great position to win with their game plan and adjustments on the field.