It finally got here. Seems like we’ve all been waiting forever, sorta like when you’ve asked Santa for that really neat gift, the one you’ve wanted all your life and will die if the big guy doesn’t come through. But it arrived. As openers go, there were a lot of things to weigh about the upcoming experience, much of it tied to COVID-19. Would we see signs of protest? What would the crowd be like? How prepared or how rusty would the teams look? Thankfully, when all was said and done, the game was played, the Gators won an opener against a conference opponent, we did a lot of really good things (offense / special teams) and some not very good (defense). But for three and a half hours, we were close to normal once more. That was a good thing. Any disparagement of Kyle Trask after today needs to be retired. 30 / 42 for 416 yards and 6 TDs is both a statement of what he is capable of as well as a continuation of the progress he has made. Though Pitts was his primary target (8 receptions for 170 yds and 4 TDs), he also connected with 10 other receivers. He was cool in the pocket, showing great awareness of pressure and rarely rushed his progressions. As much as we’ve lamented a sideways offense, he sure made a bunch of nice vertical throws. Bottom line, the kid can play the game and the position at a high level, regardless of whatever pedigree (or lack) that has been assigned. On the other hand, the defense was bad. At times they looked confused and slow, the latter being a result quite often of the former. Tackling was awful for the greater part, though Ventrell Miller had a couple of old school stones. I know that the game now is more predicated on speed than strength and technique, but we sure play way too high, which allows way too many ball carriers and receivers to run through the grabbing that results. And our DBs...they stayed lost all afternoon. Grantham and co. have a lot to repair and not much time to do it. I don’t want us to have to rely on the offense to bail us out all the time. Now, let’s look at a few specifics: *McPherson just confirmed what most knew...he’s a heckuva kicker. No KO returns and 3 / 3 FGs with a long of 55. Mullen was quoted as saying he thought he was the best kicker in America. Hard to disagree. And the punter, though he only punted once, looked up to the task. Still seemed a little strange not seeing a Townsend back there. Having a reliable kicking game may not always have the chance to win for you, but they can usually help keep you from getting beat. Low return yards is a pretty big stat. *Not calling the OL completely fixed, but they looked better than we’ve seen. Pass pro was pretty good, as the QBs had time to throw. We’ve still got work to do with the run game, but we rushed for a little less than 200 on 29 attempts. A couple of technical things I noticed were we looked clean and quick on the G schemes and we had guys getting to and staying with their blocks. It’s a better start than we’ve had lately. *Third and Grantham was likely screamed a few times today. Part of me gets that we had some youngsters out there, but there were some vets in the secondary who looked clueless for much of the time. Of course, they’ve looked like that before. Where’s the improvement? I also think Dr. Pressure needs to live up to his nick. Specifically, allowing them to convert 3rd and 19 with a 4 rush when your secondary can’t cover a soul is simply asinine. *First time I can remember that a team responded to a two play length of the field TD drive with a two play length of the field TD drive. Kudos to the Rebs! And as bad as I hate to say it, Corral wasn’t too bad (against us). *Pitts. The guys on one scoreboard show called him the best TE in the country. He certainly made a case for that high praise today. Great routes, concentration, hands and speed. AA potential. Stay healthy, Trask knows how to get it to you. *Pierce and Davis looked pretty fair running the ball. They combined for 103. Toney had 55 on 2 carries. Where he’s concerned, we’ve all wanted him to get more touches...and today he got them, adding 5 receptions for 59 yds and a score. Was it Brian Johnson or Mullen? Who cares. Keep feeding him. We weren’t perfect today, especially defensively, and that can be worrisome, but we’ll have to rely on the adage that a team shows its greatest improvement between game one and game two. Lord, I hope so. A quick glance makes me believe we’ve got the makings of a championship caliber offense barring significant injuries. The defense has a lot of catching up to do in that regard. It might get a little nerve racking. But at least football’s back and we can cheer and gripe about something other than politics. Stay tuned. It’s just getting started and who knows what’s around the next corner! Go Gators!