This foe is getting a little too familiar. We never did a film post for last season's opener, but these guys are pretty much those guys plus two transfer receivers, a new center, and a massive upgrade in coaching. Last year's 4-7 debacle was enough to cut bait on McElwain, and after losing out on the Scott Frost sweepstakes Florida found former Meyer assistant/onetime Michigan candidate Dan Mullen all too happy to be rescued from post-Dak Starkville.
Despite four-stars galore and getting back some stars lost to injury/credit card fraud, this offense is still climbing out of last year's (108th to S&P, 111th in scoring) crater. The running game suffers from a lack of QB legs and line strength in the middle. The passing game suffers from the QB's wonky arm. Mullen makes up what he can with offensive tricks, and for big games he always has something prepared that the defense hasn't seen before. Against LSU it was a triple-option that read two backside edge players. Against Georgia it was a pistol screen and RPO package that debuted with a flea-flicker that got Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson open on the first play of the game.
The film: I didn't want to choose a midseason game for a new coach but Florida plays in the weaker half of a top-heavy conference that pads its win totals with a mere eight conference games and FCS opponents (Florida played two of them this year: S-E-C!) they schedule well into November. UF's normal end-of-the-year litmus rival, FSU, is terrible right now. That left South Carolina (61st in defensive S&P), Vanderbilt (80th), or blowout losses at the hands of Missouri and Georgia. I watched Georgia again to track any recent developments, but for scoring purposes I went back to October 6th versus then 5th-ranked LSU. Like Michigan, the Tigers run a mostly Cover 1 defense with a secondary full of NFL prospects, a defensive line that's excellent on the edges but shaky in the DT depth chart, and are led by an all-American linebacker named Devin, though the Butkus winner was truthfully more Gil than Bush in this game.
Personnel: My diagram:
The only new faces since Michigan's 2017 opener are C Nick Buchanan, and sophomore transfer WRs Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes, who are both more big body types. The rest of the receivers are speedsters: Tyrie Cleveland, the starter whom Grimes supplanted mid-season, and Slots Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, and Kadarius Toney.
The rest of the OL has been around forever, notably LT Martez Ivey, who was the #2 overall prospect to the 247 composite in 2015, has been starting since 2015, was all-SEC in 2016, and still occasionally looks like a true freshman. Ivey had two false starts in this game, though that sort of thing is often on the center not knowing the cadence. RT Jawaan Taylor and RG Frederick Johnson are a JBB/Onwenu mauler crew. On the other hand Taylor needed constant tight end/backfield help in pass protection, and Johnson got pulled for a long stretch after a pair of instant pressures he allowed. LG Tyler Jordan might be the best of the bunch—they're a right-handed running team because of the maul brothers but also because Jordan's their best pulling guard. RG Brett Heggie, who started 7 games last year, came in for Johnson and was fine, but seemed confused on the protections.
The caveat here is pass pro:
I did some UFR-style tracking of protections and came up with 41/56 (73%). That is bad. Buchanan is particularly bad in all facets of centerhood—including and especially not snapping it over your quarterback's head.
[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]