Friday, September 21, 2018
Colleges

Pros (experience) and cons (toasted deep) for Gator freshmen

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — After redshirt senior safety Nick Washington left Saturday's game with an injury, a 46-yard touchdown pass on the next play emphasized just how tough it was for Florida to lean on inexperienced players in its 33-17 loss to Michigan.

"It's never easy to play your first college game in (AT&T Stadium) against this opponent," redshirt senior Jordan Sherit (Hillsborough High) said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made a point of testing the youngsters in Florida's secondary, which was trying to replace the losses of defensive backs Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye to the NFL draft.

But despite all the inexperience, it wasn't all negative for Florida's freshmen defensive backs.

CJ Henderson had one of the defense's top plays when he intercepted an overthrow from Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Gators a 17-10 edge, their biggest lead of the game.

Henderson also wrapped up Michigan receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones at the 7-yard line on a punt return. In the third quarter, he came up with a third-down stop, tackling receiver Grant Perry a yard shy of a first down.

Florida cornerback Marco Wilson, brother of Quincy Wilson, had three tackles on the day, but he also let receiver Tarik Black beat him on the sideline for a 37-yard gain.

Coach Jim McElwain didn't criticize his freshmen but acknowledged that the Wolverines were able to exploit them.

"I didn't think they did bad, and yet (Michigan) took advantage on some big throws," McElwain said. "Those guys will learn a ton from this."

Freshmen defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton and safety Donovan Stiner, a Texas native, also earned their first career tackles for Florida. Stiner's came on special teams while Slaton's came on a run from Michigan tailback Chris Evans.

Despite the learning curve, McElwain got about as much as he expected from his freshmen in the secondary.

"I think a bunch of those young DBs, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with," McElwain said. "It was a physical (game), it was one where they needed to be able to cover deep balls."

On offense, freshman running back Malik Davis — who set the all-time Hillsborough County high school rushing record while at Jesuit — rushed for 8 yards on his only carry of the game at the start of the second quarter.

Comments

Examining Florida-Tennessee, FSU-NIU and the other state college football matchups

Eye on the NFL draftAt 6-foot-1, 237 pounds, Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith doesn't have NFL size, but he does have next-level productivity. He ranked in the top four nationally last year in sacks, tackles for loss and fumbles forced/recovered. Fl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jimbo vs. Saban (again), CCC alum Jeff Smith starring and more national nuggets

Jimbo vs. Saban (again), CCC alum Jeff Smith starring and more national nuggets

Local of the weekBoston College WR Jeff Smith (Clearwater Central Catholic)After recording the first 100-yard game of his career last week, Smith could be in for another big showing against a bad Purdue pass defense. He'll try to help the No. 23 Eagl...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Heisman watch: Ohio Stateís Dwayne Haskins joins the mix

Heisman watch: Ohio Stateís Dwayne Haskins joins the mix

5. Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins: Putting up 352 yards of offense on TCU is enough to join the top five.4. Houston DL Ed Oliver: Leads all active players with 1.57 tackles for a loss per game and should pad that stat against poor Texas Southern.3. Wes...
Updated: 4 hours ago
College football Week 4 viewing guide

College football Week 4 viewing guide

Lamest time window: Early. Just make sure you're around for the late afternoon/evening slate.Noon: No. 8 Notre Dame has had back-to-back shaky weeks. A third in a row could mean a loss at Wake Forest.3:30: It's not saying much, but No. 22 Texas A&M w...
Updated: 5 hours ago
New coaches try to re-ignite Gators-Vols rivalry

New coaches try to re-ignite Gators-Vols rivalry

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If any venue screams for a '90s retro night, it's Neyland Stadium.The University of Tennessee will deliver Saturday when it recognizes its 1998 national titlists, whose improbable season was getting wound up just as Sein...
Published: 09/20/18
Gatorsí 2019 football schedule released

Gatorsí 2019 football schedule released

The Gators' first home game against Auburn in more than a decade, and their first contest against Miami in more than a half-decade, highlight their 2019 schedule released Tuesday.The complete schedule, as well as the slates for every SEC school, can ...
Published: 09/18/18
A year after Hail Mary, Feleipe Franks still a work in progressions

A year after Hail Mary, Feleipe Franks still a work in progressions

GAINESVILLE — The one-year anniversary came and went Sunday, with most of Gainesville seemingly oblivious.Even now, in the sweet spot of another Florida-Tennessee game week, the 2017 Feleipe Franks-to-Tyrie Cleveland Hail Mary isn't so muc...
Published: 09/18/18
Willie Taggart inherited a rough offensive line situation that has gotten even worse

Willie Taggart inherited a rough offensive line situation that has gotten even worse

Take your pick of ugly stats or stories about how bad Florida State's offensive line is. Like how only three teams in the nation have allowed more tackles for a loss than FSU (27). Or how one of the most talented running back units in the country ran...
Published: 09/17/18
Gators journal: Volsí 1998 national title squad a sore spot with Mullen

Gators journal: Volsí 1998 national title squad a sore spot with Mullen

The Gators are likely to encounter a little extra wattage Saturday evening inside Neyland Stadium, where Tennessee's 1998 national title team will be honored.It's a nostalgia kick that still makes Dan Mullen wince.The first-year Gators coach was a gr...
Published: 09/17/18
Gators lose Malik Davis to broken foot

Gators lose Malik Davis to broken foot

Gators TB Malik Davis has encountered his second major setback in as many seasons.Coach Dan Mullen announced Monday that Davis, Hillsborough County's all-time leading prep rusher, suffered a broken foot in Saturday's 48-10 triumph against Colorado St...
Published: 09/17/18