For the first time in over 100 years of football, the Florida Gators went into triple overtime on Saturday night, besting Kentucky 36-30 in what can only be described as a sloppy thriller.
After enjoying a cupcake in the form of Eastern Michigan, the Gators struggled to move the ball in the first half against a SEC team that hasn’t won a conference game in more than two seasons.
There is a lot to clean up for the Gators but still a few positives to take away from Florida’s first conference win.
Demarcus Robinson is the playmaker Florida hasn’t had since Percy Harvin.
Demarcus Robinson was the passing game in the first half on Sunday. Robinson tied a school-record with 15 receptions, amassed 216 yards and scored two touchdowns, including one on fourth down that gave Florida life in the first overtime period.
How good was Robinson’s night? This good:
• Robinson recorded 216 receiving yards, becoming the first Gator to have two consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Jabar Gaffney in 2001.
• He is the first UF player with 200+ receiving yards in a game since Taylor Jacobs had a school-record 246 vs. UAB on Aug. 31, 2002.
• Robinson’s 15 catches are tied for the sixth in a single game in SEC history.
The kicking game is getting better
I know, I know. Frankie Velez missed a crucial kick near the end of the game and Austin Hardin missed a walk-off opportunity but Velez is 6-of-7 on the season and has converted all 11 PAT’s he’s attempted. There is much more confidence in the placekickers this season and Muschamp is handling the position differently as well.
A hardnosed, defensive-minded coach, Muschamp’s coaching style caters to defensive players. They respond to his in your face style and by all accounts Muschamp is considered a player’s coach. He is someone who ESPN analyst and former player for Muschamp, Marcus Spears, said is a coach “you would run through a brick wall for.”
But that style doesn’t work with kickers — a position that is as much, if not more, about the mental side of the game. Muschamp has coddled the kickers more this season and their production is improving.
Also: Kyle Christy is back in 2012 form. Christy punted six times for a 48.67 average against Kentucky. On the season, Christy’s 48.56-yard average is fifth in the nation.
Jeff Driskel is what he has shown us
Driskel is 14-3 as a starter, yes. But he’s an average quarterback who still struggles with decision-making. Driskel missed a wide-open Demarcus Robinson in the second overtime, getting the pass out late and almost costing the game.
Driskel also benefitted from two passes that should have been intercepted by Kentucky but bounced out of their hands.
This offense is a better fit for Driskel but he needs to be better than he was against the Wildcats.
Matt Jones is your boy, Gators fans.
Through two games one thing is clear. Matt Jones was never healthy last season. Jones has 37 carries for 221 yards and two touchdowns through the first two games of the season and it was his hard, downhill running that carried the Gators into the end zone in the third.
Jones used his massive frame like a battering ram, beating down a tired Kentucky defense with the game on the line. He was fresh after splitting the carries evenly with Kelvin Taylor through three quarters and the junior back carried the team on his back on the final drive of the game.
The SEC East is wide open
Georgia’s secondary is in shambles, South Carolina is still in the hunt but their defense is not the same as it was last season. Missouri looks good but hasn’t started their conference schedule and Tennessee slipped up with a loss in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Gators are far from perfect but currently sit atop the SEC East standings. The defense has a ways to go but the offense should continue to get better as they go.
This is going to be a wild ride to Atlanta.