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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Florida opens the 2019 season against Miami on Aug. 31 in Orlando