It was hot and humid 22 minutes after high noon when Florida toed the leather for season 107 of Gator football in The Swamp.
Florida established themselves early and often in the run game with a methodical 11 play, 84 yard drive to begin the game, chewing the first 6:21 off the game clock. The Gators showed the physical pounding, Will Muschamp style football fans are used to seeing, running the ball eight times on the initial drive.
It was much of the same for the offense for the rest of the half, the Gators controlled the pace of the game with a 20:29-9:31 edge in time of possession. Their tempo was also balanced, 18 plays ran in each quarter with 114 yards gained in the first quarter and 128 yards gained in the second.
Running back Mack Brown had an impressive day filling in for the injured Matt Jones, gaining 112 yards, 97 of which came in the first half. As Florida looks ahead to the matchup against Miami next week, with Jones questionable, Brown showed today he can be relied upon to run the ball effectively, showing his vision particularly well on a second quarter touchdown when he cutback at the line of scrimmage and bursted into the endzone for a 14 yard score.
The defense also played well, holding Toledo to three and outs on their first two drives and on the third Rocket drive, the Gators got an impressive fourth down stop. Florida brought consistent pressure with four guys, Jon Bullard and Dominique Easley particularly wreaked significant havoc inside.
The third quarter saw Toledo turn it up a notch on both sides of the ball, with a methodical eight play drive that sputtered as it entered the red zone to kick things off.
Florida’s defense on the second level was a cause for concern coming into the game but thanks Neiron Ball put any concern quickly to rest. He was equal parts instinctual and ferocious, negating any chance for yards after the catch in the pass game and demonstrating good run recognition when Toledo decided to pound the rock.
Late in the fourth quarter, Will Muschamp inserted freshman running back Kelvin Taylor into the game and he finished with 43 yards rushing on five carries, giving the Gators 262 yards on the ground for the day.
It was a simple Florida victory, 24-6. No smoke and mirrors, nothing out of the ordinary, Florida played well enough to win and dominated on both sides of the ball more often than not.