Mitchell: Gators 2 Steps Forward, 1 Back
Florida's Pass O still needs work
Florida's Pass O still needs work
Posted Aug 31, 2013

After Saturday, there's still no other way to slice it - things remain a little tight down in the Swamp

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb
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Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel was efficient on Saturday afternoon against the Toledo Rockets…efficient, but unimpressive. Which is about the best praise we can offer the junior and his offense.

Which hardly bodes well given next week's much tougher road game against The U.

Even if tailback Matt Jones returns from his injury next week, he might not be as much of a catalyst for this offense as many have hoped, given Mack Brown had a career afternoon behind a solid run block, and the offense still fluttered like a wounded pigeon.

It's good enough to beat Toledo...not good enough to beat Miami, LSU, Georgia, Carolina, FSU - ALL away from the Swamp.

Outside of an uber-efficient opening 11 play, 84 yard touchdown drive – which looked scripted and likely rehearsed ad nauseam this fall camp – the Gators offense actually seemed to get tighter as the game progressed. Florida's first three possessions after the half were all three-and-outs, including a second fumble by Driskel.

There were moments when the Gators' patchwork offensive line shined - particularly opening running lanes. However, it seemed ragged at times against a much lighter Toledo defensive line. In pass blocking, tackles D.J. Humphries and Tyler Moore let more men through than Lindsay Lohan.

The saving grace of the game – and likely the season – was the Florida defense. The line was simply unblockable for most of the game, and the front seven reeked of all-things-Muschamp. If Florida is to be successful in 2013, it will be because of this defense.

Speed and size absolutely dominated an over-matched Toledo offensive line, but it was more than that. The rest of the defense was on par with the line, holding the Rockets without a third down conversation until seconds before the fourth quarter.

However, on offense, Florida didn't throw down field much, and remained markedly one dimensional. Perhaps some of the vanilla play from the second half can be attributed to that next game against the Hurricanes. And remember, there were six Gators suspended against Toledo.

But that didn't impact the poor route running on Saturday. The dearth of deep throws. The dropped passes…

Against Florida's better opponents – almost all of which are on the road – Florida will have to find a more dynamic offense. Its offensive line will not be able to dominate at the point of attack as it did against Toledo. It pass blocking will face bigger, faster, more athletic players.

If the Gators can't establish a down field threat, opposing defensive backs will sit on passing routes. There won't be close to the open receivers that Driskel saw on Saturday – most of those on short passing routes.

While we're at it - we understand the need to make opposing defensive coordinators respect Driskel's feet. But can we please be a little more judicious on how many quarterback running plays are called? After Driskel, it's a long fall to second string.

After Saturday, there's still no other way to slice it - things remain a little tight down in the Swamp.

Russ Mitchell is the Lead SEC Columnist for CFN and Campus Insiders. Follow him @russmitchellcfb

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