As I sat down to write an article about the Orange and Blue game I had trouble figuring out what the general gist of it was going to be. The problem was, we really learned very little.
The first problem was that it just seemed to fly by. The whole thing lasted less than two hours including halftime. But the real issue was the offensive line injuries. As a result, we saw a lot of backup linemen, many of them tired from having to play both ways, get pushed around all afternoon long. It’s hard to evaluate an offense when the line is getting pushed around like that.
We’ve now seen the “new look” Gators offense. It wasn’t really anything new or revolutionary on a football-wide scale, and was a pretty prototypical pro style offense, which I’m sure is enough for most Gator fans tired of the spread after last year.
John Brantley looks like his same old self, or at least the same one we saw last year. Maybe slightly more comfortable out there, but an alarming number of his passes still sailed or were knocked down at the line. Again, it’s difficult to evaluate it too much with the pass rush in his face all game long, so maybe he gets a bit of a pass on that front, but there certainly wasn’t much to prove to us that he has turned things around yet. Some of the passes he missed, and missed badly, were just inexcusable.
Tyler Murphy really stole the show from Brantley, and “stealing the show” in this case merely took a mediocre performance. My major complaint with Murphy was his inability (or unwillingness) to put some touch on his passes and take some heat off of it.
Aside from the new offense, the other thing that most Gators fans were excited to see was freshman sensation Jeff Driskel. Driskel certainly looked like a true freshman out there, but in all I liked what I saw of him. Unlike Murphy, he demonstrated not only some good zip on his passes, but also the ability to float it over the top when necessary.
The real winner of the orange and blue game was neither orange nor blue, but rather the defense as a whole. Yet again though, it’s difficult to be sure how much of that was the easy win they got in the trenches against the tired, battered offensive line. There were definitely several plays where the secondary let receivers get way too open, way too far downfield.
I don’t think anyone believes that the Orange and Blue game lived up to the expectations this year, but it’s a long offseason, and there’s a lot of work that will still be done before the 2011 season kicks off.