- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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A few halftime thoughts from three of the early games:
Not the ideal start for new Gators quarterback John Brantley. Florida had 9 total yards in the first quarter. It had 21 points and 13 yards of total offense at halftime. The scores came thanks to three turnovers from the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks.
Florida State's offense is rolling, but that is not unexpected considering the opponent and the Heisman candidate throwing the ball. Christian Ponder did have an early hiccup, throwing an interception in the red zone, but after that he has been nearly perfect, throwing four touchdowns as Florida State has a 42-3 lead on Samford at the half. Greg Reid returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown, and as promised, got into the game on offense -- with one carry for 8 yards. New coach Jimbo Fisher said he would use his star cornerback both ways this season.
Western Michigan played Michigan State close for a quarter and a half, and appeared to be in good shape down 14-7 after a great punt down to the the Michigan State 2. But Le'Veon Bell blew the game wide open. His 75-yard run set up a touchdown by Edwin Baker. Then Bell scored a 2-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the half, putting the Spartans up 28-7.
The Gators had two fumbles and put the ball on the ground several more times. That included a Brantley fumble on a terrible shotgun snap on the first possession of the game. They also failed to convert on two short-yardage opportunities, where Tim Tebow used to be the go-to guy. The Gators tried to give it to Emmanuel Moody both times. On the first, a third-and-1, he came up short but a penalty on Miami gave Florida the first down. On the second, a fourth-and-1, Moody fumbled a pitch. Might want to look at Trey Burton going in there for short yardage. He rumbled in for a 2-yard score to put Florida up 21-3.
Halftime stats: Florida is up 21-6 but Miami has more first downs (7-4), yards (102-13) and is leading time of possession (20:24 to 9:36). Both teams have negative yards rushing. "That's about as bad as we've played around here," Urban Meyer said at halftime.
Also, Miami running back Thomas Merriweather was ejected for throwing a punch.
New defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has his unit playing well, but again, this is a completely overmatched opponent. Although, let's remember Florida State nearly lost to Jacksonville State last season. The Seminoles needed two scores in the final 35 seconds to win 19-9.
Alex Carder, taking over for the departed Tim Hiller, has not had much time to get the ball downfield. He is only averaging 4.9 yards a completion. Western Michigan has 106 total yards of offense in the first half.