Florida began the day 1-0 and with an opportunity to end the rivalry series with Miami on a high note. Instead, the Gators left Miami Gardens with a bitter taste in their mouth and a 1-1 record heading into the bye week. The Gators struggled to get anything going offensively against Miami’s defense and their performance left more questions than answers about this football team. While that may be the case, I did learn more about the Gators than I did going into the game.
As the saying goes, you learn something new every day. Here are five things that I learned about the Gators from their 21-16 loss to Miami.
5. Vernon Hargreaves III is the real deal
Here is a quick stat. I don’t know what the stat means exactly but it’s there.
Loucheiz Purifoy has appeared in 27 career games including 13 starts and has zero interceptions. Vernon Hargreaves has appeared in two career games — no starts — and has two interceptions.
Anyone that has read what I have written about Florida’s secondary knows that I think Purifoy and Marcus Roberson are two of the best corners in the SEC but they might not even be the best cornerbacks on their own team anymore. Hargreaves is announcing himself in a big, big way.
4. The early bye week is sorely needed for the offensive line.
The coaching staff said that the offensive line is the deepest it has been since they’ve been at Florida. While that is certainly true, this off week couldn’t have come at a better time for the offensive line. Kyle Koehne has been a decent replacement for Jon Halapio but he cannot duplicate the production that Florida will get out of Halapio. Without D.J. Humphries in the lineup, Florida’s offensive line struggled mightily against the Canes.
Florida will be much better when they get Humphries, Halapio and Tyler Moore back to full strength and an extra week off will go a long way in making that happen.
3. Some people shouldn’t have Twitter privileges.
About midway through the 4th quarter I searched “Jeff Driskel” on Twitter to see what the buzz was about Florida’s quarterback. The expletive ridden filth that people were putting on the internet about a 20-year old kid who is doing his best to lead a football team was shocking.
Keep what happens on Saturday in perspective. Driskel isn’t actively trying to play poorly or trying to make Florida lose games. He isn’t solely responsible for the team losing or winning either. He’s just a college kid doing his best to play a game he loves and for people to attack him on the internet is reprehensible. If you don’t have anything nice to say keep it to yourself, or mumble it under your breath, but keep it off the Internet.
2. Solomon Patton is much more than a jet sweep option.
I’ll admit that I thought Patton was a role player. He seemed to be a player that was better suited for Urban Meyer’s spread than the pro-style that Florida was moving to. Patton’s role in 2012 reaffirmed what I thought but this season he has proven to be so much more. Patton led the team in receiving with 118 yards against Miami and his six receptions were second to only Quinton Dunbar.
Patton has greatly improved his route running and the body control he displayed on a 46-yard completion in the first quarter showed just how far he has come as a receiver.
1. Despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL Draft, the Gators defense is still elite.
You’ve heard the names that Florida lost, Floyd, Elam, Jones, Bostic, Jenkins and the list goes on. There were major concerns and questions about how Florida’s defense would hold up this season with so much turnover this offseason. Well, those questions have been answered.
Florida’s defense is giving up 208.5 yards per game this season (fifth best in the nation) and other than a few miscues against Miami, shut down an offense that was averaging more than 540 yards of offense in their previous three games.
Led by Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, the Florida defense is one of the most stout in the country and will continue to keep Florida in games all season long.