Andreu’s Answers: Another game of growth for UF

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Florida freshman tight end Kyle Pitts celebrates his 52-yard scoring pass play from QB Feleipe Franks in the first quarter Saturday against Idaho at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Alan Youngblood/Staff photographer]

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 11:

1. Will true freshman quarterback Emory Jones see extensive playing time?

The coaches went in hoping he would, and he did, thanks to the fast start the No. 1 offense got off to with Feleipe Franks and the passing game. After Franks threw a 34-yard TD pass to Tyrie Cleveland to put the Gators up 42-0 with 5:22 left in the first half, it was game on for Jones. Looking poised and comfortable in the offense, he led the Gators to a touchdown on his first possession. On the drive, which concluded with a TD pass to Josh Hammond, Jones converted a third-and-eight with a 15-yard run and threw a 35-yard strike to Trevon Grimes. Jones threw another TD pass in the second half and finished the game with 12 completions in 16 attempts for 125 yards and the two TDs.

2. The Gators gutted South Carolina with the running game. Can they do the same against an Idaho defense that is giving up 214.7 yards rushing a game?

With so many openings and opportunities in the passing game, the Gators did not even try to establish a running game in the first half. Leading rusher Jordan Scarlett had zero carries and second-leading rusher Lamical Perine had just six for 34 yards, while Franks threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Once Jones took over, the Gators got the ground game going with Dameon Pierce and UF ended up with 201 yards rushing, which is solid but not a gutting.

3. Can the Florida defense cut back on the explosive plays given up in recent games?

They did. The Vandals had only two explosive plays — a 21-yard run by quarterback Mason Petrino and a 23-yard pass from Petrino to wide receiver Jeff Cotton. It will be a much different challenge Saturday against Florida State. The Seminoles have some of the same kind of speed and playmaking ability at the skill positions that burned the Gators badly in consecutive games against Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina. Explosive plays remain a concern for this defense.

4. With the new redshirt rule in place, will we see some true freshmen play who haven’t played yet or only played in the first game or two?

Wide receiver Jacob Copeland saw his first playing time. He had a 16-yard reception and made some impressive blocks on the perimeter. Nine other true freshmen who had not played since the first two non-conference games early in the season played Saturday. That list consists of Jones, offensive lineman Chris Bleich, outside linebacker Andrew Chatfield, running back Iverson Clement, offensive lineman Richard Gouraige, tight end Dante Lang, defensive end Malik Langham, center Griffin McDowell and linebacker David Reese. In all, 16 true freshmen played. Of those 16, 10 are still going to be able to redshirt this season.

5. Idaho is going to be a tough draw. Do the fans show up and make The Swamp feel like The Swamp?

It was a late-arriving crowd, of course, and a lot of the students stayed away, but the stadium eventually filled in decently, about like it did for the South Carolina game. The announced attendance was 81,467, and that looked about right. There wasn’t as much energy as an SEC game, but it was a solid Swamp atmosphere. The fans did enough to earn some post-game praise from coach Dan Mullen.

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


Up next

Who: No. 13 Florida (8-3) vs. Florida State (5-6)

When: 12 p.m. Saturday

Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee

TV: ABC

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

13 COMMENTS

  1. Saw some real talent in our freshmen. If some of the juniors stay and grow their nfl potential some more we will be in a good position to improve next year. We had a huge boost this year. Getting a good recruiting class is going to be key. Pitts, Lange, Copeland looked legit. Lineman looked good. All made mistakes but this new rule is going to help in letting them play and get their feet wet. The second team would have still beat Idaho but not by three same margin. Freaks looked better but still missed some passes that were bell cow makes for good qb’s. He’s got the ark just doesn’t have much control. Over thrown long passed, short passes that need touch still laughing. Better decision making in this game but it was not a SEC opponent. Most important thing is freshman talent looked solid across. Congrats to seniors on winning your final home game. Congrats freshmen on a good start to your time in the swamp. Go Gators!

  2. Vegas bookies have the opening line for Florida/FSU at Florida -4.5. That’s a sucker number. It means the bookies who establish the spread can’t really agree on a number that will attract equal betting on both sides. In my own ‘opening line’ spread sheet, I have Gators -6. (I draw up the spread sheet Saturday evening after most games are over and look for big differences between my numbers and the Vegas numbers.)
    PS: The managers of the 10 largest sports books in terms of volume bet meet every Sunday afternoon (they now can use the Internet) to come up with an opening number. These numbers are then offered to the major sports bettors who gamble for a living If any side gets way too much action from the pros, the line is adjusted accordingly. Each sports book can set its own line, but you will seldom find any line that is different from book to book by more than 1 point. And all the sports books can ‘lay off’ with another book when too much money comes in on one side of the line.

  3. the decline of fsu, considering the talent they recruited, is baffling to me. my guess is the combination of wanting to play in a bowl game to develop the next years team, their seniors wanting some good film to help nfl draft status, plus natural pride and rivalry should trigger a good fight from fsu. inversely, this can be a realigning game, if we win, so that florida recruits will again put us as the #1 choice, not fsu, not miami, and not ucf in case we get to play them in a bowl game. so the last game or two is really bg for the future.

    • I really think, Mveal, it’s a function of undisclosed systemic dysfunction in their athletic department (much like Tennessee before Phil Fulmer got back), a new coach with an overall sub-.500 record, and that new coach putting in a new system. Which one of those accounts for the most loading weight I don’t know, but I suspect it won’t last for long. It is indeed baffling if those three variables aren’t correct.

      • Mean, Median, Mode area under the curve and the statistically …. Yes FSU has/had some major underlying current going on that was/is coming to a head and may continue. Looks like UT has the ship righted and on the way, as does A&M. The Gators are ahead of the game but likely to be a little faster to the front than the others as the fire wasn’t as large and the pieces were better than the others. I think if the bones are telling the right thing. I do think that the dysfunction at some was larger than the football team which made the mess bigger.

        • Roger….so much as pertains to Tennessee, I give them about 3 years in recovery and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with again. That’s a good thing for the East, and us in particular since them being good will only make us better. Besides, when they get back on their feet, can you imagine the exciting games? Should be like when Spurrier was here and Fulmer was there on the field.

          As far as FSU, it wouldn’t bother me if their legs grew together for about a decade, but I suppose for the sake of some old time, exciting games, we ought to wish them some sort of well. 🤷‍♂️