Quick hits: 6 things to know about the Florida Gators’ tough 31-24 win over East Carolina

By Adam Silverstein
September 12, 2015

Florida Gators football improved to 2-0 on Saturday with a 31-24 win over the East Carolina Pirates, escaping Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with a victory in a contest that looked shaky at times for the home team.

OnlyGators.com is here to break down the game, so here are six takeaways.

Dropping dimes: Redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier looked aces in the first half, dropping in three picture-perfect passes that led to 10 points for the Gators. His first, a 26-yard long toss, resulted in a diving reception by sophomore wide receiver Brandon Powell. (Offensive pass interference negated a touchdown at the end of the series, and Florida settled for a 37-yard field goal.) Later in the half, Grier hooked up with sophomore tight end DeAndre Goolsby on a 34-yard strike and 32-yard bootleg pass (following a fake toss), the latter of which Goolsby housed for a touchdown. The 74-yard drive spanned four plays and just 1:23; it made Grier appear to clearly be the better, more accurate passer in the first half.

After Florida fell behind 14-10 in the second half, Grier singled out junior WR Demarcus Robinson as his primary target and hit him four times for a total of 44 yards, including a six-yard touchdown reception to put the Gators back in front. He faltered throughout the rest of the period, though, nearly throwing two interceptions on bad tosses and actually throwing one due to a receiver’s mistake.

Sophomore Treon Harris had a couple well-placed throws of his own, including one to Goolsby that was as impressive as any of Grier’s.

Still undecided? While Grier appeared to out-play Harris and undoubtedly moved the offense better for longer durations, he also made more mistakes. His one interception was the fault of some bad luck and bobbling by redshirt sophomore WR Alvin Bailey, but Grier also had two other picks dropped and another that could have been snagged over the course of the evening. Harris was off on more of his throws and made fewer big plays, but he also did not potentially put UF in bad situations. He was also the one on the field to close out the game for the Gators.

Struggling secondary? Florida’s secondary faltered at times Saturday, allowing an opening-drive touchdown, another early in the third quarter and a third late in the game. It also bent – but didn’t break – on the Pirates’ final potentially game-tying drive. The rest of the contest, though, the Gators locked down East Carolina, even without junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (undisclosed leg injury) and junior safety Keanu Neal (hamstring).

Never was this more apparent for UF than late in the third quarter when sophomore CB Jalen Tabor had the presence of mind to jump a route and return an interception for a 39-yard touchdown, pushing Florida ahead by 10 at 24-14.

Big boys beasting: Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Taven Bryan, senior DL Jonathan Bullard and junior DL Joey Ivie IV all flashed with powerful tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Redshirt junior safety Marcus Maye and junior linebacker Jarrad Davis also forced fumbles, though Davis’s (which was caused by a big-time hit) was eventually overturned. (Florida actually forced two more, both of which were recovered by ECU.)

Davis also came through at the end of the contest, when redshirt junior LB Alex McCalister picked up a fumble and was prepared to run back for the touchdown. Instead of allowing McCalister to do so and possibly make a mistake, Davis jumped on his back and brought him to the ground, allowing the Gators to kneel the ball down and win the game without issue.

Kicking and screaming: Redshirt junior kicker Austin Hardin looked to be completely reborn at the onset of this season and nailed a strong field goal early in the contests, but a shank from 34 yards out and complete miss from 35 yards proved that he still has a long way to go to be a weapon that Florida can truly put its faith in when faced with must-score situations.

Far from good: No matter what the Gators did well Saturday, they seemed to do so much else wrong. Florida committed 12 penalties on the evening, including a couple of unsportsmanlike conduct calls, one of which came immediately after a seven-yard touchdown run by junior running back Kelvin Taylor and turned McElwain into a fire-breathing dragon.

Ivie committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of his own, and McCalister was called for running into the kicker, erasing a punt and giving the Pirates a first down early in the contest; it was a bone-headed move and obvious call for the officials.

Twitter chatter:


  1. Sjkoepp says:

    Totally agree with your thoughts, Adam. It was a weird/sloppy game and I’m just happy we escaped that alive.

  2. senuod says:

    Yeah. I’m still not totally sold on Grier yet. He has the skill, but when he makes mistakes, they tend to be crucial. I know he needs time to learn, but Harris may still have a slight advantage when it comes to ball security.

  3. jimmee b says:

    a win is a win is a win…….but my beloved Gators had better learn alot from this one. for if we do not learn from History, we are doomed to repeat it.

  4. Michael Jones says:

    If we’re keeping track of “almost” or “should’ve been” interceptions then Harris is the cat with more than 9 lives, dating back to his sideline pass against UT which was a pick six that the Vol DB let slip through his hands and would have iced the game for Tennessee.

    Ahmad Black’s tweet was unfortunate. Harris is a good QB and I am glad we have him (and we’ll need him) but it’s apparent to everyone that Grier is the better of the 2. Why are people not allowed to say that?

  5. Iamtheeggman says:

    What is the biggest take from the game is that UF exactly where it was at this same time last year. After an opening blowout of a patsy that had everyone drinking the Kool-Aid, the Gators came back down to earth in a squeaker that didn’t go to triple overtime, but was just as tight. What is also apparent is that UF still doesn’t have a good quarterback.Some folks are still on the Grier bandwagon, but I don’t see how he looked any better than Harris. I don’t know if McElwain will stick with playing both against Kentucky, because it’s hard to say that either quarterback has distinguished himself, but He does need to make a decision soon on choosing who is going to be the “guy.” I just think it hurts both quarterbacks to be looking over their shoulder and also takes away continuity on offense to rotate them.
    All things considered, it’s amazing how, even if the circumstances are different, nothing has really changed. The most surprising thing that has remained the same is that UF still has a raving maniac strolling the sideline. If he acts like this when UF wins, how’s he going to act when UF loses?
    The main thing is that UF won. But, just like after last year’s Kentucky game, a lot of folks are starting to feel some tremendous rumblings in their bellys from all the Kool-Aid they drank wanting to come out.

    • Spuntly says:

      Shut up Humpty Dumpty,
      Nobody here cares about your constant negative commentary about Florida. We won, we are way better than we were under Muschamp. Muschamp would have lost this game. We Gators are proud of our new coach and team and will enjoy Gator football regardless of your pessimism. Go Gators! Hey did you see how bad Winston got shown up by Mariota today? Mariota is Winston’s daddy.

  6. Rakkasan says:

    There are a few things people seem to be forgetting. Coach Mac is still trying to change the culture on the football team at UF, and it’s apparent he still has a ways to go. I think that is what he was most upset about. People also seem to be forgetting our offense is learning a new system with young quarterbacks and players who haven’t been given that much coaching since high school. This too is going to take some time. Despite that our offense is far more exciting to watch than it has been in the past four years. We also need to remember we had some starters missing including an all American.

    Let’s also give credit to ECU. This isn’t like we were playing Eastern Michigan. This is a quality team that has excellent coaches, and fast players who weren’t afraid to mix it up. They also have a history of taking on power five teams and beating them. We weren’t entitled to blow this team out just because they’re a directional school. They played in a bowl game last year, and probably will again this year.

    I know comparisons will be made to last year, but the biggest difference I think we can look forward to is the mistakes that were made will be worked on and corrected. This I believe, and next week we can expect to face another tough team coming off a big win on the road. But win or lose we need to remember that Nick Saban lost six games his first year at Alabama.

  7. Andrew Nathanson says:

    So Far love coach Mac. His focus is on doing things the right way and once this young team really learns what he’s teaching, the Gators are going to rock! As well C-Mac uses the tools in the box for what they are meant to do; no more hammer as a wrench, square peg round hole frustration of last few years (thankfully!!!). And though months to go as season just started, so far so good!

    C-Mac managing BOTH sides of football, the O is moving forward, points are getting scored, the ball is spread around – and downfield too!

    Yes it was a sloppy game. Perfect! Team egos come back to reality. C-Mac runs focused practice this week. Gators come out sharp vs. KY – who aren’t jelly as they proved last night vs. Ol’ Spurrier. Hopefully they’ll let up just a little next week and Gators focused and get a W. And hopefully turn tenn. into rocky toppled – then we’ll know where Gators are at! Just one person’s perspective (and hope). Go Gators!

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