The Gators’ offensive line was a mixed bag against Miami. Quarterback Feleipe Franks was sacked just once, and that was mostly his fault for holding onto the ball too long in a two-minute situation at the end of the first half. However, Florida rushed for just 52 yards at a 1.9 yards-per-carry clip. They likely won’t win too many big games this season if they can’t get the ground game going more than that.
Offensive line coach John Hevesy didn’t sound too concerned about the unit after practice on Tuesday. He said he doesn’t put a whole lot of stock into statistics. He evaluates the line’s performance based off of whether they did what they needed to for the team to win the game. Against the Hurricanes, that meant a pass-heavy attack. Sometime later this season, they might need to rush for 300 yards to win the game.
He seemed pleased with the group’s performance, and he said they didn’t have any missed assignments. The biggest key for the line to continue progressing is for them to improve at some of the smaller details of playing the position and translating what they see in the film room to the field a little bit better.
For three of the five starters, the Miami game was their first time receiving extensive playing time. Hevesy said that, at times, they tried to do things differently than they had in practice. He wants them to understand that they go against one of the best defensive lines in the county every day in practice, and they see everything the opponent’s going to throw at them on film.
“You don’t need to do something different than we’ve done in practice and what you’ve done to get yourself there and put yourself in a starting role to go out and play,” Hevesy said. “I think part of the little things here and there were just not trusting technique in their first game, that they’ve got to do something different. So, I think the biggest thing for them is now seeing on film, correcting themselves and seeing, you know what, I didn’t need to do that. So, I think that’s just the biggest thing. We’ve got to get better from game one to game two.”
Explaining the First Turnover
On Monday, a tweet made its way around the internet with a clip of the fumbled exchange between Franks and running back Lamical Perine. The person who tweeted the clip believed that Franks was trying to pull the ball back and throw to a wide-open Trevon Grimes on a slant for an easy score.
Franks confirmed that was his intent on Tuesday.
“It just got mixed up,” he said. “He thought I was giving it. I was trying to pull it. Things we do every day. Just clean up. The percentage of that happening again in the season is very low. First game, get all those little mistakes out of the way. Play a very good defense, top-four defense, just get those little things cleaned up. That would have been a touchdown right there. There’s a couple of other plays that should have been touchdowns. Get those little things cleaned up, and our offense will get rolling again.”
Franks Draws Criticism on Social Media Again
After his go-ahead touchdown run against the Hurricanes, ESPN showed Franks looking into the camera on the sideline and saying, “I do this, so don’t play with me.” After taking a knee on the final play, he ran over to the south end zone and punted the ball into the crowd.
In what has almost become an annual tradition at this point, Franks received a ton of criticism from Gators fans on social media following the game. A lot of people didn’t view his celebrations as funny or good-natured. They thought he was drawing unnecessary attention to himself, making his own fans look bad and embarrassing the program, especially since he didn’t have the greatest of games.
Franks said the criticism doesn’t bother him at all, and he’s going to keep being himself.
“I don’t need anybody’s approval,” he said. “I’m myself. I’m my own person. At the end of the day, that’s what makes me who I am. People inside this building know who I am, know what kind of person I am. Humble, try to be the best teammate I can be, always put the team first. I’m a passionate player. I love to win. Winning is my No. 1 goal, and we won. We got the job done.”
Despite the backlash, his teammates remain staunch in their support of him.
“If everybody seen him on the field, off the field, in the house like I see him, you'll know he means no harm,” receiver Trevon Grimes said. “It's just who he is and what he loves to do. He's passionate about the game, so I love his celebrations.
“People don't understand, he goes through so much stuff. He goes through so much criticism, and he still has to go out there and play in front of 80,000 fans. So, it's a lot of pressure, and when he shows that he can do what everyone thinks he can't, it’s a pride-filling presence. It's just like, ‘That's my quarterback,’ and I get to brag about that. So, I like his celebrations, and I look forward to them every game.”
Grimes said the whole team rallies behind Franks’ confidence. After Franks scored his go-ahead touchdown, the entire offense rushed to him to help him up and celebrate with him.
Cleaning Up Tackling, Penalties a Priority
Saturday was a weird game for the UF defense. They recorded an astounding 10 sacks, the most for the program since at least 1996, yet they found themselves holding on for dear life in the final minutes.
The biggest issue throughout the game was tackling. Broken tackles aren’t an official statistic, but 25 would be a good place to start for an estimate. Both of Miami’s touchdowns resulted from broken tackles.
Fixing the tackling problems, particularly in the secondary, is a major priority during this bye week, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. Some of the biggest issues he saw were guys taking poor angles, having poor eye-discipline and simply not finishing tackles. He wouldn’t blame any of the poor tackling on first-game rust.
“We've got to coach better, and they've got to play better,” he said. “There's always a balance in practice of getting guys ready and prepared and keeping guys healthy. So, you always have that, but everybody's got that same issue, so you've got to look at the plays you made. We made some plays in space. You watch, there were some good tackles, it's just that when you're in space like that for 80-some plays, seven to 10 plays can get noticed, and those are the ones we've got to get better at.
“It's really more about leverage, eye control, don't stop your feet, understand where your target is, continue to go through your target, run through your target, wrap and squeeze and then get the guy down. It's not like you've got to thud the guy and kill it. It’s, ‘Get him on the ground.’ You've got to be able to do that.”
They also made things harder on themselves by committing a slew of pass interference, late hit out of bounds and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the second half.
As far as pass interference goes, Grantham said that has to do with discipline and understanding the situation. There’s no reason to be super aggressive on fourth-and-34.
“You've got to understand your leverage, and that goes back to the choices with your eyes,” he said. “Understand that you maintain your proper eye control that allows you to maintain your leverage. And then choices, you've got to understand there's a sideline. When the guy's out of bounds, you can't hit him. So, that's pretty basic."