In a spring game with summer weather Saturday, Florida decided to make defense optional to have some fun. It’s an entertainment business, right? And the easiest time to entertain is when you can script the unscriptable.
So you don’t want to take too much of substance away from the Orange & Blue Game or you might be standing on your head worrying about the secondary. All of the offensive records set will be forgotten by the time you read your Monday paper and a year from now you won’t remember that the Orange put 60 points on the scoreboard even with a running clock.
But there is one thing you can take from this pretend game.
Coach Dan Mullen is closer to running the offense he wants to run.
That ideal offense has weapons all over the place forcing defenses to pick their poison and poison choices never end well.
One of the big reasons is that Trevon Grimes looks like the last guy you want to leave with single coverage.
Grimes, the transfer from Ohio State, came on at the end of last season, catching 12 passes for 218 yards in the final four regular-season games. The Florida State game, when he got a big chance after Tyrie Cleveland went down, was one of those days (five catches, 118 yards) that showed you what he could be, possibly as soon as this year.
“All of the coaches stayed on me every day last year, holding me to a higher standard,” Grimes said. “Feleipe (Franks) would pull me off the field and give me route hints.
“So I was never down. I trust the coaches. We have great receivers, but I knew my time would come. You can’t be a stingy teammate. The ball goes where it’s supposed to go.”
It could be going in his direction a lot in 2019. At 6-foot-4, Grimes is a match-up problem who can go over you or past you.
And now he has the confidence to go with it.
“I’ve always believed in myself,” he said.
On Saturday, he set a spring game record with 195 receiving yards. No, I didn’t know they kept track of spring game records, so we’ll take their word for it.
I just know what I saw.
Sure, it was just a spring game. But there is a feeling that Grimes could be on the verge of a breakout year.
“He’s always had the ability,” said Van Jefferson, last season’s leading receiver for the Gators, “We’ve just seen it unfold in the spring. He’s had an awesome spring. Last spring, he was near the top in dropped balls, but he has worked really hard at it, catching balls from the JUGS gun after practice.”
So this day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was about Grimes and an unstoppable offense. Franks and the other quarterbacks lit up a defense that was so bland it gave vanilla a bad name.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that Grimes (and Jefferson) were brought to Florida because Mullen looked around when he took the job and didn’t like what he saw in the receiver room. There was talent, but not enough of it.
The Mullen offense is predicated on getting a bunch of receivers on the field and daring you to pick one to cover with your worst DB or linebacker.
“I didn’t think we had great receiver depth (when he took the job),” Mullen said. “I like to have a lot of receivers on the field and we like to roll guys through. I don’t like guys having to play 40 plays at that position because of how fast and how hard we ask them to run on every play.”
What he has now in Year Two is a veteran quarterback and a bunch of talented receivers who have had a year in the system. And this system has a chance to work at full speed because of players such as Grimes and Kadarius Toney, who is a totally different match-up problem, and Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond and on we can go.
That’s the offense.
Lining up with a lot of danger on your side.
“You build that depth and it makes it hard,” Mullen said. “When we go play with three or four who can create match-up problems, you can take what the defense gives you.
“That’s what I want from the offense. It’s not about getting the ball to one guy and you can try to take him away.”
Let’s see, eight touchdown passes (plus one to Chris Doering) and 762 passing yards on only 34 completions?
For a day anyway, we got to see what Mullen wants to see.
The real games are still in the distance. There will be a lot more hot days before we see if this was a spring-game wonder or the future of Florida’s offensive football team.
Perchance to dream.
Isn’t that what spring games are all about?
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.