Florida Football 3-2-1

Aug 31, 2019 | 0 comments

The Gators’ performance against Miami provided more questions than answers. Quarterback Feleipe Franks turned the ball over three times, and the defense couldn’t seem to wrap anybody up. The team spent the bye week once again trying to defend their quarterback, who got blasted by angry fans for some of his celebrations and sideline antics.

Here are three observations, two questions and one prediction heading into UT Martin game week:

Three Observations

1) Despite all of the negativity on social media, Franks’ teammates and coaches still believe in him and have his back. The most glaring example of this came from receiver Trevon Grimes after practice on Tuesday. He said that the people saying bad things about Franks don’t know what kind of person he really is and how hard he works to help this team win. Franks impressed him with the way he ignores all of the criticism and just keeps being himself. Coach Dan Mullen said the public perception of Franks’ play would’ve been completely different without that second interception. Mullen said the blame for that interception largely falls on him. He thought Miami’s defense was going to load the box, try to stuff the run and play man-to-man on the outside. Instead, they played zone. Manny Diaz outcoached Mullen on that play. Franks tried to throw the ball away but couldn’t get enough power on the throw because of pressure. Take out that play, and Franks was 17-for-26 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and one pick. That’s a pretty good game against a defense like Miami’s. On the fumbled exchange between Franks and Lamical Perine, Franks was trying to pull the ball out and throw to a wide-open Grimes for a touchdown, but there was a miscommunication, and Perine tried holding onto the ball. These aren’t excuses for Franks, but they show that his mind was in the right place. The execution just wasn’t there, and that should be fairly easy to clean up. This is still Franks’ team, and it will be for the foreseeable future.

2) Linebacker Ventrell Miller was the biggest surprise against the Hurricanes. All of the talk about Florida’s linebacking corps entering the season surrounded David Reese and Amari Burney. Miller opened fall camp working with the third team. He was the best linebacker on the field on Saturday, and that includes Miami’s preseason All-American, Shaquille Quarterman. Miller recorded a career-high six tackles and two sacks. He showcased impressive speed and tackling ability in the open field. The next step in his development is going to be his coverage skills. He was the primary weakside linebacker on early downs, but they substituted him out for Burney in passing situations. That’s going to be key for him when the Gators start to play some more spread-oriented offenses in the coming weeks.

3) The defensive line has a chance to be one of the best lines in the SEC. Much has been made about the 10 sacks over the past week, but it was such a dominating performance that it’s worth repeating. Yes, Miami’s offensive line is young and not very good, but they had to work hard for at least a handful of the sacks. Mullen said that one of the things that stood out to him was that the linemen had to chase Jarren Williams around the field on some of the plays. The first guy to get there wasn’t always the guy making the play. Despite all the penalties and poor tackling in the secondary, the unit kept battling and found a way to carry the team to victory.

Two Questions

1) The offensive line allowed just one sack, but can they get the running game going more? The Gators rushed for just 52 yards at 1.9 yards-per-carry. Offensive line coach John Hevesy said he wasn’t too concerned about the running game. He basically said that Miami’s defense took away their running game and forced them to win through the air, so that’s what they did. In future games, there might be more opportunities on the ground. Mullen said only running 54 plays and not getting into a flow offensively hurt them a little bit as well. Still, averaging 1.9-yards-per-carry against any defense is terrible. Can the running game still become one of UF’s biggest strengths as a lot of people thought it would be entering the season?

2) With the problems with tackling in the secondary, will they make any changes at the starting safety spots? Donovan Stiner and Jeawon Taylor got the start against the Hurricanes and couldn’t have played much worse. Stiner was often out of position, and Taylor let guys bounce off of him instead of wrapping up. In fairness to Taylor, he was in a non-contact jersey for most of fall camp, but performances like that aren’t acceptable. Shawn Davis played pretty well in his limited snaps, and Brad Stewart could be back from suspension next week. After the second game last season, the Gators made wholesale changes at defensive tackle. Might they do the same this year at safety?

One Prediction

After Florida beats UT Martin by 50 points next weekend, the angry Twitter mob will calm down and everybody will be feeling optimistic about the season again. Playing a good team like Miami to open the season has its pros and cons. On the positive side, it shows the players and coaches exactly what their weaknesses are right now and what they need to focus on in practice over the next couple of weeks. On the negative side, a lot of fans don’t seem to understand that the way they played against the Hurricanes isn’t necessarily indicative of the way they’ll play the rest of the season. They don’t need to be better than Auburn, LSU or Georgia right now; they just need to better than them on the day they play them. It’s a long season filled with ups and downs. If the Miami game was a down, then Gators fans are in for a special year. All will be well in Gator Nation again next Saturday night.


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