It hasn’t looked pretty at times, but Florida is undefeated heading into its showdown at Tennessee next week after cruising to a win over North Texas. The Eagles were unable to do anything offensively as the Gator defense continues to impose its will on opposing teams while the offense has done a good job so far of managing the game and not putting the team in a bad spot.
Here are the three big takeaways from tonight’s rout.
- The defense is going to win a lot of games for UF. The defense has allowed 14 points over the course of three games, and this looks like a unit that’ll cause a lot of problems in SEC play as they’ve yet to allow 200 yards of offense in a game, which is huge for the confidence of the younger players. Granted the team hasn’t really been tested yet with the likes of UMass, Kentucky, and North Texas, but it’s encouraging to see the defense playing hard against inferior teams.
- The balance of Florida’s offense makes them very dangerous in a down SEC East. The four-back stable of the Gators had a field day Saturday rushing for at least 46 yards and a touchdown each on 42 combined carries. With Antonio Callaway likely coming back this week, this is an offense that’ll give defensive coordinators fits with the plethora of ways it can beat you.
- The Gators need Luke Del Rio healthy in order to contend in the SEC. After LDR took a borderline shot low in the second half, Austin Appleby came in relief to close out the shutout and he showed some inconsistency with a conversion on third and medium as well as deep incompletions in obvious passing downs that stalled a possession in the fourth quarter. Game reps will obviously help Appleby grow as a passer, but I’m not sure you want those reps against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium, so it’s crucial that Del Rio is able to go next Saturday.
UF has yet to be tested in 2016, but the Volunteers have looked far from invincible in their games this season and the play for Florida on both sides of the ball gives plenty of reason for optimism. Next week could be a defining game in the SEC East, so I don’t expect anything short of a highly competitive, intense, classic match-up between two of the great programs of the Southeastern Conference.