I don't know what we were supposed to expect from a Florida team playing without its starting quarterback against Jacksonville State, not one week after it needed a punt block in the final seconds to escape with a win in regulation over Louisiana. But the way Florida earned its 23-0 victory over the Gamecocks was uninspiring in almost every way.
First: On the first play from scrimmage, Florida allowed a 76-yard catch-and-run on which Kevyn Cooper was upended but not brought to the turf by Marcus Roberson and hit but not grounded by Matt Elam. Florida would stiffen and force a field goal attempt that was shanked, but a play that was equal parts poor and fluky was not exactly an auspicious beginning.
It would get better in short order, as Florida drove 80 yards for its only offensive touchdown of the day on the subsequent drive and led 10-0 by the end of the first quarter after another 61-yard drive, but it wouldn't get much better than that for the rest of the day: Florida failed to punch in the ball on two other trips to the red zone, had a Caleb Sturgis field goal blocked, and looked arrhythmic in the passing game all day, with Jacoby Brissett failing to establish consistency through the air despite ending up with 14 completions on 22 attempts for 154 yards.
Mike Gillislee ran for 122 yards on 20 carries, bringing him to within 36 yards of the 1,000-yard mark not topped by a Florida runner since Ciatrick Fason. Jordan Reed led Florida with 42 receiving yards, but was limited to under three catches for just the second time in 2012.
After allowing the 76-yarder on its first play, Florida's defense allowed just 166 yards on the next 56 Jacksonville State offensive snaps (just under three yards per play), a fine performance against any foe, and Jon Bostic punctuated his Senior Day with a pick-six that came with the Gamecocks backed up against their own goal line.
But we knew Florida's offense was not very good and Florida's defense was, and we knew that special teams (Sturgis made three field goals; Kyle Christy was excellent as usual) were a strength. None of that conventional wisdom was challenged on Saturday, and neither was the idea that Jeff Driskel is the quarterback that gives the Gators the best chance to win.
Driskel wore his jersey on the day, and sweats to go with it. He didn't get hurt. So that's good.