The 2017-18 season did not get off to a great start for the No. 17 Florida Gators, who lost 33-17 to the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines Saturday. The loss was perhaps expected given Florida’s suspension of 10 players (including crucial ones like receiver Antonio Calloway) over a student aid scam, but the way the Gators lost here (and the way their offense underperformed in particular) raises questions about what’s ahead for them.
Florida’s defense had its moments in this one, including recording back-to-back pick-sixes against Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight early on. However, their offense looked pretty brutal.
The Gators recorded 192 total offensive yards to the Wolverines’ 433, and quarterbacks Malik Zaire (a transfer from Notre Dame, who recorded nine completions on 17 attempts for 106 yards) and Feleipe Franks (five completions on nine attempts for 75 yards) both struggled. And they gave up some thoroughly embarrassing plays, such as this fourth-quarter sack and strip of Zaire for a touchdown:
The Florida offense has been a problem since Urban Meyer left after the 2010-11 season, with plenty of struggles under Will Muschamp (2011-2014) and now Jim McElwain (2015-present). One game isn’t necessarily a huge indictment of it, especially against a tough team like Michigan, but it certainly does show there’s some improvement still needed.
Fortunately, the Gators have an easier opponent next week in Northern Colorado, and it will definitely help to get the suspended players back. Their offense is going to have to be much better than it was Saturday if they hope to make real progress this season, though.