Florida Football 3-2-1

Dec 2, 2019 | 0 comments

Saturday couldn’t have gone much better for the No. 11 Gators. They blew out Florida State, sent out a beloved senior class in style and received a boost to their New Year’s Six hopes with the results of some of the day’s other games.

Now, the attention turns to recruiting and the bowl game. The early signing period begins on Dec.18, and UF will learn its bowl assignment on Sunday.

Here are three observations, two questions and one prediction following the conclusion of the regular season.

Three Observations

1) Quarterback Emory Jones played the best game of his career when considering the level of competition. He completed five of his six throws for 47 yards and a touchdown. Most significantly, Jones demonstrated an ability to make different types of throws based off of the coverage and pass-rush. Late in the first quarter, he fired a bullet over the middle of the field to Tyrie Cleveland on a 16-yard post pattern. Midway through the second quarter, they called a play that was designed for Jones to throw to tight end Kyle Pitts on a rollout to his right. However, he had pressure coming at him, so he dropped his arm-angle and side-armed his throw to Pitts. On his touchdown pass to Van Jefferson in the third quarter, he recognized that Jefferson had separation from his defender and took some velocity off of his throw to make the ball more catchable. Then he had a beautiful pass to Jacob Copeland on a deep crossing route on the final play of the game. If there’s one knock on Kyle Trask, it’s that he doesn’t always do a great job of changing his throws based on the situation. A lot of his throws seems to travel at the same speed and with the same arc. Jones had struggled earlier in his career to find the right timing with his receivers. He had to see them standing open before he would release the ball. He did a nice job of leading his receivers in a way that allowed them to run after the catch against FSU.

2) The Gators sent out their senior class in as good of a way as anyone could hope for. The four senior receivers each started the game. Freddie Swain caught five passes for 62 yards and two scores in the first half before sitting out the remainder of the night with a minor knee injury. Jefferson got into the end zone twice. While he didn’t score as many were hoping, Tyrie Cleveland broke off a 40-yard kickoff return and a 25-yard catch and run. Josh Hammond turned a screen into 31 yards. Running back Lamical Perine compiled 58 all-purpose yards. Defensive end Jonathan Greenard dominated and picked up three sacks. More important than the outcome of the game was the way their fans treated them throughout the day. They received thunderous applauses when they were announced as starters and during their Senior Night ceremony. Some of them lingered around the field longer than usual after the game to soak it all in.

3) The gap between UF and FSU might be as large as its ever been. While the Gators won by “only” 23 points, they easily could’ve put up 50 or 60 points if they wanted to. It felt like watching a more hyped-up repeat of the Vanderbilt game. And the gap figures to only get bigger over the next year. In addition to adjusting to a new head coach, the Seminoles’ top-2 offensive playmakers are draft-eligible in Cam Akers and Tamorrian Terry. Given the status of the rest of their offense, don’t be surprised if both leave. Top pass-rusher Janarius Robinson and safety Hamsah Nasirildeen could also leave early. While the Gators will lose a lot of offensive firepower and pass-rush, they seem better positioned to replace starters than the Seminoles. Don’t be surprised if UF’s winning streak over FSU lasts at least another two or three years.

Two Questions

1) When the College Football Playoff committee releases its rankings on Tuesday night, will Florida be ranked ahead of Alabama? If you just look at the two teams’ resumes and remove the Crimson Tide’s decade-long run of championships out of the picture, UF should unquestionably be ranked ahead of Alabama. The Gators have one win over a top-25 opponent in Auburn. Alabama has zero. Florida beat Auburn, while Alabama lost to them. Alabama’s defense is virtually non-existent, while Florida is a fairly well-balanced team. However, Alabama’s reputation undoubtedly will carry some weight, which makes this decision interesting. It could be crucial to UF’s New Year’s Six hopes. If they’re ranked ahead of Alabama, they should have the Orange Bowl all but locked up with an outside chance at the Sugar Bowl. If they’re behind Alabama, they’ll likely need both LSU and Georgia to make the playoff.

2) On Sunday, quarterback Feleipe Franks announced his decision to leave UF and either play his final season of eligibility somewhere else or enter the NFL Draft. While this decision wasn’t unexpected, could it cause the Gators to look for a transfer quarterback to add depth? They’re not going to add any more high school quarterbacks to their recruiting class, but are they really going to be content with only having three scholarship quarterbacks again next season, especially given Trask’s injury history? Ideally, they would have four, with one in each class. If they’re going to add a transfer, they’ll need to act quickly.

One Prediction

1) Florida will play Virginia in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. Most likely, UF will be ranked ahead of Alabama when the playoff committee’s next poll comes out. If LSU beats Georgia as expected, that will knock the Bulldogs out of the playoff and into the Sugar Bowl as the SEC’s highest-ranked non-playoff team. UF would be the next highest-ranked SEC team and get the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl is required to take an ACC team, and Virginia seems like the likely selection as the Coastal division champion.

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