9/20: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

WILSON TO MISS MORE TIME

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson, injured on Sept. 4 against Miami (OH), recently had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. Wilson’s injury comes at a time when Florida’s offensive line is as solid as its been all year with sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back in the starting lineup for the first time on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist) remains out of action but is close to returning, perhaps as early as Oct. 2 against Alabama.

Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks told the media Monday that, contrary to the belief that it was dislocated, he has actually been playing with a heeling broken thumb over the last three weeks. He will continue to get major time on the field and should continue to impact the game as he has been thus far.

Though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson went down at the end of the game Saturday, he will be fine. However, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody‘s bruised thigh will continue to be monitored throughout the week.

WEEK THREE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that nine Gators graded out as Champions after the Tennessee Volunteers game. Redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore and senior defensive end Duke Lemmens were singled out as Players of the Week.

Offensively, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt seniors right tackle Marcus Gilbert and right guard Maurice Hurt were all honored. Four players on defense – senior DE Justin Trattou and LBs senior Hicks, sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins – shined throughout the game. Jenkins was also named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday for his career-high six tackles and first career sack.

BRANTLEY TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISCUE

As OGGOA noted in both our game story and tweets during Saturday’s contest, Pouncey’s bad snap early in the first quarter appeared to have occurred due to Brantley rushing to get a snap off when he realized the play clock was ticking down. The signal caller said the same thing Monday, taking the blame for the poor snap. Though not on him specifically for that mistake, Meyer noted that Brantley must progress and get better.

“I think he’s got to get better,” he said. “There’s one way we evaluate quarterbacks here. He’s 3-0 as a starter at Florida, so that’s pretty good, going on the road and winning a game. To say we’re thrilled with where we’re at offensively, and he’s the focal point of the offense, that would be a false statement. To say that he’s handled himself very well, to say he’s managing the team, to say that he does throw a very nice pass and hit five third-and-longs against Tennessee – those are all very good. We just need to improve. We’re pleased with where we’re at, we just need to keep improving.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 3: Gators post-game news and notes

Starting slow for the third consecutive game, the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) once again pulled out a double-digit win against their opponent, taking down the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. With so much to discuss, OGGOA first presents some of the most important notes and quotes.

EIGHT FOR EIGHT IS GREAT

In his six years coaching the University of Florida, head coach Urban Meyer has run eight fake punt plays. And all eight times that decision has paid off for the Gators. On Saturday, Meyer said he did not hesitate to call a fake punt in which sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines took a direct snap up the field 36 yards for a first down in what would eventually become a touchdown scoring drive. “We’ve been working on that since the beginning of the year,” Meyer said after the game. “We tried to get the numbers, and we got the numbers, and they executed well. As soon as I heard from the press box we had numbers, I knew all we had to do was execute it.” Hines was just as prepared for the play call. “We’ve been practicing it every day in practice,” he said. “It was my chance to get the first down. I wasn’t nervous. We’ve been practicing on it too much. I was ready for it. [Tennessee] had two guys, and when they went outside, I cut inside and got the first down. I knew it was going to work. We really needed that. We were down in the first half. I just tried to help the team get the momentum back.”

SUSPENDED PLAYERS RETURN, CONTRIBUTE

Three Florida players missed the first two games of the season not due to injury but instead because of team suspension. Junior safety Will Hill (most prominently), redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and sophomore linebacker Dee Finley all returned Saturday, each contributing in one way or another. While Hill was in on some blown coverages in the secondary, he made a few big tackles on special teams, which was also populated by Hammond and Finley. Hammond was also able to make his first catch of the year in the third quarter for a touchdown. “It felt good,” Hammond said. “I just go out there and try to make plays and do what I can for the team. I’m just trying to stay humble. I got another chance at it [after getting arrested]. I made a mistake and I learned from it. Whatever they want me to do, special teams or offense, I’ll do what I need to do just to get back on the team and help them out. I’m trying to move on now.”

GILLISLEE MAKING HIS CASE FOR PLAYING TIME

Sophomore running back Mike Gillislee, like any player, wants to get on the field as much as possible. Stuck behind junior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody, Gillislee appears to be on a mission this season to prove to coaches that he deserves more playing time. Though Demps once again led the Gators in rushing Saturday, Gillislee’s two powerful touchdowns once again proved he is as much of a spark plug as anyone on the team.

HEALTHY OFFENSIVE LINE STICKING TOGETHER

For the first time all season, Florida was able to begin the game and play with its starting offensive line – consisting of sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt and redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert – healthy and intact. On a rushed snap in the first quarter, Pouncey rolled the ball on the ground to redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, almost causing a turnover. At the end of the game, Johnson appeared to suffer an arm injury, but trainers believe he will be fine.

SECONDARY ROLLS BUT FLAWS EMERGE

Nabbing two more interceptions against the Volunteers, the Gators’ defense continues to lead the nation with 10 grabs on the season. The secondary itself is responsible for seven of them, with redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown bringing down his second of the year on Saturday. However, a unit that was the model of consistency for Florida throughout the first two games showed some flaws against Tennessee, allowing three big catches and two long touchdowns in the contest. Brown was victimized a few time, Hill was out of position on another throw and even junior CB Janoris Jenkins (who muffed a punt for a fumble as a returner) may have blown an assignment.

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN STEPS UP

While the secondary dealt with a few issues, the defensive linemen and linebackers did whatever they had to in order to get pressure on QB Matt Simms and stifle Volunteers star RB Tauren Poole (10 carries for 23 yards). Senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens, redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman DE Ronald Powell all achieved sacks, and sophomore LB Jon Bostic pulled down his second interception of the season.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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9/15: Florida Gators week three practice notes

Florida Gators assistant coaches and players met with the media after practice on Wednesday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s third game Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HAVE HILL WILL TRAVEL

It came as no surprise to us here at OGGOA when, on Wednesday afternoon, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater told the media that junior safety Will Hill will travel with the team to Knoxville, TN, over the weekend. Though the coaching staff still contends that Hill’s participation in Saturday’s contest will be a game-time decision, OGGOA has been reporting since early in the week that he will be active and playing against Tennessee.

PEE ON THE “T”

According to a some players, the Gators’ coaching staff placed the Volunteers’ “Power T” symbol in all of the urinals in their facilities this week as a means of motivation. There were also plenty of photographs and quotes uniquely positioned to remind players of the importance of Saturday’s game. Let’s just hope there wasn’t a lot of splash back.

QUOTES

Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio on redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley: “We’ve seen really good development over the course of two weeks. He’s done a great job, really worked hard. I just really like where he’s headed now. I like his mind set. I think without a doubt, like anything else, there is no substitute for experience, and experience is gained. He’s gained throughout these first two games. You can see the growth. We’re really happy about that. That’s what we’re striving for with the whole offense.”

Brantley on his confidence: “My confidence has grown a lot. I’m starting to figure out how the game works, instead of staying on the sideline and watching. I’m just trying to learn each game and just keep getting better each game. [Being the starter is] completely different. Your adrenaline is pumping and you’re trying to make plays and help the team out. It’s tough seeing all the different kinds of defenses. You have to be locked in every play. You can’t take a play off. It’s been a great learning experience. I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far. We’re just going to try and get better every week.”

Brantley on Tim Tebow reaching out to him: “That was huge. Tim and I had such a great relationship when he was here. To know that. [...] He was one of the best college football players of all time. To know he has confidence in me is a great feeling. He knows what it’s like. He knows how everything works and he knows the SEC and how tough it is. With him having confidence in me, it gives me confidence knowing I’m able to do this.”

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders on playing Tennessee: “Everybody loves a rival game. The energy level is a little bit higher. The focus is a little bit higher. You can tell that everybody is ready to play. Of course, last week they tried to count it as a rival, that was our first time playing them. This week you can definitely tell the difference. There was more pictures, more slogans, more this, more that.”

Senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert on getting sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back: “Having Xavier back, I think that brings a lot of stability to our offensive line. That will increase our play. Having him back puts everyone back to their normal positions, like Maurice back to [right] guard, me back to the right [tackle]. I think it will be pretty good.”

Wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni on a heads-up play by freshman WR Robert Clark: “We always talk about getting to where you’re supposed to be. You’re supposed to go in motion and end up where he was [on his reception Saturday]. Instead he just took off from where he was, got where he was supposed to be, affected the area he was supposed to affect. He was right there for Brantley where he was supposed to be in the first place [after Brantley forgot to put him in motion]. He was just there a different way. The play ended up working. It was just a heads-up play by a young kid who’s done that in practice before. It was really nice to see.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and the Palm Beach Post for the above quotes.

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9/13: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

RAINEY, BROWN SHOULD BE ABLE TO RETURN

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey left Saturday’s game with what is believed to have been a concussion. Nevertheless, Meyer believes he will be able to play Saturday at Tennessee. Rainey was held out of what was a light practice on Sunday for precautionary purposes but looks to be a full go the rest of the week.

Also leaving the game early was redshirt sophomore starting cornerback Jeremy Brown. Meyer said after the contest that Brown suffered a “full body cramp,” but Brown related Monday that he actually had a strained hamstring and should be fine for the weekend. Even so, he noted that freshman CB Cody Riggs, who got a lot of playing time in his stead, did well and even complimented his exceptional speed.

In other injury news, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returned Saturday from a knee injury but played as a reserve. He will likely return to his starting role against Tennessee, moving the rest of the line back to their original positions.

WEEK TWO CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that ten Gators graded out as Champions after the South Florida Bulls game. Junior running back Jeff Demps, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior strong safety Ahmad Black were all singled out as Players of the Week. Offensively, redshirt seniors offensive linemen Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt and RB Emmanuel Moody were all honored. Four players on the defense – junior CB Janoris Jenkins, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens – shined throughout the game.

Additionally, Demps and Pouncey were each honored by the Southeastern Conference, respectively, as the organization’s Special Teams Player of the Week and Offensive Lineman of the Week. Demps returned two kickoffs for 95 yards, and Pouncey had a 95 percent efficiency at center.

GAME BALLS FOR EVERYONE!

For the second time in three days, Meyer pointed to the home crowd at The Swamp for its amazing passion and support throughout what he believes is one of – if not the – hottest game played at the stadium in years. He even joked that he wished he could buy game balls for all 93,000+ fans as they severely impacted South Florida’s ability to move the ball in the second half.

A BUNCH OF COMEDIANS

Redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson is apparently a jokester, aiming some one-liners on Monday at Tennessee players, fans, former head coach Lane Kiffin and those who insist on comparing redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley‘s leadership to that of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Johnson quipped that it was funny the players had problems bathing (staph infection issues) and said Kiffin left for USC because he would prefer probation for two years rather than the humiliation of being beat by Florida again. “I mean, let me ask you a question,” Johnson said. “What would you prefer…to lose to Florida or can’t go to a bowl game for two years? I think we already defeated him in our minds.”

Also cracking wise Monday was Pouncey, who related a story from a trip to McDonald’s on Sunday night. “I heard it all. I was going through the drive-thru last night at McDonald’s, and as I was leaving the guy told me, he said, ‘Don’t mess up the snaps,’ and I said, ‘Hey, don’t mess up my sandwiches no more.’”

Perhaps Black was right when he said early Monday, “I just may be on the funniest team in America,” because he’s one of them, noting later in the day that his last memory about visiting Tennessee was “a bunch of drunk old people.”

QUOTES (More coming soon…)

Meyer on his team’s first away game: “We’re going to have a bunch of new players get on that plane and head to Knoxville. So much of what we do around here is routine and that is a major concern. I’m trying to fight myself right now on how to get that done and not take away from preparation time. The worst thing that happens is someone’s late walking in, forgets their tie. Someone doesn’t show up. Someone forgets their ID on the plane and goes to the room when we’re not supposed to go to the room. That just messes everything up as far as routine and we take that real serious around here. We’ll have several meetings about it and try to get that ready.”

Meyer on Florida’s upcoming opponent, Tennessee: “It’s SEC personnel from top to bottom. [They have] some dynamic players, some young players. They’re dealing with some of the same issues we have as far as lack of experience, but make no mistake about it – they’re every bit as talented as most teams in the SEC. And obviously [Neyland Stadium] one of the most difficult environments to play in.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel for the player quotes above.

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9/9: Florida Gators week two practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s second game Saturday against the South Florida Bulls. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

NIXON HEALTHY…BUT ACTIVE?

Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) has been cleared to play Saturday; whether or not he will actually step on the field (or how long he will play) is another subject all together. Though Nixon is healthy enough to participate in game action, the Gators may choose to let him heal for another week if offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio believes his unit will be steady enough without him.

On Wednesday, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt, who has been filling in at right tackle while redshirt senior RT Marcus Gilbert has been playing on the left side, was under the impression that he would once again start there this week. “We’re still getting some guys back and we’re still shuffling the rotation, but for now I think I’m going to be at right tackle,” Hurt said. No matter what is decided Saturday, it looks like Nixon will return to his starting role against Tennessee the following week.

INJURY UPDATES

As Meyer predicted earlier in the week, it looks like redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (knee) will be ready to go Saturday. Reed’s snaps may be limited, but his presence should allow for a more typical rotation at the position with him and sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines as the primary plug-ins.

Meyer noted that freshman WR Chris Dunkley, who is still recovering from hamstring issues stemming from the conclusion of his high school career, is doubtful. With redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. (DUI) returning, redshirt freshman Andre Debose looking to get on the field and other receivers ahead of him knowledge-wise, Dunkley needs to get healthy while simultaneously learning the requirements of the position. Fellow freshman WR Quinton Dunbar is also hoping to see some action shortly.

Additionally, redshirt senior defensive tackles Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh will both be active and on the field playing Saturday against the Bulls.

BURTON BACKING UP; MURPHY STANDING IN

Last week we alerted you that the perception that freshman quarterback Tyler Murphy had replaced fellow freshman signal caller Trey Burton as the team’s primary backup behind redshirt junior starter John Brantley was likely a one-week scenario due to the fact that Burton was learning a bevy of other positions. Now that Reed is back in the mix at tight end and H-back, Burton has moved back to the No. 2 QB role (though he will likely see time on the field in other positions, too).

Simultaneously this week, Florida utilized Murphy as a stand-in for South Florida starting QB B.J. Daniels, a dual-threat player with a big arm and quick feet. Murphy apparently did well in this role during practice and was instrumental in helping the Gators prepare for their opponent this week.

For what it’s worth, Meyer continuously compares Burton’s talent and potential impact to that of former Florida stars WR Percy Harvin and TE Aaron Hernandez.

QUOTES

Meyer on Nixon’s starting status: “We don’t know that yet. That’s up to coach Addazio. We did talk about that today, and he hasn’t decided yet. Today’s practice was … key.”

Meyer on Dunkley’s progress: “He’s getting real close. He actually had a good day [Thursday]. I don’t know if he’ll get in this week [because] he’s had that hamstring forever. I wouldn’t say he was about 100 percent until last week. We’d like to get him involved. Same with Quinton Dunbar, who’s doing a nice job. [...] It’s just learning. [Dunkley] missed almost all of training camp. We’re in the season now and it’s hard to learn. We’re game-planning now. But he’s doing a good job. Talented guy.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post and The Gainesville Sun.

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9/8: Meyer’s teleconference and Gators notes

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from media availabilities with Meyer and other members of the team over the course of the day:

» Even though sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon may be ready to play Saturday, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt told reporters Wednesday that he believes he will continue starting at right tackle while normal starting RT redshirt senior Marcus Gilbert fills in on the left side. “We’re still getting some guys back and we’re still shuffling the rotation, but for now I think I’m going to be at right tackle,” Hurt said.

» Meyer noted that while it may not have appeared the Gators were trying to throw the ball deep and spread the field in the first three quarters, many of the called pass players were messed up before they could develop due to some of the miscues in the backfield. Additionally, he felt that the team was put in a hole yardage-wise due to some of the bad snaps that was tough to get out from on particular drives.

QUOTES FROM MEYER

Opening statement: “We’re 1-0 but a little disappointed from last week. The guys have come out with some urgency and worked real hard, so we’ll have to play a lot better or we won’t beat South Florida, an excellent team – one of the best quarterbacks we’ll face all year and very athletic on defense, so we better get our game right.”

On if the spread offense allows “little guys” to excel: “We don’t just look for smaller… We look for the best football players and adapt the system to them. So if a guy’s a little undersized – like a Brandon James or Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps – we certainly will not not take them because they don’t fit our system. We’ll make the system fit.”

On the new NCAA rule not allowing schools to offer scholarships to recruits until the summer of their senior year: “I think that’s all in good intent. The problem with rules is, when you make rules, you have to enforce them. But I think the purpose of the rule is very well thought out, and we’re obviously going to follow that rule.”

On redshirt sophomore Sam Robey’s health: “There is a chance he’ll get in [Saturday]. He’s 100 percent healthy now. He’s had injuries all training camp with a knee and then bursitis in his elbow. He practiced a full-go [Tuesday] and is on-call this weekend.”

On Nixon’s health: “We’re very positive from what he did [Tuesday] in practice. Today is a big day for him, but he looked really good [Tuesday] as did [redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron] Sanders and [redshirt senior left guard] Carl Johnson. So we’re expected to have those guys for Saturday.”

On redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan’s health: “He’s still in that pretty long cast. He’s still going to be a few weeks, but we wish we had him because he’s such an intense player.”

On South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels: “He’s a playmaker… He’s a mobile guy and every time there’s a guy that can move around back there, he can be trouble. […] He’s the man on offense that you have to contain. Once he gets out of that pocket, it can be trouble.”

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9/6: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

PLAYERS SET TO RETURN SATURDAY

Meyer plans to have redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., junior free safety Will Hill and redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson back with the team for next Saturday’s game against South Florida after all three served suspensions during Florida’s opening game against Miami (OH). Though it is known that Hammond’s punishment came as part of his DUI arrest earlier in the summer, Meyer did not disclose the particular reasons for sitting Hill and Johnson.

On the injury front, Meyer believes redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (knee) and sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) will be able to play on Saturday. However, he is not as optimistic about redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist), who is still recovering.

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR MOSES

After three years of mostly playing special teams, senior cornerback Moses Jenkins was finally able to see the field as a starter on Saturday. Unfortunately for Jenkins, he hyperextended his left elbow while in action and will be out for at least six weeks. Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown, with whom Jenkins was competing with for the job during summer and fall practice, took over for him during the game even though he was nursing a sprained ankle. He is expected to be the starter this week.

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson was also injured during the game, but he will be fine to play on Saturday.

WEEK ONE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that eight Gators graded out as Champions after the Miami (OH) game. As indicated by the contest itself, seven were defensive players while only senior tackle Marcus Gilbert earned the honor on offense. The defenders who were awarded include Brown, junior CB Janoris Jenkins, senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard, senior defensive end Justin Trattou, sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic and redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE SNAPPING?

After reviewing game tape, Meyer said he and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio discovered that senior center Mike Pouncey was not locking his wrist while snapping the ball, causing it to come out at any number of different angles. It was also mentioned that redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, in his first game as a starter, was not paying as much attention to the snap as he should have been, leading him to mishandle some bad snaps that nevertheless should have been corralled.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miami (OH) game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Miami (OH) RedHawks in the first game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: C+
Starting off with perhaps the most difficult position to grade after Saturday, we have redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who did some things right but also had a role in a number of miscues throughout the game in regard to the team’s snapping issues. If you look strictly at his numbers, going 17-of-25 for 113 yards and two touchdowns is a pretty solid day, but a few of his incompletions were bad misses and his second touchdown was basically a wounded duck he threw up on a fourth down that was luckily brought down by redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey in the end zone. Though it is tough to tell not being on the field, Brantley did not seem to show much leadership and even mishandled some bad snaps that he certainly could have corralled in. The offensive play calling did not help him either.

RUNNING BACKS: B-
Speaking of not getting a lot of help, the offensive line seemed unable to open up a single hole for the running backs at the start of the game. Aside from his 72-yard TD run, junior Jeff Demps carried the ball seven times 26 yards. The same goes for sophomore Mike Gillislee, who only notched 14 yards on five carries if you take away his 41-yard breakaway. But the truth is, both players did have those nice long runs and the rushers showed flashes as the game went on. We will also include freshman QB Trey Burton’s Wildcat snaps here, one of which went for a TD. Overall, the unit could have played better, but you have to give them some credit for putting the game out of reach.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the season opener after the jump…
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