A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under head coaches Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.
Florida’s win over Tennessee was one that Gators fans should be especially proud of and not just because of how the team came together over the final 30 minutes for the second-straight game. There were only a couple of analysts and experts that had predicted them to win in the first place with most believing that the Vols would actually run them out of the stadium.
Jeff Driskel is getting better and better each week. With as much football as I’ve seen in my day, I personally cannot believe how quickly he has developed over the course of three weeks. He was accurate when he threw the ball, made great decisions throughout the game, and most importantly did not turn the ball over once.
The biggest improvement he made, though, was throwing the ball away or scrambling for a first down when his receivers were covered or plays broke down. After the six sacks that Driskel took responsibility for against Texas A&M, he did not go down once by a mistake he made against Tennessee. His talent is something coaches and fans should be excited to see develop as the season continues.
A lot of the credit must also go to a much-improved offensive line. Sitting here complaining and ragging on the unit about the short-yardage misfires is something I’m not going to do at this point despite the fact that mistakes were made against the Vols. I will, however, say “job well done” to the Gators offensive line.
Neyland Stadium is an incredibly tough place to play for visiting offensive linemen due to the fact that it is insanely loud. Communication is 90 percent of the battle for the line and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. If there is no communication among that unit, chances are high that they are not going to perform very well. That is why Florida’s offensive line, in my eyes, put together its most impressive performance in some time.
Read the rest of this edition of Snell’s Slant…after the break!
That’s not to say that every play was blocked to perfection; under the circumstances it was an incredible performance. The line gave Driskel more than enough time on passing plays and some of the holes they opened up in the run game were big enough to drive a semi-truck through. They impressed me not only with the way they were holding their blocks but also with the physicality they exhibited by putting guys on their backs. These five men should have been the players of the game.
I must also commend center Jonotthan Harrison, who did a great job in the run game against a man that had him outweighed by 75 lbs.
Moving forward, do not be surprised if the Gators try to get the ball into Trey Burton‘s hands just a bit more. Mike Gillislee continues to show why he is such a valuable part of Florida’s offense. Carry by carry you could tell that the whole team was inspired by his gutsy play as he ran on and aggravated his strained groin. It’s special to have a guy like that on your team because he’ll never want to come off the field no matter what.
The Gators defense continued to be as good as advertised. Last week, I mentioned one of the keys to winning this game was putting pressure on the quarterback and that’s exactly what happened.
Lerentee McCray is making the most of every opportunity he gets. He’s like the energizer bunny; he keeps going and going and going. I constantly saw both he and Sharrif Floyd in the backfield either making tackles for loss, sacking the quarterback or rattling him with some hits after he got rid of the ball.
What was dumbfounding to me while watching the game was the fact that the Vols offensive linemen were visibly holding on numerous plays with not a single one being called by the referees. Florida being able to remain calm, not get frustrated and continue working hard to push through the line was a testament to that unit’s work ethic.
One more shout out goes to Marcus Roberson. Some have criticized him for his pass interference and holding calls but know this: He was going up against a wide receiver in Justin Hunter that will be a first-round pick whenever he declares for the NFL Draft. I was thoroughly impressed with the way he played in coverage.
Overall it was a great victory for the Gators and just what the team needed heading into what could be a two-week lull with Kentucky and the bye week upcoming.