Advertisement

What you might have missed from Florida-UMass

Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) throws to Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) for a gain of eight yards in the second quarter, resulting in a first down during the game between the Florida Gators and UMass in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla.
Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) throws to Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) for a gain of eight yards in the second quarter, resulting in a first down during the game between the Florida Gators and UMass in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla.
Published Sept. 4, 2016

GAINESVILLE — Once Antonio Callaway broke away, the rest was easy.

Quarterback Luke Del Rio flicked the ball toward the end zone, and Callaway hauled it in for No. 25 Florida's first touchdown of the season in the first quarter against UMass on Saturday. There wasn't a defender within 10 yards of him.

The Gators ended up with one more touchdown and a trio of field goals, winning 24-7 over UMass on Saturday night. However, Florida's offense was far from inspiring in its season opener.

"We didn't have any," coach Jim McElwain said when asked about the lack of explosive plays. "We've got to get them."

Del Rio, a transfer from Oregon State making the first start of his career in his Florida debut, was 29-for-44 for 256 yards and two touchdowns, and he wasn't intercepted. His longest pass went for 26 yards, a touchdown to Brandon Powell in the fourth quarter.

The running game couldn't establish much momentum, either.

Florida's committee of four running backs — Jordan Cronkrite, Jordan Scarlett, Mark Thompson and Lamical Perine — failed to get anything going. UF's longest run came from Scarlett for 11 yards.

Eventually, Scarlett emerged as the hot back and finished the game with 70 yards on 13 carries. However, the group of four finished with just 96 yards total.

Still, McElwain was optimistic but said the Gators need to improve.

"We've got a long ways to go," he said.

New name, same Spurrier

Florida renamed its field Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium before the game, and the man responsible for the change brought the passion of a coach to his pregame speech to the crowd.

Given about two minutes of airtime, the former Gators playing great and coach (above) serenaded the crowd in the stadium he coined "The Swamp" with stories about the Georgia Bulldogs — which brought boos — and classic Gators chants, though many of them were inaudible over the cheers raining down from fans.

He finished with "Only Gators get out alive" before throwing on a yellow T-shirt with a printed-on orange and blue tie to lead the Florida faithful in the "Mr. Two Bits" chant.

Under Spurrier, who coached at UF from 1990-2001, the Gators captured six SEC titles and their first national championship, in 1996. Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy as a player at Florida in 1966.

For kicks

Eddy Pineiro, the YouTube kicking sensation who has posted videos of himself making field goals from more than 60 yards deep, got his college career off to a promising start. The redshirt sophomore from Miami (near left, No. 15) didn't miss any kicks, going 3-for-3 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points. He nailed an extra point for his first career score. He followed that up with a 40-yard field goal after having a 28-yard field goal disallowed after an offside penalty against UMass. In the fourth quarter, he had field goals of 49 yards — it put Florida up 13-7 and left fans chanting "Eddy, Eddy, Eddy" — and 48 yards. For comparison, Austin Hardin's season-long field goal was 43 yards in 2015. Pineiro also got confused about from where he had to kick off after one of his field goals, but coach Jim McElwain said that was remedied quickly. The kicking "was a positive," he said.