Before every game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 10:
1. Will the beleaguered Gators be greeted by a half-empty Swamp today?
About 30 minutes before the game, it appeared the players would run out of the tunnel to a stadium less than half full. Way less. The east stands, where the students sit, was almost vacant. But by kickoff the west stand had filled, the east stand was growing and by the middle of the first quarter the crowd had risen to at least three-fourths full. It was a good crowd, considering, and it was an energized one that the players seemed to feed off of. The crowd produced a typical Swamp atmosphere — and that was something that was seriously in doubt heading into this game.
2. Can the struggling defense hold UAB tailback Spencer Brown to less than 100 yards rushing?
We knew the answer to this one at halftime. The Gator defense came out and dominated the first half, surrendering only two first downs and just 32 total yards. Brown was a non-factor. Stuffed from the start, he never had even a hint of daylight to run through. He carried the ball six times in the first half for a mere six yards and a 1.0-yard average. UF’s goal was to slow down Brown. They stuffed him and the potent UAB ground game instead.
3. Will the sputtering offense have a chance to get into a rhythm against a defense that maybe is not quite as strong as the Gators have faced in the SEC?
Quarterback Feleipe Franks and the offense found a rhythm early and kept it for much of the game. Mixing things up between the run and the pass, the Gators steadily moved the ball throughout against a UAB defense that appeared to wear down in the second half. There were no boos or groans from the crowd over the play-calling or quarterback play, a good sign for sure for an offense that has heard plenty over the course of the season.
4. Can the Gators hit some explosive plays in the passing game?
They didn’t, but they came close and they kept trying. Franks threw a deep strike to Tyrie Cleveland in the first half that was at first ruled a 48-yard reception. But the play was overturned by the replay that showed Cleveland had not secured the ball as he hit the ground. The attempted deep shots, although not connecting, kept the UAB secondary honest and helped open things up in the running game.
5. Will the unproductive play continue for the UF special teams?
When Eddy Pineiro is a perfect five-for-five on field goal attempts and has back-to-back 50-yarders, it’s impossible to say the special teams were unproductive. So, no, they weren’t. But they were in some other familiar areas — returns and kick coverage. So, it was a great night for Eddy and a so-so night for the other phases.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.