It feels good to win again, doesn’t it?
That was the ultimate goal of playing Eastern Michigan, as it was to play Idaho, Charleston Southern, the Citadel, Appalachian State, and yes, Georgia Southern. The purpose wasn’t really to make any conclusions about the 2014 Gators. And while I realize many of Florida’s not a national championship team because of one game, you can’t make assumptions of any kind based off a 65-0 nuking of a team UF paid $850K to come and take their beating.
The purpose of this post is to serve as a quick warning to Gator fans: we’re on the right track, but we haven’t really proven anything- good or bad- yet.
How can you make anything of an offense that scored 65 (OK, 58 plus a pick six) on a defense that was the sixth worst in the FBS last year? How can you assess the Gators’ line blocking well for Jeff Driskel against a team that was in the bottom 10% nationally last year in sacks? What is there to learn from Andre Debose breaking thousands of tackles and nearly scoring on a punt return against a highly undisciplined special teams unit that broke their lanes within seconds of the ball leaving the punter’s foot?
The defense, as always, was ferocious. The front seven set up camp in the EMU backfield, forcing several mistakes from the Eagles’ various QB’s. Past experience tells me that Will Muschamp’s defenses are always going to to be great. But shutting out an anemic Eastern Kentucky team that finished dead last in the MAC last year in total offense isn’t a point I would be so quick to bring up in a debate about the Gators’ defense.
So it’s really impossible to tell where this team is right now. They looked good, and it felt good to explode on the scoreboard, but lose back to back games against Alabama and Tennessee and suddenly, the 65-0 score is erased from our memories. This team will not be defined by its season opening performance (duh), which is why we as fans shouldn’t put too much stock into it and celebrate it more than we do any other win over a team we pay big money to come take a beating. Let’s wait until we win more games.
Having said that, we’re probably not going to learn too much about our team from the Kentucky game, either. As I’ve said before, Kentucky is a football team’s drug. The Cats have scored a grand total of 29 points in their last five visits to the Swamp (to the Gators’ 195 in those same five games). That’s not to say Florida isn’t going to have a better season, but beating a toothless Wildcat team for the 28th straight time isn’t proving anything, either.
So we won a game, which is great. Several new Gators, such as Duke Dawson, Treon Harris and Brandon Powell, got their feet wet in the Swamp, which is really great. But we have no real data to judge this team by. Not yet.