Saturday night’s 30-10 win over Arkansas was a take care of business victory for the 18th-ranked Florida Gators. The first quarter wasn’t the prettiest, but can anyone argue with the outcome? Even though the Razorbacks scored first, the Gators refocused and spent the rest of the time putting the game out of reach to improve to 4-1 overall, 3-0 in the SEC.
Given a few hours to reflect, here are some observations both good and bad.
1. TYLER MURPHY: The real deal. Simply no logical basis to doubt this anymore. He’s smart, athletic, quick, accurate and composed. That TD pass to Solomon Patton in the third quarter was a thing of beauty. Those who watched it live or have not had a chance to see it again may not truly appreciate how good that throw was. Murphy saw the cornerback closing on Patton’s right and placed the ball perfectly on Patton’s left arm, allowing him to move immediately after he caught the ball, evade the tackler and take off to the races. He continues to elude pressure, make plays with his feet and make good decisions with the football. The stats? 16-22, 240 yards and three TD’s. Efficient. Effective. Beautiful.
2. TREY BURTON: Has the University of Florida ever had a player as versatile as this guy? Seems like the only thing they’ve never asked him to do is kick field goals (tighten up, Austin Hardin). Gator fans love Trey Burton, as they well should, but I still firmly believe he is underappreciated. I think he’s one of the most important and vital players to come through this program in a long time. He will be SORELY missed next year.
3. LOUCHEIZ PURIFOY: Almost dovetails with Trey Burton. This guy is electric and he’s all over the place. Enjoy him while you can, Gator fans, as he’s off to the NFL next season, assuredly as a first round pick. From time to time he does appear to be mortal in coverage but if you decide to pick on him enough he’s going to make you pay dearly.
4. SOLOMON PATTON: Wow. What a metamorphosis. This guy went from being a situational role player to a legitimate, stud SEC receiver. He’s running good, crisp routes to get himself open. After he catches the ball he YACs (Yards After Catch for you newbies or folks who just don’t know acronyms) like crazy. He and Quentin Dunbar have been much needed revelations for this offense, especially considering the struggles with the running game and the fact that heirs apparent (Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson) are extremely talented but appear to need a year of seasoning.
5. ZERO TURNOVERS: The entire offensive unit deserves kudos here. No interceptions nor fumbles lost. This team, especially under Murphy’s watch, is really beginning to understand how important it is to take care of the football. If you don’t turn it over, you generally don’t lose.
6. HONORABLE MENTION: Cody Riggs and Darious Cummings, two of our most under-rated players, both played extremely well against Arkansas.
1. FLORIDA’S RUNNING GAME: It’s bad. Really bad. Coming into the game last night UF had the lowest yards per carry average in the SEC. That average dropped Saturday night. It was only 2.8 yards per carry and they weren’t exactly rushing against the ’85 Bears. This is a legitimate concern, considering we all know Will Muschamp wants to win at the point of attack, control the line of scrimmage and grind it out with an effective, bruising running game. It’s very hard to say if the majority of the blame should be placed on the offensive line, the running backs or the play calling. However, there is no doubt all three share in the difficulty the Gators are having running the ball effectively. This either needs to be fixed immediately – which I doubt is possible – or the offensive philosophy has to be changed to suit this unit’s strengths and weaknesses. I just don’t see this team winning games against tough opponents behind the run.
2. KICKING: You can’t sugar coat it. This is a major concern. Brad Phillips is now primarily handling the kicking duties, apparently displacing the ineffective Austin Hardin. Hardin missed his only opportunity last night and Phillips converted a 28-yarder, but was only 3-4 in extra points. How great would it be if Caleb Sturgis was still
around? I hate to say this, but I can’t fight the feeling that the UF kicking game is going to cost at least one game, particularly since Kyle Christy is slightly off form from last year.
3. POINTING OUT FLAWS IN THE SISTENE CHAPEL?: I know this defense should be sacrosanct. I know it’s silly to nitpick, but I’m going to do it anyway. Arkansas was the victim of a lot of self-inflicted wounds yesterday. Dropped passes and poorly thrown balls all over the place. And, the Gators were just flagged for personal fouls and a silly offside that cost a turnover. Had the Gators put forth this effort against a Georgia or LSU, they would have been embarrassed just like they were against Louisville. This unit has to play under control and with discipline. It didn’t yesterday. The stats may show a dominant defensive effort but deeper examination shows otherwise. I can almost assure you Muschamp would agree with all of this.
4. EMPTY SEATS: Reported attendance was over 90k but the upper levels on both sides in the second half were almost empty and this wasn’t a blowout. This was a legit SEC opponent. What say you, gentle readers? What is it going to take to re-instill the passion in this fan base? Call a spade a spade but it’s not there right now.
5. I’VE HAD IT WITH PINK: This is just a general gripe, not directed at the Gators specifically but I am TIRED of seeing pink on football uniforms. I am aware of breast cancer. I make light of it in no way whatsoever. I appreciate that the NCAA and the NFL care enough about the problem to raise funds for a very worthy cause. But keep the freaking pink ribbons off the field. Burn the freaking pink socks and wristbands. Enough is enough. Cancer in general is a plague and there are innumerable varieties of it. If we had to dedicate a color and a month to each one this country would die of depression.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS: I feel very confident heading into the LSU game. Three weeks ago I would have given us no chance. Now, I think we’ve got at least a 50/50 chance. I’m very proud of this
team’s resilience and Muschamp’s leadership.
It’s great to be a Florida Gator.