The No. 25 Florida Gators (5-0, 3-0 SEC) spent the days leading up to their contest against No. 3 Ole Miss throwing up as a stomach virus made its way through the roster, ravaging the team including starting quarterback Will Grier.
“It was not pretty,” Jim McElwain said. “Do you want me to get descriptive?”
With the No. 3 team in the country coming in Florida was predicted to be a minor speed bump to the Rebels but, Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty, did the Gators have something else in mind.
“I hope we have a bunch of guys get the flu next week,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said after the game. “They had 21 (players) that had the flu. Grier had the flu. I think that’s something we need to look into. They sure played extremely well with it.”
Florida’s offense has been far from perfect this season but fueled up by a raucous crowd and a ferocious defense, they did what they needed to do in order to get the win. The Gators scored a touchdown on their second drive of the game — Florida has scored first in four of their five games and scored on their second offensive possession in every contest. There has been progress, but they’re not where Jim McElwain wants them to be just yet.
“Offensively we did an OK job, I thought took some shots, were aggressive. You know we need to figure out, we’ve got some penetration and stuff,” said McElwain after the game. “We’re growing up offensively, we’re getting a little bit better and that’s what we wanna do.”
Everyone expected Florida’s offense to go through growing pains and they have had to but winning soften the blow of a lot of things and with each passing game the offense is showing you a little bit more.
Ole Miss came into the game determined to make Florida one-dimensional. They stuffed the run, limiting Florida to 84 rushing yards — the first time the Gators haven’t rushed for 100 yards in a game since a loss to FSU in 2013 — and put the game on the shoulder of redshirt freshman Will Grier.
Grier responded with the best game of his young career completing 24-of-29 pass attempts for 271 yards and four touchdowns.
“He did a good job. He played the position,” said McElwain. “Let’s give credit to the guys around him. That was some really good effort and guys were in place to make plays.”
The guys closest to Grier may have been the biggest surprise. Florida’s offensive line was thought to be the weakest link on the offense but the unit has played their best when the competition was toughest the past two weeks. Ole Miss brought blitzes all night, trying to get to and rattle a young quarterback, but Grier stood tall behind a stout line that is young, but already showing the potential they have.
“Coach Summers has done a great job just getting all the pieces,” senior tight end Jake McGee said. “Moving some things around. That’s a hard working ground that wants to be great.”
Florida’s defense is playing as well as any in the country right now. They are good enough to keep the Gators in the game every week but if the offense keeps growing up at this rate, Florida fans will have more than just the best defense in the nation to hang their hat on the rest of the way.