Florida coach Dan Mullen talked earlier in the week about making sure the Gators concluded their spring with one big fun afternoon in The Swamp.
The Gators did just that Saturday in their spring game. They had tons of fun.
But it’s fun that comes with a big “if” beside it.
Fun if you were a quarterback or a wide receiver or a tight end or an offensive coach like Mullen.
Not so much fun if you were a safety or a cornerback or Todd Grantham, the defensive coordinator.
But, then again, Grantham knew this was coming for his side of the ball.
“I think he comes to grips before he gets to here that it’s going to happen,” Mullen said.
Mullen and his staff created the perfect offensive storm for Saturday’s game, sending out a veteran, proven quarterback, Feleipe Franks, and a group of talented and experienced receivers against a defense that was missing some players in the secondary and was limited to playing just four basic coverages.
That perfect storm blew hard through the stadium on a hot afternoon.
The teams combined for 95 points, 920 total yards, 762 yards passing and nine touchdown passes.
That’s a lot of offensive fun, and the announced 39,476 in attendance at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium seemed to enjoy all of it.
“I think you are looking at (offensive) guys who are more comfortable with the system,” Mullen said. “We had some DBs down and held some guys out (on defense). Then you have a veteran quarterback and receivers. A lot of points that we put up were explosive plays through the air. That’s guys who are older, more experienced and know how to play within the system.
“We didn’t make a lot of defensive calls. If you’re going to be vanilla on defense and put a veteran quarterback on the field and say, ‘They’re only going to run these four defenses,’ before the ball is snapped, they can pick you apart. It was good to see them do that.”
All that offensive fun included a near-flawless performance by Franks, who led the Orange to a 65-30 win over the Blue. The junior, who ended last season on a roll, threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns.
His TD throws were for 65 and 61 yards to Trevon Grimes, 14 yards to Kadarius Toney and eight yards to Van Jefferson. Franks also had a 40-yard reception and rushed for a touchdown.
“It was fun,” Franks said. “I’m playing with confidence, but at the same time, executing. The offense did a good job, young guys stepping up, offensive line, receivers. Just getting the job done.
“We have a veteran receiving corps. It’s one of the high points of our offense. I know they’re going to do their job each and every play. I’m confident in them doing their job and they’re confident in me doing my job.”
Jefferson said Franks’ performance is a reflection of the way Franks has performed throughout the spring.
“Feleipe today was just on target,” Jefferson said. “He’s been like that all spring, throwing balls left and right. He’s really matured. He’s going to do that in the fall, and he’s going to do that in the season.”
It was a big day for Franks, but maybe even a bigger day for Grimes, who had a breakout performance. The Ohio State transfer caught four passes for 195 yards and the two long touchdowns.
“Feleipe helps me out a lot,” Grimes said. “Great reads. I give all glory to him and the linemen, coaches and strength staff. All of them helped me do what I did today.”
Grimes wasn’t the only receiver or tight end with a productive day. Toney, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and Kyle Pitts all had four or more receptions. Swain and Cleveland both had two touchdown receptions for the Blue.
And Franks wasn’t the only quarterback with a positive performance. Junior Kyle Trask threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while redshirt freshman Emory Jones threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns and led the Orange in rushing with 38 yards, including a 26-yard run.
“Second time going through the offense this spring,” Jones said. “We feel more comfortable in the system and we’re all getting better with more experience.
“Today was all about going out and having fun in front of our fans, just showing them what we’ve been doing this whole spring.”
The game — and the fun — belonged to the offense. But the defense also made some plays, the highlight being an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore defensive back John Huggins. The pick came against Trask.
“(The receiver) ran an out route, and I already knew he was going to,” Huggins said. “They normally don’t throw it, but (Trask) threw it. It was to the wide side of the field, so I knew I had time to undercut it. I did and took it to the house.”
A little defensive fun on a day where most of it went to the offense — pretty much by design.
“When you’re going to evaluate (the game) defensively, you’re going to evaluate whether our guys are going hard,” Mullen said.
What: Season opener
Who: Florida vs. Miami
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850