No one thought that we were going to win the Outback Bowl by a score of 30-3 at this stage of the season.
Ok—-yes it was Iowa. Not the greatest of offensive teams out there. Frankly, the common held belief was that a score of 12-9 was probably the most likely outcome. You know you were thinking this, too.
All that said, Iowa did possess a reasonably good defense that was healthy and was rested. Of course, we were rested as well, but we were still playing without six starters. We can address that later, but our offense with a few scares at the beginning was reliable for the most part. When Mark Thompson took that swing pass at the end of the first half, you had a sense that this game might go better than expected. When DeAndre Goolsby scored a TD (twice) on the same drive, the word “blowout” was possibly coming to mind. I did not expect three interceptions and one returned for a TD, but you knew that Iowa wasn’t going to make a massive comeback running the football….which wasn’t gashing us for big run after big run.
In the end, it was a very satisfying win. Which begs the question “Why?”
Well, for one, I will personally admit (very hard for me to do) that there were Gator names on defense that I had barely heard during the season….and they were playing well. Yes, again, it was Iowa. None the less, that is promising.
After the two interceptions on successive drives, we were moving the ball all day. We had some drives end in punts, but there were very few three and outs during critical periods of play (we did have them at the end of each half) and the one play, 85 yard TD run by Thompson. Our defense HAD time to recover and when it was rested, was playing at a high level. Young players and quality D play….good times.
Running game….yes, we had one! Jordan Scarlett has at the end of the season, solidified himself as the featured back. I was kind of hoping he would get one more carry and six yards to break 100, but in between passes, he was solid in his performance. Iowa may not seem like much at present, but coming into the game, they did have a run defense. The fact that we could run bodes well for…..
…the offensive line. Returns 12 players next year. Quality recruits coming in with National Signing Day looming. There may be a ray of sunshine in our offense next year. It has been the weakest link in the Gator football team for awhile. A team that puts up 30+ points a game next year would be fun to watch.
Finally, what was most satisfying was the focus. Even after two straight interceptions to open the game, the Gators did not ever look defeated. Did not look like it wasn’t their day. Were battling the entire game. Looked more energized at the end than they did at the beginning. It is something we have missed for awhile, but came at a very good time for us because this win in particular should bode well for recruiting.
Were it not for a hurricane-reduced schedule, we could be looking at successive 10-4 seasons and a current bowl win. That is the right direction. One stellar QB and a force of an offensive line in place and we get right back to where we are all comfortable. Winning by A LOT!! You have to love that. ‘Nuff said.