Russell Report: What can Gator football fans take away from the first win of the season?

Florida’s starting units played a much cleaner game in terms of not committing penalties.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 3:56 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Hard to take much from Florida’s lopsided win over an outmanned McNeese football team over the weekend except to say it took care of business. McNeese defensively was not going to allow Florida to throw the football and the Gators took advantage with a bruising ground game. And certainly, Florida’s starting units played a much cleaner game in terms of not committing penalties and the plays seemed to come in more crisply and on defense the Gators were solid. But now a big test comes; I think it is a game that could determine how the entire season unfolds as Tennessee hits town this week. Early on, the key to this game for me is to stop Tennessee’s running game and make quarterback Joe Milton beat you through the air. The Volunteers haven’t won in Gainesville since 2003 and they’re just 2-15 against the Gators in that time frame. The Swamp should rock Saturday night.

It’s certainly too early to do it but I had to wonder if we are seeing the beginning of the end of Alabama’s run of true national prominence under the great Nick Saban. Does a win over Alabama by Texas, a once proud program that has been trying to get back to the top nationally as well, mean these programs could be going in opposite directions as Texas enters the SEC next year? It was a huge win for the Longhorns, but now can they sustain the momentum? Bama’s defense got exposed in the loss at home and the offense under quarterback Jalen Milroe just isn’t consistent and he seems a bit mistake prone. A changing of the guard? Perhaps too soon to tell, but Bama’s 21 game home winning streak and a 57-game winning streak against non-conference opponents were both snapped in this game and questions remain.

Gotta love Ben Shelton. What a breath of fresh air he is for the game of tennis at the pro level. Sure, being a Gator helps in the interest level around here, but it was just fun to watch him make his recent run at the U.S. Open. And what I loved even more than his play was his reaction to the great Novak Djokovic trolling Shelton after he beat him in the semis by mimicking Shelton’s phone call “dialed in” celebration he used after some of his wins in the event. Did Shelton get mad? Did he complain? Anything but! Shelton said he doesn’t like people on social media telling him how he should or should not celebrate a victory and he said anyone who wins a match has the right to celebrate any way they want! Pretty mature stuff for a 20-year-old, don’t you think?

Finally, Monday Night Football cranks up tonight and my New York jets are making a rare appearance in the national spotlight as they host the Buffalo Bills. There’s truly excitement for a change with the Jets with Rodgers at quarterback and a young roster that is very good, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I’m asking for a little Dave Snyder magic here from the long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. The Lions pulled off the upset of the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs the other day so maybe the jets can pull this one off too. I hope. I’m Steve Russell, that’s the Russell Report!

RELATED: Russell Report: Are Gator football fans overreacting after losing their season opener at Utah?

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