After a month of installation, Florida’s new-look spread offense was finally on display Saturday in front of the Florida faithful at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and it did not disappoint.
The two offenses combined for over 600 yards on 111 plays in a game that ended in a 23-23 tie.
Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 19 of 33 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown while playing the entire game for the Blue Team. His touchdown came off of a beautiful play by wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. The sophomore, running about a five-yard crossing route, took it 31 yards for the score. (at the 1:47 mark via GatorVision)
Freshman Will Grier and sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg split reps for the Orange team. Grier overcame a rocky start, in which he threw the game’s only interception, to finish 8-for-15 for 72 yards. Mornhinweg, who started the final three games of last season, completed 14-of-18 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
It was not just the passing attack that stood out. Sophomore running back Kelvin Taylor finished the game with four carries for 29 yards and a touchdown. Taylor looked stronger, faster and quicker than last season and appears poised for a breakout year.
Redshirt senior Mack Brown, looking surprisingly spry, finished with eight carries for 55 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. Redshirt freshman running back Adam Lane, playing for both sides, finished with 12 carries for 64 yards.
The offense did catch a slight break. The Orange team was without defensive standouts Vernon Hargreaves III and Dante Fowler Jr., who were each held out of the game. This undoubtedly made things easier for the offense, but early indications are that offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s system is legit.
While the offense looked vastly improved, perhaps the most shocking revelation was the exceptional game from kicker Austin Hardin. The redshirt sophomore connected on all four of his field goal attempts. He made good on both of his attempts from 40-49 yards out, after going 0-for-5 from that range last season. His one sour spot was that he did hit the upright on a failed extra-point attempt.
In the end, it is important to remember it was just a spring game and that not too much stock should be placed in what is basically a “glorified practice.” However, it was another solid step in the right direction for the Gators.
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