Andreu’s Answers: Indeed, different UF team dominates bowl

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks ran and passed for touchdowns to lead the Gators to the 41-15 win over Michigan in Saturday's Peach Bowl in Atlanta. [John Bazemore/Associated Press]

ATLANTA — 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 13:

1. Can the offensive line protect quarterback Feleipe Franks, who was benched in the second half against Michigan last season?

Franks faced steady pressure and was sacked three times. But he had enough time to execute the passing game and give the offense the kind of balance it needed to have success against a strong defensive team. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, and he converted some critical third downs to keep drives alive. So, the offensive line did a solid job protecting him.

2. Will the Gators be able to establish the run against a big, physical and attacking Michigan defensive front?

This was a vital matchup, and the Gators won it in a big way, rushing for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Running backs Lamical Perine and Jordan Scarlett had some impressive runs and both scored touchdowns, Perine’s 53-yarder coming on a third-and-20. The surprise here was quarterback Feleipe Franks. He was more than just a willing runner, he was a dangerous one as well, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown on a quarterback draw that he audibled to.

3. Can the Gators contain Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson and prevent him from creating big plays with his legs?

He had a 21-yard run on the first offensive play of the game, but the Gators shut down that aspect of his game for the rest of the day. The Gators kept him in the pocket and prevented him from scrambling around and making plays on the run. He was sacked five times. That’s the same number of yards he had rushing. This was a crucial win for the UF defense.

4. Will the Gators match up physically against a Michigan team that dominated them last season?

A year ago, the physical difference between these two teams was obvious. The Wolverines were much tougher and stronger and were big winners on both lines of scrimmage. That certainly wasn’t the case Saturday. The Gators did not just hold their own from a physical standpoint, they dominated at times, winning both lines of scrimmage. Nick Savage and the strength and conditioning staff have made a significant impact on this team — and this season.

5. How much, and how well, will true freshman quarterback Emory Jones play?

He came into the game at the start of the second quarter in mid-drive and played only four plays before handing the ball back to Franks. He had runs of four and three yards and did not attempt a pass. He also came in at the end of the game for mop up duty in the closing two minutes. So, he didn’t play much, didn’t have much of an impact, but it’s obvious coach Dan Mullen is getting him ready to be a bigger part of the offense in 2019.

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


Up next

Florida opens the 2019 season against Miami on Aug. 31 in Orlando

62 COMMENTS

  1. Going in I thought we matched up will against Michigan. First we are fit. That by itself would have been huge last year. Won’t retread opinion on old coaches. We have been making steady improvements in execution all year. Could they keep that momentum with a break? Answer YES! coaching put the team in position to make plays. Players still have to execute those plays and they did. The play with CGJ was NFL caliber. The team made mistakes but recovered, the coaches never flinched. No one blinked. Was fun to watch great play calling and game planning again with players that know how to get it done. Thank you all for giving this GATOR fan a great season of watching football.

    • Agreed 65. And looking back over the entire season, there was only 2 games where we looked bad. That’s a huge improvement over the last few years. With Richt walking away from the dumpster fire in Miami, Mullen should be able to cherry pick a few of the top south FL recruits. Next year could be really special with a few breaks going our way.

  2. With Jawaan Taylor declaring for the NFL draft, the Gators will lose 4 members of the OL that pushed around the last 5 teams they faced. The coaching staff’s biggest challenge this offseason will be to retool that OL.

    Fortunately, they will have plenty of OL talent available. So, it’s just a matter of building up their strength and conditioning (Savage) and getting them working together before August 31st (Hevesy.) The job will be easier this year bacause they won’t have to deal with the bad attitudes, bad practice habits and lack of buy-in issues left over from the prior coaching staff.

    Go Gators!!!

    • Thats a very good point. Though it didnt exhibit itself during S&C, the “bads” did to a gradually lessening degree for much of the season. With Coach Mullen having changed the culture and recruiting guys with the promise ‘they will work harder than they ever have’, the team should make greater strides quicker this next season. a large part of success in sports is believing in the process and that you will succeed.

    • I’m not trying to pick a fight with you but I have to come to Robbie’s defense. Robbie is a sportswriter and as such he has to write about what he sees not what he wishes to see. I don’t think anyone that is not a homer or a wishful thinker could have had much success predicting the Gators’ games this year given the Gators’ recent history of up and down, mostly down, playing. I’ve been a Gator fan since 1958 and there was no way that I could realistically make predictions on how the Gators’ would play from Saturday to Saturday. That’s just my .02 which in 2018 ain’t worth much.

      • I have to agree, Not-PC-and-You-Don’t-Give-a-Fig.

        We have a damn good staff of writers handling this thing. It’s a difficult balance to be objective and still remember who you’re following — we see guys among us on here struggle with it every day! It doesn’t make you a Gator-Hater to interpret the “facts” as they line up for you; nor does it make you automatically wrong to choose not to consider the intangibles — that’s why they’re called “intangibles”! My own background and development causes me to include those nuances, but that’s one way to do it and only one way. Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield — so Pat and Robbie got it wrong more times than they got it right this time. Big deal.

        In my memory, the only sports writer who could actually balance his loyalties with his objectivity all the time — and doing it both with elan and humor — was the late Tom McEwen. He was one of a kind, but I think he would nevertheless give an overall A+ grade to Pat, Robbie, and our entire staff.

        • I’m with you. I don’t get all the criticism of their picks. I’m sure privately, both Pat and Robbie are rooting for the Gators to win. It’s easier to write when the Gators win because the coaches and players tend to be more chatty, upbeat, and probably easier to have access. But as journalists, they have to appear as impartial and objective. I consider their picks a charade to maintain their professionalism and credibility amongst their peers in the press box. Notice how most of the time, they keep their picks close to the betting line or rankings. With that said, I think it would be fun next year to make a game of it if we could each individually compete with Pat on his weekly pick column of 10 games. We just play for bragging rights. We just need someone willing to keep tally of the score or find an app to automate the tracking.

  3. Great win for the Florida program. No doubt recruiting will make a difference as the 10 wins and turn around have to be appealing to high school players. the recruiting will be critical for the O line and D line as well as for the receiver and linebacker positions. However, DM has recruited good numbers so far and has shown the ability to coach the players once they get here. The future looks bright and maybe they are 2 years away from a major breakthrough but I think it is coming. Go Gators and thanks for a great and rewarding season!

    • I will just be happy with competent play each year. It would be nice to play for championships every year, but for most teams out there each year thats not a reality. I for one am not going to put that kind of pressure on the coach. I will be overjoyed when we do but im not going to be demanding it. i think that kind of attitude will make Mullen’s job a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. I think he will put all the pressure he needs on himself to achieve, he doesnt need that from us. Your comment isnt suggesting that but caused me to opine on the thought. I believe we Gator fans have been guilty of being too demanding in the past. Even Spurrier commented on that after he left. I want to keep this coach a long time, a very long time. I think if we all are satisfied with the kind of success we had this year as the norm and then grateful for any more we will be happier,and so will the players and coaches. A top 10 ranking each year should be doable every year, any more than that will be gravy. With that kind of attitude I will be happy every year and ecstatic some years rather than deflated every year we dont win the SEC or play for a N.C.! The last thing this coach will need is a bunch of fan critics when he stubs his toe, which will happen occasionally. Yes I criticised the last 2 but that was because they were truly awful and incompetent, this coach is not but he will make some mistakes. He did this year and was the 1st to point it out! We really have a great coach and I encourage all the fans to try to never make his job harder than it has to be. Lets try to keep him! Keep him longer than even he plans(he made the statement he would be gone in 10 years-‘the last time he would play Ms St’ as head coach here, cause we arent scheduled again for a decade{think i have the correct team]).

  4. The QB question for next year will partially depend on the O-Line. If it is pourous, then we may need a Jones back there to be able to scramble AND throw. Franks may not be able to do both, but he is the leader going into Spring.

    Franks has definitely improved a lot, especially in his running, but the question is can he improve enough to really be ‘the guy’? If he would improve in 2 areas, he would be significantly better:

    1. Touch passes. Degree of difficulty: moderate. Tebow sometimes had this problem too. When a back is swinging out of the backfield what the back needs is to find the ball directly in his path so he grabs it in full stride to keep his momentum. When Franks throws these balls, it’s still his straight line LASER with no arc, and the backs often have to hesitate and dig for the catch, ruining both momentum and the element of surprise. This also affects some over the middle balls which have been batted down despite Franks towering 6’6″ frame.

    2. Vision. Degree of difficulty: High. This is what people debate when they say Franks doesn’t have the “it” factor. The roll out against Meechigan at the 6 yard line where Kadarius Toney was quarantined just over the pursing defenders with no one within 10 yards of him is a great recent example. Franks was on the move, so he never looked up and ran out of bounds instead of throwing it. Just one of many examples of him not seeing the obvious throw available; not processing through the progressions. I don’t know how you teach this. If anyone can do it CDM and staff can, but it hasn’t changed in 2 years so far, and without this improvement our offense will not progress further as in getting to the playoffs.

    Do I cringe each time Franks takes a snap? No, not like I used to. Do I think we will have great teams going forward? I do. But managing Franks has become CDM’s task of raising the smart but awkward teenager of a QB, and the question is how long if ever it will take to smooth those rough edges. It will be an interesting spring practice!

    Go Gators!

    • As fr a vision goes, if you watched the Alabama game you saw Tua do the very same thing. It happens to all QB’s, the question is just how often. Franks has improved in this area. While on the Alabama/Oklahoma game Murray look great at times and terrible at others. Lots of overthrowing of WD’s.

      • Speaking of the Alabama game – I wonder if the Miami Dolphins watched that game. If they did then they would see what professional teams look like when they play…LMAO. Also – if you watched the Orange Bowl, then you watched that 5 star recruit that we wanted to come to U of F get picked on time and time again. Patrick Surtain II was abused by the Oklahoma QB. I am sure he will get better, with that 5 Star rating he should have been better than he was that night. Goes to show you stars don’t mean squat! GO GATORS!!!

    • On your 2nd point, in my experience watching both pro and college football over the last 50 years, “vision” is something a QB is mostly born with. It has to do with how his brain rapidly processes all the moving bodies and zeroes in on the open (or about to be open) secondary receiver, while not losing sight of the rushers coming at him… FAST.

      For references, I’m a Gator and Dolphin fan. Bob Griese and Dan Marino had “vision.” Don Strock and Ryan Tannehill never did. Danny Wuerffel and Rex Grossman had “vision.” Terry Dean and Feleipe Franks never did.

      Today, if Franks’ primary receiver is open when he looks for him, he’ll almost always complete that pass. If Franks’ primary receiver isn’t open, bad results usually follow. A good OC can mostly work around that QB deficiency with better pass blocking, better schemes to free up primary receivers and a strong running game, all of which Mullen has done well enough for Franks as QB to win 10 games this season.

      The problem for Mullen going forward is how to win 2 more games AND the SEC Championship. To do THAT, the Gators must beat teams like Georgia and Alabama, who can score 30+ points on any D, slow down any running game and routinely cover all primary receivers 1 on 1. Once placed in THAT box, Franks fails, because he almost always fails to SEE wide open secondary receivers, as Toney was in the end zone on that play vs. Michigan.

      It’s time to give Emory Jones a chance to show whether he has the “vision” thing! If he doesn’t, Jalon Jones will be ready to try his hand at it in 2020.

      Go Gators!!!

      • Hey, that was pretty good analysis, you and Pierre. I think this is going to be a fair topic for discussion in the near future, once we get past the euphoria and if folks can keep most of their emotions out of it — ie, calling “FSU troll” if someone doesn’t think Franks will be the starter next year.

        As far as the Gators winning the SEC next year…..it could be, but prudence tells me that in reality we may be another year away from that goal. My estimation is that c the departures now, we’ve got some rebuilding to do…..I’d be happy and feel the trajectory is progressing with one less defeat and one more victory. If we avoid a step backward, and go 11-2 next year, I think 2020 or 2021 may very well be the year that we see another SEC and NC come back to Gainseville. Would I turn down a SEC or NC in 2019? Oh hell no! We’ve got plenty of time to hash all this out, tho, so stay tuned. GO GATORS!

        • I agree. If Florida can go 10-3 or 11-2 next year, I can consider that a success if they show consistent improvement throughout the year. It will take game time for 4 new O-Line starters to meld together. If we lose Zuniga and Polite, we don’t have a proven pass rusher at the beginning of the year. The strength will be the back half of the defense at first. Hopefully, none of the linebackers leave early. It looks like Florida is setting up for a big season in 2020.

        • Another guy with vision was Shane Matthews, except for that one fateful pass/pick in the first SEC Championship game (we were in the north end zone, frozen faces, with insulated coveralls on). Still never understood why the SEC allowed Bama to have two home games…ow well, it didn’t matter for four times in a row after the first one!!!

          Now with the clarity of the season behind us, I’m now 65% sure Dan will be able to “coach up” Franks to have more vision, which includes plenty of football play reading before the ball is even snapped, followed by the first two seconds of the play. OHBC had Danny holding that clipboard for a whole freshman season, before they were able to “mind meld” like Spock and Kirk. Still not totally convinced Dan can do that with Franks???

          Recruiting should go through the roof, with UM and FSU sinking further into football hell. I’ve always theorized the Holes University was very capable of returning to pre-Bobby days. I believe we are seeing that happened, right now.

          PS: We have a Property Owner’s Association rule you can only fly your curb side school flag on game day. In this S/D full of MI Blue & Yeller Flags, mine is still up! I will take it down as soon as I get the official warning letter from the Association Board…he he he…dang this feels Great being a Florida Gator!

      • Great analysis, StL. I’ll defend Franks on the play with KT open, though. Although Brock Huard the color analyst, criticized Franks, KT was toward the middle of the field and FF was running for his life toward the sideline. He would’ve had to look back over his left shoulder just to see him, and then throw across his body on the run to complete the pass. It’s always been my understanding that throwing across your body to the middle of the field is a cardinal sin for a QB and a recipe for disaster. If he’d tried the throw and had it intercepted, Huard, and everyone else, would’ve crucified him, and rightly so. On the other hand, he took a sack in the second half when it looked to me like he had the RB open right in front of him. I agree, though, that his vision, or at least his anticipation, must improve if he’s going to lead the Gators to an SEC title.

        Happy New Year to all, and go Gators!

        • Happy New Year to everyone! It’s been fun

          Joe, I hope you’re right. I have nothing against Mr. Franks and wish him the best, but all my years following football argue against a QB with 3 years of experience learning to have more “vision.”

          If you want to see the “vision thing” in action, check out a replay of Tua’s performance in the 2nd half of last year’s NC game. He was a true freshman in that game! Who taught him to keep his eyes downfield as he ran for his life? His high school coach???

          You can teach a QB to read defenses and change plays at the LOS. You can teach him how to throw the ball away after 3 seconds if nobody is open. You can even teach him to dump it to a running back in the flat. Being able to “see” the 2nd, 3rd and 4th receivers in the pattern while moving in the pocket to avoid pass rushers requires a gift Mr. Franks has yet to show us he has.

          Go Gators!!!

          • Well, I don’t know if his vision will improve, and you may very well be right that it’s instinctive and can’t be learned. I just hope it will, because the Gators need it to take the next step. If it can be taught, CDM’s the one to do it. If not, the Joneses are waiting in the wings.

          • CDM is a team chemistry HBC and Franks is a team leader. He won’t bench the kid unless EJ’s play in practice is substantially superior. I just have a strong suspicion that it will be.

            Go Gators!!!

  5. Yep. Patterson’s only good run was for 21 yards on the game’s first play, with the help of a HUGE uncalled hold on our edge defender.

    What a great way to end the year. Btw Robbie, if you need any help picking games in the future, I went 11 – 2 in my picks this season, just FYI. 😉

    • Todd,We cant complain on missed holds as our right tackle held the edge rusher on the 20 yard TD run by Franks. I watched it about 20 times and in slow-mo and he definitely would have snagged Franks as he went by if he hadnt been held. Even being held he nearly got to him from behind.
      Sparky, I missed only on the Ky game. I did not choose a winner on the Mo game because I knew they were a better than avg. team and after our close win with vandy(which shouldnt have been) and loss to Ga I knew Mo might beat us. I was the only one on here early, pounding that we would beat MsSt and was finally joined near game day by 1 or 2 others. LSU was a game I bet on and won. After Mo I felt they were too flaky to bet on but chose them to win out, the close score with SC confirmed the flakiness(that should never have been that close). Idaho wasnt even available to wager but I won on FSU and MI. Though I didnt bet on games like Ga(never against my team) and SC I had the winners correct. As I said at the beginning of the season I’ll bet but I dont gamble. I mean by that , I only bet when its very clear to me who should win after analysing both teams records(who they played (and who they played), point spread, strengths like run/pass defense, run/ pass offense thus matchups etc.). Flat tires do happen(events that no one could foresee like UK) but I got all the other games correct. Our finest hour was the LSU game, one of the best teams in the nation and we played at a height we didnt at any other time during the reg. season(you cant count dumpster fires like FSU, anyone good , does well against cupcakes). That team, that day would have smoked UK and scored way more on MsSt. I dont compare reg season to a bowl game that our brilliant coach had a month to prepare for. I wagered that strictly on what i knew he would do with a months preparation, the weak schedule of Mi who was exposed against a really good team Oh St, and that they had 4 NFL skilled starters out. I felt certain Mullen would have the team that played LSU, ready again. He didnt disappoint. Even so LSU is a much better team than Mi!

  6. If there were to be a notice to recruits how would you word it or what would you say?
    I think some are taking a wait and see on us given the last years in relative purgatory. I would say this…. You saw what CDM and his crew did in one year. Waiting is only going to put you further down the depth charts on your way to a bright future. Come here and work harder that you ever imagined at honing your craft. Come be the best at your position while being a part of a team that is about being a championship team. To steal a motto Be All You Can Be.

  7. Franks has evolved into another Tebow. Not as big a truck but will every bit as much grit.

    How great was it to see us throw slants and go down field like we have not done in 8 years.

    By the way, if Gillislee could have a successful NFL career, there is no reason why Scarlett and Perine cannot have one also. Give them a hole, and they will both gain yards after contact.

  8. Franks will start next year. Emory will share some duties. Jalon will RS. Jalon and Emory will fight it out in 2020. Our O line will be better next year. Our receivers and RBs will be nationally recognized. D will be outstanding. We will upset Ga. Our toughest game will be LSU. We’ll beat FSU by 40. Taggert will be fired and Charlie Strong hired. Miami falls off the map. Someone in Tenn gets herpes from a mule.

      • Gator 6…Happy New year!! My take is Strong should never have taken a job where he was the 5th choice at best….go where you are coveted. Besides Pete Carroll hire at USC…that hasn’t worked too favorably for guys. He was a real player in Louisville and had a huge footprint in Florida for recruiting…so much so it was called Florida North. This is cautionary tale to wait for the right opportunity and not listen to the media on “can’t miss” opportunities. See Tyrone Willingham who was like 3rd choice at Notre Dame….who cleaned up that program and left it for Charlie Weis to win 10 games before revealing the fraud he was.

        Of course it was big $$$, but he drank the “it’s Texas” koolaid and unfortunately had to clean up a bad football team just in time for Herman to walk in on an improved bunch. Herman, to his credit, is doing a good job it seems…but he walked into a different situation AND was their 1st choice. BIG difference.

        Now he is at USF…where it went backwards this year due to injuries and poor play at QB. I like Strong…but Texas was not such a good move long term.

        PS–I’m with you…donkeys are more nervous than the humans in TN…lol

        • Hey Smith, back at ya’, bud. You’re right about all the above. There’s an extra dimension to the Texas-Strong situation too, but you pretty much have to live in the vicinity of Austin to know it. Of course, popular consensus says it couldn’t happen in a “progressive” city like Austin — but I’m here to tell you that it did.

          Let’s go get ’em in 2019! Damn I’m proud of the Gators — lots of character!

          • I know it came down to Taggert and Strong at FSU. Thrasher is not as old school as some people think. He’s a politician first and foremost. He is a great fundraiser but blew his first football hire. And he was deeply involved in this one.

          • Perhaps, but I do think he would have been a much superior choice for FSU than Taggart. As I said, tho, thankfully we don’t have to find out if that’s true or not!

      • Sorry it took me so long to respond. Still hungover from NY Eve party. Yes , I think Franks either declares for the draft or he won’t good enough to start the next year. If he has a very good to great year next year, I think he will go. If he doesn’t have a good year, he may not finish the year as the starter, much less start the following year. I think the big year these days for NFL prospects is the junior year, unless someone does something for purely altruistic reasons and wants to get his degree and/or win a NC.

  9. My opinion for next year is that Franks will be our quarterback. From his first year till his second there has been a big improvement. He led us to a 10 win season and a top 10 ranking. Which one of would even thought that would be possible. With a another year of top coaching he will be even better. Yes, make no doubt it he will be # 1 starter. Congratulation to Franks for a outstanding year. Good Day…………….

    • Who knows if Franks is the starter next year or not. Mullen and Johnson did wonders with him in one year. I expect he will only get better. However, so will the Joneses. The only thing I do know is that I trust Dan Mullen and team to make the right choice as to the starter. That’s good enough for me.

  10. It’s interesting to see how deep-seated some of the anti-Feleipe sentiment is. I frankly don’t get it. The kid didn’t get any QB coaching in high school and apparently didn’t get much under McElwain and Nussmeier.

    Should he have seen the wide open receiver in the end zone? Ideally, sure. But he had two rather large gentlemen chasing him down and it’s possible he might not have thought he could get the ball over the closest one. But here are the two biggest things everybody needs to look at: his win-loss record this year and his touchdown to interception ratio. Both were pretty darn good.

    On the subject of Robbie’s picks this year, his picks were pretty close to the Las Vegas lines, especially on the last game. Those lines don’t reflect the predicted outcome; they reflect the spread needed to attract roughly equal betting on both sides. The public has been conditioned that Michigan is just better than Florida.

    So I don’t think by any stretch that it’s “time for Robbie to retire.”

    What became apparent during the Peach Bowl was that Florida is just as physical as Michigan now, if not more so, but faster and better coached. And as others have noted, two key defensive players sitting out didn’t affect the Michigan offense’s inability to score.

    • Nashville I’m with you in FF he didn’t get the coaching/teaching needed in his freshman year or his RS freshman year. No development= no performance. Does he lack in some areas that may be instinctive? Yes but he has shown he is coachable and is improving. After 2017 I had some doubt. If there was ever a case to say our previous coaches were lacking I don’t know what is. But FF is not TT and cannot yet put the team on his back and carry the load. That too may come but our coaches have brought the whole team along in a progression they were capable of and the result has been nothing short of amazing. If the progression continues we are on a path to some great seasons.

    • No Robbie shouldnt retire, after all, gator fans need someone to kick around since we no longer have a bad coach! Seriously though, you are right about the wagering but wagering is mainly done by the dumbmasses! This is Robbies livelihood. He should be better at analysing football teams. All one had to do was look at who Mi played, a bunch of below average teams and got exposed against the 1 really good team they played, Oh St.! In addition he knew that they had 4 starters not playing, their 4 best! He saw what a great coach Mullen was and knew his previous history, especially here! He had seen what Mullen could do with a month to prepare. There really is no excuse for him getting that prediction wrong. I took those same facts and won! In fact i didnt even take the points but went with the moneyline(they had to win for me to win).

  11. I know I am a bit late to the party. My daughter is a UCF grad. At her wedding Aug. 2018 I had to hear it from all her friends about how great UCF was and they should be in the CFP and they were better than Florida. I bit my tongue and my reply was they were a good team–in Conf. USA or whatever it’s called, but they were not-SEC caliber. Before they played LSU, I heard it from the UCF grads. I made a short TERM investment on LSU +7. My thinking was simply based on having wat ched LSU play (and lose to the Gators) and watching UCF win a close won vs. Memphis St. And observing their D. LSU getting 7 from a non-power 5 school? Hahaha.
    NO MORE TALK ABOUT UCF PLAYING FLORIDA EVERY YEAR. IT RUIN THEIR SEASON TO GET STOMPED EARLY IN THE YEAR.