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Florida Gators spring game recap: Orange tops Blue, 31-6, with much work left to do

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Florida's offense — and especially its offensive line — remains a work in progress.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Townsend is a good punter, Demarcus Robinson is an explosive playmaker, and Florida's defensive line is better and deeper than its offensive line.

These are the things I can say with certainty about the Florida Gators in 2015 — and they're essentially the things I would have said about the Gators even before Saturday's Orange and Blue Debut. (Orange, consisting mostly of likely starters, won, by a 31-6 count. That doesn't matter.)

The Orange team's starters on the defensive line terrorized an offensive line that had one player — Andrew Mike, in case you were curious — currently receiving a scholarship to play football, all but living in the Blue backfield; the Blue team gained 67 yards over 39 plays, which is, well, terrible, but few of the players who played in blue jerseys on this Saturday are likely to see snaps for Jim McElwain's first Florida team this fall, and very few of the linemen should.

It's the Orange team that was worth evaluating on this day. And it was ... okay.

Will Grier got the first snaps at quarterback with that team — after a Robinson "kick return" "touchdown" on the first "play" of the day — and drove it for a touchdown on the first drive of the day, notably connecting twice with DeAndre Goolsby (playing in the stead of Jake McGee) for 40 yards on the series. Kelvin Taylor (11 carries, 40 yards, two touchdowns) would punch it in to finish the drive, and the scoring had begun.

And it ended there, too, at least for the first half. The only points for the rest of the half came on the Orange's team's final drive, a 55-yard jaunt piloted by Treon Harris, and the Blue team's last one, an untimed series of downs that began in the red zone.

Orange would tack on three more touchdowns in the second half, two in the third quarter, with Harris throwing a touchdown pass to C'yontai Lewis on the final play of the third.

Grier went 7-for-9 for 130 yards to Harris's 6-for-9 for 95 yards and a touchdown, and it was Grier who looked slightly sharper and more capable of making throws on this day. Both players hooked up on long throws of 42 yards, but Grier's bomb on a flea-flicker to Alvin Bailey was thrown on target, while Harris's connection with Robinson forced the latter to slow up and adjust to make a twisting mid-air catch. And Grier made the best throw of the day, a stellar 35-yard throw to Lewis on the sideline; Harris's similar throw to Valdez Showers for a 24-yard reception had more to do with Showers's ability to stick a foot down in bounds.

If the season started tomorrow, I think it's a pretty safe assumption that Grier would start. His arm has always looked better than Harris's on a consistent basis, and he looked slightly more comfortable in McElwain's offense on this Saturday than Harris did, though Harris missing practices after a death in the family this spring could help explain the latter deficiency.

But it's a good thing the season doesn't start tomorrow. If it did, Grier, or any Florida quarterback, wouldn't have much of a line to stand behind.

Florida's offensive line will tell the story of its 2015 season, without question. And though an infusion of freshmen, most notably Martez Ivey, should make it better this fall than it was today — even if likely starting right tackle Rod Johnson's injury proves to be as serious as McElwain made it sound to reporters on Saturday — that may just be clearing a low bar. The Orange line, with five scholarship players, still allowed pressures by Florida's second-team defenders all afternoon, with Kavaris Harkless, working at right tackle, notably being worked over by likely reserve rusher Justus Reed.

Florida's first-team defense looked fine on this day, albeit against a team cobbled together from benchwarmers. Florida's first-team offense made plays against the corresponding team of defensive reserves. But the offensive lines did little to assuage fears of another leaky unit submarining another Florida offense.

Again: It's a good thing the season doesn't start tomorrow. McElwain, and the Gators, have plenty to work on before it does.