Snell’s Slant: It was nice to see Florida dominate

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.

After consecutive weeks of tight, close-call games, it was nice to see Florida put together an overall dominant performance against a clearly outmatched Kentucky team. Games like that one are great building blocks that teams can use to improve their confidence before heading into a bye week or big game (such as LSU in two weeks).

Jeff Driskel has become the clear leader of the Gators’ offense. He is, for the most part, making sound decisions and legitimately looking good while doing it. His scrambling ability has – and will continue to be – a threat until people start to respect it, which will only open up things in the passing game even more for UF.

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease appears to be confident enough in the sophomore quarterback’s abilities and, despite the fact that Florida remains a run-first team, may very well call more vertical plays than one might expect against LSU. Pease and the Gators are now in the position where they can call passing plays with confidence instead of trepidation. This will be a huge step considering LSU’s defense is on another level compared to that of any of Florida’s first four opponents.

Praising Mike Gillislee has become a standard feature of this column over the last few weeks, and I have no problem maintaining that he is still the best running back in the SEC. But how about Matt Jones? He received double-digit touches out of the backfield this week and did a solid job. This guy is a beast. He has a nasty downhill running style and will only get better with age. It’s impressive how it seems to always take more than one defender to bring him down.

Jordan Reed continues to be an offensive nightmare for opposing defenses. It was shocking that he was able to hold on to the ball after taking that big hit over the middle, especially considering it was announced this week that he suffered a head injury. Talk about fearless. That’s the kind of toughness you want to see out of every player.

Read the rest of this edition of Snell’s Slant…after the break!

The offensive line put together another strong performance despite playing a team with a not-as-talented defensive front seven. The running game that the line helped produce was decent but lacked big plays, partially due to Kentucky stacking the box with eight defenders on multiple occasions. Pass protection, on the other hand, was impressive. The Gators do have a very talented group up front. Their ability to be equally as efficient in run and pass blocking is a rare commodity for a team. Usually that group specializes in one area and lacks somewhat in the other (especially on the collegiate level). Kudos to them because they are making a huge difference this season.

As expected, Florida’s defense once again dominated and this time pitched a rare SEC shutout. Though at times it did not seem like they were into the game, especially early in the contest when UK was moving the ball with ease on the ground, UF turned things around and came up big. It was remarkable to see the defense walk away with three picks (including one returned for a touchdown by Jaylen Watkins).

As evident in the second quarter, turnovers can dramatically change a game, which is why the defensive staff has been preaching about forcing them all offseason. Though the Gators only scored seven points off of those three interceptions, it changed momentum and field position, two of the most critical parts of a football game.

Michael Taylor, the only linebacker to grab a pick on Saturday, continues to stand out for me. For being such a young guy, he’s making a big impact and can always be found around the ball at the end of plays.

That’s very important for Florida considering that the team’s linebacking depth has been depleted a bit due to injury. Should Jelani Jenkins be out again for the LSU game, Taylor will once again be relied on as a key rotation player for that unit.

Most importantly, as head coach Will Muschamp mentioned on Monday, the Gators need to use this bye week to get healthy. Confidence can come with wins and big plays but it can also grow simply by knowing, as a player, that you are physically able to perform to the best of your ability when you step on the field.

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23 Responses to “Snell’s Slant: It was nice to see Florida dominate”

  1. GatorBuilder says:

    Love Snell’s Slant…keep em coming Shannon.

  2. Phil says:

    Great article. Thx

  3. Daniel M. says:

    Somebody grab a fire extinguisher, this site is on fire.

    Go Gators!

  4. gatorhippy says:

    While they performed well last weekend, I’m reserving an overabundance of praise for both lines until after the Corndoggers come to town…that’s where we’ll really know how much these guys have improved…especially on the O side of the ball…

    And yes…Matt Jones is going to be a beast when he is fully unleashed next season…unless he takes Gilli’s job this season…Just kidding, Mikey!…

    Jordan Reed…he’s being used like I envisioned him being used last season and it’s really a boon to Pease for figuring out what the Cheeseburger couldn’t…anda nod to Boom for bringing on Pease…

  5. gatorboi352 says:

    You know I gotta say, as veteran and experienced Jenkins is at LB, I don’t think him being out has hurt us at all. He’s been sort of underwhelming more often than not throughout his UF career, and I believe both Taylor and Morrison have higher ceilings then him. I’d play him very sparingly LSU week; work him back in slowly.

  6. This is a reply to gatorboi352′s last comment. This is a test.

  7. tank says:

    Not seeing Matt Jones yet. He has done ok so far as a freshman, but nothing stellar. If I remember correctly, Gillislee seemed more impressive with the limited touches he received as a freshman. Also, after seeing the the Gainesville High School vs Armwood game last year, I came away with the feeling that Matt Jones was overrated.
    Seems tentative at the line still, although I did see some slight improvement on his last couple of touches. Kentucky could have been playing their reserves as well by that point.

  8. NYC Gator says:

    I don’t know if Shannon has plans to do this kind of stuff full time, but he should definitely consider it! Great column, as always.

  9. Walt P says:

    The way their playing I think that the gators can win in 2 weeks

  10. Shannon Snell says:

    Thx Guys for the compliments.. Adam is doing a hell of a job with everything on this site. He certainly does know his football.
    A few comments

    Hippy – agreed, I am reserved about both sides of the ball as far as the lines are concerned until after the Tigers roll through town, but both are playing very well right now, especially the D line. Both Floyd and Easley are matchup nightmares because both have unbelievable quickness, size, and strength. It’s tough for an offensive lineman to defend defensive linemen that are equally good vs the run and are also able to rush the passer, which both are pretty damn good at.

    Gatorboi – Make no mistake, Jenkins makes the Gator defense better. Morrison and Taylor have done very well in his absence, and no doubt these guys will be absolute studs. But Jenkins was the starter for a reason. Before the injury, you could make an argument that he was playing the most consistent on the entire defense. I think either way, the future looks bright for the LB position.

    Tank – Come on bro! I thought Matt Jones was a freak in HS. He helped guide Armwood to a few state titles if I’m not mistaken, and that was against very good talent. It’s not fair to compare him to Gillislee. That’s like comparing Ciatrick Fason and Deshawn Wynn, they’re 2 different backs with two different styles. He’ll definitely get better over time. Remember, he’s a freshman, the biggest improvement come from year one to year two.

    NYC – I love doing this. I will definitely continue to do this, if Adam lets me :-)

  11. Fernzpat says:

    Great to hear Shannon. We really enjoy the insight into the program.

  12. Courtney says:

    Shannon i remember you starks and mitchell bullying defensive lines. You guys were huge! Do you see any similiarities in our o line now?

    And with matt jones i see the same things i saw with him in hs. Great potential, hands and size. But he needs to run a bit lower, and should break more tackles. But hes still a true freshman…just give him time! Excited about the future…go gators.

  13. Gators22 says:

    Shannan’s articles are quickly becoming my favorite read of the week.

    They’re always insightful and give us fans some things to look for as we watch the games. (I totally agree on Matt Jones.)

    Go Gators!

  14. SarasotaGator49 says:

    Great Take – hope these keep coming. One think I think was missed was how well I thought Mack Brown looked. He ran very hard – had two really nice runs called back – plus he bailed us out with a catch after a scramble by JD. Really think he looked as good if not better than Matt Jones – who also looked good!

    Think we are in good shape at RB.

  15. npgator says:

    Great stuff!

  16. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    I agree on Jelani being the starter for a reason…kid is a stud….I have watched him and Bostic since day one battle it out and it’s really hard to find fault with either….Bostic is stronger and Jelani is quicker but they both have played hard from the start and make tons of plays and very rarely do you see them make mistakes…the depth will help when he gets back but the sooner the better!!!

    I have to also agree about the O-line…after two years of very suspect play…they have vastly improved!

  17. Conky 3000 says:

    Echoing hippy, the hire of Brent Pease looks like a great move. The difference from last year at the OC position is very easy to see and high marks on his handling of Driskel so far.

  18. Fernzpat says:

    Sarasota, glad you remembered to mention that about Mack. Starting to show he can be the back that we all want him to be… Really seemed to run hard this last game. I am hoping he has 40+ yards playing the entire 4th Q as the blow-out party starts up…

  19. Kyle says:

    Shannon Snell #75:
    Do you still talk to Jemale Cornelius? How do you think he would do as the wr coach?

  20. tank says:

    Shannon,
    I’m as hopeful as anyone here that Matt Jones will live up to his hype. I just haven’t seen it yet. He still appears to hesitate and get tentative when he gets to the line. I’d like to think this is freshman jitters. Hopefully we’ll do well enough over the next month where he will get to see some quality reps. At least the coaches feel comfortable enough with him to give him the opportunity, which says a lot.

    Armwood won the title last year and was runner up the year before. Unfortunately for them, they had to vacate all of their wins from both years.

  21. tank says:

    Last good Florida power back (other than Tim Tebow):
    C4

  22. gatorboi352 says:

    @tank

    Agreed.

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