The Florida Gators got their first home win of the season as they defeated the UT Martin Skyhawks 45-0. The Gators improved their record to 2-0 as they start SEC play this Saturday. There was a lot to like about in Florida’s 45-0 shutout win against UT Martin. While the offense put up a lot of points, there are still some things they need to clean up. The defense had a terrific game and cleaned some of the mistakes they made against Miami in Week 0. Here are five observations for Florida in their Week 2 win versus the UT Martin Skyhawks.
Run blocking still isn’t where it needs to be
Going into the UT Martin, Florida fans were hoping to their offensive line do a better job in run blocking. While Florida did have 231 rushing yards in the game, the offensive line had their struggles run blocking. Dan Mullen’s gameplan in the first quarter was to establish a ground game but their offensive line wasn’t able to get any push for create gaps for the ball carrier. The offensive line did improve as the game went along but there’s no reason why Florida’s O-line is struggling with UT Martin’s defensive line. Florida has much bigger and better lineman than UT Martin and should have opened up multiple running lanes. Florida will need to run the ball against Kentucky in order to open up the playbook. The offensive line has had more success with big-on-big blocking instead of zone blocking.
Freshmen cornerbacks came to play
In the 2019 recruiting class, Florida signed four cornerbacks but only three of them are currently on the roster. With Chris Steele transferring to USC, it left a lot of people wondering who would play behind C.J. Henderson and Marco Wilson. Florida played all three of their freshmen cornerbacks in the UT Martin game and all of them play well. Kaiir Elam got his first career interception on a well-played 50-50 ball. Chester Kimbrough tackled very well and showed very good mechanics. Jaydon Hill was great in coverage and even broke up a pass. It’s a good thing Florida’s young corners play well because C.J. Henderson will likely miss the Kentucky game with an ankle injury. Elam should get a lot of playing time but don’t be surprised if Hill and Kimbrough get in the game.
Tight ends were nowhere to be found
All offseason there was a lot of hype built around the tight end position with Kyle Pitts and Lucas Krull. In the Miami game, Pitts played a big role and almost got in the endzone. In the UT Martin game, the tight ends were nowhere to be found. The total stats from the tight end position in the UT Martin was two catches for three yards. Those two catches and three yards were all on Kyle Pitts and in the first drive of the game. After that, the tight ends weren’t targeted are still having issues blocking. Dan Mullen’s offenses usually features their tight ends in the passing game. Pitts and the rest of Florida’s TEs need to step up and play a larger role in the offense.
Shawn Davis needs more playing time
With Jeawon Taylor out for the game with a minor injury, it was Shawn Davis’s time to make an impression on the coaching staff. Davis did exactly that as he led the Gators in tackles with six and a tackle for loss. The safety out of Miami, Florida made the most of his opportunity and got a lot of people talking. The safety position has been Florida’s biggest weakness on defense. With Brad Stewart suspended, Florida hasn’t had the type of production from the safety position as they would have liked. One of the biggest issues at safety is tackling which is Shawn Davis’s biggest strength. Even if Stewart is back from his suspension, Davis needs to either start or get more playing time in the Kentucky game.
Feleipe Franks looked poised and comfortable
Feleipe Franks received a lot of unwarranted criticism from his game against Miami. While he did make some mistakes, a lot of people attacked him about his character and called him trash. Against the UT Martin Skyhawks, Franks needed to have big game versus an inferior opponent which is what he did. Franks completed 25 out of 27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Franks also had 37 rushing yards on six carries. The redshirt-junior quarterback actually broke the Florida record for highest completion percentage in a game (92.6%). Franks did a great job of going through his progression and not trying to force anything. He took what the defense gave him and kept the chains moving. It was great to see Franks have a game like that as he’ll have more confidence heading into conference play.