Florida’s offense clicked Saturday night against a hapless New Mexico State team, and while the quarterbacks stole the headlines, another position group appeared resurrected, too.
The Gators may actually have tight ends again.
In the last couple seasons, UF’s tight ends have disappeared better than Houdini.
The invisible group totaled just 30 catches for 279 yards and three scores since 2012, as unit relied on a pair of converted defensive linemen.
The Gators’ tight ends — senior Jake McGee, sophomore DeAndre Goolsby and redshirt freshman C’yontai Lewis — were a focal point in their explosive 61-13 win over the Aggies.
The versatile trio combined for seven receptions, 100 yards and two scores.
“We believe in using tight ends,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.
“We believe in multiple formations and shifts. The more they can handle, the more effective we’re going to be offensively. … I felt that was a strong spot in camp, and they didn’t disappoint.”
They certainly did not.
After the group was largely ignored and later maligned (see: Tevin Westbrook’s potential game-winning drop against LSU) during the Will Muschamp era, McElwain, along with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, featured the unit repeatedly Saturday night.
Florida’s utilized multiple tight end sets on nearly 38 percent of its offensive snaps in the opener.
“It was awesome,” said McGee, who returned to action for the first time since breaking his leg in Florida’s opener last season.
“The whole unit played great. For me getting back out there, I loved it. C’yontai scored twice, made some big plays. It was awesome, everybody making big catches and really getting everybody in [the game].”
Florida’s trio flashed as playmakers, solid route-runners and sound blockers. Lewis had little trouble getting open, recording touchdowns on his first two collegiate receptions.
The 6-4, 228-pound redshirt freshman had an excellent camp, and could be a star in UF’s new tight end-friendly offense.
“He’s been one of those guys in practice,” McElwain said.
“When you execute it in practice, you’ll probably get [some chances] on Saturday. He does a great job paying attention to details. … He proved it today.”