Several seniors took part in their final game ever in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and they made the most of it. As you’ll soon see, the seniors dominated the helmet stickers during Florida’s easy 40-17 victory over FSU on rivalry weekend.
-LaMical Perine, for his ten yard run on the Gators’ first drive. Other than a few defensive busts that turned into long touchdown runs, Florida’s ground game has been absent all year. But Perine muscled out a ten yard gain early in the game, reminding fans of the toughness that made him so loved in the first place.
-Nick Buchanan for the block and Freddie Swain for the touchdown on Florida’s first drive. Hats off to the senior center in his final game in the Swamp for getting downfield and opening a seam for his fellow senior Swain. And Swain gets one for the vision and the speed he displayed to start the scoring party.
Nick Buchanan, X2, and Richard Gouraige, for Dameon Pierce’s short TD run. There wasn’t much running room to speak of all game- all year, really- but the pair cleared the left side A gap and gave Pierce an airport jet bridge to walk through and into the blue.
-Ventrell Miller for his TFL of Cam Akers early in the second quarter. There’s much more football to be played for Miller in Gainesville, and he gave us ample reason to be excited for it with this play alone. The linebacker managed to disengage from a block and bring down the shifty Akers for a four yard loss to kill one of the few FSU drives that occurred with the score not laughable.
-Kadarius Toney for his 47 yard run early in the second quarter. Because Kyle Trask technically released the football into the air rather than handing it to Toney, this went down as a reception, but the yardage was all Toney’s doing. And while you never want to see players get injured, Toney literally broke Hamsah Nasirildeen’s ankles with one of his cuts on this bobbing, weaving 47 yard gain. Which is utterly astounding.
-Lucas Krull, for his 15 yard reception on the next play. Krull, as you may remember, is transfer portal bound. So it was great to see him make a contribution in his final game in the Swamp.
-Trevon Grimes and Freddie Swain, X2, for Swain’s second touchdown of the night. A simple screen pass to Swain turned into a 23 yard touchdown thanks to Swain’s dancing and tightroping abilities down the sideline. But Grimes helped, too, laying a solid block to clear the final few yards for Swain before extending the ball over the pylon.
-Luke Ancrum, Jr. and David Reese for their TFL of Cam Akers on he ensuing FSU drive. These two Florida seniors had made the stat book in their final night in the Swamp before this point. But on this play, on a drive that felt like FSU’s last real chance to get back into the game, the pair teamed up to swallow Akers up for another negative play to set up a third and nine.
-Zach Carter, for his sack of James Blackman. Because of the third and nine set up by the aforementioned play, Carter got a chance to announce himself as another threat in the middle level of the Gators’ 2020 defense. Lining up as a de facto defensive tackle on this play, Carter shoved guard Ryan Roberts aside and flew in from Blackman’s blind side for the sack. Down 20-7 and now forced to punt, whatever chance FSU still had to make a game of it was over.
-Kyle Trask and Van Jefferson for their 12 yard touchdown hookup late in the first half. Facing the slightest hint of pressure, Trask lobbed a ball into the back of the end zone for his third touchdown pass of the night- and by far his best. Jefferson had just taken advantage of the fact that nobody lined up against him, made toast of FSU corner Levonta Taylor when he tried to get back to cover him, and managed to navigate the back line of the end zone perfectly. He caught the ball, tapped his toe down, took the hit and maintained possession of the ball for a 27-7 Gator lead.
-Jonathan Greenard, for his strip sack of Jordan Travis. Nobody blocked Greenard on this play. That’s usually not going to end well for the quarterback, who never saw him coming from the blind side and had the ball jarred out by the hit he delivered. As it was, the Seminoles were lucky that Ventrell Miller tried to scoop up the bouncing ball on the run rather than just fall on it, as FSU retained possession.
-James Houston IV and Ventrell Miller, for their sack of James Blackman on the next play. Slow learners, these Seminoles: they never did figure out that blocking Florida defenders was a good idea. But this one was particularly embarrassing for the Seminoles. Cam Akers had a chance to pick up Houston on the blitz, and instead decided to avoid the conflict altogether and pretend to be trying to engage with someone else. Meanwhile, Houston cane through untouched and buried Blackman. Miller gets credit for the teamwork and helping finish it off.
-Evan McPherson, for his 50 yard field goal at the end of the first half. This play was hardly necessary in terms of securing the victory, but 50 yard field goals get automatic helmet stickers. Especially when he made it twice, thanks to O’Dell Haggins trying to ice him.
-Marco Wilson, for his flop to draw a personal foul penalty. LOL.
-Kyle Trask, X2, and LaMical Perine, X2, for their 30 yard connection midway through the third quarter. Scramble drill executed to perfection. Trask sensed the impending collapse of the pocket, rolled out and bought time, and meanwhile Perine sensed that his QB was in trouble so he, too, rolled away and ran a makeshift out route. Trask put some air under it and allowed Perine to catch it on the run before taking it 30 yards down the sideline.
-Emory Jones and Van Jefferson, for their six yard touchdown hookup midway through the third quarter. Jones threw this ball slightly behind Jefferson, but who cares: it was good enough for a touchdown and one final memory in the Swamp for Jefferson.
-Jonathan Greenard, X2, for his sack of Blackman late in the fourth quarter. Sure, why not? Up 40-17, who says you can’t leave your senior defensive starters in to soak in as much of their finales in the Swamp as possible?
-Jonathan Greenard, X3, and TJ Slaton, for their sack of James Blackman on the very next play. Nothing says goodbye to your home field like three sacks in a game. But Slaton, who’s going to have a big part in this defense going forward, got his name a place in the sack statistic of the box score by helping out.
-Adam Shuler, for his sack of James Blackmon on the ensuing play. Three plays. Three Florida sacks. All courtesy of Florida seniors, at least in part. Shuler finished the deal with the eighth Gator sack of the night.
And the game ball goes to… Greenard. The grad transfer from Louisville, who grew up a Gator fan, only got one year to make his dream of playing for Florida a reality. But boy did he make it count. The unquestioned leader of the Florida defense finished his career in Gainesville with three sacks and six tackles against the Seminoles.