Andreu’s Answers: Gators seek to maintain edge this time

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Florida's Jordan Scarlett celebrates with fellow running back Lamical Perine after Perine scored a touchdown Saturday against South Carolina at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/ The Gainesville Sun]

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 10:

1. In the last two games, the UF defense has combined for only two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Will the pass rush be more productive against USC’s Jake Bentley?

Florida’s two sacks came in the first three quarters and had minimal impact while the Gamecocks were building their lead to 31-14. But when the Gators really needed to put some heat on Jake Bentley in the fourth quarter, they did, and it had a big impact. A quarterback hurry by Cece Jefferson led to an incompletion and a third-down stop, giving the ball back to UF for the game-winning drive. On South Carolina’s final possession, pressure played a role in cornerback CJ Henderson’s third-down interception that helped seal the victory.

2. In the last two games, the Gators have come up with zero turnovers. Can they force some vs. the Gamecocks?

It looked like the Gators might get shut out again, but with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, they created one. And it was a big one — Henderson’s interception on the USC 44-yard line with only 3:21 left in the game. The Gators were able to run out the clock from there.

3. How does UF’s situation at quarterback play out?

The decision on who was going to start was taken care of Wednesday with the foot injury to Kyle Trask in practice. So, the game belonged to Feleipe Franks. The only question was whether true freshman Emory Jones would see some playing time. He did not. Franks went the distance and had one of his best games, accounting for three touchdowns (two rushing and one passing) and coming up with some tough, critical plays running with the ball.

4. Both offensively and defensively, the Gators have struggled on the money down. Will they be better on third down?

The defense struggled again to get off the field while the Gamecocks were rolling to a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter. But with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Gators had third-down stops on all three of USC’s possessions. On offense, a strong running attack kept the Gators out of third-and-long situations for much of the game, and it was a major factor in UF converting 10 of 16 third downs.

5. Can the Florida offensive line get the job done in pass protection, which has been an issue?

Pass protection really wasn’t much better, with Franks getting sacked twice. But the big guys up front made up for it by creating pushback and opening lanes for running backs Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine. The two combined to rush for 266 yards and two touchdowns. One way to work around poor pass protection is to have success on the ground, which the Gators did. The game-winning 66-yard touchdown drive consisted of 10 runs and zero passes. Franks attempted only two passes in the decisive fourth quarter.

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


Up next

Who: Idaho Vandals (4-6) vs. No. 15 Florida (7-3)

When: 12 p.m. Saturday

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

TV: ESPNU

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

17 COMMENTS

  1. Good, accurate answers….but a small nitpick at least historically going back to the Tennessee game where the Gators literally feasted on turnovers. I seem to recall then that the general consensus in the sports media was that the unfortunate Vols gave up the football and therefore gave the game to the otherwise hapless Florida team. Nice too see at least one outlet (ours) at least getting it straight and expecting the “forcing of turnovers” as opposed to some type of unlucky bad karma or juju by the other team. Thanks, Robbie.

  2. I actually disagree that the pressure caused the interception. How I saw it was basically a basketball coach who calls a timeout, lets the other team draw up a play against the man defense he’s run all game, and then switch to zone. Grantham showed the farm, then called a timeout, then dropped 8 into coverage on 3rd down and Bentley threw to a guy who would’ve been open if we had blitzed. A rare excellent 3rd down decision by Grantham. He’s 2-2 in end-game situations this year now.

  3. There are some noteworthy themes that apply to this game and carry across to this season:
    1.Relentless effort- what the Gator O and D did in the fourth quarter to achieve the Swamp’s biggest comeback
    2. Continuous improvement-the O Line opening holes for the RB’s to run over 300 yard. The Big D stops on 3rd
    down in Q-4, to give us back the ball.
    3. Regain the Swamp-As coach Mullen said, when the Swamp is rocking we can’t lose. It feeds the team.
    This program has come a long way this season, and has given us a clear path to success for next season.
    Let’s close the season strong, beat the Noles, win a Big Bowl game and attract many talented recruits.

  4. since the newspaper went after luke del rio, why cant the fans go after the newspaper for taunting gator fans implying that champ was a better coach after the defensive backfield let south carolina score 89 yards on a routine play. i admit the gator defense was playing dreadful, but please stop it.
    it was obvious champ had to go, and to keep trying to bring him back or whatever the point was, its just infuriating. and im embarrassed to take the bait, but this is a site for the gators, not for other teams. posting crap like that will cost the newspaper more readers than it will ever pick up imo. if i wanted to look for nice things about south carolina, im sure i could find one somewhere. Champ proved, by his team giving that game away, what everyone but the newspaper and some check writer in south carolina knows, he isnt a head coach. good assistant for someone maybe, but not a head coach. thats life. i suck at politics and other things etc.. all of us have something we cant do. move on, ok?

    • mveal, I think you’re just going to have to resign yourself to the fact that a team facing one of its past coaches is a big story line and the media is going to take advantage of that for ratings. It happens every time. If UF faces OSU in a bowl game the barrage of stories about Urban will be bigger than anything you’ve ever seen.

      • 22 times a year, what patience i have left cannot go for trying to fix a hopelessly broken wheel like champ as a head coach. i shouldn’t follow the gators on twitter, the last week or so has had some moments i didnt enjoy. you like to think you follow these kids and hit the like button to encourage them, but in the hopes of getting that last 2 people to come on board with some clickbait were getting stuff older guys looking for substance don’t really want, its probably time to say good bye to the gator part of it. intentions were good, oh well.

    • I didn’t see the tweet, but I did notice that the Muschbrain Fan Club hasn’t had much to say about how great he is after his Unstoppable Mush defense collapsed and he managed to blow a 17 point lead. I think one of them actually blamed the South Carolina players for it, but other than that reality once again wins over the delusional ravings of the only two people who watched us lose to Georgia Southern and sat there clapping and cheering, “He’s such a good coach! I love him!”

      Meanwhile, USC thought they were going to have a big year after going 9-3 last year, but instead they are once again a mediocre also ran struggling to make a bowl. They are not paying The Mush 5 million a year to win six games, but they are struck watching him fail for a few more years. Don’t doubt that when he does get fired the Mushbrain fan club still won’t see the truth and will attacking Carolina fans for being spoiled because they expect a coach paid millions to actually produced results. Instead, they will make such rock solid logical arguments as “He went to Oak Hall so that proves he is a master coach who all should worship.”