First game jitters and a stunning three quarters began what will now be dubbed as John Brantley's Florida Gators.
It's a start that the redshirt junior probably finds hard to muster, but has to be happy with.
After all, Brantley grew up a Gator fan. He's sat the last three seasons on the sideline, awaiting his time to shine as the Gators gunslinger.
Saturday, he was finally given his chance.
It was everything one could hope for in major college football. A packed stadium welcomed the Miami of Ohio Redhawks to town, in what figured to be a game that was over by halftime. However, plagued by an offense that struggled most of the day, the Gators had a hard time finding their groove.
"I didn't imagine the offensive incompetence that we experienced today," said head coach Urban Meyer on his new-look Gators.
Incompetent might have been an understatement. The Gators, whp spent most of the previous two seasons in the top 15 in total offense, didn't quite look as powerful against a certainly inferior opponent. In fact, they had only 28 total yards of offense until the 12:31 mark in the fourth quarter.
Certainly uncharacteristic was the anemic performance of the offensive unit, which battled turnovers and bad snaps all game. Mike Pouncey, who had played right guard his entire Gator career, made the start at center today, and struggled through most of the game. When snaps weren't bobbled, they had to be picked up off the ground.
While Brantley didn't seem to struggle in his debut, the offense had its ups and downs. Generous field position, supplied by Miami (OH) turnovers, helped the Gators gain offensive momentum, and points, early.
Brantley finished the day with a solid performance. He completed a whopping 68 percent of his passes, going 17-25 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Five different receivers were involved in the aerial attack, with hybrid slot receiver Chris Rainey being the receiving leader.
With the highs, comes the lows.
It took Florida three quarters to obtain a comfortable rhythm. Although the unit was horrendous at times they showed flashes of success towards the end of the game. On the ground, Gator backs amassed 159 rushing yards. Among the rushers, Demps led the back with 98 yards, including a 72 yard score where he outran the entire Red Hawks defense.
The running backs, like most of the offense, didn't get things started until late.
A struggling offensive performance brought the John Brantley era into Gainesville, a performance that the offense would probably like to forget. There were close to 15 bad snaps, botched hand offs, a couple fumbles and several miscues.
Having said that, it was indeed a victory for Florida football. Accompanied with the jitters of opening weekend, the Gators didn't necessarily look like themselves, but with each new season a team can attain a new identity.
The identity this year? The offense revolves around not Tim Tebow, but John Brantley.
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