Wednesday, October 19, 2016

UF Football: #18 Florida Works Missouri in Homecoming Victory

Last Saturday, the No. 18 Florida Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC) avenged the debacle of their 2014 Homecoming as they stomped the Missouri Tigers (2-4, 0-3 SEC) by a score of 40-14.

In his first game back since his injury on September 17th, quarterback Luke Del Rio did... alright. It was a tough outing for the redshirt sophomore as the Mizzou defense picked him off three times in the game!

Besides the turnover bug, Del Rio turned in a decent performance as he completed 18 of 38 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown pass. He took just one sack the whole game.

In the running game, the Gators had two players rush for over 100 yards. First was true freshman Lamical Perine. Rushing 11 times, Perine accumulated a team-high 106 yards with no touchdowns unfortunately. His longest run was for 59 yards and resulted him being pushed out at the 8-yard line.

Lamical Perine

Behind Perine, sophomore Jordan Scarlett led the team with 12 carries while rushing for 101 yards. He was able to find the end zone as he broke a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter to up the score to 33-7.

It is also worth mentioning that redshirt junior Mark Thompson shared a good bit of the workload. He rushed 10 times for 65 yards.

In the receiving corps, true freshman Tyrie Cleveland hauled in his first reception of his college career! It came on a 20-yard crossing route at the end of the third quarter that pushed the score to 26-7. He was the only Gator receiver who found the end zone, as he ended the day with three catches for a team-high 79 yards.

Cleveland was one of four Gators with at least three catches or more in the game. Sophomore Antonio Callaway nabbed three balls for 28 yards, junior tight end DeAndre Goolsby caught three passes for 40 yards, and junior Brandon Powell led the team with four receptions for a total of 38 yards.

As a unit, the Gator offense put up 523 yards of offense (236 passing and 287 rushing). They converted 22 first downs and went 8 for 16 on third down conversions.

Yet again, the Florida defense feasted. Both Jalen "Teez" Tabor and Quincy Wilson returned an interception for a touchdown on back-to-back drives. Looking back, those were the only two Gator touchdowns of the first half!

Jalen "Teez" Tabor
Linebackers Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis led the Gators with eight tackles a piece, with Anzalone also recovering a fumble.
Unfortunately for Davis, disaster struck at the beginning of the second half. On a goal line stand, he collided with Anzalone and injured his leg.

He was helped off the field and true freshman David Reese replaced him. Davis's injury was not ruled a high-ankle sprain, but he is out indefinitely. Needless to say this does hurt the Gator defense tremendously.

His replacement did well, however. Reese balled in the second half as he notched six tackles to tie Marcus Maye for the third most in the game. The only one ahead of them was Nick Washington, who registered seven tackles.

Looking at the secondary, both Tabor and Wilson had to run a bit for their touchdowns. Tabor's interception return was 39 yards while Wilson's was a whopping 78 yards. Wilson was also responsible for one of the two pass breakups in the game, with Marcus Maye recording the other.

Mizzou was only able to complete just two passes beyond the line of scrimmage throughout the entire game. They were able to generate 363 yards of offense and allowed no sacks in the contest.

Special Teams
In the kicking sphere, Eddy Pineiro nailed two of his three field goal attempts on the day. After missing his first kick from 32 yards out in the first quarter, he made both a 53-yarder and 24-yarder to give the Gators a 6-0 advantage in the second quarter. The 53-yarder was the second longest make of Pineiro's collegiate career.
Eddy Pineiro
Eddy was a perfect 4/4 on his extra point attempts and six of his eight kickoffs went out of the end zone for touchbacks.

In the punting aspect, Johnny Townsend balled as usual. The redshirt junior sent off four punts and pinned them all inside the Missouri 20-yard line! He averaged 31.5 yards per punt with his longest being 35 yards.

In the return game, the Gators scored in the most unconventional way. With 1:23 left in the game, Missouri decided to onside kick after scoring a touchdown to cut the lead to 33-14. What happened next was absolutely amazing and is something I have never seen in person.

Antonio Callaway fielded the onside kick and ran untouched into the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown! I went ballistic for some reason upon seeing this and was happy that I had stayed to see the game all the way through.
Hopefully Callaway's heads up return will help people forget about his fair catch at the one-yard line during the Tennessee game last month.

Final Takeaway
The Florida Gators did a great job avenging their 42-13 homecoming meltdown against Missouri two years ago. The offense was not pretty but did not look terrible. The defense was incredible and continued to dominate. Special teams remained consistent as usual.

Looking ahead, the Gators have a bye week to rest up and hopefully get some guys healthy. Florida will need it as their next opponent is the good ole Georgia Bulldogs (4-3, 2-3 SEC). Having won two straight now in the "World's Largest Cocktail Party", Florida has much at stake in this game.

A win against Georgia keeps Florida in the driver's seat for the SEC East. A loss has the Gators praying for another Tennessee loss if the Orange and Blue want to make a repeat trip to Atlanta. If Jarrad Davis cannot play, that only makes things tougher for Florida.

The game is set for October 29th at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. CBS will be carrying the telecast while the Gator IMG Sports Network will be broadcasting it on the radio. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. For what's it worth, I think Florida will make it three straight years against the 'Dawgs.

As for Missouri, they remain winless in SEC play. On a brighter note, they return back to Columbia for their homecoming game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (4-2). This game can be seen on the SEC Network and kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. I give Mizzou a pretty good chance to snatch a 'W' in this one.

*All stats accredited to

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

UF Football: #23 Florida Escapes Against Vanderbilt

The No. 23 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) barely escaped with a 13-6 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 0-2 SEC) in Nashville this past weekend.

Jordan Scarlett was the only Gator who got into the end zone this game. He was the lead running back the entire game as he rushed 12 times for 55 yards and the only touchdown of the contest. Many are saying that he should be the main back in Florida's offense and I agree.

Scarlett is a beast and should be fed the ball between 15 and 20 times a game. All this running back by committee nonsense needs to stop. If there was any competition for the No. 1 back, Scarlett has more than proved that he is the main guy.

Besides Scarlett's touchdown, there is not much more about to say regarding a Gator offense that amassed 236 total yards against Vandy. The tight ends continued to be a big part of the offense as DeAndre Goolsby led all Florida receivers with eight catches for 37 yards. His counterpart C'yontai Lewis hauled in just two passes for 39 yards. Star receiver Antonio Callaway was a non-factor in the game as he registered just three catches for 36 yards.

In terms of quarterback play, this is hopefully the last time the Gator Faithful have to see Austin Appleby as the starting quarterback. He did not play bad by any means, completing 19 of 28 passes for 144 yards, but the offense has no spark with him under center. His protection from the offensive line was pretty decent as well last Saturday as Vandy only sacked him twice.

As per usual during my time here, the defense won this game for Florida. They gave up 265 total yards but did a good job holding Vandy to just two field goals. Senior Jarrad Davis led the way as he notched a career-high 15 tackles with three pass breakups.

Behind Davis, senior safety Marcus Maye had seven tackles and a pass breakup, redshirt junior linebacker Alex Anzalone recorded six tackles and a pass breakup, and junior Duke Dawson rounds out the tackling dignitaries with five wrap ups and a pass breakup.

Florida sacked Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur twice. The perpetrators were Quincy Wilson and Jabari Zuniga.

In the secondary, two Gators had interceptions. Jalen Tabor picked off a pass in the red zone during the first quarter while Nick Washington had the game-sealing interception off a Jarrad Davis deflection in the last minute of the fourth quarter. Tabor's interception was his third of the season while Washington's was his first of the season as well as his career.

Special Teams
The special teams unit was vital in this game. Eddy Pineiro was flawless on both of his field goals as he drilled a 42-yarder at the half and a 26-yarder in the fourth. He nailed his only extra point attempt of the game.

In the punting realm, Johnny Townsend did a great job setting Vandy up with poor field position. The redshirt junior punted seven times and pinned the Commodores within their only 20-yard line five times. He averaged 51.9 yards per punt with five of them going over 50 yards. His longest punt of the day was 62 yards.

In the return game, nothing happened. Callaway totaled -4 yards on two punt returns and Lamical Perine took a kickoff return 29 yards to start the game.

Final Takeaway
This was a tough game to watch. I am not kidding you. It is hard to get up and watch Florida play Vandy in the sport of football, especially if it's not in The Swamp. The offense looked anemic and the defense gave up a few big runs, but at the end of the day it is a win.

After finishing 1-1 in the state of Tennessee, Florida returns back home to face an LSU team (3-2, 2-1 SEC) without Les Miles for the first time since 2004. Even with Leonard Fournette's playing status in question, I am still hesitant to pick the Gators due to the fact that the Tigers have beaten them in the last three years.

If Luke Del Rio is able to go this week, however, then I do like Florida's chances to win this football game.

Kickoff is at noon. This highly anticipated SEC matchup can be seen on ESPN and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Vandy, they head to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (2-3, 1-2 SEC) in a battle between mediocre SEC east foes. I'm picking the Commodores in this one. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and it can be seen on the SEC Network.

*All stats accredited to