Gators smoke Blazers 39-0 in The Swamp

Saturday night in The Swamp may not have been as electrifying as fans had hoped for going into the game, but the No. 18 Florida Gators (2-0) were plenty effective in their effort, earning the team’s first shutout since 2006 in a 39-0 defeat of the UAB Blazers (0-1) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey turned in a career performance, compiling 162 yards of total offense and a rushing touchdown on 16 carries and three receptions one week after scoring three touchdowns in a single game. As a team, the Gators posted 512 yards of total offense with the defense holding the Blazers to 300 less (212).

Led out of the tunnel by American flags, Florida commemorated September 11th throughout the evening with ribbons on the stadium’s orange walls, a pre-game video tribute, coaches wearing FBI hats, a stirring halftime rendition by the Pride of the Sunshine marching band, and a variety of other actions to remember those lost a decade ago.

Receiving the ball first, Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose returned the opening kickoff 50 yards, and redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley followed that up with a wobbly 40-yard flea-flicker caught by redshirt freshman WR Quinton Dunbar just five yards from the end zone. Florida was unable to convert a touchdown, however, settling for the first of three field goals from redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis.

The Gators used Rainey and senior RB Jeff Demps almost exclusively on their next drive with the duo combining for 61 of 62 yards earned. Sturgis kicked a 35-yard field goal as Florida failed to take advantage of consecutive red zone opportunities.

After a three-and-out, UF got the ball back again and counted on Rainey and Demps to lead them down the field. A 32-yard touchdown run by Rainey was negated by a holding call on redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio, but Brantley hit redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson with a 24-yard strike to put the Gators on the Blazers’ 18-yard-line. Down at the three, freshman fullback Hunter Joyer took the first carry of his career in for a touchdown, giving Florida an early 13-0 in the first quarter.

Senior punter David Lerner saw action for the first time after a six-play, 27-yard drive stalled in the second, and the Gators added Sturgis’s third field goal of the contest on their next drive after sophomore RB Trey Burton impressed with three carries for 30 yards including a big 26-yard gain down to UAB’s four-yard-line.

Starting from their own 21, the Blazers were forced backward as junior linebacker Jon Bostic sniffed out a reverse and completed a 13-yard tackle for loss. Three plays later, UAB snapped the ball past their punter and UF earned a safety.

Receiving the ensuing kick at the Blazers’ 37-yard-line, the Gators charged right down the field. Brantley completed an 18-yard strike to Debose, and Burton finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put Florida ahead 25-0 at the end of the first half.

UAB got the ball back to start the second half and began driving on UF, but sophomore safety Matt Elam stripped a 16-yard completion – the first forced fumble of his career – which was recovered by freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson for the defense’s first turnover of the young season.

Brantley found Dunbar over the middle for 18 yards and Burton took a draw play 12 yards in the ensuing seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive, but Rainey accounted for 42 of the yards including the 19-yard touchdown that gave the Gators a 32-0 lead.

The Blazers attempted a fake punt on their ensuing drive but fell a yard short of converting, turning the ball over to Florida just 36 yards from the end zone. Junior RB Mike Gillislee, who entered the game for Demps in the first half, carried the ball three-straight times for 19, four and 13 yards, his final rush resulting in a score.

The Gators took their foot off the pedal after that, entering their entire second-team offense and defense in the game and winding the clock down with their running game. Florida possessed the ball nearly 13 minutes longer than UAB (36:29-23:31) and achieved 17 more first downs (28-11) in the contest.

UF totaled 300 rushing yards on the evening and did not turn the ball over once. Sturgis, in addition to making all of his kicks, forced two touchbacks deep into the end zone.

Brantley finished a respectable 12/19 for 195 yards on the evening, and Dunbar was the team’s leading receiver with 58 yards. Rainey led the Gators with 119 yards on the ground, followed by Gillislee (79) and Burton (46). All three rushers averaged more than 7.2 yards per carry. Elam registered a team-high seven tackles; and Bostic added five.

Florida converted all seven of their red zone attempts but only scored touchdowns on four occasions. The Gators were 4/12 on third down and held the Blazers to 1/10 in the same scenario; however, UF’s defense did not register a sack the entire evening and the team has a whole committed nine penalties for 55 yards, a stat head coach Will Muschamp was none-too-pleased with after the game.

Saturday’s win marks the seventh-straight season that Florida has started 2-0, and the Gators hope to improve to 3-0 for the sixth consecutive year next week as they take on Tennessee at home. The game will air live on CBS at 3:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: John Raoux

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21 Responses to “Gators smoke Blazers 39-0 in The Swamp”

  1. zurbo says:

    we suck alot…sorry but its gonna be an ugly year

    • Joe says:

      Thanks for the in depth analysis but ‘we suck alot’ is an idiotic statement and means absolutely nothing when accessing the performance of our football team.

      • zurbo says:

        OK let me break it down for you.
        1. We cannot get pressure on the opposing QB and god forbid get a sack against maybe the 2 worst teams in college football. Do you think an SEC o-line will be weaker?
        2. Granted our defense has only allowed 3 pts, that is only because of the incompetence of the opposing offenses (i.e drops, stumbles)
        3. Our offense looks better (and we still haven’t seen the full playbook) but we still have a QB that cannot make the big throw. For a second last night I thought addazio was the OC.
        4. Our secondary has not been tested yet so I cannot comment on that. I just hope Bray doesnt torch us next week because Ill be there.

        anything I miss?

        • Joe says:

          1. We were missing Shariff… easily our most powerful D lineman from last year. Howard, Easley, Floyd and Powell at buck + fresh NFL caliber blitz packages in week 3 will change the pressure on Bray. I’m not a betting man but I would put money on that.

          UAB’s line is as good as an average to above average line in the SEC. They were loaded with seniors and had solidified themselves over 3-4 seasons of playing with each other. In addition, Ellis threw a majority of his passes on 3 and 5 step drops, which makes it nearly impossible to sack him when you’re going 4 against 5 or 5 against 5 on the rush – which we were. Again, week 3 blitz packages and the return of Floyd will fix this.

          2. There was one major complete bust in coverage last night and it occurred on a backup DB. The pass TD that was called back on a penalty was an absolutely perfect pass, give credit where it is due. The crossing routes were a point of concern but I do feel this will be a focus throughout the week.

          3. Brantley is not perfect but what is this big throw that needs to be made. Weis’ offense resembles that of a good player in Madden. He’s going to continue to stab you in the same spot if you don’t adjust. I am happy to give those swings to Rainey and Demps with that much space. This is what Weis is thinking. Why throw a low percentage pass over the strength of the defense when you can go short and gain 10 yards. Our receivers are ready to catch some passes this year. Brantley has good eyes from what I’ve seen so far – he doesn’t lock on to a receiver, he scans the field and then throws. It is very difficult to pick a QB who does this effectively. If the line keeps him comfortable, Brantley the RB’s, and the WR’s will pick opposing defenses apart, if he’s pressured frequently then we’re in trouble. So the key to our success truly lies in the play of the line, which has been excellent so far!

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    Even though it was a shutout, I was a bit disappointed with the defensive performance tonight. It was more about how UAB shot themselves in the foot than the excellence of our defense. They didn’t get a lot of pressure on the QB. Granted UAB has a very experienced O-line, but it won’t be anything like the SEC O-lines, even the inexperienced ones. Getting Floyd back should help a lot, but I was really expecting a much strong performance from our defensive front.

  3. aaron says:

    Ugly year? try 2-3 losses.

  4. TonyM1449 says:

    Win 39-0, could have run the score up to who knows what but decided on sportsmanship, last year we struggled mightily just to even get anything, much less a field goal. Defense is probably youngest in the nation and did a good job IMO. You’re going to give up plays sometimes, it’s called FOOTBALL gentlemen. Yes there are things we need to improve on but I saw guys out there learning, flying around, fighting for inches. Also, perhaps to our advantage, we’ve been vanilla on both sides of the ball. I don’t see gloom and doom. I think we can play with everyone on our schedule guys. I don’t see losses off the top. Maybe I’m a crazy Gator.

    • Joe says:

      Good assessment. This team is showing they are learning and playing hard until the end of the whistle. The offense is definitely more effective than it has been in the past two years. We are working our play makers into space and windows instead of spreading them out in formation. I find this to be way more effective in producing big plays. Our receiving corp is much improved from last year and our O-line is locking on to their assignments and down right pushing this year. We simply do not ‘suck alot’ as someone from the peanut gallery stated earlier. How many times has Brantley even been pressured? … maybe twice…maybe.

      Our defense is fast. There are some blown assignments here and there but they are flying to the ball in numbers and have tackled solidly in both games this season (Matt Elam is the truth). These kids will only develop as the season gets going. I see a lot of one on one’s this week with Muschamp, his LB’s and his secondary to iron out coverage on deep crosses and slants. All in all these defensive faults did not effect the final opposing score (0 points) and have brought some weaknesses to light before any big games have been played. I don’t know about other fans but the development from week to week is what I’m most happy to see from our players. This Tennessee game will be the most exciting and telling game we’ve played since the Zooker came to town and I’m damn excited to see us grow and outperform the naysayers expectations this time.

  5. Tractorr says:

    I hope Demps is okay. That could be ugly.

  6. David says:

    I was also disappointed with the lack of penalties and the lack of big plays on defense — I dont think we had a single sack. It is still hard to figure out how good this team will be this year. Also, I hoped to see more downfield passing. It is seems the offense is opening it up more every game so we may see more. In fact, we may need more since Bray seems the truth. We will learn a lot next Saturday!

  7. scooterp says:

    I thought the defense has been pretty solid for the first 2 games……. or atleast better than I expected coming in. The offense has been much better than a year ago, but I’m sure we’ll have some blogging nerds come on here and complain how vanilla it is and say we struggle because its not fun n’ gun and we don’t beat teams 72 – 6 anymore. I’m not as concerned about the front 7 on defense as some. Good job shutting down the run and although we only have 2 sacks to date they do seem to put pressure on the QB. This week should say alot about our defense, because Bray has looked as good as any QB in the country these last two weeks.

  8. cline says:

    Get better each week. I think we will be alright. SEC week!

  9. John S says:

    Any news on Demps? I didn’t see him at all after the first quarter. I was very impressed with our team. UAB’s offense should be strong this year , so I was not expecting a shutout.

  10. GAta says:

    Not sure we’ll even beat the Vols???

  11. Aligator says:

    We will beat every opponent we are ranked ahead of and we will win one of our November games against either South Carolina or Florida State, probably FSU at home. We are going to get more help back on defense this week and now our team has played solid for two weeks.

    Does anyone know what happened to Demps and if it is serious?

    • Tractorr says:

      After seeing how SC looked against UGA, I am not as worried about them as I was preseason. Sure they will get better as the season goes on, but they do not look like a juggernaut.

  12. Gator John says:

    I think we were seeing a lot of “vanilla” packages on both offense and defense. Next week I expect to see some different blitzes and coverages that will show what the defense can really do. No reason to show those against a team when you don’t have to. With that said, I am a little worried about the secondary and how open some of the UAB receivers were. Our corners should be able to run with receivers for UAB, and it didn’t seem like they were.

  13. Morgan says:

    Demps left with a shoulder injury, but didn’t appear to be in extreme pain. Probably precautionary since this game wasn’t in trouble. Figure it’s better to rest him since we didn’t really need him, and risk further injury.

  14. aziatic41 says:

    This week against Tennessee will let everyone know if the Gators are for real this season. A well coached SEC team with fast strong athletes and a stud quarterback in Tyler Bray, will be a challenge. I still don’t know enough about our team this year to make a prediction but I think we should win. GO GATORS

  15. SC Gator says:

    I keep hearing about worries about our penalties, which is kind of silly to be honest. Penalties do not matter. Let me say that again… penalties do not matter. They can hurt you in specific situations – a 4th down conversion that failed but results in a 1st down anyways due to roughing the passer, for example – and ones like false starts and delay of game show a lack of discipline. However, there is absolutely no statistical relationship between being penalized rarely and having great success in the win-loss column. If anything the inverse is more likely to be true.

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