2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - UAB at Florida
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Sept. 10 at Florida 39 ... UAB 0
CFN Analysis: COMING
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Chris Rainey stepped to the microphone and said, "Testing, one, two."
It was on, just like Rainey.
A week after becoming the first player in school history to score touchdowns rushing, receiving and on a return, Rainey was even better in Florida's 39-0 victory against UAB on Saturday night. He ran 16 times for 119 yards and a touchdown, caught three passes for 43 yards and added to his growing resume.
"Just doing my job, just trying to score touchdowns for the team," Rainey said.
Spins, jukes, ankle-breaking cuts, Rainey did it all for the Gators (2-0). His best move came on his final run. He turned at full speed and dived across the end zone backward, capping a 19-yard run in style and ending his night with a touchdown.
A fifth-year senior trying to overhaul his image after last year's five-game suspension, Rainey gouged the Blazers (0-1) for chunks of yardage nearly every time he touched the ball.
"He is extremely electric with the ball in his hands and a lot of fun to watch," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "You watch him compete at practice. He blocks hard, he does everything that you want a good football player to do to contribute to your football team. He brings a certain energy to the football team.
"He's done everything we've asked off the field. He's competitive, he's tough and God blessed him with an awful lot of ability."
Florida leaned on Rainey more than usual, too.
Jeff Demps, the other half of Florida's dynamic rushing duo, sustained an injury in the first quarter. Florida officials refused to disclose the nature of the injury. He went to the locker room and did not return.
The Gators dominated both sides of the lines of scrimmage for the second consecutive week and finished their early tuneups by outgaining their opponents 979 yards to 349. It was the team's first shutout since 2006.
Next up: Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee. The Volunteers should provide more of a test for a team with plenty of unanswered questions on both sides of the ball. This much is certain: Rainey is clearly the team's top playmaker.
"The guy is very explosive," UAB linebacker Marvin Burdette said. "He takes his running and his angles to perfection. ... For a guy with his speed, you have to surround him with several guys so if you miss him someone else is right there to get him."
With Rainey leading the way, the Gators accomplished everything they wanted in the second game. They opened up the playbook so much that they even used Rainey and versatile tight end Trey Burton in the wildcat, got quarterback John Brantley a little more comfortable in Charlie Weis' prostyle offense and eliminated the turnovers that bothered Muschamp in the opener.
The only problem was red-zone efficiency.
Weis said last week that settling for field goals in the red zone is a victory for the defense. If so, the Blazers won three possessions.
Caleb Sturgis hit from 24, 35 and 28 yards in the first half. He improved to 5 for 5 on the season, but all five could have been touchdowns. The Gators struggled inside the 20-yard line in 2010 and wanted to improve in that area this season.
So far, no good.
Still, Florida's offense has had little trouble moving the ball. The Gators racked up 468 yards last week. They finished with 511 against the Blazers, and that's with backups playing the final 18 minutes.
Brantley completed 12 of 19 passes for 195 yards. His performance was a mix of good and bad. He underthrew a flea-flicker on the opening play of the game and misfired on a few passes. Rainey and Deonte Thompson also dropped passes. But Brantley also had a perfectly thrown ball to Andre Debose over the middle that set up Burton's 5-yard touchdown that made it 25-0 late in the first half.
Burton ran six times for 46 yards. Mike Gillislee replaced Burton in the second half and finished with 79 yards and a touchdown. Highly touted freshman Mack Brown added 36 yards rushing.
Few people were around to witness Brown's debut. After Florida ended its streak of 137 consecutive sellouts last week against Florida Atlantic, the Gators started a new streak against UAB. They had back-to-back games with plenty of empty seats, and even more by the time this one got out of hand.
UAB had few highlights. The team that managed 500 yards in five games last season, including at Tennessee, finished with 212 yards. Bryan Ellis completed 15 of 28 passes for 141 yards. Dontavius Jackson ran five times for 31 yards.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed in the outcome for us," UAB coach Neil Callaway said.
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UAB (0-0) at Florida (1-0) Sept. 10, 7:00, FSN
Here’s The Deal … Welcome back to action, UAB. Now, go out and try to shake the rust off in Gainesville. The Blazers were one of only a few FBS programs not in action last weekend, making this trip to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium their lid-lifter. While the school has played Florida just once in school history, Neil Callaway knows the opponent rather well from his days as an assistant coach at Georgia. This is a critical year for the fifth-year coach who needs to produce better results with a veteran squad.
The Gators had an easy time in the debut of head coach Will Muschamp, besting Florida Atlantic, 41-3. The opponent aside, it was a key game for the new staff, which got a first chance to see its kids in live action. With the start of the SEC part of the schedule just a week away, Florida wants to use Week 2 to fine-tune its two-deep and begin cutting down on its number of mistakes.
Why UAB Might Win: The Blazers will feature an experienced lineup that won’t become unglued by the crowd in the Swamp. The offense has potential and the D returns just about every starter. It’s worth noting that this is virtually the same collection of kids that nearly shocked Tennessee and Mississippi State in 2010. The attack is diverse and a potential problem for the Florida secondary. If a hernia injury doesn’t shelve RB Pat Shed, he and QB Bryan Ellis give UAB one of Conference USA’s premier backfields. Even if Shed is a scratch, Ellis will get plenty of help from receivers Patrick Hearn and Nick Adams, and a grizzled, Matt McCants-led offense.
Why Florida Might Win: Experienced as it may be, the UAB defense will labor to contain the speed and athleticism of the Gators offense, especially since star DT Elliott Henigan is out with an injury. QB John Brantley was serviceable in his first game under the tutelage of coordinator Charlie Weis, but backfield burners Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey were revelations. Demps ran for 105 yards and two scores on a dozen carries. Rainey rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown, adding six catches for 67 yards and another touchdown. Florida didn’t take a lot of chances downfield, but with Demps and Rainey making things happen in space, the coaches might prefer to take a low-risk approach to moving the chains.
What To Watch Out For: Facing the veteran UAB receivers will be a good prep for the Florida secondary before Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers visit next week. The Gators played well in pass defense a week ago, but Ellis presents a different kind of challenge. Among the four underclassmen to start last week’s opener, two, CB Marcus Roberson and S De’Ante Saunders are true freshman. This group will need to cut its teeth now in order to have a chance of holding up when SEC play starts.
What Will Happen: Florida didn’t have to break a sweat in Week 1, and now a middling Conference USA team is visiting. Yup, there’s a threat that the young kids might be looking ahead to Tennessee. While the margin of victory could be impacted, the outcome will not. The Gators will take a few body blows on defense, compensating with a couple of long bursts for six from Demps and Rainey. The staff will look to expand Brantley’s role, giving him a few more shots down the seam to see how he handles a wider workspace.
CFN Prediction: Florida 37 … UAB 13
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