3 Things Learned During Low-Scoring Gators Spring Game

Florida Spring Game got off to a shaky start Thursday night and didn’t improve much offensively.

The Gators were unable to score during the first quarter of an Orange and Blue game for the first time since 2012. The Orange team’s 10-7 victory was the lowest-scoring spring game since the school began keeping records in 1996 .

The previous low was 13-10 in 2011, challenging Will Muschamp’s first season in Gainesville offensively.

An encouraging effort on defense and a vanilla offensive game plan played a big part on Thursday.

Quarterback Jack Miller III he said the Gators essentially executed, “Day 1 Setup.”

Whatever the case, the offensive change didn’t inspire confidence as coach Billy Napier finished his second spring here and pressured to overcome a 6-7 2022 season.

A reported crowd of 42,000 including 2022 quarterback anthony richardsonSuper Bowl winner Carlos Dunlap and Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, dwindled as the night wore on.

Here are 3 things learned:

1. Graham Mertz didn’t make anyone forget Richardson

Wearing Richardon’s No. 15, not to mention Tim Tebow, and taking first cross, Mertz struggled badly from the start. The fifth-year student calmed down somewhat, but he did little to assuage concerns about whether he could make the jump to the SEC.

He is expected to be one of the top five picks in the NFL draft on April 27, Richardson didn’t always play at his level of talent during his one season as a college starter. But he was on point during the 2022 spring game, completing 8-of-9 passes for 117 yards on back-to-back TD drives to open the game.

An event often skewed in favor of offense began as a defensive showcase. The Gators finished the first quarter averaging 1.8 yards in 25 plays.

“I have to give the defense some credit,” Napier said. “They made it difficult today.”

Mertz found a rhythm during the second quarter, completing 7 of 13 passes for 128 yards and a 10-yard touchdown run to former walk-on Kahleil Jackson.

“We stack three or four good units,” Mertz said. “It was a solid second quarter.”

The impulse was short-lived.

The issues with trading quarterback and center were endless. Five times the ball went out of the quarterback’s reach, even on consecutive plays; the second ended in a fumble recovery by the defense.

“You’d like to be a little cleaner,” Napier said.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin took the opportunity to upset the Gators, tweeting a photo from the game with the score 7-7.

The Gators hope to have the last laugh in 2023.

“This is a halfway point,” Napier said. “It’s kind of like the midterm to a certain extent. So there’s a lot of work to be done.”

2. Newcomers appeared

The Gators welcomed 27 new scholarship players. Many of them shimmered in the lights of the Swamp.

Memphis transfer defensive tackle Cam Jackson and Alabama transfer offensive tackle Damieon George were standouts in The reinforced lines of the Gators. The 6-foot-6, 355-pound Jackson deflected a pass, held the point of attack and drove in the pocket. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-6, 369-pound George took care of business on the right side.

Houston transfer linebacker Mannie Nunnery He made plays all over the field, finishing with 5 tackles, a quarterback run, and a pass breakup. Michigan transfer linebacker Deuce Spurlock II had 8 tackles, just 1 solo and rush. Louisville transfer tackle Caleb Banks recorded a sack.

Among freshmen, leading back TJ Searcy had 6 stops, 2 for loss, one sack and rush; linebacker Jaden Robinson finished with 7 tackles, 1 for loss and a pass breakup; and freshman lineman Kelby Collins had 5 tackles.

Tulane transfer back Cam Carroll was a rare bright spot during the early offensive series. He had two 12-yard runs, beating an aspiring tackler on the second. On the next play, Miller III found Marcus Burke in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown run.

“That play was crazy to watch,” defensive tackle Tyreak Sapp said of Carroll. “Another weird, weird, weird athletic guy.”

The influx of new talent excites Napier.

“That’s probably the bottom line for me when I go home and sleep tonight: A lot of new players make a significant impact,” he said. “There’s talent there, but it also creates competition and that dynamic, that new energy.”

3. The defense seems to be in better hands

The new coordinator, Austin Armstrong, might be the biggest newcomer.

The 29-year-old left Alabama, where Nick Saban had just hired him to coach inside linebackers, to replace the embattled Patrick Toney. tone he went to the NFL two weeks before spring practice began following a difficult debut season at Gainesville.

The 2022 Gators allowed opponents to convert an SEC-low 49.1% on third down and have scored at least 30 points in six losses. While it was only one spring, Armstrong noted that better days are ahead.

He didn’t stick to the normal spring game script and went on offense. The Gators finished with 9 sacks, including 3 in the first two drives.

“To each his own,” Napier said. “We put pressure on tonight. That’s the personality and temperament of play callers. That is your decision.”

New Armstrong players love his fire and energy.

“You have a little firecracker like DC,” said Sapp, who had 2 sacks. “He’s always ready to explode.”

The Gators hope that offensive fireworks from opponents will be a thing of the past.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Edgar Thompson at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @osgators.


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