Just prior to the Tennessee game, the Florida Gators’ depth chart listed redshirt sophomore Adam Mihalek as the starting kicker with sophomore Trey Smack receiving kickoff duties.
After a dismal start against the Vols, head coach Billy Napier made the switch to Smack. The move paid off against Charlotte Saturday as the Severna Park, MD native saved the day by knocking down five field goals, including a 54-yard attempt in the second quarter.
The Gators defeated Charlotte, 22-7, but left the game with more questions than answers.
Florida rushed for just 136 yards for an average of 3.8 per carry. Montrell Johnson led the Gators with 63 yards on 16 attempts.
QB Graham Mertz played well, going 20-23 for 259 yards, however, yet again there were no deep shots from the offense.
Mertz was aided in the first quarter by Ricky Pearsall who made an incredible one-handed grab and held on as two defenders crashed into him. The play is one of the most impressive in program history.
RIDICULOUS catch by Ricky Pearsall😳— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 23, 2023
But the story of the game was the Gators’ inability to execute in the red zone. Florida scored just once in five trips inside the twenty. Mertz found Arlis Boardingham for a score on the opening drive, but the offense settled for field goals on each other opportunity.
The Florida defense did their job. The 49ers gained just 210 yards of total offense and were limited to less than three yards a carry. Former Gators QB Jalon Jones (dismissed due to sexual assault allegations) was unable to get into a rhythm in the passing game and threw for just 111 yards. Jones added 65 yards on the ground.
Florida will face Kentucky Saturday at noon. The game will be aired on either ESPN or SEC Network.