A detailed look at how the Florida Gators performed offensively position-by-position in the Orange & Blue Game.
Offensive observations from Saturday's Orange & Blue Game.
Feleipe Franks Impresses Once Again
Those who saw Feliepe Franks in the open practices during the spring were not surprised with what they saw during the Orange and Blue Game on Saturday. The redshirt junior looked poised in the pocket with a zip on the ball that allowed him to stand out in a game with plenty of scoring. In the first drive of the game, Franks threw a beautiful pass to Kadarius Toney in the back corner of the endzone that capped off a seven-play, 65-yard drive. Franks led the Orange team for the entirety of the first half and looked comfortable behind an offensive line that gave up a lot of pressures. He was able to go through his reads, roll out when necessary and make throws in tight windows. Franks connected well with Toney and Trevon Grimes, who he hit four times for an average of 48.8 yards per completion. Franks has shown time and again this spring that he will be the starter for the first game of the regular season Aug. 24 against Miami.
Final Stat Line: 13/18, 327 yards, 4 TDs, 287.0 QBR, 1 INT. 5 carries for 2 yards. Franks’ one interception came on a scripted play when former Gator Lito Sheppard stepped in from the sidelines and returned the interception for a touchdown.
Emory Jones Decent With Few Opportunities
One word to describe Emory Jones this spring has been “inconsistent.” He has looked like the starter at times while, other times, looks lost and discouraged. Jones faced a lot of pressure on Saturday behind a lackluster offensive line. The redshirt freshman seemed to have a defender in his face every play, and he was forced to roll out of the pocket more often than not. Jones was “sacked” twice in the game but still managed to throw some beautiful passes, including a 35-yard touchdown to Tyrie Cleveland in the third quarter.
Jones showed promise and, when he is able to step into his throws, is accurate with his deep ball. His biggest area of improvement will be to keep his eyes downfield when he is flushed out of the pocket. Though his running ability allowed him to lead his team in rushing, he missed multiple receivers downfield for bigger gains.
Final Stat Line: 6/13 117 yards, 2TDs, 157.1 QBR, 1 INT. 6 carries for 46 yards. Jones’ interception came in the first quarter when cornerback C.J. McWilliams jumped the route over the middle of the field.
Kyle Trask Slow Start
Kyle Trask stepped onto the field after Franks’ successful first drive where he drove down the field with little trouble. Trask attempted to imitate this but had a different outcome. He stepped back on the fourth play of the drive looking for wide receiver Freddie Swain in the flat, but he didn’t see John Huggins, who jumped the route and returned the interception 80 yards for a pick-six. Trask knew immediately he made a mistake as soon as he threw the ball but could not catch up to the speedy Huggins. His rough day continued into the second drive with mental mistakes and multiple penalties that put his offense in a hole.
But Trask did bounce back after his slow start, making three nice throws on that same drive and completing a touchdown over the middle Freddie Swain. Trask showed an ability to not get down on himself and only got better as the game went along.
Final Stat Line: 11/16, 209 Yards, 207.2 QBR, 1 INT. 2 carries for 2 yards
Lots of passing in the high-scoring affair came at the cost of the running game. Whether it was to prevent injuries to a unit that will be important in the fall or due to the lack of holes produced by the offensive line, the running back corps simply did not see much action on either team on Saturday.
Dameon Pierce led all running backs on both rosters with six carries and 47 yards. He was good with the few opportunities he was given, bouncing off tacklers and running hard at the second level. But it was two quarterbacks who led the teams in rushing. Emory Jones scooted for 46 yards on six rollouts and freshman Jalon Jones outran everyone with 63 yards on three carries, including a 34-yard scamper on his first play of the game in the third quarter.
Trevon Grimes Dominates
The wide receivers had the most fun on Saturday, and none more than Grimes, who set the record for most receiving yards during the Orange and Blue Game with 195. The junior hauled in just four passes but averaged almost 50 yards every time he did. While he’s his ups and downs during spring practices, Grimes’ explosion on Saturday displayed what a weapon the 6-foot-5 receiver can be, and it will be interesting to see if this translates to production in the fall.
Final State Line: 4 receptions, 195 yards, 2 TDs.
Freddie Swain Is Still Dangerous
While Grimes stood out for the Orange team, Swain was making splash plays for the Blue. The senior receiver was the standout for his side with 103 yards on five catches. He was the first read for both Emory Jones and Kyle Trask on most plays and often turned short plays into long gains with his speed and agility.
Final Stat Line: 5 receptions, 115 yards 2 TDs
Kadarius Toney Was Exciting
Dan Mullen continues to utilize his favorite gadget player as much as possible. Though he spent most of his time on the outside, Toney made plays from all over the field, often from screen plays where he could show off his speed and cutting skill to create alleys for himself. He also had a chance to show off his throwing ability on the first play of the game on a double-reverse pass that ended with him throwing a 40-yard bomb back to Feleipe Franks. Mullen loves using Toney’s athleticism for trick plays, and it should continue in the fall.
Final Stat Line: 4 receptions, 94 yards, 1 TD
The Orange team focused more on the outside while the Blue team took advantage with its size over the middle. Kemore Gamble and Kyle Pitts had a combined 121 yards on six receptions Saturday. Pitts also looked good in pass protection for a line that needed it. When Blue went into max protection with Pitts on the line, the team had a lot more success, and the quarterbacks had much more time.
Both teams’ offensive lines allowed a total of seven sacks on Saturday against a defense that ran mostly vanilla plays and few blitz packages. The trenches were dominated by the defense and the young offensive line unit was pushed around for most of the game. Constant pressure on the quarterbacks and no push at the line of scrimmage in the run game forced a few drives to come to screeching halts. John Hevesy has had his hands full with this unit this spring that sports three freshmen.
Mullen noted in the post-game press conference that, while it has progressed, this unit is still incomplete. He said he will still be on the recruiting trail, possibly looking for graduate transfers to fill the holes on this thin offensive line.