A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.
While some may think the Florida started slow on Saturday, scoring just 24 points against a Toledo team that really struggles defensively, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how the Gators looked overall.
Those of you that read this column know I predicted that Florida’s offense and defense would both be rather “vanilla” on Saturday and that is basically what happened no matter what the coaches want to claim.
Offensively, especially for playing with a toned-down game plan, the Gators executed quite efficiently. There were two 10-play, 80-plus yard drives in the first half alone.
It really seems that the strength of this year’s team, as it was last year, is the offensive line. Not having been able to watch practice, I was curious to see how this group would gel with so many parts having changed after last season. As an offensive lineman myself, I can definitely say I was thoroughly impressed with these gentlemen.
Mack Brown had over 100 yards rushing, Jeff Driskel had ample time to find open receivers and there were very few penalties tagged on this group.
It generally takes a few games for an offensive line to start clicking as well as the Gators’ line did on Saturday, especially when there’s new starters. That Florida line looked as if it was already in midseason form from the opening snap of the game.
While the passing game was decent – all respect goes to Driskel for his performance – it is fair to say that everyone was left wanting to see the kind of explosive plays that the Gators are going to need to take that step forward this season.
There was hope that Florida would really open things up vertically and give some of the young, inexperienced wideouts a chance to spread their wings against this non-conference opponent. Even though the game plan was expected to be simple, more vertical passes could certainly have been called.