Gators Head into Week 2 as a New Team

This year’s Gators look like a different team.

New attitude.

New plays.

New swagger.

After an impressive offensive display by both players, the 18th ranked Gators take on UAB in Gainesville on Saturday night on Charter Cable.

Florida won its first four games last season but finished 8-5 as Brantley struggled to follow in Tim Tebow’s footsteps and Rainey ran into trouble off the field.

Rainey was a significant contributor for the Gators in ’08 and ’09, combining for 1,227 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. However, Rainey was suspended for five games last year after being arrested for aggravated stalking and was limited to just 366 yards and two touchdowns in 8 games.

Rainey looks as though he’s put the drama behind him. In Saturday’s 41-3 victory over Florida Atlantic, he became the third player in the nation since 1996 to have a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and a return for a touchdown in the same game.

“I thank God all the time that I’m still here,” said Rainey, who returned a blocked punt for 21 yards. “I stayed here one more year, and that’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s a pro offense, I’m made for it.”

Rainey, who touched the ball 18 times in all, is referring to coach Will Muschamp bringing in former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to lead the offense, which ranked eighth in the SEC last year with 29.8 points per game.

Although the Gators weren’t facing elite competition, the Gators finished with 468 yards of offense, scoring on their first four drives. FAU’s lone score came after an interception by true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel, who entered late in the first half.

Coach Muschamp told the media after Saturday’s game, “I think we need to be realistic here, we’ll face better opponents throughout the season……We didn’t face as much adversity as we had hoped for, but I’m very pleased with the effort and energy of our players.”

Brantley looks like he’ll benefit from playing under Weis’ system. Florida ranked 88th in the FBS with 184.3 passing yards per game in 2010, with Brantley throwing nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

His performance was more promising last Saturday. Although he had two interceptions, Brantley went 21 of 30 for 229 yards and a touchdown. Last season he passed for more than 200 yards only four games.

Rainey said after the game, “Looked like the old John Brantley you saw in high school, being the leader, taking over, he’s got all his confidence back.”

Brantley’s confidence should be high Saturday with fullback Trey Burton and receivers Deonte Thompson and Omarius Hines expected to play after suffering injuries last week.

The Gators likely won’t face much more adversity against UAB, which opens its season after going 4-8 last year.

Tropical Storm Lee forced the Blazers to move the location of their practices earlier this week, but they are eager to face the Gators, even knowing they will be heavy underdogs.

UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis is back after starting the final nine games of 2010. He finished with 2,940 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Pat Shed also returns for the Blazers after rushing for a team high 847 yards and three touchdowns last season. He also had 471 yards receiving and four TD’s.

UAB scored 31 or more points five times last season and played close games against Tennessee and Mississippi State, losing by a combined eight points.

The two teams’ only previous meeting was a Florida 51-3 victory in 2002 in the Swamp.

7 thoughts on “Gators Head into Week 2 as a New Team

  1. Nicely paraphrased. Don’t you have anything to offer that isn’t directly from ESPN articles?

  2. Great read Joe!
    Even though UF played a weak opponent in FAU they looked much more improved from last year. This season opener went over a lot more smoothly than last years cluster fuck against Miami of Ohio.
    Now bring on the Blazers!

  3. I think Cluster Fuck might be one the greatest two word combo’s. A very close second behind kattiwampus.

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