Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Florida's defense did its job against Jacksonville State. But what if the Florida offense did its best?
Florida beat Jacksonville State, 23-0, on Saturday. It happened, even though you probably didn't watch it. You can relive the game through our Game Thread. We'll look back at the game in at multiple parts: The Rapid Recap, our first look before a second viewing, comes first.
Florida's Senior Day went as one would expect the Senior Day for this team to go: Well, despite some head-scratching issues that cast doubt on how good Florida really is at this point.
How Florida Won
Florida built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. From there, it cruised, but the defense did good work to force two field goal attempts on deep drives (both misses) and the offense gained 141 yards in the period, outgaining its opponent in the first quarter for the first time this season.
Jon Bostic's pick. Bostic dropped to just the right depth, capitalized on an awful throw, and ran it in without hesitation. It was a fitting Senior Day play for one of this defense's stalwarts, just as much as the chasedown tackle on Kevyn Cooper on the game's first play was.
Florida's running game, early. On the first two drives of the game, Florida ran for 120 yards on 14 carries, dominating Jacksonville State like an FBS power should dominate an FCS also-ran. That didn't last, in part because the Gamecocks figured out stuffing the box always works against 2012 Florida, but it was a nice fast start.
Jacksonville State's band. Really. It was one of the best band performances I've seen at a football game. Here are the notes I took: "Jacksonville State is BRINGING IT with a full competition band. Chicken fighting on cymbals, massive drum kit, huge orff section, bigger than the football team, flight crew baton crew and majorettes with flags as wings." If/when video ends up on YouTube, I'll share it.
Florida's defense regaining its red zone spine. It's far easier to stop Jacksonville State than even Louisiana, but Florida had given up rushing touchdowns in the red zone to Missouri and Louisiana in the last two weeks, and was in a bad spot from the second Jacksonville State offensive snap on Saturday. Those three plays the Gamecocks would run were their only ones in the red zone, and went for one, zero, and negative two yards. Not bad, Gator D.
Loucheiz Purifoy. I feel like I write about Purifoy every week, and not just because I love the dude: He makes something happen every week. This week, the happenings were a 29-yard kick return on which he bobbled the ball and still used his speed to burst past the first level of defenders and a catch of a Kyle Christy punt to hem JSU up at its own 9. And he's still constantly asking The Swamp for volume. If he's not in your five favorite Gators from this team at this point, you might be doing things wrong.
Mike Gillislee. Gilly got back on his horse on Saturday, running for 127 yards and breaking a 46-yarder. He's now 34 yards from 1,000 on the season, and I'm gonna be shocked if he can't there between playing at Florida State and in a bowl game. Gilly could still try a little more patience on the runs that don't immediately have holes, but I'm just glad he got some confidence and some burn out of this game.
Omarius Hines. Hines' line: three catches for 37 yards, one carry for five yards. When a guy is averaging more than five yards per touch, it is okay to give him more touches. And Hines' near-touchdown was the finest offensive play from the passing game all day, despite it basically being Hines working defenders who aren't in his athletic class.
Kyle Christy. Christy only punted four times, but one went for 53 yards and the three he punted from within Jacksonville State territory were downed inside the 20. He's back to being a weapon.
Caleb Sturgis. Sturgis made all of the three field goals that weren't blocked, and has no control over whether people get by his protection to block them. And after Stanford and Oregon both missed big field goals on Saturday night, it's a really, really nice luxury to have a kicker we don't worry about. (Note: I'm aware that I just jinxed him into an 0-for-3 performance at Doak. I know.)
Matt Jones. Jones doesn't have the burst or top-level speed or agility that I would like a running back to have, but he runs with power in a way that neither Gillislee nor Mack Brown can, and his eight carries for 61 yards included four of seven or more yards, and one 18-yarder that found him carrying three defenders for the last six or so yards. I think he's an important and valuable component of Florida's running game for the rest of his career, even if he's never the featured back.
Both Good and Bad
Jacoby Brissett. Brissett's numbers look good in a vacuum: 14 completions on 22 attempts for 154 yards, no touchdowns and no picks. And if you hadn't seen him airmail Hines on his only deep throw, or watched him repeatedly scramble to the sideline to no effect while escaping pressure, you might think that was a positive day with no issues.
Brissett stood in and made throws when he had time, but I doubt he completed a pass that traveled more than 15 yards in the air, and benefited greatly from his receivers having open field in a way that Florida hasn't seen in a looong time. He should probably have thrown for over 200 yards, given the opponent and the opportunities he had, and he missed on a couple of opportunities to throw a touchdown pass. You can chalk that up to rust and receivers, but he managed to throw a touchdown pass last week in a higher-leverage situation.
Nothing I saw was enough to convince me that Brissett is Florida's best quarterback, or even that he needs to be worked in for some snaps against Florida State. I still think his best move is to transfer somewhere that will allow him to start and work into rhythm instead of doing spot duty here. But, and don't let this fact be lost: Florida could do a lot worse for a backup.
Offensive line. Brissett's struggles to extend plays with his feet make visible the fact that this line is not very good at pass blocking. Truly, I don't know that this line has been very good at anything in particular since Vanderbilt, and I suspect there might even be a bright line from which point things have been bad, but Jeff Driskel's mobility covers for a lot of things, and Gillislee's burst has helped get yards from hole-free plays.
Receivers. Quinton Dunbar had a ball hit him in the chest and the hands with no one around him, but because he decided to look upfield, that was an incomplete pass instead of a 15-yard catch and run. It was an accurate microcosm of how Florida's receivers have played in 2012.
The crowd. It wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting, but Florida's announced attendance of 82,691 is probably more than 12,691 off.
Red zone offense. Florida's first play from within the Jax State 10 was a seven-yard touchdown run. On their six others from within the 10, the Gators gained one total yard, and a false start came before one of those six plays. That is not going to cut it against ... any other team, I suspect, unless there are multiple turnovers for Florida.
That's what I saw. What'd you see? I'll be in the comments all day.