Andreu’s Answers: Gators in need of offensive consistency

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks throws Saturday against Georgia. [Lauren Bacho/Staff Photographer]

JACKSONVILLE — 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 8:

1. Midway through the first quarter in last season’s game, the Gators already found themselves down 21-0. Will they get off to a better start this time?

Technically, it was a better start, but still a bad one. The Gators got gutted by the Georgia ground game in the opening possession and that led to a field goal. A few minutes later, running back Jordan Scarlett lost a fumble and the Bulldogs cashed it in with a 16-yard touchdown pass. So, just like that, they found themselves down 10-0. Last year they never recovered from the disastrous start. This time they did, rallying to take a 14-13 lead early in the third quarter before losing 36-17.

2. Can the Gators hit some explosive plays (20 yards or longer) against a UGA defense that rarely gives them up?

The Florida offense had only two — a 20-yard run by Feleipe Franks and the 36-yard touchdown pass from Franks to Freddie Swain. The offense had only five other plays of 10 yards or longer. After the game, Franks said part of the problem on offense was the Gators were trying too hard to make explosive plays happen and assignments were subsequently missed.

3. Will the Gators continue to have success running the football?

They were OK at times, but there was an overall lack of consistency — and chunk plays. The Gators rushed for 170 yards, which is decent, but more than 30 yards below their average from the previous two games. Overall, UF needed to do more in the running game to take some of the pressure off Franks and the passing game.

4. Can Feleipe Franks and the Florida offense take care of the football, something they failed to do in last year’s 42-7 rout?

The Gators dropped the ball (literally) again. They turned the ball over three times, while forcing none. That’s a turnover margin of minus-3, a stat that almost always belongs to the losing team in a big game like this. For the second game in a row, Franks had two turnovers — an interception and a fumble. So, he’s regressed in that aspect of his game. His fumble on his own 1-yard line led to a field goal in the third quarter that made it a two-score game. The biggest turnover belonged to the usually reliable Scarlett, whose fumble (and 32-yard return by UGA safety Richard LeCounte) on UF’s first possession led to a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs an early 10-0 lead.

5. The Bulldogs like to pound the ball in the running game. How does the UF defensive front hold up?

It did not hold up well early and then again late, but the Gators were really strong against the run in between, especially in the six-play goal-line stand from the 1 late in the third quarter. Overall, the run defense wasn’t the problem, it was the porous play of a depleted secondary that led to the eventual meltdown in the second half.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.


Up next

Who: Missouri (4-4, 0-4) vs. No. 13 Florida (6-2, 4-2)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

73 COMMENTS

  1. Good summation while looking in the rear view mirror, and Robbie nailed everything except the role our depleted secondary played in the loss. The running game likely would have produced over 200-yards against Grorgia’s vulnerable defensive front had our offense not trailed by so much the last 10 minutes of the game. Our wearied defense had trouble getting Georgia’s offense off the field and when the Gators did so our offense had to throw, not run.
    This was Florida’s poorest executed game at least since Week Two. But Florida flashed enough quality to bring plenty of optimism about the future and a young defense that made one of the most memorable goal-line stands imaginable.

  2. It was a poor game for us, no doubt about it, but it does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that we should drop football, join Conference USA, or otherwise activate the thus far dormant FireDanMullen.com website. How’s that for hyperbole? Truth is, we are far ahead of schedule in our reestablishment of an elite program, will probably have some more setbacks along the way, and all indications are that the future is (finally) bright.

    Well, that is unless we were supposed to win a national championship less than a year after going 4-7 and firing the head coach. In that case, the future is pretty dim indeed.

  3. Clyde has it right in part. More emphasis should be put on the fact that the cornerbacks who had to play are both very inexperienced ( I believe both freshman) and while they are physically very gifted, they have made many mistakes in all of the games they have played. I look forward to Dean being great, but if you watch replays you will see how often he gets beaten by the second move of a receiver. Also, one upon a time we had linebackers who could play pass defense and even make interceptions. Not so, now.

    • Adrian. McWilliams did not play very much under McElwain and was actually injured a lot of the time. He did get to play a little bit at the end of last year at nickel and was impressive there. He was forced back to the corner due to injuries and a lack of depth at corner. McWilliams is much more impressive and better suited to play the nickel position, and I expect he will be the starter there next year. He is very quick and is a solid tackler. But he is not a big corner which Mullen and Grantham prefer, and he was trying to cover a big receiver vs. Georgia and was not very successful at it, although the interference call on him in the end zone was just a horrible call. But you are correct about Dean. He is going to be a top SEC, lock-down corner. He may be that already. Florida will be very solid next year with Henderson, Wilson, Dean and a few top CB recruits. The will also be very strong at safety as well.

  4. This team, according to Pat Dooley & Robbie, should already be at 3 loses: Miss. State, L.S.U., and U.G.A at the very least. Now on Oct. 29th, they’re at 4-2, with a real legit shot of going 10-2 in Mullen’s 1st year. But if the reports that this team was ”a bit overconfident” are true, well then that’s the 1st thing that has to go in Coach Mullen’s new system. There is no reason why ”this team” should ever think they can’t be beat, period. But still, they could have a 10 win season, if they keep their heads on straight. Hungry and humble produces results, it always has. See: Psalm 16:5.

    • Yes.

      And by the way, GI, I’ve been a bit behind this week owing to some family time, but I just learned that Clemson beating down FSU 59-10 was ” a lot closer than the score would lead you to believe”. Wow. Now that’s modern journalism for you! By comparison, using that new standard, I imagine we were “crushed” by Georgia. 🤣

  5. That game was decided by QB challenges and defensive back field depth. When Robbie predicted defensive back field depth problems I thought we’d be fine. We weren’t. Score one for the newspaper.

    Also we don’t have a captain yet imo. That might have stopped a couple of knuckle heads that were needed from again giving Georgia an unearned edge. Some call it character. In Ocala we were told not to let others down. Whatever it is we are improving but not where we need to be. Maybe this week will be better.

    Frank’s brother is an NFL tight end. Maybe we can do a little thing with him Emery Jones and toney…

    No way should anyone quit on this season. Id rather be us than Georgia.

  6. Mizzou will come in here and give us all we can handle. If we play dejected from the UGA game, Mizzou will win. If we play with great execution, we will win by 10. Mizzou is no gimmee. They only lost to UK by 1.

  7. I really wish someone with access to the coach, i.e. media, press conferences, etc., would ask why Trask is not being given any opportunities, even in limited situations like with Jones? Someone who has demonstrated exceptional passing skills and accuracy, and game management, something this offense needs more than anything right now. Dare I say, is there some sort of bias going on by the relatively young and inexperienced QB coach, and Mullen doesn’t want to buck the “peer pressure”? I just don’t get it. I thought their competition for the job was razor close? Like Trump once said, what have you got to lose? Especially at this point in the season. And please not replies about how he didn’t start in High school. Totally irrelevant. Michael Jordan didn’t even make his High School team. And yes, coaches do get this one wrong some times. Need examples? C’mon Dan, he’s earned a shot.

    • alum84. Seriously? Maybe it is you, not Mullen, that has “some sort of bias” thing with Trask and Franks???? With all the hate and bias going on in Washington, Kentucky, and Pittsburgh right now, dare I say, “please stop with all that”, as well as references to Trump and his comments about race. Trask is not playing because Mullen and Johnson do not think he can run the offense as well as Franks and Jones. And it has nothing to do with the color of Trask’s skin color.

      • Oh yeah, I have bias. I want to the Gator offense to play to their full potential. That said, if you don’t think personal bias has anything to do with choosing one player over another, you’ve never played much sports, that’s obvious. And nice job taking it to the gutter with my post. Maybe you’ve just shown your bias. My reference to Trump’s comment is to not be afraid to try something different. Pittsburg? Really? You’re an idiot.

        • Also BTW Tampagator, I was rooting for Franks to replace Del Rio most of last year, and thought Mac might be biased because of Del Rio’s father. Oops, I guess I didn’t realize Del Rio’s race. Btw, did I say you were an idiot?

          • Alum84. A response filled with anger and insults. Shocked. My post obviously hit a nerve. And what did Franks’ father have to do with McElwain and Del Rio last year? Please tell us. And no, I do not want to hear the name, TRUMP, at this time. America, NOT SO GREAT with all the verbal and violent attacks on American liberties, freedoms, and political and social systems by extremists from every direction right now. And that includes from the White House from my perspective. And that is coming from a thinking man’s republican. And by the way, it is Pittsburgh. Any idiot would know that.

          • Alum84 this is not for you but is the only place I can respond to Tampa.
            TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP
            Any idiot would know not to bring politics into a sports blog
            Again you remind of of the troll who used to do just that all the time, Mike Winter.

          • CO, Alum84 did nothing wrong in his post other than mention a quote from the current POTUS, not having a thing to do with race or hate in context, following which he received an entirely sanctimonious and hypocritical response, apparently triggered by an emotionally unstable reaction to the mere mention of a certain name. True to pattern, this individual will cast himself as the victim instead of the perpetrator.

            I swear, sometimes I think he and LT really are the same person, although as hostile as LT can become at times, he doesn’t lecture or correct others needlessly.

          • “Deny, deny, deny. And eventually they will believe it”.
            — Donald Trump

            You are a good and loyal follower.

      • ITs clear, Tampa that “jones” cant run the offense at all. He was getting everything from the sidelines the few plays he was in there! I guarantee trask wouldnt have that problem. Again the only oranges to oranges comparison was the spring game last year when franks couldnt move the offense all game with the #1 offense against the #2 defense. trask was given 1 drive with the same players and drove right down and scored a TD. Clearly a superior game manager and Mullen commented in practice this year that Trask was an accurate passer and praised his checkdown ability. So we have that from the coaches own mouth, unless he was lying, of course!

    • Alum84 please tell us where you saw Trask making throws that caused you to come to the conclusion that he’s “someone who has demonstrated exceptional passing skills and accuracy”. If you’re solely basing this off of the Spring game, then I’ll again refer back to Del Rio’s Spring game stat line of 10-11 for 176 yards and 2 TDs, which obviously wasn’t indicative of his superior QB skills. In the immortal words of Allen Iverson, “we’re talking about practice! We’re talking about practice…..We ain’t talking about the game! We’re talking about practice man!” Mullen can claim to the media all he wants that the competition was close, but that doesn’t mean that’s actually the case. To me, that’s just a coach saying stuff to the media and indirectly to the players to keep their heads in the competition and give everything they’ve got. If he just comes out and says oh Franks is clearly ahead and looks far better, then what do you think that’s going to do not only for the competition, but to Trask mentally? He has to keep the fire burning in everyone. It’s ludicrous to think a great QB coach like Mullen would purposely keep a better player on the bench. You should really research that Michael Jordan comment as well. This story is like the game telephone, it completely changes with each person. Do a little research on what actually happened, cause that myth has been debunked. He wasn’t cut from varsity, there was one opening since every other spot was taken by juniors and seniors and sophomores rarely played varsity. One sophomore made the spot instead of him simply because he was 6′-7″ and they needed a big man. Jordan had to play JV just like every other underclassman. You can bet for damn sure, that unlike Trask, Jordan was a starter his junior and senior years.

      • Without getting into a point by point reply, I’ll just say this. Nobody is saying Mullen wants to purposely hurt the team’s chances. But he is human, imagine that? And they do get it wrong sometimes. Just like Jordan’s HS coach his sophmore year. But if you don’t like that example, there’s more than I can count of a second string QB coming in after an injury or poor game from the starter and taking over. You really have never seen this happen? Everyone who knows this team knows Trask is the best passer. And they’ve said as much. Franks is clearly not the answer. Give Trask a shot. Do you think Spurrier would not have made a change my now? Have you heard the comments from many former gators including Terbow? I’m not alone here. Saying that Mullen believes Franks gives them the best chance is not a satisfactory answer at this point. Franks has shown too many issues. I just want to see one quarter with Trask. Just one. I’m gonna keep saying it whether all the mediocrity apologists like it or not. GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Wow, he’s human?? I never would’ve guessed! People can give their opinions all they want, that doesn’t mean it’s a fact. Yes there have been a few scenarios where the backup has come in and played better, but there have been far more where that wasn’t the case. I’m inclined to believe what the head coach thinks, you know the guy that sees them every day in practice and sees how they study film and sees what they do behind the scenes, then to believe what the every day Joe Schmo fan, who thinks they know more than the coach thinks, or even what sideline analysts and former players think. I’m wondering where you pulled that one from, cause I haven’t seen any former players lobbying for Trask. Trask is about as pro style of a QB as it gets, and that’s not a good fit for Mullen’s offense. If he’s inserted, then this offense becomes very one dimensional similar to how the offense was with Leak behind center before Mullen and Meyer decided to tweak it and implement more of Tebow. Similar to the issues OSU is having now with Haskins. If we’re going to lobby for anyone to see more snaps, it should be Mullen’s hand picked guy that fits his offense and is the clear future of the program. That was a beautiful deep pass Jones threw, which would’ve been a TD if not for pass interference. All the main goals for this season are pretty much done, so there’s no need to waste snaps on multiple guys, give it all to the future.

          • Joe Schmo. Hey I like that. The shoe fits. So, with all your confidence in the QB selection, how’s that working out? Have you ever been successful in competitive sports at any level? Please enlighten us to your enormous expertise.

          • Sorry, didn’t realize I was dealing with an all world athlete with more expertise than Vince Lombardi. Yeah I was actually pretty successful at every level of sports I played. I was even coached by one of the greatest high school football coaches in the history of the FHSAA. A guy by the name of George Smith at St. Thomas Aquinas. But being successful at sports doesn’t require you to have common sense, and common sense would tell you that Trask is obviously not good enough to start, or he would be, even in high school where he wasn’t because they run a similar offense to Mullen’s. Go figure. How’s the Qb selection working out you ask. Seems to be working out great actually. The team is at a point right now that no one expected them to be. They have a chance to win 10 games when everyone predicted 6 or 7, but yeah lets throw the extremely inexperienced Trask in there the second Franks has some adversity against a team no one expected the Gators to beat. Sounds like something an expert would do.

          • Alum84. For someone who is not biased in any way, you sure seem to be filled with anger and enjoy insulting people. And I do not know about Joe, but I played high school baseball, football, and basketball. I even ran some track and ran a fairly fast mile back in the day. I even coached organized sports, including tennis and youth football. So yes, to your question above.

        • Joe. If Trask could run the spread offense better than Trask, Mullen would start him over Franks right now. He has not been doing that in practice, clearly. I recall many wanting Tebow to immediately replace Leak, but Meyer and Mullen knew he was not ready as a freshman. Trask is not ready to start in a spread offense and is not better than Franks or he would be playing. Jones has not been ready either, but he obviously is getting more ready to play. When Franks is no longer the starter (which will likely be sooner than later), I believe he will be replaced by Jones, not Trask. Jones has the overall skills to run a spread offense much better than Trask can. I also believe Trask will use all he has learned at Florida, as well as how much he has improved as a player and as a QB, to transfer to a lesser conference school, or a school that runs a pro style offense, after this season. And especially if he graduates this year.

          • I completely agree. I think Franks needs to remain the starter for the rest of the season and give Jones all the experience he can get for next season. I’m not trying to claim Trask is terrible, he’s just obviously not a fit for this offense and could be very well be successful in a pro-style offense. I just can’t see how anyone can be so adamant about him being this amazing QB that just hasn’t been given his chance at any level since pee-wee football. That would require multiple offensive coaches in high school and college that have all made the same mistake. I just don’t see it. Maybe he should try to join his boy Mac at Michigan.

          • I agree with this Tampa. I think Trask will most likely transfer, maybe not to a “lesser” school, but maybe so. More to the point I think he’ll transfer to an offense more suited to his style. Only then will all of us really know what he can and can’t do.

            As I’ve said in several other posts, I see the Florida QB job as being Emory Jones’ to lose by next spring.

      • Actually a spring game ISNT a PRACTICE. It a GAME. furthermore, Del Rio was really quite a good QB when he wasnt so hurt he could barely lift his throwing arm and yet McElwain still had him in the games playing. We all thought he had gone bad till we found out later he was playing very hurt! I guess you didnt get that memo or youre so old youre forgetting things!

    • When and where did Trask show exceptional passing skills and accuracy and what game management. He has never even played so how has he shown game management. He did not even start in high school. That statement is ridiculous. A coach has to judge a player by what he sees everyday in practice. It is easy to show a nice spiral when no one is about to hit you in the mouth.

          • Tampa. You asked what Franks father had to do with Mac and Del Rio? Wipe the cheese wiz off your glasses, then learn to read. I said Del Rio’s father. NFL football coach? Maybe you’ve heard of him? Then again. ..And I’ll just say one more thing about QB. If any of you Franks lovers really believe Trask could not have hit a wide open Jefferson, and many other examples, you’re clueless. I admit he may not be the runner that Franks might be, which is the reason Mulken gave for selecting Franks, but the running game is the least of our offensive problems.

          • Again the only oranges to oranges comparison was the spring game last year when franks couldnt move the offense all game with the #1 offense against the #2 defense. trask was given 1 drive with the same players and drove right down and scored a TD. Clearly a superior game manager and Mullen commented in practice this year that Trask was an accurate passer and praised his checkdown ability. So we have that from the coaches own mouth, unless he was lying, of course!

  8. Coach Mullen has us playing a year ahead of schedule. Well done Coach!
    To be ahead in the score in the third quarter despite all the turnovers is incredible. It makes you think, what if.
    Franks has come a long way but has farther to go still. For this top tier team we need a top tier QB.
    Our running game was solid. Good job by the O-Line. Our goal line stand, holding firm six times, will live long in my memory-inspirational. Ga. will have their hands full in Kentucky. Ky is on a mission.
    Still we have a ten win season in sight. Go Gators!

  9. Now that I have stepped back and digested this, I am a little surprised with the “wait until Mullen gets his QB talk” and “our secondary was depleted”, and “UGA is just better” …. Is this who we are now? We’re the wait til next year bunch? Our OPPONENTS used to say that. You think the East is just gonna stay down until we return? We formerly beat UGA no matter what the starting guys looked like. UGA lost Chubb/Michel and a Butkus award winner, and in the second half, we had no answer for the beatdown we were taking…. Do I think Mullen is the right coach, yes…. But this lowering of expectations is shocking. For the 2nd straight Halloween week in a row (2017,2018), the highest ranked public university football program in the state is ……UCF…… let that sink in….

    • Expectations were lowered by a 4 – 7 team last year. Did you really expect to compete for an SEC championship this year? With no proven starting QB? With no Top 10 recruiting class in forever? With an O-line that was horrible last year? With a defense that was porous last year? Really?

      Mullen has done wonders with the talent he inherited. He has them believing in themselves and the coaching staff. Many football games can go either way based on a few plays. All of Fromm’s TD passes we’re on 3rd and long. The D-Line, which was good against the run, didn’t generate a pass rush which gave the receivers time to get open on those plays. If Florida doesn’t get behind they continue to pound the rock, which they were doing with some consistency, and don’t have to pass which played into the strength of Georgia’s defense, its secondary. This was no beat down. Did you watch the 7 stops from the 1 yd line? Give Georgia and its coaches some credit. They attacked the weakness exposed when CJ Henderson exited the game. Next year our expectations should be higher. Have some patience.

    • Yes Dave, after the last 2 regimes we unfortunately are a wait till next year bunch. The fact of the matter is, the recruiting has been subpar for a few years now. You actually need to look at the bright side of that loss. This is a team that won 4 games last season and was severely depleted in the secondary by injuries and a boneheaded decision by Brad Stewart before the game. Georgia has been recruiting at an elite level for several years now and was in the national title game last season. On paper they’re a far superior team and even with as bad as the Gators played offensively and turning it over twice in UGA’s redzone, on top of being severely depleted in the secondary, Georgia actually didn’t look like the superior team for 3.5 quarters. This matchup had the makings of a game similar to last season, but instead was a slugfest for 3 quarters. The Gators were only down 9 with 8 minutes to play and had every opportunity to win. No one in their right mind expected to be where we are right now. Going into the season pretty much everyone was saying this was a team that needed 3-5 years to be competing for titles. I think it’s pretty safe to say after seeing what Mullen has accomplished already with this ragtag bunch, that this will probably be the last year it’ll be acceptable to say wait till next year. Realistically it’ll probably be at least another year before Mullen has them competing for championship, but he will for sure get the necessary talent to put them over the top.

        • Dave…Not bashing yours and anyone’s age, but in my lifetime, I wondered if we would ever beat the Dawgs. That flipped a complete 180 with SOS and Urban..(hell even Zook was 2-1), but as a kid growing up a die hard in the late 70s and 80s…they were the juggernaut. We owned FSU…did well against the U, but would find a way to lose to them. This is why the 1984 team is still one of my fav teams…finally broke through in dominating fashion. 1985, we were ranked #1 for the first time, but it lasted a week…..24-3 thumping. It goes in cycles, but I believe we will right that ship sooner than later.

      • Ga looked like the superior team the whole game! Dont know what you were watching. ga was always in control of that game. most points are scored in the 4th qtr in SEC games and clearly Ga was incontrol the whole 4 qtrs, right from the 1st drive!

  10. dave fisher. Florida would be undefeated if it played UCF’s schedule. And UCF would likely be 6 and 2 and likely worse if they played Florida’s schedule, especially in the SEC. Playing a schedule in the SEC takes its toll on a team, unless your are Bama (and they usually even lose a game in the SEC each year). Playing Memphis and such week in and week out does not take much of a toll on a team. Please.

  11. You hit the nail on the head Montana Mike; Emory Jones is our future. He is dynamic when he fully grasp Mullens Offense. It’s going to be scary for opposing Defensive coordinators. Just something to think about; the past 3 recruiting classes. Georgia has 13 5 stars; the Gators have 0. This is a 23-17 Going into the fourth quarter Saturday. Mullen gets two more recruiting classes under his belt. The Mighty Gators will be taking over the Sec East. You can take that to the Bank. As Steven Seagal said in Hard to Kill.

  12. Albert. I think it will be more like a battle between Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and now Kentucky every year in the future. Winning the SEC East in the future is going to be very difficult. Heck, South Carolina is even recruiting well. And Florida did not sign him into their class originally, but Trevon Grimes was a 5-star WR recruit.

  13. Objectively, Georgia and Florida State’s quarterback, running backs and receivers are better than Florida’s. We have to look to the future. Objectively, Florida should be the underdog in 3 of the remaining 4 games, regardless of records. Everyone would have agreed after Kentucky. This should be viewed as a compliment to Mullen who has gotten us to 6-2 and a possible 10-2 if the players execute well.

    • Gator Steve – I’d certainly agree on the QB part…..not so sure about the RB’s and WR’s. I believe UF has lots of talent at those skill positions and now that the OL is starting to resemble an SEC OL, all that is holding the Gators back offensively….is the QB.

  14. The New England Patriots have only one 5 star playing. The majority are 3’s and a few 4’s.
    What’s the point? It’s simple:
    There’s more to it than stars, there’s heart, hustle, coachability, atttitude, determination and great coaching.
    Look what Mullen has done in just one year with 3’s and 4’s. Watch the 5’s start to pile in to join this program.

  15. I think the Mizzou game will tell us if Franks is improving and if the defense is healthy and plays Grantham’s schemes. Mizzou’s Drew Lock can put a lot of points on the board. In my opinion, he is better than Franks at reading the field, but does not have a better supporting case. We shall see.