Despite claiming the SEC East title in his first two years, something no other SEC coach has done in conference history, the Gators will need to put some offensive pressure on MI to set the tone for the season, especially with first time starter sophomore Feleipe Franks lined up under center come Saturday afternoon.
The second drive Jordan Sherit tallied a sack in his first game back from injury then had to watch as his line let Ty Isaac bust free on the next play for 36 yards. That drive ended with a blocked punt. Speight completed 11 of 25 passes for 181 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
From there, it seemed that it would be a cakewalk, but then Speight's past demons seemed to resurface.
After the back-to-back interceptions, Speight was pulled as MI replaced him with John O'Korn.
Back-to-back interceptions were returned for touchdowns on Saturday turning a 10-3 deficit for the Florida Gators into a 17-10 lead over MI. Florida was without its leading receiver and running back, suspended with eight teammates. MI kept long drives going on offense and kept Florida drives to a minimum on defense.
Florida did its best to shake things up, even switching to graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire. They scored another touchdown, this one on the ground.
Despite having a more experienced offensive line, the Gators couldn't open any holes for running backs Mark Thompson (5 carries, 14 yards) or Lamical Perine (7 carries, 11 yards).
Coach Jim Harbaugh will reveal his starting quarterback just before the game. It wasn't anything they came up with that we couldn't block. However, with his early struggles, O'Korn took over. MI ran the ball effectively in a big game. That's why Harbaugh ultimately went back to Plan A after only a few drives as Speight was clearly the better option.
The only true freshmen who did not make the trip are the four under suspension (offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort, linebacker James Houston, linebacker Ventrell Miller and wide receiver James Robinson) and the two who are injured (linebacker Nick Smith and tight end Kemore Gamble). He's a player with obvious and known flaws. We'll get better moving forward. That all has to be said.
The Wolverines appear to have everything else in place again. He hit two field goals that were 50 yards or longer and finished the day four of five. Between poor ball security, no real plays being made and just generally looking overwhelmed, he wasn't ready for the moment. "He had some jitters, but he had a good look in his eyes". Speight threw the back-to-back pick-sixes, one that tipped off a receiver and the other a fastball that sailed high. Though the circumstances were far less than favorable, it appears they're still searching.
It was an all-around bad day for the Florida offensive line, which is supposed to be a team strength but was a glaring weakness in the 33-17 loss to MI. Because of that, there were plenty who doubted this Wolverines team in light of the turnover on the roster. "And yet they (Michigan) took advantage on some big throws and they did what any normal coach would do".
Against this Florida team, the defense for the Wolverines looked just as dominant as it was for much of past year - particularly up front. Maurice Hurst was breaking up plays constantly. "You know I kind of kicked myself for the second one, because it was completely my fault, just sailed it over Grant's head".