Before every Florida game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 1:
1. With a new offense and a new coach, will there be noticeable improvement in quarterback Feleipe Franks?
Many were wondering how Franks’ skill set would fit in Mullen’s offense. It appears it’s a good fit because Mullen shapes his offense around the capabilities of his QB, something that seemed obvious. Franks looked like a different quarterback, making quick, decisive decisions and consistently moving the offense. He seemed comfortable from the start and and his confidence seemed to grow with each snap. Yes, it was against Charleston Southern, a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, but it’s a positive first step for Franks.
2. Will Jordan Scarlett, or another UF back, rush for more than 100 yards?
Probably the biggest concern coming out of this game is the fact the Gators’ struggled to run the ball for most of the first half, which led Mullen to go to the air. UF played five running backs, but no one got more than eight carries and no one threatened to reach the 100-yard mark. Scarlett had only 24 yards on six carries. The leading rusher turned out to be true freshman Dameon Pierce, who gained 75 yards on eight carries and flashed a big up side.
3. Special teams were weak last season. Can the Gators make something big happen in them Saturday night?
They did. Redshirt freshman defensive end Zachary Carter blocked Tyler Tekac’s 22-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half, a play that energized the Gators and The Swamp. Then, after the Bucs scored their touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Jeremiah Moon blocked Tekac’s PAT and walk-on defensive back Austin Perry scooped up the ball and returned it for two points. The Gators blocked two kicks, nearly blocked a punt and were three-for-three on field goal attempts (two by Evan McPherson, one by Jorge Powell), so that’s making something happen. Mullen and his staff have been stressing special teams since the spring, and the attention to detail is already starting to show.
4. Will the transfer wide receivers — Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes — have an immediate impact?
Everyone thought they would, and they did. Grimes took a quick wide receiver screen and turned it into a 34-yard touchdown on the Gators’ opening possession. Jefferson caught two touchdown passes, one coming on a spectacular catch despite being interfered with on the play. Grimes and Jefferson appeared to be UF’s top two receivers in camp, and they had a nice debut, combing for seven catches for 84 yards and three touchdowns.
5. What kind of momentum will the Gators generate heading into SEC play against Kentucky this week?
Coming off a feel-good performance like this one, the Gators will carry great momentum and confidence into this week. But no one seemed to get too carried away with the win over an opponent not even close in talent to what UF will be facing in SEC play. Mullen and the players quickly turned their attention to the Wildcats after the game, which is a good sign. Mullen and Franks both talked about how the Gators have only scratched the surface and have a lot of improving to do. So, the Gators have momentum, but seem to be level-headed about what they accomplished Saturday night and where they go from here.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.