After taking a few shots from the Minutemen early, the #25 Gators found a way to win despite a depleted roster and sloppy play on both sides of the ball. A 10-point fourth quarter gave Florida a 24-7 win to kick off the 2016 campaign as defending SEC East champs, and UF has plenty to build off of heading into next week.
Luke Del Rio had a solid outing in his first game in the Swamp, as Antonio Callaway and Brandon Powell led the way in the air. The offense eventually wore down the UMass defense with the running game with Jordan Scarlett shaking loose in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the unit did its job by holding the Minutemen to 187 yards of offense (46 rushing).
Here are the three things we learned:
1. The offensive line has to improve. Despite being sacked only once, Del Rio was under consistent pressure against UMass and some holding penalties killed pretty good drives that could have resulted in touchdowns. This part of the game has to be cleaned up if the Gators want to be major players in the SEC East this season.
2. Del Rio showed a lot of promise as a signal-caller. Del Rio did a good job of managing the offense in spite of the pressure, going 29 of 44 for 256 yards and two scores in the game. He showed a little inaccuracy, but that can be mostly attributed to the pressure and trying to anticipate when the receivers were going to come open. Even though he missed some opportunities to continue drives on third down, the ceiling’s high for the junior quarterback in 2016.
3. Eddy Pineiro is a weapon on special teams. The kicker for the Gators could have beat UMass by himself as he knocked down three 40+ yard field goals in the contest. He also had a stellar night on kickoff by kicking touchbacks on four of his six attempts. Helping win field position as well as getting points from long range will be a huge advantage for Florida as it heads through the season.