Florida programs produced mixed results during week one. It’s time to take a look at each of them. The key here would be the storylines as much as the final scores. Who stepped up and which teams did not meet expectations?
Remember, it was the first weekend of college football. There’s a long way to go until the end of the college football season, and some teams simply need more work after their first game.
UCF 36 Boise State 31
The Knights made critical errors during the first quarter, falling behind 21 to nothing. Running the football proved to be effective, as Isaiah Bowser ran for 172 yards and a score. Defensively, the front seven did its job for much of the game, but there were still concerns on the defensive side of the football.
Shoddy tackling hindered the Knights, and that must be immediately cleaned up. The secondary gave up too many important third down conversions as well as failed to even slow down Boise State’s top player, Khalil Shakir, when the Broncos really wanted to pass him the football.
What to look for moving forward: UCF needs to figure out its cornerback situation. The same issues from last season came into play once again. Until there’s more consistent cornerback play, UCF will be an up and down defense. Look for more cornerbacks to get a chance to play when Bethune-Cookman comes to the Bounce House this upcoming Saturday.
Florida 35 Florida Atlantic 14
The first true test for quarterback Emory Jones disappointed. He averaged a meager 4.2 yards per passing attempt. That’s horrific, quite frankly. Within Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen’s offensive scheme, he prefers a dual-threat signal caller, which is what Jones provides.
He still needs to be a capable passer, however. Obviously there’s work to be done with Jones’ passing. He did account for 74 rushing yards from 10 carries. On defense, the Gators overwhelmed the Owls.
Six sacks including three from senior Zachary Carter disrupted Florida Atlantic’s offensive rhythm. That type of pressure can help the Gators to be a top 10 team if quarterback play improves, as well as the run defense doing better. The Florida defense did allow the two primary Florida Atlantic running backs -- Malcolm Davidson and Johnny Ford -- to rush for 104 yards from 19 carries, a 5.5 yards per carry average. That could be an issue in the near future, as Alabama travels to Gainesville in two weeks.
What to look for moving forward: There may not be a quarterback controversy just yet, but 4.2 yards per attempt is just bad football. When does Coach Mullen at least rotate one of the younger quarterbacks into the lineup? If the Gators passing game continues to struggle, Alabama will annihilate Florida on its home field.
Notre Dame 41 Florida State 38 (OT)
This was a wild game that Florida State almost came back and won. A good running game and some timely passing allowed the Seminoles to rally from a 38-20 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The problem is how the Seminoles fell behind. Starting quarterback Jordan Travis was only nine of 19 for 130 yards (60 on one play) and a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions.
McKenzie Melton took over for Travis late in the game and performed admirably. Will he be next week’s starting quarterback? This will be a tough decision for Florida State Head Coach Mike Norvell.
The rushing attack played well enough to help offset the poor passing, but the negative yardage plays allowed, penalties, and Notre Dame recording five sacks halted drives. On defense, there’s just not enough talent at linebacker and safety to live up to Florida State’s tradition-rich defensive history just yet, but there’s improved overall talent as Notre Dame only rushed for 73 yards from 25 attempts, for a 2.9 yards per attempt average. There's also one true baller: Jermaine Johnson II.
The senior defensive end transferred to Florida State from Georgia and made a great first impression with 1.5 sacks and seven total tackles. He was in the Irish backfield for much of the game. It’s just that Notre Dame gashed Florida State with huge passing plays, as quarterback Jack Coan threw for 366 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception against a sometimes discombobulated Seminoles back seven of their defense.
What to look for moving forward: Florida State needs to figure out quarterback, and it also needs to find a way to stop having busted coverage. This is an improved Florida State team from last season’s 3-6 disaster, but there’s work to be done.
Alabama 44 Miami 13
This was a humiliating defeat for Miami. They were never competitive. Worse, the same problems from last year still exist -- poor offensive line play and terrible tackling -- to wonder what’s going on in Coral Gables, Fla.
Even with the talents of D’Eriq King, Miami just does not look like a cohesive group. The lack of continuity, on both sides of the football, helps to describe why Alabama was playing reserves for much of the second half.
The Hurricanes need to be the aggressor, not be passive when tackling. The Miami offense needs to be efficient with its execution, not look scatterbrained. The big-picture issues need to be addressed before even beginning to discuss individual player performances. Let’s see how Miami plays against week two opponent Michigan State, a team that looked good during week one by defeating Northwestern 38 to 21.
What to look for moving forward: Too many problems to list half of them let alone all of them. To begin, however, it’s the offensive line. It was dreadful against Alabama. That area must be promptly attended to. The Hurricanes defense must want to attack at all levels. There were some bring spots along the defensive line, at times, but that needs to be the case at all three levels of the Miami defense, not just the defensive line.