Since Florida has started two quarterbacks this season, this is an overall grade for the position. Luke Del Rio has been slightly above average in his four starts. He played poorly in his return from injury last Saturday and also wasn’t sharp against North Texas, but his Kentucky performance was the best by a Gators QB in an SEC game since 2001. So it’s been a mixed bag with Del Rio thus far. The bye week gives him time to get healthy and prepare for Georgia, which will be a key game for him. Austin Appleby had a monster first half against Tennessee, but did not play well in the ensuing six quarters as the offense regressed with him under center. For what it’s worth, Florida coach Jim McElwain is 10-0 in games with his starting quarterback and 5-5 without his signal caller.
Running back: A
McElwain was spot on when he called this position the strength of his offense in the preseason. After showing a few flashes in 2015, Jordan Scarlett is off to a strong start as a sophomore and has emerged as the best player in Florida’s committee of running backs. He leads the Gators in rushing (375 yards) and touchdowns (5). True freshman Lamical Perine is second on the team with 300 yards, the bulk of which came in his two 100-yard games this season. It’s taken Mark Thompson some time to adjust to the SEC, but the junior college transfer is progressing and ran hard against Missouri. Jordan Cronkrite missed the last game with an injury, but he has just under 200 yards of total offense (112 rushing, 82 receiving) and is the most versatile back of the four.
Wide receiver: B-
With 399 yards in five games, star sophomore Antonio Callaway has picked up where he left off after his record-setting freshman season. His route running can still improve and he’s dropped some balls, but it’s important to remember this is his third year playing wide receiver. Brandon Powell hasn’t done much since the first two games, but some of that had to do with Appleby and his tendency not to target the middle of the field. Still, the Gators are missing Dre Massey and what he was expected to bring to the slot. Ahmad Fulwood and C.J. Worton have been disappointing, though Worton dealt with a couple injuries. But three freshmen receivers, particularly Tyrie Cleveland, have stepped up and provided Florida with some new playmakers at the position.
Tight end: B
DeAndre Goolsby has successfully taken over for Jake McGee and is now one of Florida’s best offensive weapons. He leads the Gators in receptions (25) and ranks second in receiving yards (215). Goolsby came up with a big 32-yard catch against Missouri and should make more vertical plays down the field now that Del Rio is back. The two tight-end set hasn’t produced much through the air with C’yontai Lewis, who has just 7 catches for 70 yards. Drops have been an issue for him, but he’s easily the best blocker at the position and has helped Florida get its ground game going. The other tight ends, Camrin Knight and Moral Stephens, haven’t received much playing time behind Goolsby and Lewis.
Offensive line: D
This unit is once again struggling for the Gators. They hoped the starting experience gained last season by three true freshman would lead to improvement this year, but it hasn’t happened. Despite being healthy, Martez Ivey is having trouble at left guard and regularly whiffs on blocks. Left tackle David Sharpe had awful games at Tennessee and Vanderbilt, though he fared better against Missouri defensive end Charles Harris. Center Cam Dillard and right guard Tyler Jordan have both played solid, though Jordan missed two games because of an eye procedure. True freshman Jawaan Taylor has been a bright spot as the starting right tackle and at times looks like Florida’s best offensive lineman.
The offense is still a work in progress and took a step back when Del Rio went out with a sprained left knee. But overall, the Gators are more productive offensively. They rank 53rd nationally and No. 7 in the SEC in total offense, which is much better than in years past. The Gators have gained more than 500 yards of offense in only five of their last 62 conference games, but it’s happened twice this season.