Florida defeated No. 3 Ole Miss 38-10 Saturday moving its record to 5-0. Did anyone out there think the Gators would be undefeated five games into the season? I don’t think many people did. But, Florida is for real. It’s time to take the Gators seriously once again. Following are the grades the Gators deserve based on a dominating performance over the third-ranked team in the country.
Will Grier has played in five games, and I think it’s safe to say that he’s the best Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow. Now that’s not saying much. His predecessors are Treon Harris, Jeff Driskel and John Brantley, but Grier has proven that he is more than capable to lead a Florida offense that headed into the season with so many question marks — most notably on the offensive line. With an inexperienced line, and going up against a really good Ole Miss defensive front, Grier finished 24-of-29 with 271 yards and four touchdown passes.
In addition to Grier’s performance, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson finished with eight receptions, 98 yards and one touchdown. He looked like a true No. 1 receiver, though he needs to work on running North-South instead of East-West at points.
Heading into Saturday’s game against Florida, Ole Miss led the SEC in scoring offense — averaging 55 points per game. Florida’s defense held Ole Miss to 10 points. The Rebels scored their only touchdown late in the fourth quarter when the game was just about wrapped up.
The key to the Gators defense Saturday was them being in the backfield all night. Florida combined for an incredible 11 tackles for losses and sacked Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly four times. Florida also forced four turnovers.
The MVP of the night on defense was linebacker Antonio Morrison. First of all, what a story for him being able to bounce back from a devastating knee injury in last season’s bowl game that required two knee surgeries. On Saturday, Morrison had 13 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 0.5 sack.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Gators punter Johnny Townsend’s first punt of the game was a beauty. He boomed it 57 yards and flipped the field. Ole Miss started its first drive on its own 15-yard line. The Gators defense then held them to -4 yards. Florida started the following drive on its own 39-yard line and eventually scored its first touchdown on the same drive. That punt really started the momentum the Gators carried throughout the entire game.
Florida also had four touchbacks in the game.
Heading into the game, Ole Miss was almost perfectly balanced on offense. The Gators defense completely eliminated any semblance of balance that the Rebels had. The coaching staff made sure that if Ole Miss was going to win, Chad Kelly would need to test Florida’s elite secondary. Florida held Ole Miss to only 69 rushing yards and Kelly was the team’s leading rusher. Not good.
Florida still has road games against Missouri, LSU and a neutral-site game against Georgia remaining this month. It’s going to be tough for the rest of the month, but if Florida’s defense continues to just be lights out and Will Grier continues to be really good, come November, will be talking about a SEC Championship game in December — and dare I say it — a potential shot at the College Football Playoffs? That remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, Florida is good and Florida is finally back.