Five at Five: 5 things that can’t happen this fall

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks runs with the ball during a practice session this week at the Sanders Practice Facility on the UF campus. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File]

Each day this week, Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley has given you five things having to do with this Florida college football season to help you get through the summer. This “Five at Five” is the final installment.

  1. Feleipe Franks can’t get hurt: The purpose of this exercise is to list the things that can’t happen for Florida to have a tremendous season. I have no doubt the Gators can be a bowl team with Emory Jones or even Kyle Trask — if he stays after graduation this summer — at quarterback. But if the Gators are going to do something along the lines of last year or better, Franks has to be the guy in the shotgun. He understands the offense, has the tools necessary to run it and has taken a leadership role on the team. I’d say he and Jake Fromm are the most indispensable quarterbacks in the league.
  2. No sophomore slumps for kickers: OK, technically Tommy Townsend is a redshirt senior, but last year was the first time he had kicked the ball in college. All he did was finish the year ninth in the country in punting with 24 dropped inside the 20. Evan McPherson was automatic, missing only two field goals (and no extra points) and we could debate one of those misses. As important as special teams are and always should be, the two kickers need to at least be where they were a year ago (fake punts against Vandy optional) because so many games are expected to be tight.
  3. The offensive line cannot be like 1992: Because Florida lost a bulk of its bulk on the line, it’s the area of the biggest concern. And this isn’t to diminish that ’92 line that went to the SEC title game. But with two true freshmen at the tackles, it was a struggle. Shane Matthews threw 102 more passes than he had the year before and five fewer TDs. Errict Rhett’s rushing average per play was the lowest (3.6) by far of his four-year career. Steve Spurrier patched that offense together to win just enough, but the way the SEC throws NFL defensive linemen at you, it simply cannot be a weakness if Florida is going to have a big season.
  4. They can’t get cocky: The Gators are going to be popular in early August leading up to the opener. Dan Mullen wants his team to have confidence and swagger, but not to the point where they start believing all they have to do is show up. Beating Florida is a big deal, especially to the teams on this schedule. Relentless effort has to be mental as well as physical and it starts with the first meeting of every week. It would be easy for this team to be lulled to sleep by the end of last season and the three bye weeks. The bottom line is that Florida is not back, not yet. Don’t forget that, guys.
  5. They can’t lose a game before October: I’m not saying it’s going to be easy with Miami, at Kentucky and an improved Tennessee. But if Florida is going to do something special this season, October is going to be when it gets really serious (Auburn, at LSU, at South Carolina). Florida can still be in the mix for the SEC with a loss prior to the 10th month and can still get to a nice bowl. But you want to be in the playoff picture, you have to be 5-0 coming out of September. Then, we’ll sit back and watch what happens live.

19 COMMENTS

  1. The only thing I would add is there doesn’t need to be any season ending injuries in the secondary either. With 2 potential all-stars playing the corners, the sky is the limit for this secondary. If either goes out again it would kill the depth we have.

  2. I think our defense will be better than expected and will be DB and LB heavy. Our team is young, but we have the parts to make it work. It all comes down to how well the “between the ears” mechanism functions. Sparky, you are right about the injuries. We don’t need any of that bad Ju-Ju to hit our team. Hopes are high and this is the tough part of the year…waiting. I am thankful the writers at Gatorsports.com are continuing with skillful writing and keeping the down time entertaining. Keep up the great work! GO GATORS!!!

  3. Well said Pat.

    I look for progress through the running game. We have backs and TEs that can work with a crease. Run blocking is the best way to build confidence in a young line. Let’s push people around a little and slow down the rush.

    • mtn – I, too, think we will have an above average of running plays because of the O-line. A lot of getting rid of the ball quickly to help ensure Franks health lasts a while too. If this happens we will control the clock and allow our D to keep us ahead in the games. I also see the ball being spread all over the place. We will find out soon enough. GO GATORS!!!

  4. McPHERSON ONLY MISSED ON FG ALL YEAR. THE ONE VS. KENTUCKY WAS “good” TO EVERYONE EXCEPT THE
    BIIND REF ON THE LEFT GOAL POST. THE BALL WAS KICKED TOO HIGH FOR HIS VISION. SINC E HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, HE SAID “NG.” EVEN THE CBS ANNOUNCING CREW AND KENTUCKY RADIO ANNOUNCERS THOUGHT IT WAS GOOD AFTER WATCHING REPLAY. THERE WAS NO DOUBT THE BALL SAILED INSIDE THE POST. NOT A REVIEWABLE PLAY. THAT KICK MIGHT HAVE CHANGED THE EENTIRE GAME. WHO KNOWS? I HOPE GATORS REMEMBER THAT GAME WHEN THEY GO TO LEXINGTON THIS FALL.

  5. There is one other thing that can’t happen this year:
    Our D can’t be mediocre!
    In order to give our O Line time to gel, we need the D to step up big especially in September and pitch some shutouts.
    We have the Linebackers and Secondary to do that. Our D Line must step up and pressure the QB.

    • Been thinking about this real hard over the last week, and my head hurts when I think that hard. I keep coming back to what you said today, Lakeland — and what Phil said on June 28th. I think you just nailed the lynch pin. The OL will indeed gel, it’s just a matter of when. In the meantime, Grantham’s unit must buy the time — big time — and between the running backs and Franks turning in the consistent performance he is truly capable of, keep scoring enough points to keep us to gaining confidence on offense. GatorEd sees that as a key, and he’s right as always. So given that, when? If I remember correctly, StL thinks it will be clear by the Auburn game or thereafter. Thereafter, Phil nailed it: DON’T GET OVERCONFIDENT (this is the SEC after all)…..but DO KEEP IMPROVING THRU THE END OF THE SEASON. Miami sets the tone, and those jokers are so overconfident with the advent of Diaz and all their pre-season hype, we ought to acknowledge that and really set our own tone.

      One game at a time.

      So as I told 65 the other day offline, I don’t care if we lose all our our games as long as we beat Miami, UT Martin. Kentucky, UT, Towson, Auburn, LSU, SC, Georgia, Mizzou, Vandy, FSU and our post season games! That’s my position and I’m stickin’ to it. GO GATORS!

  6. we cant have an offensive line like 2017. both of mac’s first two years were better than cdm’s first year, in all candor but his 2017 offensive line, which improved in 2018, unraveled the team along with the credit card mess. the group had talent, but just couldnt do the job. bad offensive lines make teams look bad. we just cant have that happen again. we could survive any of the other 4 things, but another bad offensive line is going to be something that could turn us into a .500 team in a hurry

  7. i really would like statement games against that school to the south and that school to the west. recruiting will benefit big from both games. not expecting a natty, or even a playoff berth this year, but this would put the recruiting on that path.