Another week and another Gators win.
Despite more inconsistencies from the defensive unit, Florida put together another double-digit victory in taking down SEC East opponent South Carolina, 38 to 24.
Posting another four touchdowns to three different receivers on 72.4% of passing, Trask added to his early-season Heisman campaign against Will Muschamp’s unit.
In this game, ups and downs once again tainted the joy that a relatively wide margin of victory is supposed to bring for the Gators.
With much to still improve upon going into a battle in College Station next weekend, let’s dive into this week the good, the bad, and the ugly from Florida’s outing versus SCAR.
The Good: The Gators passing attack is the real deal
As previously stated, the Gators offense didn’t see the near 700-yard and 51 point performance that had them atop the talks of college football in week two the way they did in week one.
However, the unit still produced with high efficiency, scoring 38 points in three quarters before presumably taking their foot off the gas pedal a bit late with a comfortable lead.
With Kyle Trask continuing his dominance, going 21 for 29 for 268 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception, the passing game looked unstoppable for another week in a row.
Kyle Pitts sits on a pedestal when it comes to the Gators receiving threats. But, the supporting cast that has formed around him after losing four starters to the NFL is a great sign for the future and tribute to wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales.
Having veteran guys like Trevon Grimes and Jacob Copeland leading the locker room and young pieces like Justin Shorter, Xzavier Henderson, and Trent Whittemore or “White Chocolate” step in to fill the shoes of some significant pass catchers from last season has been beneficial for a more than sustainable passing affair in Gainesville.
However, the most impressive pass-catcher has come in the form of senior Kadarius Toney.
Despite being a dynamic playmaker from the moment he suited up in the orange and blue, Toney seemed to be a fish out of water at the wideout position.
Never fully transitioning from playing quarterback in high school, Toney struggled to grasp the route running aspect and suffered in the number of touches he got because of it.
After what is sure to have been rigorous offseason work for the talented speedster, Toney has drastically improved in that department.
Finally, adapting to his role in his final season with UF—while looking to gain positive yards on every play—the work he put in is paying tremendous dividends.
With six receptions for 86 yards in week two, Toney was the Gators leading receiver on the day and did the most with the balls that came his way.
Adding a touchdown to the aforementioned stat line, Toney was able to power his way through five—yes five—would-be tacklers for a 57-yard score.
For years, the talented athlete has brought lighting in a bottle with the ball in his hands, looks as if he has finally found all the necessary tools to put in his bag, and—as a result—Florida’s passing attack is as dangerous as they come.
The Bad: Run game continues to be stagnant
As a head coach, Dan Mullen has always emphasized that the run is crucial in opening up the pass.
In his highly documented smashmouth-spread offensive scheme, Mullen has, for years, been more inclined to run the football.
However, given the passing attack that Florida has been gifted with Kyle Trask at the helm, Mullen has recognized the necessity to change up from his usual style.
The benefit of this is that it has brought great success to the offensive unit, as seen by the 44.5 points per game mark at this point in the season.
Times will arise when Florida is required to run the ball efficiently, and in yesterday’s action, the run game was as stagnant as ever.
Only accumulating a total 80 yards on the ground despite being up double digits for most of the season half, Florida allowed for a late comeback attempt by the Collin Hill led Gamecocks before it was ultimately derailed by inadequate execution and piss-poor clock management by South Carolina.
Rushing the football a combined 24 times as a team, the Gators criminally underused Dameon Pierce—who averaged 5.7 yards on just nine carries—in a rather lopsided matchup, and paid for it in the end.
Proving that it’s not a lack of efficiency from the entire unit but rather a lack of rhythm experienced from a low volume of rushes, Florida’s offensive line and running backs struggled to gain footing throughout the game.
To compete with the Georgia’s, LSU’s, and Alabama’s of the college football world, the Gators must find success in the run game against the lesser of their opponents and build upon promising performances to ensure victories continue to be chalked down.
The Ugly: Defense struggles to get off the field
Despite an improvement from the 600-plus yard performance given up by UF in week one, the defense still struggled in some aspects of the game on Saturday.
Specifically, the Gators could not get the Gamecock offense off the field.
As a defense that has historically held themselves to the standard of finishers, one that closes out big drives with excellent play in the backend and heavy pass rush, the Gators defense struggled to get the Gamecocks off the field on third and fourth downs throughout the game.
In those downs, SCAR constantly exploited Florida’s coverage's weaknesses, finding holes underneath in the flats and over the middle to keep the drive alive when facing a punt or turnover on downs.
Controlling the football for nearly twice as long as the Gators did, having it for a total of 36:23 of game time, compared to 23:37 for Florida—the Gamecocks played to their strengths in executing a slow-tempo gameplan.
Despite Florida embracing a bend but don’t break play style, only allowing 329 yards and 24 points, they kept the Gamecocks in the ball game until the end by allowing 6 for 17 on third-down conversions and 5 for 6 on fourth down conversions.
For the second week in a row, the Gators defense looked very suspect at all three levels.
Inability to stop the run, inability to play over the middle or flats in coverage, and inability to give a highly-touted offense a change put points on the scoreboard, the Gators defense is looking like it could be a serious liability in their championship hopes down the line when that time comes.