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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
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
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850