The Gators capped off their spring practices with a successful Orange and Blue Debut on Saturday in front of approximately 35,834 fans. The game ended in a 23-23 tie.
Fans received their first look at Kurt Roper’s new offense. Roper molds his scheme around his players, and looks to get them in space where they can use their athleticism to make plays.
The good news is that the offense looked a lot sharper than the defense for a change. But take into account, it’s a spring game, which means that everything is very vanilla and the rules are meant to favor the offense to a certain extent.
Still, there were a lot of positives to take away from this game and a lot of key players who rose to the occasion and left a positive impact heading into the fall.
The best thing I noticed was something the Gators have been lacking for several years.
Good wide receiver play.
Sophomore Demarcus Robinson has arrived.
OK, well, maybe it was against a base-vanilla defense, and it was one play, but Robinson’s 31-yard touchdown reception was a thing of beauty and should put a smile on every Gator fans face. Robinson not only took true freshman Jalen Tabor to school on a crossing route, but he also broke Jabari Gorman’s ankles in the open field to finish for the score.
Robinson finished the day with five receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. Not a huge day, but his presence was felt, and he did just enough to convince that he has star potential as early as this season.
Also look out for Latroy Pittman this year as a dark horse contributor as an offensive weapon.
Another takeaway from Saturday was how well the Offensive Line looked. And the anchor of that line will be senior Trenton Brown.
Brown played in all 12 games last year and started the final five at right tackle. This year, he’s expected to fill in at right guard which was a questionable decision by the coaching staff.
That no longer seems to be an issue if you were one doubting the switch.
Brown showed tremendous quickness in getting to the second level and was an absolute force in the running game. This is somebody who stands in at 6’8”, 361 pounds. So, he’s automatically going to be bigger than most defensive tackles on Saturday, and nobody is going to want to see him pulling and clearing space in the running game.
Brown’s quickness was in question due to his massive frame, however, this should no longer be an issue with what he showed during the spring game. Brown will be a vital piece to the offense this season.
Also, Florida’s kicking game might be solidified. FINALLY.
The Gators missed 10 field goals last season and entered spring with this position being an open competition.
Sophomore Austin Hardin may have put the competition to bed in the spring game by making all four of his field-goal attempts. These kicks weren’t chip shots either. Hardin made field goals from 45, 42, 35, and 24 yards. Yes, Hardin did miss an extra point early in the game, but that had more to do with the horrible snap.
Hardin struggled with consistency last season, so it’ll take more than one great game to convince anybody he’s the future at place kicker. However, this was a solid start to putting those kicking concerns to rest.
Another positive: Florida’s offense is in great hands with the running backs. There are 3 running backs in the Gators backfield that could start for many other teams around the country. Mack Brown looked lightning quick and led the trio with 73 yards and a TD. Kelvin Taylor showed why he was the #1 running back in the nation out of high school and up-and-coming sophomore Adam Lane looks like he is ready to emerge.