GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Just minutes after Florida's season
opener ended, even before players and coaches walked off the field,
the scoreboards went blank.
Even with a victory, the Gators were more than ready to erase
the memory of this one.
No. 4 Florida opened the post-Tim Tebow era with a resounding
thud, maybe the sound of high expectations crashing to the ground.
Yes, the Gators got four interceptions, several red-zone stops and
two late touchdowns to pull away from heavy underdog Miami of Ohio
But the real story was coach Urban Meyer's anemic offense, the
one quarterback John Brantley had hoped to "keep rolling" after
waiting three years behind Tebow.
Instead, Brantley and the Gators spent most of the game in
"I didn't imagine the offense's incompetence that we
experienced today," Meyer said.
There were a bunch of fumbles, several bad snaps, some poor
throws, six penalties and a whole lot of frustration in The Swamp.
Brantley completed 17 of 25 passes for 113 yards and two
touchdowns. He had a 10-yarder to Omarius Hines that was the
offense's longest play of the day until speedster Jeff Demps' got
loose for a 72-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. Brantley
also threw a 25-yard TD pass to Chris Rainey with 1:21 remaining.
That fourth-and-21 pass bounced off a teammate before Rainey
grabbed it in the end zone.
The offense had few other highlights.
"I'm not embarrassed at all," Brantley said. "It was one
those days, I guess you could say."
Florida finished with eight fumbles (three lost) and 212 yards,
187 of them in the final 13 minutes. There was plenty of blame to
go around, too.
Deonte Thompson, who was miffed by the perception that he had
bad hands last year, dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball in the
end zone. Mike Pouncey, who moved from guard to center this year,
airmailed one snap over Brantley's head and chunked two others into
The offensive line looked every bit like a patchwork unit.
Starting left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) and backup Matt Patchan
(wrist) missed the game, and left guard Carl Johnson didn't play
because of an apparent suspension.
Demps and Emmanuel Moody were mostly bottled up at the line of
scrimmage, Brantley seemed to check down early and often, and every
deep pass fell to the ground.
Florida was more concerned with the turnovers.
"It'd be tough to win with those turnovers against an SEC
school," Brantley said.
The Gators managed a measly 25 yards, including minus-16
rushing, through three quarters. Nonetheless, they led 21-12 thanks
to interceptions by Jon Bostic, Janoris Jenkins and Ahmad Black.
Jenkins returned his 67 yards for a touchdown that put Florida
ahead 7-3 in the second quarter.
Black's pick set up backup quarterback Trey Burton's 2-yard run,
which put Florida ahead 21-3. Many figured that would spark the
offense in the second half. Instead, the Gators stalled on three
consecutive drives in the third quarter, failing to convert on
fourth down, fumbling two more snaps and punting, then missing a
"Frustration? I know I'm beyond that," Meyer said.
"Frustration? You've just got to get a little better. We'll fix
those things. If you keep seeing them over and over again, then
you've got to make changes. We're certainly not going to hit that
mode yet. We need to get a lot better."
Zac Dysert completed 25 of 44 passes for 191 yards for Miami,
which got a career-high four field goals from Trevor Cook. He was
The RedHawks had opportunities to make it even closer. Not only
did they settle for three short field goals, they turned the ball
over four times and made two other costly errors. Linebacker Ryan
Kennedy missed an open receiver on a fake punt deep in Florida
territory and running back Thomas Merriweather was called for a
personal foul penalty that gave the Gators a first-and-goal at the
"I think turnovers and a lack of discipline cost us the
football game," said Miami coach Michael Haywood, whose team
finished 1-11 last year and came to Gainesville as five-touchdown
underdogs. "We can't make mistakes on offense and we have to keep
pressing forward and eliminating the mental errors."
Merriweather was ejected for apparently punching defensive
tackle Dominique Easley in the helmet. Merriweather was booed as he
walked to the locker room.
But the 90,178 on hand saved the loudest jeers for Florida's
offense, which had just one starter (left guard James Wilson) in
the same spot as the 2009 opener.
"Once the other team has momentum, and you've got all negative
momentum, it just goes downhill from there," Pouncey said. "When
we did get stuff going I (messed) up the snap, and then when we did
get stuff going again ... we just kept fumbling. It won't happen