It may not have been the prettiest win, but the Florida Gators took care of business against the Toledo Rockets Saturday, coming away with a 24-6 victory.
Behind a career day from running back Mack Brown, efficient play from quarterback Jeff Driskel and a dominant performance from the defense, the Gators were able to win fairly easily.
In his first career start in place of Matt Jones, the redshirt junior Brown took full advantage of the opportunity. He ran the ball 25 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns, all career-highs. Jones is expected to return next week against Miami, but Brown made his case to receive at least some carries the rest of the season.
Brown wasn’t the only one making an impact rushing the football. Florida totaled 262 yards on the ground. Freshman Kelvin Taylor and former walk-on Mark Herndon got on the field in the fourth quarter and rushed for 43 and 32 yards respectively. Perhaps the biggest surprise was redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers, a former safety who switched to running back just a few weeks ago. Showers showed off his speed and versatility, rushing two times for 31 yards and adding four catches for 23 yards.
Despite the strong performance rushing the football, The Gators passing offense looked quite similar to last season. It was a conservative attack that didn’t have much success throwing the ball downfield. However, Driskel was efficient, completing 17 of 22 attempts for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Led by the strong play of defensive lineman Dominique Easley, the defense was dominant, as expected, holding Toledo to 205 yards of total offense. The Rockets were just 1 of 13 on third down and held the ball for only 20:12. Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III also came up big in his first game as a Gator, recording his first career interception.
As has always been the case throughout the Muschamp era, the Gators won with their physical style of play on defense and their conservative ground and pound approach on offense.
Overall, it wasn’t exciting, but a win is a win. The Gators are right where they wanted to be after Week 1, with a chance to move to 2-0 next week in what is sure to be a hard fought game in Miami.