UF backfield breakdown: Talented depth at running back, questions at QB

85
1383
UF running back Jordan Scarlett returned in the spring and eventually seemed to regain the form he had in the second half of the 2016 season when he emerged as the starting running back and led the Gators in rushing with 889 yards and six touchdowns. [Alan Youngblood/Staff photographer]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series breaking down the 2018 Florida football team.

A preview of the Florida offensive backfield entering coach Dan Mullen’s first season:

UPSIDE

The Gators appear to have more potential talent and depth at running back than they’ve had in many seasons.

They have four experienced backs, three who have started games, two who have led UF in rushing the past two seasons, and a third who has shown to be a home-run threat. Add in two highly rated true freshmen who arrived in the spring, and the Gators are six-deep at the position.

Of course, it all starts with junior Jordan Scarlett, who seemed primed to have a breakout season in 2017 before being suspended the week of the opener for alleged credit card fraud. He ended up missing the entire season.

Scarlett returned in the spring and eventually seemed to regain the form he had in the second half of the 2016 season when he emerged as the starting running back and led the Gators in rushing with 889 yards and six touchdowns.

Scarlett is facing plenty of competition in preseason camp.

Junior Lamical Perine started eight games last season and led UF in rushing with 562 yards.

The leading rusher likely would have been true freshman Malik Davis had he not sustained a season-ending knee injury early in the Georgia game. He still flashed some special qualities while starting two games and rushing for 526 yards and two TDs. He’s been cleared for preseason camp.

True sophomore Adarius Lemons, who showed promise in the return game last season and had an 85-yard TD run in a spring scrimmage, is a breakaway threat who also will push hard for playing time and carries.

The two true freshmen — four-star prospects Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement — benefited from an early arrival in the spring, showing they are capable of making plays. They’re both in the mix for playing time.

DOWNSIDE

It’s been the same for the last eight years, and it doesn’t change this season: the Gators have a big question mark at quarterback, where last year’s starter, Feleipe Franks, will be competing with Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones in preseason camp.

Many assume Franks, who started eight games last season, is the leader heading into camp, but coach Dan Mullen said at the end of the spring there had been no separation at QB, so it’s wide open.

One thing Mullen’s looking for in his quarterback is leadership ability, something Franks has exhibited on the field and in the strength and conditioning program. Now, can he improve on the other aspects of his game, mainly reading defenses, finding the open receivers and getting the ball to them? Those are things he’s struggled with in the past.

Franks continued to be hampered with some inconsistency at times in the spring, but then Trask and Jones did also, although all three QBs showed some encouraging signs.

Still, there are questions and unknowns at the position.

Franks had a difficult season in 2017 and some wonder where his confidence might be if he goes through a bad stretch. Trask has never taken a snap at this level and wasn’t even a starter in high school. Jones is a true freshman who is still trying to grasp the offense.

The feeling is that if quarterback play is improved this season, the offense will be more productive and climb out of its near-decade slump.

Given Mullen’s track record of success with quarterbacks, the Gators are optimistic that this will happen. But until someone goes out there in an actual game and performs at a high level, a big, troublesome question mark will remain attached to the vital quarterback position.

YOUNG PLAYER TO WATCH

It’s probably way too early to try and guess what’s going to happen at QB. One possibility is that Jones, the true freshman, could get a set of plays to run in games similar to what Mullen did with Tim Tebow in his true freshman season in 2006. Jones is the only legitimate dual threat among the QBs, and he seems to have a skill set that would give the offense a definite change of pace.

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF …

Scarlett has a successful season, but comes up a little bit short of rushing for 1,000 yards. With so much depth at tailback, one of the goals at running back will be to keep a set of fresh legs on the field at all times.

There are six tailbacks and only one ball, so there’s a chance Scarlett (and any of the five others) won’t get enough carries to break the 1,000-yard barrier.

QUOTABLE

“I am (confident we have the guy in this group). We don’t got nobody else coming through that door, so these are our guys and we’re going to get them ready to go out there and compete at a high level and hold them to the Gator standard. That’s what it’s all about. Those guys are eager and willing to learn, and as long as they continue to come out here with that attitude and get better and take steps in the right direction each and every day, we’ll be fine.” — quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson

UF’s projected depth chart

Quarterback

13-Feleipe Franks

11-Kyle Trask

5-Emory Jones

Running back

25-Jordan Scarlett

22-Lamical Perine

20-Malik Davis

32-Adarius Lemons

29-Dameon Pierce

24-Iverson Clement

Ranking the SEC backfields

Alabama

Georgia

Missouri

Mississippi State

Auburn

South Carolina

Florida

Texas A&M

Ole Miss

Tennessee

LSU

Kentucky

Arkansas

Vanderbilt

Next Sunday: A preview of the secondary.

85 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is a pretty good overview, sure can’t find fault with Robbie’s assessment and conclusions. But I have to say, even tho it feels more negative than I actually feel, I don’t care if we found a way to clone Emitt Smith x 3 and a time machine to bring 21 year old Tim Tebow back next year—the OL has to significantly improve to at least SEC average, or we may be in for a long season regardless of Dan Mullen and his fine staff. Now, don’t get me wrong here–I’m still seeing a 9-3 season and a good bowl win. But there’s a whole lot of “ifs” contained in there, the OL being the biggest one of all. IMHO.

    Now Go Gators!

    • Yes! The blockers must block. I am sure Mullen can find ways to move ball if that doesn’t happen, finding ways around the problem, but it will be much better if those guys can make plays– and I think they will be better. Certainly from all we’ve heard, they will be stronger and better conditioned.

  2. I agree Gator-6, offensive line is the key, has been and will be. Same ol guys coming back, I’m afraid of what you’ve seen is what you’ll get

    • Well, were both right about the known parts of it….same guys…..but with vastly improved strength and condition, plus what I think will be vastly superior position coaching…..I guess the problem is that we’re in a dead space as far as the offensive line goes. Meaning that I personally think those two factors will make a big difference in actual OL performance, but absent the actual experts weighing in–I guess it’s too early–I don’t really know. Maybe we’ll all feel better once fall camp starts?

      By the way, you’re not any kin to the great Command Sergeant Major from the 70’s and 80’s, Ray Harrell, last of Ft Sam Houston, are you? If on a long shot you are, tell him Gator-6 says hey.

      • 6. Ol underperformed last several years. Don’t think they were coached well and they weren’t fit. Missed assignments and being pushed around. As GI says basics. Now whether they can do this at a to level? There is depth at OL not sure it’s quality depth. They are fit this go around and they will be taught their assignments and reads. Execution is the individual factor.

        • I think that’s the question, and you’re right about that for sure, 65. If individually, and then as a unit, they can “over-achieve” from what their demonstrated abilities are, then by God we might get thru this season just fine and old NealyBob’s prediction (let alone Eugenio’s!) will survive.

          Of course, the more I think about it, “over-achieve” is an oxymoron if there ever was one–how can one achieve something they’re not capable of in the first place, when the fact that they just achieved it demonstrates that they were capable of achieving it? Oh hell, I’m gonna stop worrying about it (until the next time it comes up, anyway). Time for (a) more meds, (b) a nap, or (c) both!

  3. I want to offer the story of Mixzou’s now likely NFL draftee Drew Lock in comparison to our Feleipe Franks. Here are the freshman year stats for each:

    Drew Lock 129/263 49.0% completion rate 1332 yards @ 5.1 ypc 4 TDs, 8 INTs 90.0 passer rating

    Franks 125/229 54.6% comp rate 1438 yds @ 6.3 ypc 9 TDs, 8 INTs 113.3 passer rating

    As a freshman Lovk often looked like the proverbial “deer in the headlights,” forced into action at least a year earlier than planned due to the injuries and other issues of the older starting QBs.

    Lock blossomed when Josh Heidelberg arrived as QB coach and coordinator of a new offense for the Tigers. The Missouri QB’s development should be a good word to us about the possibilities with our guy. With the arrival of a new head coach, Dan Mullen bringing much more to our equation than Barry Odom at Missouri, and the history of both Mullen and his protege, Brian Johnson, developing from raw prospects good to outstanding quarterbacks, there’s plenty of reason to at least hope if not entirely believe that Feleipe Franks is about to be transformed from quarterbacking ugly duckling to a swan at Florida.

    The parallels with Drew Lock are compelling to consider and shouldn’t be overlooked.

    • Hopefully this will play out for one of the three guys. I have all along believed that what happened last year means very little. No one could look good running the broken down, smoke belching garbage truck that was Nussmire’s offense. So, we’ll see what happens. I am sure the play will be more consistent, and we will see less turnovers as these guys are getting real coaching from someone who isn’t a clueless moron for the first time in their college careers.

      • Richard, what about if it played out for all three guys? I mean, all of them wind up elevating their games–can you imagine the depth we’d have, let alone the options on offense? Of course, it still depends on the OL.

        • Don’t love rotating quarterbacks. Maybe a Tebow-esque deal if one of the players has some special skills, but mostly I think it’s best to stick with one guy.

    • Clyde. Nice take, but Lock’s stats are his true freshman stats. Franks’ stats that you used are his redshirt freshman stats. Now, go get and compare the true sophomore stats of Drew Lock vs. the redshirt freshman (true soph) stats of Feliepe Franks. Big difference. The physical skills are very similar between the two, but Lock is very different when you look at his passing touch, his ability to move around in the pocket to avoid the pass rush and still complete passes downfield, his ability to read defenses before the snap and attack defenses instead of being attacked, and his ability to make quick progressions off of those reads and hit big completions downfield (and I mean way downfield). Basically, how quickly he learned from his mistakes on the field and his quick development into a top national QB. Franks, so far in two years on campus, has not shown the ability to learn and progress. The opposite has been the case, with him way too often repeating mistakes made. And even as late as this spring, Franks did not show the type of presence in the pocket that makes one think he will become another Lock. But I hope you are correct in that Mullen and Johnson will help Franks turn the light on and get him out of the darkness that has preventing him from mentally getting the QB position and becoming the QB that his physical skills would allow.

      • That makes NO sense! You are going to compare a guys second year starting to a guys 1st year starting? true freshman starting = redshirt freshman starting.
        With QB, practice doesnt = starting, not even close! Qb’s in college hardly develop until they play in games!

        • Franks has to think faster. Too much of the time he looks befudled like Elmer Fudd trying to find Bugs Bunny. Not sure if that can be fixed, but hope so. There’s no doubt the young man has a lot of heart and loves being a Gator.

          • But people on here who have talked to Franks say he come across as a bright young man and with a quick wit. So the “deer in the headlights” look probably can be attributed to something else? Don’t know, but thing is, it’s close to time to get jiggy with it or step aside.

    • Eugenio. Why not believe and dream bigger. Franks becomes another Drew Lock, but much better. And Florida goes undefeated this season, beats Georgia 41-7 and FSU 62-0, and then upsets a heavily favored 12-0 Auburn team, which just came off a 55 to 0 win over Alabama, 35 to 34, when with 5 seconds left, the sensational freshman, Wilkins, returns a punt 95 yards for the game tying TD and a freshman kicker makes the extra point to win it; sending the mighty Gators to the playoffs where they hand undefeated UCF a decisive loss, 59 to 10, and the proceed to destroy Urban Meyer and Ohio State 38 to 7, and after Ohio State returns the opening kick off for a touchdown. In that game, a freshman QB named Jones comes in on short yard downs and runs or three TDs and also completes a short jump pass for a TD in the game. Florida goes 14-0 and then recruits the number one class in the nation next December and February. And the Gatorsports.com announces they have rehired Zack. A to lead there Florida reporting team. Oh, I nearly forgot. Franks also wins the Heisman Trophy, and his statue immediately goes up next to Steve, Danny, and Timmy. Go Gators.

        • Gator65. Just posting like a Georgia Bulldog fan. But our summer dreams have much shorter lifespan than theirs do.

          • Tampa. I hope the Bulldogs fans dream is a short one. I think their run will not be as long lived as some have posted. 11-1 is not impossible but not sure we are there yet. Nonetheless I will be in Atlanta is we get there. Go Gators!! Like others there has been disappointment the last too many seasons. Like others I was excited to see new schemes that never materialized. You mentioned the “it” factor in another post on this thread. I didn’t feel that the last two regimes. Something feels different this time. Not sure why. The new staff may fail but I think this time we have as nearly a well rounded staff capable of returning UF to the top ranks. UGA’s last dominant streak was H Walker. Overall they got us by 7 games. Hope my gut feeling is right and we can erase that in the next ten years.

  4. Clyde I really liked your comment, a lot actually! I would include the stats for yr 2 of Lock though to give further “evidence/belief to show what a new OC can do for a QB. That being said, these QBs are different and the culture of winning is different amongst the two programs so I think the mental aspect is a big part for Frank’s. I believe Mullen will put his QB, whoever that may be, in favorable situations, to build the confidence of whoever is slinging the ole pig skin around. GO GATORS!

  5. There is so much work to be done on offense including improvement of line play, quarterback development, teaching running backs to make the right cut, and teaching receivers how to get separation. It does bring hope that the staff has shown the ability to teach and develop. I do like the depth at running back but if our line doesn’t improve and we have no passing game, fresh legs won’t go as far. Go Gators!

  6. QB coach Brian Johnson is a huge piece of the puzzle. He knows Mullen’s offense, having worked with him for three years at MSU. He knows quarterbacking, being the winningest qb ever at Utah. He’s had success grooming players, e.g. Dak Prescott. That’s an impressive resume. There’s plenty of room for optimism here.

  7. I think we will do good this season I say 11-2 losses to miss st and Georgia and a chick fila bowl win against Texas. We aren’t there with Georgia as a talent standpoint and miss st going to probably play there best game of the season against us but with the sec east title on the line who knows what will happen in Jacksonville

    • How does anyone know what kind’ve talent Georgia really has? They pretty much lost everyone that carried them to the national championship game last season. Recruiting rankings don’t guarantee wins, just ask Will Muschamp. For all we or anyone else knows, Smart could wind up producing a Muschamp like resume after a great second season. Georgia isn’t guaranteed anything until they can produce back to back amazing seasons, something they haven’t been able to do for the last 30+ years.

      • Oh that we just had a crystal ball, Joe. But we don’t, and you’re right, we don’t know anything until it happens or doesn’t. Smart really could be the best thing since canned beer, but it’s kind of hard to say that based on so small a sample size ain’t it?

  8. Thanks, Jackah! I was a sports writer, UF journalism grad, but career calling took me vocationally elsewhere. The old juices still flow.
    I truly enjoy this place to talk with fellow Gators.

  9. Not retired, just doing something else. Meantime, I’d echo 76’s keen observation regarding Brian Johnson. His participation as the position coach reflects how important the QB role is to Mullen. But for another comparison, look up what Dan Mullen did with far less gifted guys at Mississippi State, Tyler Russell and Chris Relf. This coach and his assistant will lift our performance at the position enough to make our offense seriously competitive. Every other position group portends to be anywhere from some better to much better than a year ago. We’ve got more reasons to be hopeful than we’ve had in a long stretch of seasons.

    • Clyde. If I am recalling correctly, the highly recruited, Tyler Russell, never really developed (the light never went on for him, although he was extremely gifted physically) at Mississippi State and was eventually benched in favor of the other QB you mentioned. I would have to go research that, but I believe that to be fairly accurate.

      • I checked. Tyler was a highly recruited QB coming out of high school and his choosing MSU was a surprise to a lot o people. His development was slow. He redshirted as a freshman, as the less recruited Relf played ahead of him during his true freshman and RS freshman years. He did split time with Relf as a rssoph after Relf was injured early that year and then came back. Russell only played so..so that year. As a rsJr, he started to come on and set a record for most TD passes by a MSU QB, but his play remained very inconsistent and MSU was not winning big games or consistently with Russell at QB. Russell, even though being named the team captain at the start of the season, lost the starting role to a much younger Prescott as a senior. So, as a 4-star and heavily recruited QB coming out of HS, I would say Russell was a disappointment at MSU under Mullen. Not a terrible QB, but he never developed into a consistent and quality SEC QB. But Prescott shocked everyone with his development and level of play at MSU. Very Tebow like play, maybe even better than Tebow other than not winning two national title. But he is proving to be better than Tebow with his NFL play so far.

  10. Success will simple hinge on the OL and QB play. Both have to be good, not necessarily very good, and if either disappoint and play like last year, we’re in for a long season.

    • jasper. I have no doubt, unless massive injuries come into play, that we will all witness a significant improve in OL play this year. The talent has always been there. The coaching and the S&C program (we have now learned) have not been there. The biggest concern is and remains the QB position for the Gators. This team is good enough elsewhere to win the SEC East and beat Georgia, and easily beat FSU. My perspective. Go Gators.

  11. But, Clyde, we do have a lot of reasons to be hopeful with Mullen and staff leading the way now. But I think Jones’ quick development might be the key to future success. Just my gut about Franks being very similar in both physical talent and a lack of development to Tyler Russell.

  12. I see losses to M State, Georgia for sure. LSU , Scar, FSU are tossups. Mizzou will be dangerous and probably a toss up too. They’re learning a new offense. Let’s not forget Urban Liar went 7-6 first year

  13. Thorn. Betcha Florida does not lose to LSU at home for two straight years. Betcha. And Florida will not lose to FSU this year. Florida is better and will be better game day coached than FSU. Georgia should be favored, but Florida certainly has a chance with better QB play. Should be that by that time with either Franks or Jones at the helm and getting the job done. South Carolina will be good, but Florida has better talent. And Mullen is clearly a better coach than Muschamp on any Saturday in the fall. Missouri truly scares me with Lock at QB and they are going to have a very much improved defense this year. And Urban is still telling lies.

  14. Everything will come down to three things. Can the offensive line do its job? Can the running backs block blitzers? Can the wide receivers run their routes and adjustments properly? With these the QB will be capable of being successful.

    • The OL and QB situations are the biggest questions in my mind. I feel pretty confident that the RB and WR groups will be coached up pretty good and be a team strength…..subject to the aforementioned OL and QB. This is the team’s Achilles Heal…at least until proven otherwise.

    • Dang it Alex you just brought up bad memories of a blitzer coming thru untouched while the RB just stands there looking the other way. Thanks.

  15. I know I’m gonna hear it for what I’m about to type, but the problem here lies in in game coaching. Florida has talent. Mullen wasn’t left with a bare cupboard like his predecessor. And I’m not defending his predecessor. Just saying florida has talent on this roster. The issue will be in game coaching. Florida is going to be in a lot of tight games. Mullen’s stats speak for them self: 33-39 in SEC, 9 SEC seasons. Overall 7-5 record in 9 head coaching seasons. 7-34 againsg Top 25 teams. The last two years at Miss St they were ranked 112 and 113th in the NCAA in passing. Guess what, that means Florida was ranked higher. And I know, I know. It’s 100% b/c he was at Miss St. I have heard. But statistics speak for them self. Dan Mullen never won a national title, Urban Meyer did. And he did again at Ohio State. I’m not knocking Dan Mullen but I’m not on his bandwagon until I see him right the ship on his stats. He essentially has the same record against Top 25 teams as Butch Jones. Lord help me I hope he is so much better. But until I witness improvement in in game coaching and an ability to win the big game, florida’s Ceiling under Mullen is the Outback Bowl. Granted my opinion is subject to change based on his improvement; but all I have to go off of his career stats at this point. Okay guys light me up. And sorry for the long response.

    • Bobby, nothing you just said makes you a disloyal Gator.

      There are four categories of Gators right now: (1) the burned out Gators who are pissed off and having heard it all before have given up (the minority), (2) the delusional Gators who think everything will just be shits and giggles from now to eternity (still a minority), (3) the rational Gators who logically see a clear pathway now to restoration, and fill in doubts with a bit of hope, and (4) the rational Gators who love the Gators, but having been burned too many times in the last 7 years see the same pathway but say, “Show me first”.

      We’re all Gators, all the time, except for when we’re not.

    • Bobby….I lived thru the entire Butch Jones situation here in East TN. If Dan Mullen ends up being anything close to that train wreck….I may just give up Gator Football and become a Lacrosse fan.

    • You’re right, Urban Meyer did win championships at UF and OSU, but you know what he’s never done? Win one without Mullen or Tom Herman. He’s certainly no Saban, who can win championships no matter who is running his offense. Meyer is only as good as his offensive coordinators. He’s been lucky enough to have 2 great ones. Just look at the seasons he had the year after losing both of those guys. At UF, he essentially returned his entire team from the championship the year before only they were more experienced, and he lost in the SEC Championship and didn’t put up nearly the same offensive numbers. At OSU he returned everyone from the title year before and was the overwhelming favorite to win it again and the offense was in disarray all season and lost to Michigan State. Mullen accomplished more in a short period of time at MSU than any other coach in the 123 year history of the program. They’ve gone to a total of 21 bowl games in 123 years and Mullen was responsible for 8 of them. You can look at the win loss record in the SEC playing in the toughest division in college football with far less talent than most of the teams he played, or you can look at what he was able to accomplish with less talent and realize what he should be able to accomplish with the better talent he’ll get at UF and realize how good of a coach he actually is. Comparing him to Butch Jones, who was at a powerhouse championship program like Tennessee, when he’s coaching at lower tier SEC program that no top recruits want to go to, is a bad comparison. You have every right to be weary, but Mullen is by far the best coaching hire this program has seen since Meyer, who really had no power 5 experience at all coming in.

      • Joe, I’m stepping aside and removing myself from consideration for Pope next go around.

        That’s nearly about the best assessment of the Myer to Mullen nexus I’ve ever read.

    • Bobby,
      I couldn’t disagree with you more when it comes to your statement that “stats speak for themselves.” The lack of understanding of statistics by the general public is what allows people to be misled by a few hand picked numbers in almost every aspect of life today. Your comment is the perfect example of how people use statistics in a logical fallacy to try to persuade people to the incorrect conclusion. Cherry picked stats with no context and limited data points is not a factual argument.

  16. Tampa, thanks for your research and thoughts. Franks is no carbon copy of Lock, had a redshirt year to develop while Lock had to play right away. Franks arrived at UF extremely raw, had never enjoyed the QB one-on-one prep coaching that many prime time prospects have been provided. In short, he wasn’t ready.

    Feliepe’s first year on a broken team was quite similar to Drew’s in a similar situation. The big jump for Drew over the last two years began with a new offense, coordinator and position coach. Franks should gain from the similar shift at Florida.

    As for Tyler Russell, he was acclaimed to be the most elite QB recruit in MSU’s history, later described as a “square peg trying to fit into a round hole.” He was a pure drop-back passer. By the end of his career there he was overcome by injuries and Prescott. Franks at least has good wheels, has shown himself to be a good athlete. I’m not sure that Feliepe necessarily becomes an elite college QB, though I do believe he can fit more easily into Mullen’s scheme than did Tyler Russell.

    Given Mullen’s history and the work of his QB coach along with the apparent improvement elsewhere on offense, why not choose to believe Mullen will give us a much better quarterback, too? If the Oline steps up to slightly better than just average we should score another 7-12 points per game

    • Clyde. Lock, during his first year, played for an offensive coordinator (Henson) who lead Missouri (the previous year) to record setting offensive production. Missouri, in 2015, had to rebuild their offensive line and was going through all that racism on their campus that year. But you could tell, even then, that Drew Lock was innate as a QB and no one was surprised that he has become what he has become. But it did not hurt that Heupel came to Missouri for his last two years as OC. Will be interesting to see how Lock does with a much more conservative and less innovative play calling from their new OC, Derek Dooley. I watched Franks play in high school and he lacked feel, touch, and innate skills on the field even then, and not all of that is just a lack of coaching. And he mostly depended on his physical skills against very low level opposition in high school. And he did not have an OC in high school either. But, for a QB, a lack of innate QB skills is hard to overcome. As is a lack of feel in the pocket and touch on various throws in various game situations. I have see Lock doing those things easily and naturally. I have never seen Franks even come close to doing that easily and naturally, and I recently went to two spring practices and attended the spring game and did not see much of that in either of those practices or game action (even when he could not be touched in any of those situations) either. I personally like Franks and believe he is a great teammate and has a ton of physical skills. But I am not sure he has or will ever have that “it factor” that Mullen talked about. I sure hope I am wrong. And frankly, I did see that “it factor” at those spring practices from Jones and Trask, and even though Jones clearly did not have the offense scheme down, or his confidence in place. And if Jones learns the offense this summer and during fall practice and can operate it with confidence, I would not be surprised at all to see him start game one. Or even Trask if Jones is not ready. I just do not think Franks has or will ever have that “it” that is required to lead a SEC team to championship contention. Just one man’s opinion. And I repeat, I hope I am dead wrong.

  17. Bobby, I’ve had the same reservations about Mullen given his so-so record against ranked teams at MSU. To be fair, a bunch of those losses were to Bama and LSU, programs considerably more resources and talented, as well as Auburn in some if the Tigers’ very best seasons. On the more hopeful side, when Mullen’s record is placed in the context of that program’s history he actually shines. He surely will have the rich resources at Florida that we’ll know within a few seasons if he’s truly a top-notch head coach.

    • Clyde. I have not read you before on here, but you need to post way more often. Your posts and responses remind me of sports blogs when they first started and trolls had not yet evolved to nearly ruin sites like this one. Thanks. Hope to read you more often.

  18. That’s a fair assessment Clyde. I’m a die hard gator like everyone on the thread. But I enter this new coaching era with optimism but more trepidation. I was so excited for Muschumps and Mcelwain only to be left with 4 win teams by both. So yes always optimistic but this go round it’ll more than a few wins to get me on the coaches bandwagon. I’ve been burned too many times now as a fan. I have been dumped by the same girl too many times. Great thread team. Go gators!

    • Clyde, Tampa, Bobby. Do you think Franks has the ability to make the reads and check downs? To at least be moderately productive? A decent QB can help take the pressure off the line. If not what about Trask? Jones is the most interesting. I agree with earlier post hell be used in situations that will play to his strengths. I’d hate to see us have injuries that make us pay someone before they’re ready. Or some of the converted athletes may have to go back to qb. Admitted worse case. like the comparison to locked first year. Two of Myers NC had Mullen in the equation.

      • 65. Read my post to Clyde above. I do not think Franks is or ever will be a very effective SEC QB. I think Jones has the skills and innate ability to become a very good QB, and I saw that reflection of skill level at his very first practices this spring when he did not even have the playbook down very much. Or his confidence. He is just innate. Franks just isn’t. It does not come naturally for Franks. He has to work at it. Hard to overcome that deficiency as a college QB. Even Trask showed some of that, although his pocket presence was sorely lacking (feeling the rush and getting rid of the ball was a major issue for Trask in the spring). But as I told Clyde. I hope I am dead wrong. Good chance of that.

        • Thanks, I was at the spring game and a lot of the last season ad nauseum and agree that Franks has not had a natural instinct at the position. In another life when I trained for things (not sports) time seemed to slow and though things happened quickly you didn’t feel rushed and you sensed what was happening around you. There were some that never got to that point. I hope the kiss principle will at least make that unit functional and maybe with depth at RB we can move the ball and do more than 3 and out.

  19. I think one of the major advantages Coach Mullen brings to this OL (besides the obvious better conditioning) is that in a spread offense, your lineman don’t have to be huge tractor-trailers with super human strength (see current Alabama, 1990’s Nebraska) as they do guys with good foot speed and the ability to move horizontally, to protect the jet sweeps and lateral plays that create one-on-one mismatches. I agree with everyone in that the success of this season rests on the success of the OL, but at least maybe this offense won’t force those linemen to out-muscle defensive fronts they are not big and strong enough to overtake.

    We will see. I am optimistic. I really like our chances against LSU and FSU (I don’t think FSU is going to be a strong team this year), there are obviously serious concerns against UGA, Mizzou, and South Carolina, but I don’t think 9 wins is out of the question. It may be optimistic, but not out of this world.

  20. Good point on the Missouri QB Clyde….however. forgive my coldness of a response, the Missouri QB you mentioned did not beat a winning team last year. he almost got his coach fired before his play improved and the coach is still on the hot seat per USA today. that argument would work at a different type of program, but this is the university of Florida, If the gators start out 1-5 like the Missouri guy did last year Franks wont see the field in Gainesville, to show a turnaround, but perhaps a program like Missouri would give him another shot.
    As far as Mr. Stewart’s coldish review of Mullen, in reality, poor offensive stats will be forgiven if the team wins, but he will need to have a better record than he did at Mississippi State to last at Florida. I’m optimistic; and he will get 3 years minimum if things don’t go well. Franks will get about 3 games imo!
    It seems to me Robbie is saying no one knows who the QB will be, which happens from time to time. Every once in a while that means the coach likes a sleeper like Kerwin Bell or Shane Matthews but doesn’t want to tell the newspaper, which I hope is true this time.
    And of course, I tend to brutal in my assessments, which are Mullen good, most of the assistants except the linebacker coach good, and franks not so good. if you disagree, remember I am wrong quite often, so don’t get too worried!

  21. Hey, Tampa! I used to post here years ago but then subscribed to a paid site. It went well a few years until it was gobbled up by a bigger fish. The comments there now lack much actual thought and quickly devolve into pre-adolescent male trash. So I’m back, relieved to find fewer trolls here than there were earlier. I’m much enjoying the give and take here with you and the other posters. There’s plenty of intelligent discussion here.

    Re: Franks, I don’t have anything to go on except what I can observe on the tube. I certainly never saw him in high school. After the Orange & Blue scrimmage I believed Trask had shown himself ahead, demonstrating some cool in the pocket under pressure and the ability to get the ball out in a hurry. Emory made a good impression. Franks continued struggling. Nonetheless, because Feliepe has emerged as a team leader and has more pure physical talent, I believe now he’s the likely starter. He isn’t a throw-away kid either for Mullen, who will coach him up as far as he can. Franks’ ceiling may be in the serviceable range rather than stardom. But serviceable would be a step or two better than anyone we’ve had since Tebow except for five quarters from Grier. No matter, Mullen will nurture Emory for a season with some effective opportunities and fully turn him loose next spring.

    And there is still the potential that by 2019 Franks could be much more than a placeholder. For now I foresee Franks, if he’s our starter, throwing for about 2200-2400 yards, 16-18 touchdowns, at least several pucks, and running for maybe another 350 yards. Unless he makes an early leap.

    By the way, I think you mentioned several days ago Hugh Cunningham. I’m guessing you got a JM degree at UF as I did.

    Best wishes to all the true Gators here!

    • A comment for all. The give and take that I am seeing of late on this site has been much more interesting than in past years, and I for one am glad to see the respectful tone that most (not all, but most) of the comments here are offering. There will still be the occasional troll (where have you gone Mikey?) but that is to be expected. Keep up the insightful thoughts and documented facts and this will remain a fun forum for true Gator fans. Thanks guys.

  22. Clyde. JM ’73. Hugh was a great teacher of proper journalistic writing. And Charlie Wellborn sparked by lifelong love of landscape photography. The good old days when the UF School of Journalism classes were held in the bowels of the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

  23. And Clyde, it seems that Gatorsports is more actively monitoring for troll activity, or the trolls simply mostly flew away suddenly. Both a good thing for intelligent, reasonable, and interesting dialogue and debate about our love of Gator football and anything UF.

  24. Coach Mullen had his chances already to bring in or go strongly after juco or transfer qb’s, but declined to do so. By doing that leads me to believe that he ( being a qb guru) , sees something in Franks or Trask that none of us can quite see. Surely they both possess the size and arm strength that he requires in his type of qb. Hopefully it’s like what was mentioned before. Mullen may know or have something that might actually work out good, but doesn’t want to spill the beans just yet.. we may all be surprised at what Franks is capable of doing… go Gators !!

  25. Tampa, JM ‘’72. Hugh, Buddy Davis et al. Under the stadium, lots of fine people on that faculty and in those classrooms.

    Ricky Rich, why is Mullen offering Cord Sandberg? We either missed on Joey Burrow or didn’t want the Ohio State back-up. Our coach certainly wants the 23-year old Sandberg. Do you suppose the difference is Mullen’s previous relationship with Sandberg? Or is it because he sees Sandberg as more moldable because he would arrive as a freshman? Sandberg has said he expects to be only a learner his first year, no matter where he goes.

    • Which sure sounds like maturity to me, Clyde, which coupled with (I don’t know for a fact, but trust the people who tell me so) A+ skills sets (albeit rusty)……make me trust Dan Mullen’s judgement even more.
      Absent, of course, me actually being there to whisper in his ear and tell him what to do……which Thank God he hasn’t yet.

      I’ll second the comments above and just say that between you and TampaGator the innate sports writers are coming out full bloom in a coherent and pleasant to read way.

  26. I would go with wishbone offence. With all those quality running backs and no proven quarterback. Three back set or even 4 backs set is the way to go. Defenses would not know which one to be stopped.

  27. As for the Q.B. Coach’s comments in this article, I respected them all, except one, ”…we’ll be fine.”
    As former U.F. Head Football Coach Will Muschamp, wore that saying out! So please, any and all new U.F. Coaches, please, please don’t say that ever again. Show us Gator fans, that you’ll ”…be fine!”
    And as for the R.B.s success this year (with much talent, too), in exactly 8 weeks (but who’s counting) we’ll all find out. And I totally agree that it’s all about this U.F. 2018 O-LINE! Pass blocking is tough in the S.E.C., but it’s nothing like blasting off the line, pushing a 300+ lb. D-Lineman backwards for 4 QTRS.
    In the end, 2 months out, 8-4 is the WORST this team should be.
    ”The rest of the story” starts to ”tell all” in only 8 short weeks! Go Gators!

  28. There’s a LOT of great talented depth at RB this year and we are really, really GOOD at this position too. We know all the regular players like Scarlett, Davis, Perine, but here are my top two to watch…

    1) Not sure how many reps Dameon Pierce will get this year, but he’s from up here in my area and he’s the REAL DEAL. He’s as good as any 5* RB who signed this past recruiting cycle. He actually broke Herschel Walker’s high school Ga. State career rushing record in his senior year at Thomasville Central. He’s the kid I wanted in the last class the most.

    Pierce sees and hits holes quickly, without much hesitation, and is good at slipping out of tackles and finding room to break into the open. He’s got another gear in the open. Reminds me so much of Emmitt. Love this kid and he’s the future at UF imo.

    2) Adarius Lemons. Mac and Nussmeier absolutely squandered this kid’s abilites in the last few games imo, as he’s as big a home run threat as Malik Davis is, and perhaps even more. Lemons showed how dangerous he is off the edge last year in a couple of games. He had a few big runs and even had a long 60+ TD run called back on a phantom holding call. Give him the edge and Lemons will eventually take it to the house. This kid is as purely talented an off-edge runner I’ve seen since Dalvin Cook at fsu.

    Clement may get more of a look-see at slot receiver this year too, which would make him and additional big-play weapons for us.

  29. ROBBIE ANDREU: Trask did start most games his senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas football academy in Ft. Lauderdale. HE was the QB on a state championship team. i was at the game when they defeated Manatee H.S. for the title. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, high school starts and state championships do not always translate into Div. I success.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here