On Saturday it was all about the “U”.
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel imploded under the pressure of Miami’s defense while Stephen Morris and the Hurricanes did just enough on offense to win a 21-16 showdown in what will likely be the last Hurricanes-Gators regular-season game for the near future.
GREAT WAY TO END: With this being the final battle for the Hurricanes and Gators in the near future it was everything a fan would want in an in-state battle. It wasn’t pretty but was fast, physical, intense and dramatic – everything football in the state of Florida is about. With the likelihood of both the SEC and ACC going to nine-game conference schedules there isn’t room for the game anymore. However, Florida says would need a guaranteed 4 or 5 million to consider a one-off neutral-site game and Miami would likely want the same. Hopefully the powers that be at the Tampa Sports Authority and Florida Citrus Sports (Orlando) are digging through their couches to make it happen before the end of the decade.
THE SHINE IS OFF: No more stories about Florida’s “confidence” in their passing game or the “big-play” capabilities. Saturday the offense was completely reliant on the hope of big play coming from the running game. Florida gained over 400 yards, twice as much as Miami, had 24 more plays and 16:30 advantage in time possession. However, Miami held strong and did not give out the big run. Without big plays in the running game Florida looked to their former high school All-American quarterback Driskel and he did not deliver. In the red zone Driskel had two interceptions and failed to convert a fourth and inches on a sneak. He later would lose a fumble that led to Miami’s game-winning touchdown.
IS MIAMI BACK?: Almost. The defense has improved considerably. They did not break in the red zone but the Hurricanes struggled to get Florida off the field at times. The turnovers proved to be the difference and in that area, Miami took advantage of every one of Florida’s mistakes. The Hurricanes also played with amazing gap integrity despite fighting fatigue. It was a gutsy performance if there ever was one. Offensively Miami did what they had to do to get the victory but the offensive line took a beaten at times. Still this is a program-building victory and proof that Al Golden has the Hurricanes on the right track.
CAN DRISKEL RECOVER?: For the most part Driskel has been protected by Florida’s scheme and a strange fascination with his skill set from the sports writing media but things might be different this week. He’s going to be heavily criticized and rightfully so. He’s been in the program three years, starting for two and seems to have made zero progress. The receivers took the brunt of the criticism last year, this year it’s going to fall on Driskel. While Driskel’s physical talent is strong he’s ability to process the mental side of the game has not caught up. Also offensive coordinator Brent Pease has to do a better job of creating the offense around Driskel’s skill set and open things up instead of forcing this pro-style attack on him.
DEFENSE LIVES HERE: Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman must’ve had 20 tackles and the Miami secondary made the right plays at the right time. Florida might have the best front line in the nation. Dominique Easley was nearly unstoppable in the first half and Ronald Powell was equally impressive in the second half. While Miami’s defense is showing considerable improvement in 2013, Florida’s might be the best in the nation.