4th and Short: Gators Demolish Kentucky Behind Dominant Effort, Streak Continues


This was the year when many felt Kentucky might finally end their losing streak to the Florida Gators after 29 consecutive losses.

‘Twas not to be on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in The Swamp as the Gators put on a show dominating the Wildcats 45-7. 

Behind the brilliant play of sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio, the Gators amassed 564 total yards of offense and the Wildcats never really threatened.

Del Rio passed for 320 yards completing 19 passes in 32 attempts with 4 td’s and 1 interception. 

The big play was a beautiful 78 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway on a play action where Del Rio hit him perfectly in stride.


Callaway led all receivers with 5 catches for 129 yards.

The Gators came out running the ball inside early pounding the Kentucky defensive line which gave up over 200 yards last week. 

That ability to run inside set up the play action to Callaway and left the Wildcat defense on their heels as the Gators continued to run the ball throughout with great success.

Once again it was a running back by committee approach as the Gators rotated four backs throughout the game. 

True freshman Lamical Perine led all Gator rushers with 17 carries for 105 yards helping the Gators to 244 yards rushing overall.

Perine also had one reception for a 28 yard touchdown.


Perhaps the best stat of the day for the Gators offense was their efficient 14-20 (70%) on third down. 

Third down, particularly third and long, has been an issue for a while with the Gators offense but behind a calm Del Rio and an offensive line that played much better this week, they made big play after big play and drove the ball repeatedly for long scores.

But it wasn’t all offense in the Swamp on Saturday as the Gator defense completely shut down the Kentucky offense until a late scrub td.  

The Gators defense forced four Kentucky turnovers including three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

The first interception was a nice snag by cornerback Quincy Wilson who defended the play perfectly and elevated to make the pick, which set up the deep td pass to Calloway.

Not to be outdone, All American corner Teez Tabor jumped a quick throw by Barker making a great play on the ball to come down with the interception.


Safety Marcus Maye grabbed the other INT on an overthrown pass.

The Gators front seven led by LB Alex Anzalone completely dominated the Kentucky line shutting down the Wildcat running game and continuously harassing starting quarterback Barker.

The Gators held the Wildcats to 149 total yards including only 78 until that late scoring drive.

In one of those odd football stats, Kentucky quarterbacks completed as many passes to the Gator defense (3) as it did to Wildcat receivers.

With the win, the Gators continued the nation’s longest consecutive win streak against one opponent now at 30 and the fourth longest in NCAA history. 

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Florida Gators Commit Steals The Show Against Stanford Commit


In a matchup of Power Five quarterback commits, it was the less heralded Florida Gators commit Kadarius Toney that stole the show.

2018 Saraland quarterback Jack West, a Stanford commit,247sports composite 4 star,and top 100 recruit, came in with all the fanfare but once the game started it was Blount quarterback Toney who garnered the headlines. 

Toney (6-0, 180) showed his dual threat abilities hitting some nice downfield throws and making people miss in the run game. 

On the night he completed 9 of 17 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown while carrying the ball 8 times for 93 yards and three TD’s.

He barely missed two other passing TD’s with nice deep throws but the receivers couldn’t quite make the grab. 

On one 47 yard run he was able to bounce it outside, juke some guys, and lowered his shoulder at the end of the run displaying his toughness.

Here he goes over the top of double coverage for a 47 yard TD.

Perhaps his most impressive run of the night was off a terrible snap where he made points out of a play that most would simply fall on.

https://twitter.com/swamp_music2/status/774411851186606080 

Here he executes a perfect play fake and then takes it to the house.

Here he throws a nice pass on the move for a huge gain that would lead to his third td, a 1 yard run.

Toney is a playmaker who completely dominated this game against a good Saraland team.

Don’t pay any attention to the three star ranking. Toney will be a difference-maker at the next level.

The Gators are getting another good sleeper out of the Mobile (AL) area after stealing RB Lamical Perine last season.

My Ole Kentucky Home: Reflections On The Florida Gators Team And The Game That Time Forgot


It’s Kentucky week for the Florida Gators.

For anyone under the age of forty that probably doesn’t mean much. After all the Gators have beaten the Wildcats for 29 consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in the nation against one opponent and fourth longest in NCAA history.

But for those of us who remember there was a Gator team once upon a time that played a tough and much more meaningful game against Kentucky.

The greatest Florida-Kentucky game ever. 

Before The Swamp and before The Chomp and even before The Fun n Gun there was a Florida team and a Kentucky game that could not, would not ever be forgotten.

Or so we thought.

This was a Florida team that had finally gotten past arch-nemesis Georgia.

A team that had finally been in line for its first ever SEC championship.

And the only thing that stood in their way was a determined Kentucky team, a cold fall day, and a field with turf tough as concrete.

That team was the 1984 Florida Gators and it was loaded with talent. 

Head coach Charley Pell had come to Gainesville to rebuild a Gator program that had fallen on hard times finishing with a disappointing 4-7 record in 1978, former Gator quarterback Doug Dickey’s last as head coach.

The Gators fell even further in 1979, Pell’s first season, finishing 0-10-1. From the depths of that season, however, Pell would begin recruiting talent to Gainesville at a furious pace. 

Sports Illustrated had an article several years ago documenting the 1983 Florida-Auburn game as having more future NFL draft picks than any other collegiate football game.

That’s how talented the Gators were.

They entered the 1984 season with a new offensive coordinator Galen Hall after previous OC Mike Shanahan had left for the NFL as well as a redshirt freshman at quarterback by the name of Kerwin Bell.

The season began inauspiciously as they lost their opener to Miami, who were fresh off their first national title in 1983, 32-20 and then tied SEC foe LSU the next week 21-21. 

Clouds hung over the program early in the season as an NCAA investigation of Pell’s recruiting practices found numerous violations which left fans and players more than a little uneasy. 

After beating Tulane in the third game of the season, Pell was subsequently fired by Florida and Galen Hall took over as interim head coach.

From that moment on it seemed a weight had been lifted off this Gator team. Pell was notoriously uptight coaching in big games and they could never quite get over the hump. 

As usual, Georgia always seemed to stand in their way.

With the easy going Pell at the helm, however, this Gator team, this Gator season would be different. 

Behind the strong, accurate arm of Bell, the downfield speed and good hands of wide receiver Ricky Nattiel, and the triple threat backfield of Neal Anderson, Lorenzo Hampton, and John L. Williams, as well as a suffocating defense the Gators would go on to rattle off six consecutive victories. The streak included huge wins over Auburn and Georgia in back-to-back weeks on national tv by a combined 51-3 (24-3 and 27-0 respectively). 

Those victories propelled the Gators into the top ten of the AP poll, one of two major polls used to determine national champions back then.

More importantly, however, the Gators were tied with LSU for first place in the SEC and would simply need a victory over Kentucky to gain at least a share of the SEC title.

Could this finally be the year that the Gators won an SEC championship, something that had eluded them throughout their existence? After all they had finally gotten over the Georgia Bulldogs speed bump which had doomed them so many times before.

And so the stage was set.

A Gator team composed primarily of warm weather Floridians playing a tough-nosed Kentucky team on the road in the November cold of Lexington Stadium and its notoriously hard turf.

After playing emotional games the previous two weeks in wins over Auburn and Georgia, the Gators found themselves in a tight affair with the Wildcats. 

The Gators rode the legs and hands of fullback John L. Williams who rushed for 110 yards and caught 6 passes for 79 yards accounting for almost half the Gators total offensive output (394) as well as the leg of kicker Bobby Raymond who kicked six field goals on the afternoon.

But it took an Adrian White interception with 1:16 remaining, one play after a Kentucky touchdown was called back for illegal procedure, before the victory and the SEC title was secured for these Gators.

That Kentucky team finished the season 9-3 and #19 in the final AP poll and gave the Gators all they could handle that day in the bitter cold on the tough Lexington turf but this Florida team would not be denied. 

A loss by LSU that same day to SEC cellar dweller Mississippi State gave the Gators the undisputed crown.

It wouldn’t be undisputed for long, however.

The title would later be stripped ex post facto in a vote by SEC presidents who subsequently passed a rule making teams on NCAA probation ineligible for the SEC crown.

Despite this, the team finished the season with nine straight victories and were crowned national champions by a multitude of publications including the New York Times and the Sporting News.

Sadly, the school does not recognize a national title and no longer recognizes this team for anything other than their record. And the players on that team have never been recognized for their accomplishments. 

But, regardless, it was on a cold November afternoon on a rigid Lexington, Kentucky field against a tough Wildcat team, three years before the current streak began, that the Florida Gators accomplished what many thought would never be accomplished by any Gator team. 

It was a team… a game… and a title that time forgot.

The Monday Morning Quarterback: Gator Football (And The HBC) Is Back In Blue, Offense Black and Blue


It was a blue out of sorts on Saturday night in the Swamp as Florida Gator football returned for the 2016 season opener.

Yes Gator football is back!

You know what else (or who) is back?

The Monday Morning Quarterback is back!

But seriously folks, The Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier is back!

He recently returned to the Orange and Blue in an official capacity as Ambassador for the program after his retirement mid-season last year from the South Carolina Gamecocks.

On Saturday night, however, he was back in blue as the team chose all blue uniforms (except for the traditional orange helmets) and Spurrier wore blue for the ceremony honoring him. The school elected to add his name to the stadium in which he played, winning a Heisman trophy, coached, winning a national title, and nicknamed The Swamp when he returned in 1990. 

“I have been very fortunate and blessed since becoming a Florida Gator to receive several honors and awards,” Spurrier said before Saturday night’s opener. “But I can assure all of you here today having my name next to Florida Field, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, here in the Swamp is the single biggest honor I’ll ever receive. Thanks!”

It was an awesome sight seeing him on the field where his teams won 6 SEC titles  from 1990 to 2001. 

“The most special group was the twelve teams that I was fortunate to coach here. Let me tell you what those guys did. From 90 through 2001, they won between 9 and 12 games every year. They won between 6 and 9 SEC games. Those guys knew how to play! And let me tell you what, those guys they won 93% of their games here in the Swamp because all of you, all of you here!”

“I said it twenty years ago, coach Urban Meyer said it ten years ago, The Swamp is the best home field advantage in all of college football.”

Yes, The Swamp became a great home field advantage when Spurrier took over in 1990. Since Urban Meyer left after the 2010 season, however, not so much.

The Monday Morning Quarterback believes The Swamp has simply lost some of its luster the last five seasons.

Why do I say that?

Well, there’s the 6-6 home record between 2013-14 which includes a home loss to FCS foe Georgia Southern the low point of the Will Muschamp era. 

And despite the 18-3 home record the other three seasons, there just hasn’t been the same level of dominance that the Gators showed at home between 1990 and 2010. 

Simply put, offense has left the building. 

While the Gators have long been known for great defense, which continues to this day, it was the prolific offenses under Spurrier and Meyer, heck even under Ron Zook, that put the “swamp” in The Swamp!

The ability to score quick, score often, and put up points in bunches is what sold out the stadium and kept fans loud and raucous. 

Those teams would literally swamp teams before they could ever get going. That’s what puts fear into opposing teams.

Now fans have become all too accustomed to close games and nail biters even against teams against whom they are double digit favorites.

On Saturday night, Steve Spurrier Night if you will, the Gators left the HBC tribute at kickoff as they struggled mightily against lowly UMass in a game they were favored by 36. They went into the fourth quarter clinging to a nerve-wracking 10-7 lead over the FBS #122 ranked team before squeezing out a 24-7 victory.

Even the HBC himself appeared nervous while in the booth discussing his stadium honor and the publication of his autobiography. 

To head coach Jim McElwain’s credit, however, the cupboard truly was bare offensively when he took over. 

There was a dearth of skill players (read it: none), zero experience at quarterback, and the lowest numbers on the offensive line that I’ve ever seen in 38 years of watching Gator football.

Coach Mac quickly restored numbers to the offensive line but to do that he had to reach on some players and bring in transfers who might have never seen a scholly at Florida previously. 

It didn’t help losing quarterback Will Grier mid-season to suspension and then to transfer in the off-season. 

So the Gators are back to square one at quarterback with sophomore transfer Luke Del Rio and graduate transfer Austin Appleby as his backup. 

The revolving door at QB is the single biggest reason for the Gators offensive struggles along with changing offensive systems. 

Coach Mac has done a good job recruiting skill talent although losing JUCO transfer Dre Massey for the season is a huge blow to his efforts to revive offense in Gainesville.

But offensive line is where the Gators struggles begin and end with this team.

By the end of coach Mac’s first season the Gators started three true freshman on the line: guards Martez Ivey and Tyler Jordan along with tackle Fred Johnson. Not exactly a recipe for offensive success.

On Saturday night, the Gators struggled once again in large part to a line which got little push in the run game and continuously had communication issues and breakdowns in pass protection.

If anything, the Gators showed they’re still a work in progress offensively and have a long way to go to be a dominant SEC offensive line.

The Monday Morning Quarterback believes that coach Mac has the pieces in place to eventually return the Gators offensive prowess and the Swamp’s glory but this season, if Saturday night’s game is any indication, will be another speed bump along that path.

The Head Ball Coach is back, but offense and The Swamp’s home field advantage are still a long way off.

I’m The Monday Morning Quarterback and I’m out!

Grading The Gators: Florida Slides By Minutemen On Steve Spurrier Night


On a night when the Florida Gators honored the architect of the Fun N Gun, they squeezed out a Snore N Bore 24-7 victory over a determined UMass Minutemen football team in the season opener for both teams.

Steve Spurrier, the former Florida Heisman winner and national championship coach, was honored at halftime as his name was officially attached to the stadium he nicknamed the Swamp.

Prior to that, however, he was honored as the season’s first Mr. Two Bits leading the crowd in the cheer made famous by retired insurance salesman George Edmonson. Mimicking track star Usain Bolts signature move Spurrier seemed to relish his role as Mr. Two Bits and the crowd roared their approval.

For three quarters, however, there wasn’t much to cheer. In fact, it was eerily similar to previous seasons as the Gators clung to a 10-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

For fans it was certainly a ho-hum affair as penalties and unforced errors repeatedly stalled Gator drives and extended UMass drives. On the night, the Gators had eight penalties for 80 yards, most coming at inopportune times.

In fact, the lone Minutemen scoring drive was aided by three Gator penalties for 35 yards on a drive that should have ended quickly with a three and out if not for a roughing the passer call on linebacker Jarrad Davis on a failed third down play.

“Not happy with the penalties especially the three personal fouls,” head coach Jim McElwain said in the postgame press conference. “That’s not how you play winning football.”

“The thing that bothers you probably more than anything is they were unforced,” he added. “Three majors (penalties), that’s just unacceptable.”

On this night the defense was an enigma. They held the Minutemen to 187 total yards and one touchdown but, beside the unforced penalties, they gave up a few big plays on third and fourth down that a good SEC defense shouldn’t against the 122nd rated FBS team. 

On the touchdown drive alone, the Gators gave up a 4th and 14 and had problems wrapping up the Minutemen quarterback Ross Comis letting him slip away or juke players in position to stop him.

” I thought our defense played… Just ok,” McElwain said. “We can definitely play better, and we will.”

“We just got to play smarter. We can’t put ourselves in a hole.” 

While the front seven was a bright spot for the Gators, repeatedly harassing the quarterback and running back, they whiffed too many times on tackles for loss and the defensive backfield really showed the depth issues coach Mac talked about in the preseason.

With All American corner Jalen “Teez” Tabor sitting out due to a suspension and his replacement Duke Dawson sidelined early due to an arm injury, the Gators were exposed with sophomore Chris Williamson, freshman Chauncey Gardner, and JUCO transfer Joseph Putu filling in.

Overall, I’d give the Gators defense a B- mainly due to the personal foul penalties and missed tackles and some backend depth issues that will need to be corrected moving forward.

Individual superlatives go to Jabari Zuniga who came in with energy and stayed in the backfield, linebacker Alex Anzalone who had a monster game despite a couple missed tackles, linebacker Jarrad Davis, who also had a monster game but a couple terrible penalties, and safety Marcus Maye.

The two linebackers were constantly in the backfield, around the ball, and seemed unblockable at times.

“Alex [Anzalone] and Jarrad [Davis] it’s hard for me to think there’s a better two in the country,” McElwain said.

Marcus Maye was another ball hawk who was continually in the backfield on blitzes and in run support. 

On offense, sophomore Luke Del Rio took the reins of the Florida offense, the first start of his college career, and had mixed results. 

On his first two series Del Rio went 8-11 for 98 yards and a touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway. He also had two runs for 9 yards on the scoring drive.

On the Gators opening possession, he led them into UMass territory picking up a couple of first downs before poor blocking on third down ended the drive before they could put any points on the board.

After the first two drives, however, his play became more erratic, missing open receivers and dancing around with ill-timed scrambles.

He finished the game a respectable 29-44 for 256 yards (5.8 ypc) with 2 TD’s and no interceptions.

While his performance wasn’t flashy, he didn’t turn the ball over and in this offense that’s perhaps most important. 

“I thought Luke did some pretty darn good things,” McElwain said. “Took care of the football. He put it where it was supposed to be.”

“I think if there’s some real positives out of it… the turnover piece was something that I thought was really good as far as taking care of the football,” he said. “And you know what, that’s how you become successful as a team.”

And they were successful on Saturday night in the Swamp even if it was painstaking for fans to watch at times through the middle segments of the game.

One group that struggled on the night was the offensive line who never seemed to be able to get much of a push and often had breakdowns in pass protection.

On the first series after picking up a couple of quick first downs, a breakdown between left guard Martez Ivey and running back Jordan Cronkrite left a defensive tackle in Del Rio’s face forcing him to throw it away ending the first series in UMass territory.

That sort of sloppy line play would continue throughout with miscommunication and a lack of energy and sense of urgency.

“I’ll tell you what bothers me [about the offensive line] is the way they just mope around and walk around out there instead of hustling to the line of scrimmage and getting ready to go,” McElwain said.

“Their energy has to be a lot better. Those tackles have to get up and get set so we can execute and get more plays than what we did in this game.”

The line wasn’t the only issue offensively however.

There were several drops in the passing game and few explosive plays.

“We didn’t have any [explosive plays],” McElwain lamented. “We’ve got to get ‘em.”

“We dropped a couple. We had the first one pretty much wide open. That’s something we’ve get to get a little bit better at, obviously.”

That first one was the first play from scrimmage where Del Rio missed a wide open Antonio Callaway overthrowing him when he had two steps on the defensive back.

Gators have certainly got to find a way to hit those plays. You don’t get them very often.

One of the lone bright spots on offense was running back Jordan Scarlett who ran 13 times for 70 yards on a night where there were few holes and little push by the offensive line.

He’s one of the few that continually played with effort and energy repeatedly fighting for extra yardage making it difficult on the Minutemen defense to bring him down.

The other two offensive superlatives go to receivers Antonio Callaway and Brandon Powell who scored both of the Gator touchdowns. 

Callaway (8 catches, 72 yards, td) and Powell (7 catches, 73 yards, td) both made clutch catches and fought hard to break tackles and carry the offense.

Powell’s td was especially nice after catching a screen, shaking the defenders attempted tackle, and then turning on the jets and racing down the sidelines to the endzone. 

Overall, though, I’d give the offense a C grade with the line struggles, untimely penalties, and lack of big plays.

There’s a lot for them to correct this week as they head into their SEC opener against Kentucky.

On special teams, the star of the show was kicker Eddie Piniero, the social media sensation who came in and solidified a horrid placekicking situation kicking three field goals (3-3 long 49) and making his lone extra point. He also repeatedly booted his kickoffs into the end zone with only two returns for a 13.5 yard average.

Punter Johnny Townsend was his usual dependable self with 4 punts for 144 yards a 44.5 yard average.

Special teams gets an A grade. They did what was expected and while there was only one flashy return by Antonio Callaway, they didn’t do anything to hurt the Gators, they shut down the UMass return game, and they left no points on the field.

Overall, it was a rather pedestrian but solid opening effort. The Gators have a lot to tweak this week as they prepare for Kentucky who blew a 35-10 lead and lost 44-35 to Southern Miss.

August Run Continues For Florida Gators, Pick Up Another Big Time Commitment


August has been good for the Florida Gators. Fall camp, my birthday, and another commitment.

This time it’s south Florida defensive back Shawn Davis from Southridge high school who pledge to the Gators today via Twitter. 

Head coach Jim McElwain confirmed the commitment with his now famous Gator bat signal.

Davis is a three-star prospect in the 247sports composite rankings but looks much better than his number 500 overall ranking.

He’s a versatile defensive back with good size, great play recognition, natural instincts, solid ball skills, and he’s a fierce hitter who doesn’t shy away from contact.

He uses his hands well in man-press and has good hips in coverage. 

The Gators have led for sometime for him though he was still considering the hometown Hurricanes, his other finalist.

His commitment makes sixteen total so far for the Gators in the 2017 recruiting cycle and is the fifth in the month of August. 

He joins Marco Wilson and Elijah Blades in what will ultimately be a large defensive back class for the Gators. 

Check out his Hudl highlights here.

Gator Twitter Erupts For Hansard Commitment


The Florida Gators picked up a huge commitment from massive Princeton (NJ) defensive tackle Fred Hansard Friday morning.

He announced his commitment in a video produced by the Bleachers Report website and released on Hansard’s Twitter account.

Appropriately Gators Twitter was well pleased at the commitment which is number fifteen for the 2017 cycle.

Position coach Chris Rumph with the Gator chomp:

 https://twitter.com/andrewspiveygc/status/769174843195592704

California linebacker Rahyme Johnson who is also strongly considering the Gators tweeted this:

 https://twitter.com/rahyme_johnson/status/769173700352495616

Followed by a response by Hansard.

And then this exchange:

Hansard had been considered a strong Gator lean since visiting for Friday Night Lights in July where it was obvious he had a good time.

He also has apparently loved the Gators for much longer.

With three defensive tackles in the fold including high school senior Jordan Scott and JUCO Javier Edwards, the Gators are likely done at the position this cycle. 

It’s a massive haul both in numbers and in size.

He chose the Gators over finalists Rutgers and Tennessee and had over 30 offers in total.