When we delivered our daughter to the University of Florida for graduate school, the university was trying to maintain sports prestige from their 1998 national championship. Team posters on the walls of The Swamp Restaurant (a couple of blocks from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium) looked a bit faded. The only UF sport that had won a recent championship was women’s soccer. The winds of fortune soon changed and our daughter was able to enjoy the excitement of two national championships in football and one in basketball before she received her PhD.
The winds changed direction again a couple of years ago. (Despite his difficulties in the NFL, Tim Tebow was huge part of UF football power in the late 2000s.) Today’s game against Tennessee shows just how far from championship form the Gators are. On score alone (31-17), it might look like Florida had a great game. But both teams played their second-string QBs and had major problems in other areas.
The Gators lost several players to injuries. QB Jeff Driscoll was injured right at the start. Back-up Tyler Murphy did an admirable job, although he was intercepted once. I thought his play was the highlight of the game. His passes were mostly accurate and he ran when necessary. His ability to quickly see when he needed to carry the ball reminded me of San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick when he played at the University of Nevada. (Kaepernick still has great feet, but does not run as often since becoming the 49ers’ starting QB.)
The Gator’s defense was much better at keeping Tennessee’s offense from scoring than the Vols’ defense was at stopping the Gators’ offense. The Tennessee offense was sad. Back-up QB Peterman did not acquit himself well in the first half and was replaced just before half-time. Tennessee had five interceptions in the game.
Florida has a rough road ahead, with games at LSU and Missouri next month, and the November 2 game against Georgia, which is always played in Jacksonville.