GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It was a little tense for a while, but No. 23 Florida finally pulled away in the fourth quarter for the victory over Bowling Green in front of 84,704 at Florida Field.
The Gators (1-0) didn’t look crisp on offense and struggled at different times on the defensive line, but were just good enough to win their 23rd consecutive season opener. That’s the second-longest current streak in the nation, behind only Nebraska (27).
It was over when: Frankie Hammond caught a short pass from Jeff Driskel, shook a tackle from Bowling Green cornerback Cameron Truss, and went 50 yards for a touchdown to give the Gators a 24-14 lead with 13:18 remaining.
Game ball goes to: Florida running back Mike Gillislee proved he’s capable of being the Gators’ No. 1 tailback. The senior ran for 148 yards on 24 carries. He set career highs with 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the first half.
Stat of the game: Florida committed 10 penalties for 76 yards in the first half, but committed just four in the second half.
What it means: It appears that Driskel will be the Gators' starting quarterback moving forward. The sophomore played the entire first quarter and into the second and the entire second half. Driskel finished 10-of-16 for 114 yards and one touchdown. Jacoby Brissett played only in the second quarter and completed 3-of-5 passes for 31 yards.
Turning point: Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson intercepted a tipped pass at the UF 17-yard line early in the fourth quarter to stop the Falcons from scoring a potential go-ahead touchdown. Roberson returned the ball 31 yards, and three plays later Hammond broke free for his 50-yard TD.
Second guessing: Offensive coordinator Brent Pease made several questionable play calls in short-yardage situations. He had Driskel pull off a quick punt (which went only 15 yards) on fourth-and-6, called a rollout pass on fourth-and-1, and called another rollout pass on third-and-2. None of them worked.
What we learned about this team: The offense is still a work in progress, especially the passing game. The receivers did not consistently get open, and the quarterbacks missed wide-open throws, too. Now, things may have purposely been a little vanilla because of next week’s game against Texas A&M. The Gators didn’t show as many motions and shifts as expected. Still, there was no rhythm to the passing game.
Best call: Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson called a fake punt on fourth-and-5 from midfield, and punter Brian Schmiedebusch ran to his right and gained 8 yards. The Falcons got an extra 15 because returner Andre Debose hit Schmiedebush out of bounds. Running back Anthon Samuel scored on a 12-yard run three plays later to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:57 remaining in the third quarter.