Spring games are more or less just glorified scrimmages, but they are fun ways to conclude spring practice and get us one step closer to the real season.
Florida's Orange and Blue Debut had a much different feel this year, as it was a night game and there was a lot of anticipation around the quarterback play.
Here are three things we learned from Florida's spring game:
1. The offense has a pulse ... and a quarterback: OK, some honest perspective is needed for this. Florida's coaches decided to have the first-team offense face the second-team defense, while the second-team offense faced the first-team defense. So you couldn't walk away from this game really knowing just how good the offensive ones are going to be. Still, there was actual excitement in Florida's passing game, and the Gators have three running backs they should be able to rely on this fall. More on that later.
Top quarterback Luke Del Rio made all the throws he needed to prove to be the leader under center for the Gators to close the spring. He was smooth in his progressions, never looked frazzled add delivered a handful of pretty passes this offense didn't see last year. Del Rio went 10-of-11 for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the Blue team's 44-6 win over the Orange team. His first attempt was a 46-yard completion to C.J. Worton and his final one was a 19-yard touchdown to Dre Massey. His only incompletion was a smart throw-away pass when pressure came.
As a whole, the Blue offense totaled 333 yards. Granted, this was against the second-team defense, but the offensive line looked way more consistent Friday night. Running lanes opened up and quarterbacks had time to throw. We'd know a whole lot more if the ones played the ones, but fans had to at least like seeing a competent offense in the Swamp.
2. The Gators have a kicker: Fans were delighted by the offense, but they were gaga over new kicker Eddy Pineiro -- the soccer player-turned-Internet sensation after he drilled a 77-yard field goal. The No. 1 juco kicker, who actually didn't play football, looked mostly unflappable under the bright lights, drilling field goals of 52, 46 and 56 yards and nailing all five of his extra-point attempts. His only misses came from 53 and 52 yards.
Pineiro is slowly gaining folk hero status in Gainesville, and coaches have to be thrilled to finally have a true place-kicker. The Gators were awful on field goals last year, as three kickers combined to go a paltry 9-of-20 on field-goal attempts. Austin Hardin, who transferred, went 5-for-14 on field goals last year.
3. Florida could have a trio of talented tailbacks this fall: Again, caution is needed when it comes to reviewing the Blue team running backs, but the Gators could be just fine at running back with 1,000-yard rusher Kelvin Taylor gone.
Junior college transfer Mark Thompson, who needed to play more physical at times this spring, was the brightest spot, rushing for a game-high 46 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown, on five carries against the second-team defense. Thompson, whose 6-foot-2, 242-pound frame has drawn comparisons to former Alabama running back Derrick Henry, looked tough and agile with his runs and could be a load to defend if he continues to grow within the offense. Sophomore Jordan Cronkrite, who led at this position for most of the spring, carried it three times for 19 yards against the No. 2 defense, while fellow sophomore Jordan Scarlett rushed seven times for five yards against the first-team defense with the second-team offensive line blocking for him. Also, keep an eye on former walk-on Mark Herndon, who battled back from an ACL injury but rushed for 21 yards on eight carries against the first-team offense. Coach Jim McElwain could find use for him on the field this fall.