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Florida Football

10 Takeaways: Keep an even keel

August 25, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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Here are 10 takeaways as No. 8 Florida held on to beat Miami 24-20 Saturday night.

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1) Don't draw any hard-and-fast conclusions after one game. No matter if it is Florida or any other team in football - or any other sport for that matter - you want to write any opinion you may have formed in the season opener with a pencil rather than a pen because you will likely have to revisit those thoughts down the road. As Dan Mullen said after the game, Florida not only came away with the win, but there were plenty of teaching moments as well. What you saw out there tonight isn't what you will see when Kentucky comes to town in three weeks.

2) The first quarter fake punt was a thing of beauty. To fake a punt from your own 28 yard line on your first possession of the game after your opponent just drove 56 yards for a field goal is either ballsy or suicidal, or perhaps a combination of both. I don't know if Mullen felt he had to do something that drastic so early in the game because he thought there would be an element of surprise that was great enough to make it worth the risk, or if he was so concerned that handing the ball back to Miami there was going to be incredibly detrimental to his team's goal of winning the game. Calling that play then as well as Mullen's decision to go for it four times on fourth down (converting all four) is the reason why I wouldn't place any blame on calling a pass with the lead and four minutes remaining. He was putting his foot on Miami's throat. Had Franks not thrown a terrible pass, we would all be applauding Mullen's killer instinct.

3) Coulda, woulda, shoulda. When a game isn't decided until there's 12 seconds left on the clock you don't need me to tell you that the outcome could have gone either way. However, did it really have to come down to the end? To start the second quarter Florida is up 7-3 with a first and goal at the Miami 7 yard line when Feleipe Franks and Lamical Perine have a mishap on a handoff. That unforced error cheated the Gators out of 3 or 7 points. Then after the defense holds to give UF favorable field position at the UM 40, on the second play of the drive, after what looked like some confusion on the play, Malik Davis fumbles the ball without being touched. Had UF simply kicked a field goal on that possession, you are looking at a Florida lead of anywhere from 13-3 or 17-3 and all of the momentum. Does the defense settle in and play with more passion with a bigger lead? Who knows because of course it didn't happen that way.

4) Florida's offensive line is better than we thought. Coming into the game, the thought was that the only way the Gators can possibly lose the game is if UF were to bes manhandled up-front. Not only didn't that happen, the line more than held their own. Yes, there weren't many holes opened in the running game, but they performed much better than expected pass blocking against one of the top 2-3 defensive front sevens the Gators will face this season. This unit, if it stays healthy, is only going to get better, not worse, as the season progresses. John Hevesy to the rescue once again.

5) Florida’s quick strike ability is real. Where Florida found its most success was going down the field. With the offensive line giving him more time than expected, Franks was able to take advantage of it with a couple of vertical strikes. His pass to Josh Hammond was a thing of beauty as was Kadarius Toney taking a screen pass to the house. Those two second quarter turnovers deprived Florida of a few plays, but still Mullen got away from what should be the team strength, the big play ability of the wide outs. If it takes throwing the ball 30-40 times to win the game, then forget that run first mentality and do what you have to do.

6) Which brings us to the biggest issue Florida faces offensively. No, as is stated above, it isn't the offensive line. They played surprisingly well. The issue is Mullen still doesn't fully trust Franks - and for good reason. Franks is what he is. He has some talent and ability, but he makes too many poor decisions to be fully relied upon. That was never more obvious than when Mullen called for a quarterback keeper on a third and goal play from the 8 yard line. That was a signal as clear as can be that he didn't trust Franks not to put the team in a bad situation. And that kind of makes the decision to call the pass with four minutes to go and the lead a bit more peculiar. That terrible throw and decision from Franks is exactly what Mullen feared earlier when he called the keeper.

7) The sack happy defensive line saved the game. It is hard to imagine a scenario where you have sacked an opposing quarterback 10 times, while only giving up one sack yourself, and the game is still in doubt with under 30 seconds to go. However that is exactly what took place Saturday night. Make no mistake about it there was no padding of the stats, go back and rewatch the game, all 10 sacks were needed, and needed badly. Had Florida ended up with either eight or nine sacks, that would have meant one more positive play by UM, and UF likely loses the game. Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard were obvious terrors up front, but give Jeremiah Moon and Kyree Campbell their due as well.

8) One of the most overlooked aspects of Florida's success has been having their starting wide receivers as their special teams gunners. Look around football and you don't see that all that much, or if all. Remember back to the impact Tyrie Cleveland made last year and then what Van Jefferson did on special teams tonight. In the third quarter he basically had the 'fair catch' on the punt to down Miami at the five and then later, he scooped up the muffed punt by Jeff Thomas. Think about it, who on the team has the best hands and most speed? Wide outs and defensive backs. Does a player from another position make the recovery Jefferson with his hands while on the move? I doubt it. Another player probably tries to fall on the ball and we saw how those plays ended up last night. You don't really want the players in your secondary running full speed 50-60 yards to cover a punt and then going out and playing defense right away. However, receivers, they have probably the best hands and after they run down they are taking a seat on the bench. This idea really is one of the best Mullen and Company have had.

9) Miami wanted it more. On paper, from top to bottom, Florida is the better team. To me at least, that isn't even debatable. However, from missed tackle after missed tackle to bone-headed play after bone-headed play, to the inability to come up with fumbles, to the general overall approach, Miami brought the juice, while Florida was in a funk. Kirk Herbstreit said on the broadcast that Mullen attempted the fake punt when he did to energize his team. Why do you need to energize your team during the first quarter of a rivalry game? I don't know if Florida felt like they were so superior that they were going to walk over Miami and thus didn't have their edge, but for whatever reason it wasn't there tonight. Missed tackles can be because of bad technique, or angles, but in a lot of cases it comes down to the issue of who wants it more. Do you want to put the ball carrier on his ass more than he wants to stay on his feet? In many cases tonight the answer for Florida was no. Much like in basketball - the team with the big rebounding edge or the one that gets the most loose balls is the team that is willing to hustle, the team who wants it more. The same can be said about tackling. It is as much effort and heart as it is form. And Florida was lacking in it here in the opener.

10) That was hard to watch, but it will get better. Lets be truthful here, that was just terrible game play. I don't know if I have ever seen such horrible execution by two teams in all the years I have covered the Gators. It was as if they were both trying not to win. You are talking about 225-yards in accepted penalties and just atrocious play. The good news is, the most improvement you will see in a season is from game one to game two, Throw in a bye week to boot - combined with a weak second game opponent - and I’m betting those attending the home opener in two weeks will have plenty to smile about.

Florida Gators vs. Miami HurricanesBranded 2019 Football Score T-Shirt - Royal

10 Takeaways: Keep an even keel

4,459 Views | 13 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by Eric-UF
SFFLORIDAFAN
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You are spot on that they wanted it more than we did.

That worries me about Mullen's teams. He's been here for what 15 games and we already have 3 or 4 games where he didn't have the team ready to play worse teams.

We should have lost this game but we got a win and that's what matters if he can get the rest fixed.
peanut46
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Excellent, excellent write up! GO GATORS!
upstateg8tor
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Very accurate.

Receivers were open and the OL did admirably. The lack of offensive production was all on Franks and to some extent Mullen, later in the game by play design. I thought it was pretty clear he still doesn't trust Franks. It's pretty frustrating that he was outplayed by a QB that has only attempted 3 passes in live action.

Miami is better than most people thought. With their schedule they'll be a 10 win team this year rather easily.
Flavorgator39
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Franks is so immature it's almost embarrassing to our school. Hopefully he grows up. His career of taunting fans and media after making 1 good throw won't last long.
Jtkeat18
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So I'm not a fan of these marquee matchups week 1 (week 0). The broadcasters talked about it all night that this sloppiness is normal for week 1. As a fan I'd prefer a cupcake team week 1 then the marquee matchup any week after. College has no preseason games to warm up on. This was ugly for that reason.
G8rJD
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I honestly think you take those turnovers away and the bad calls by the refs that game is 31-17 and a lot better looking in the stat sheet
JD
peanut46
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Franks definitely has some maturing to do as an athlete and as a man. Hoping he does so in both areas. GO GATORS!
Graylon
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I hate to keep bringing this up. But the in accuracy of Frank's last night is what worries me about the quarterbacks that we recruit because we always have to coach them up to be better and their accuracy. I will stand by this till the day I died at a place like Florida you don't need a quarterbacks best attribute to be running... he needs to be more able to distribute to his Playmakers. I feel so sorry for Van Jefferson because he wants some of the most beautiful routes that are wasted
Comountaingator
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The benefits of playing a strong opponent the first game is that it uncovered the correctibles early. Last year it didn't happen until the Kentucky game which didn't turn out too great.
My biggest disappointment was not involving the TEs more. I think we can anticipate that will change.
Kkilburns
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Point 9 is right on. I was at the game and was saying they just looked flat coming put off the tunnel to start the game. This certainly didn't match the player talk/hype leading up to the game. Need more swag and energy each game.
Graylon
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I've said on here a lot I hate when we get caught up in the jaw jacking with the other teams and in the media... we havent proved or done anything yet to warrant that kind of talk... no Miami isnt on our level but we make them relevant when we entertain them with meaningless chatter... it shows and an undisciplined focus

Brandon Spikes didnt say anything before he went out there and hit Knowshon Moreno...
Eric-UF
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Quote:

6) Which brings us to the biggest issue Florida faces offensively. No, as is stated above, it isn't the offensive line. They played surprisingly well. The issue is Mullen still doesn't fully trust Franks - and for good reason. Franks is what he is. He has some talent and ability, but he makes too many poor decisions to be fully relied upon. That was never more obvious than when Mullen called for a quarterback keeper on a third and goal play from the 8 yard line. That was a signal as clear as can be that he didn't trust Franks not to put the team in a bad situation. And that kind of makes the decision to call the pass with four minutes to go and the lead a bit more peculiar. That terrible throw and decision from Franks is exactly what Mullen feared earlier when he called the keeper.
Completely disagree with this.

The #1 issue was the offensive line...you have an offense that is built to run the ball and they were completely and totally unable to....<2.0 YPC...that was the problem...no holes, no push from the OL.

Asking Franks to carry this offense via his passing would have been a losing situation last year, almost was this game...but that is what the game plan was because the staff didn't trust the Offensive Line's ability to run the ball...and they were right about that ( though I do agree that the OL seemed better against Miami than they did against Kentucky last year).

While Franks did have 2 INTs, he seemed improved over last year at his down field passing. Both INT's were under pressure, the first was the right decision (WR was open) but because of the pressure he was unable to step fully into the throw and over threw it by about 3 inches (reminds me of that INT verse LSU last year)...the second INT was a bit more of the same....pressure, though he should have thrown it away as Pitts did not appear open, so that you could argue was a bad decision. The first INT was not a bad decision.

Encourage you to watch this....


He didn't have a lot of WR Screens and most of his passes were past the Line of Scrimmage and yet he still had a Completion % over 60%.....and considering that Mullen did call a pass with 4 minutes to go, in an obvious "grind the clock" moment...seems to contradict your conclusion that Mullen doesn't trust him.
---Go Gators!
Eric-UF
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Let me also add this for what it is worth...because I think the real issue here is not as much Franks performance as much as some people's expectations as to what his performance would be.

I cannot recall how many people were talking about Franks being a Round 2 or 3 draft pick (which is crazy)! He is, at best, an average quarterback and he was slightly below average last year (which sadly enough was better than the QB play we ha had over the last 7 years).

What we saw against Miami is the type of performance I would have expected from him in Week 0 going up against a Top 5 defense. Shortly before the season started, Will Miles posted this stat on Franks...



In passes of 10+ yards (in air) in 2018, Franks had about a 40% Completion Percentage...and in his "poor" games, he had a 20% Completion Percentage. Let take a look at the Game against Miami...



((Note - the 1 for 4 on 10+ yards passes to the right, included 2 throw away passes))

If this is one if his worst games in 2019 (against what will be one the tougher defenses we will face on our schedule) then I'm not sure why we are all panicking. He was 10 for 19 (53%) in passes beyond the LOS and he was 4 for 9 (45%) in passes of 10+ yards (in air). To me, this was an average performance against against and above average defense....I think the issue is that people have unreasonable expectations for who Franks is and what he is capable of doing (and of course the last thing we recall is that last interception...which was horrible on all levels...granted).

So, I'm not saying I am happy with it or that it is the ideal, but I am saying it is what it is and in games where we play elite defenses...I think this is what we can expect...what we really cannot live with is not being able to run the ball...but that is another issue.
---Go Gators!
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