On September 9, 1989, in Galen Hall’s final season, the Florida Gators lost to Ole Miss, 24-19.
Until Saturday, that was the last time that Florida had been 0-1 in a season.
The Michigan Wolverines let Florida hang around thanks to a pair of interceptions in the second quarter that were returned for touchdowns. Those TDs gave the Gators a 17-13 lead going into the half. That proved to be the last time Florida would find the end zone.
Michigan did everything they could to keep Florida in the game -- the Wolverines settled for field goals six times and missed two of them. The two first-half interceptions thrown by Wilton Speight led to him briefly being benched in favor of backup John O’Korn.
The real story of the game was the Florida offense, or the lack thereof. They managed only 192 yards of total offense and just three points (the defense scored 14 of Florida’s 17 points), including a hideous 11 yards rushing on 27 attempts.
A quick look at the box score suggests that Florida was fortunate not to get blown out.
Here are three things we learned.
Feleipe Franks is probably Florida’s best option at quarterback
Franks may have gotten pulled for Malik Zaire in the second half, and his stat line on the day — 5-for-9 passing for 75 yards, 5 carries for 7 yards — was rather pedestrian. There’s a reason he was named the starter before the first game, and he showed some of that reason on Florida’s second play from scrimmage when he threw a 34-yard strike to Josh Hammond (He also had Florida’s longest running play of the day, a 16-yard run to move the chains on 3rd and 15. More on that in a minute...).
So it’s not entirely because Malik Zaire wasn’t any better; neither quarterback was really able to move the offense much, but Franks at least showed some upside that the other quarterbacks on the roster just don’t have.
Florida needs Jordan Scarlett back in the worst way
About that rushing performance. Jordan Scarlett was suspended, and without him, here were his backups’ stat lines: Lamical Perine carried seven times for 8 yards; Mark Thompson carried five times for 13 yards.
Florida’s passing game wasn’t really any good on Saturday. The run game somehow managed to be worse. It’s a scary thought that Florida might have to rely on Franks’ arm as long as Scarlett is out, because the running game was basically nonexistent against Michigan.
Some of that might be on Michigan’s defense, which appeared to be legitimately good. But right now, this team looks like it will struggle to score against most of the SEC East.
The secondary is boom or bust
Florida’s defensive backs did get a pair of interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns. They also got burned far too often. Michigan only completed 12 passes, but those 12 went for 218 yards — an average of over 18 yards per completion.
Florida will have a week to regroup with FCS Northern Colorado coming to Gainesville next Saturday. But that’s immediately followed by a visit from Tennessee and a trip to Kentucky. If the Gators don’t sort out their offensive issues soon, it’s conceivable they could be 1-3 in a few weeks.