It was a fine farewell, if not exactly fitting, as Florida beat Eastern Kentucky, 52-3, on Saturday in The Swamp, on a bittersweet Senior Day.
Florida struggled early with Eastern Kentucky, failing to get much of anything going with Treon Harris at the helm and a running game sputtering for much of the first quarter. Strong defense and special teams kept the risk-happy Colonels — who faked a punt, fumbled three times on one drive, and onside kicked in the first period, then later ran multiple reverses — from doing much with Florida's futility, and the Gators went up 10-0 early, then 17-3 on their last offensive snap of the quarter, a 70-yard bomb from Harris to Quinton Dunbar for the latter's first touchdown in almost exactly two years.
From there, the rout was on, though the route was bumpy. Florida kept sputtering on offense until halftime, though Harris hit Demarcus Robinson for a beautiful touchdown pass early in the period after a fumble set the Gators up in the red zone, and Jeff Driskel — inserted after Harris took a knock to his knee — finished off a drive that featured another long Harris-to-Robinson hookup.
And in the second half, Driskel shined. (Yes, really.) Florida's embattled redshirt junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes, one each to Dunbar, Robinson, and walk-on senior Michael McNeely, as the Gators opened up their offense against Eastern Kentucky's reserves. (The Colonels rested their starters at about the same time the Gators did, with the FCS playoffs forthcoming.) Driskel finished with 164 passing yards on just nine completions, and the combined Harris/Driskel line — 13-for-23 for 326 yards and five touchdowns — is unquestionably the best of the Will Muschamp era.
Muschamp's defense was excellent, too, holding the Colonels to 142 yards and forcing one turnover and a slew of fumbles, but this was a melancholy goodbye for him. He finishes his tenure at Florida with a 17-9 record at The Swamp, but his Gators went 10-9 at home apart from their perfect 7-0 record in Gainesville in 2012.
One more game remains on Florida's regular season schedule, a trip to Tallahassee to take on mighty Florida State next Saturday, though this sixth win did guarantee the Gators bowl eligibility. Muschamp will stalk the sidelines against the Seminoles, but he won't be with the Gators for their bowl.
And for one day, with little on the line and little to worry about, I bet I wasn't the only Florida fan already thinking ahead to when we won't have that good guy to kick around anymore.