The Florida Gators (1-0) defeated the UMASS Minutemen 24-7 to open their season. Before the game, former Heisman trophy winner and head coach, Steve Spurrier, was celebrated as he returns to Gainesville as the Ambassador and Consultant for Univ of Florida Athletics. The Gators revealed the new name for the stadium as it is now called Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Gators struggled offensive early but, was able to figure it out in the fourth quarter. Gator defense was dominant but had a lot of penalties that did not make their jobs any easier. Luke del Rio performs well in his college debut, Eddy Pineiro goes 3-3 on field goals from 40+ yards, and Jabari Zuniga has breakout game in his college debut. UMASS held their own and showed their toughness vs. the Gators. Sophomore running back Marquis Young has solid game and shows some flashes of brilliance. UMASS defensive line gives Gators’ offensive line issues.
Luke Del Rio made his college debut at the Swamp with his dad, former Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, in the stands. Luke Del Rio had himself a nice ball game going 29-44 for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He showed that he knows the playbook very well and is very smart with ball.
Jordan Scarlett got most of the carries for the Gators as he got 13 carries for 70 yards. Mark Thompson had 6 carries for 22 yards and Jordan Cronkrite had 3 carries for 5 yards. Antonio Callaway and Brandon Powell has nice ball games for the Gators. Antonio Callaway had 8 receptions for 72 yards and a TD. Brandon Powell had 7 receptions for 73 yards and a TD. The offensive line had their struggles but, they started to figure it out at the end when the Gators used the hurry-up offense. LT David Sharper and LG Martez Ivey had good games and showed they were the most talented offensive lineman on the team.
UMASS had a tough challenge versus a very fast and physical Florida Gators defense. Quarterback Ross Comis did a nice job completing 9 of 17 passes for 141 yards and a rushing TD. Comics scored the UMASS’ only touchdown in the game. Sophomore running back, Marquis Young, had a solid game with 19 carries for 59 yards. Marquis Young showed off his speed and vision in the game but, the Gators’ defense was too much for him to create big plays. The top receiver for the Minutemen was Andy Isabella who had 3 catches for 95 yards.
The Gators’ defense was missing their best player in Jalen “Teez” Tabor due to a one game suspension but, still showed how talented they are. The defense was not able to create any turnovers but, still had four sacks in the game. The one fumble they forced was recovered by UMASS.
Redshirt-freshman Jabari Zuniga played in his first college game and had a great debut. Zuniga had four tackles and 2 sacks in his debut. Bryan Cox Jr. and Alex Anzalone had sacks of their own. Senior linebacker Jarrad Davis shared a sack in the first half with sophomore defensive end Keivonnis Davis. For the most part, the Gators defensive backs played well, even though they were missing cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor. Junior CB Duke Dawson had himself a nice ball and forced a fumble, but got hurt on the play. Chauncey Gardner came in the ballgame after Dawson’s injury and produced with three tackles and breaking up a pass.
The UMASS defense definitely played better than expected. The defensive line gave the Gators right side of the offensive line some trouble. The UMASS DL did a good job, putting pressure on Gators’ QB, Luke Del Rio. Even though they only got one sack on Del Rio, they constantly hurried Luke Del Rio and made him throw the ball away. The linebackers were able to time the Gators’ snap count and apply more pressure on Del Rio. The defensive backs did an adequate job and kept the game close. They did struggle with open field tackles which allowed a Brandon Powell TD.
The Florida faithful finally have a kicker to cheer about. Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro made his college debut. Gators fan have had a close eye on their new kicker Eddy Pineiro because of their kicking struggles last season. You probably won’t see another kicker as hyped up as Eddy Pineiro especially that Eddy has never played a college football game before. Eddy Pineiro did not disappoint the Florida faithful by going 3-3 on field goals as all of them were 40+ yard FGs. As he made the field goals, he showed a lot of emotion and excitement that you usually do not see from a kicker. Florida fans should have something special to look forward to in Eddy Pineiro.
This week at practice, the Gators will work on correcting some of their mistakes from Saturday night. Next on the schedule, the Gators take on the Kentucky Wildcats at the Swamp. Kentucky is coming off a bad loss to Southern Miss where they allowed thirty-one unanswered points. This will be the Gators and Wildcats first SEC games on the 2016 season. Go Gators!