Crazy game, but all that matters is Gators won

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Florida running back Lamical Perine runs after a catch Saturday against Miami at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

ORLANDO — A work of art, this was not.

A victory, it was.

I’m not saying that’s all that matters, but in the end, yeah, it kind of is all that matters.

Florida won. Miami lost.

How both teams got to the final result was as crazy as the traffic.

“That,” UF coach Dan Mullen said, “was exhausting.”

It was a lesson in mistakes and there is a part of you that wants to erase it from your DVR right away. It was that ugly on both sides.

But …

Florida won. Miami lost.

Miami may feel a lot better about its team than it did going in. Florida may feel a lot more unsure about its team than it did before the season.

(Hey, wait a minute, I think Florida just sacked Jarren Williams again.)

The Gator defense was all over Williams for 10 sacks, but kept getting him off the hook in the last four minutes with pass interference penalties. Florida had 100 yards in penalties and wasn’t even close to being the most penalized team on the field Saturday night.

If you have dried out your clothes from the suffocating humidity, you are probably relieved more than celebrating. This was as crazy a game as you’ll ever see, a fitting tribute to the start of the 150th season of college football.

And here’s why. It gave us the back-and-forth and wild celebrations in the stands and on the sidelines and bizarre turns that we love about college football.

(For gosh sakes, Miami fumbled twice on its last drive and recovered both.)

And it also gave us the realization that these are still young men who make mistakes and seemed to be committed to seeing which team could make the most.

There was nobody on either team who epitomized the roller-coaster of emotions and performance as Florida’s Feleipe Franks.

You can go ahead and cross him off your “darkhorse Heisman” candidate list because what we saw Saturday night was not good.

And yet, he threw for 254 yards and was responsible for three touchdowns.

His three turnovers — the fumbled exchange in the first half and two picks in the second — reminded you of the quarterback you nearly booed off the field last year.

Seriously, at halftime I was starting to understand why we haven’t been allowed at practice for the last few weeks. Mullen has been praising Franks all summer, but the quarterback was a mess at times and looked like he didn’t trust his shaky offensive line.

His 65-yard pass to Josh Hammond was the most important play of the game, but he came right back to throw a ridiculous interception that could easily have doomed Florida.

It came with 4:30 to go and Florida up by what would become the final score. It seemed like an odd call on first down. It seemed like a worse throw and decision.

It was the kind of play your veteran quarterback cannot make. The defense bailed him out, but just barely, forced to stay on the field forever thanks to a stunning pass interference penalty on fourth-and-34.

The Gators got a break when a flag was thrown in the end zone, but then picked up. And then they pinned their ears back and got after the Miami redshirt freshman quarterback.

Finally, they forced him into a feeble wobbler of a pass that fell harmlessly to the ground with 12 seconds to play.

Franks, who had been shaken up on that interception, came back into the game to run the victory formation and when the clock expired on a wild and crazy night, he punted the ball into the stands.

There was both frustration and exhilaration in that punt.

“Emotion,” Franks said.

Things hardly went the way he dreamed and still, he was the winning quarterback.

Which is kind of a big deal.

“There wasn’t any concern or lack of confidence in him, or what he was going to do,” Mullen said. “I was very pleased with that.”

Look, this was a really good defense Florida played with all kinds of incentive.

It was one game. Franks and the offense have to get better, don’t they?

Or perhaps Florida is back to having their decade-old quarterback problem.

There is a long way to go. Heck, it’s a long way to the next game.

All I know for sure about Saturday night is this.

Florida won.

Miami lost.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

19 COMMENTS

  1. What I witnessed from FF – a man I thought would be a Heisman contender this year – was a child in a man’s body. Immature to the point of being a caricature of himself. This guy had best get his head on straight, get humble, learn to be a man and a leader, or he’s going to self implode through the season.

    A far cry from the way TT could rally the team, talk them up, keep them in the game, get them focused.

    To talk smack to the camera saying “Why you want to try me, this is WHAT I DO” after making ONE good pass, is all I needed to see and hear.

    As someone else mentioned, Spurrier’s face said it all about FF.

  2. It was ugly all right. It was so ugly that my 13 year old grandson, who always calls right after the game for a post-game discussion, waited an hour before he could do it. “How.” he asked, “could Franks throw a pick in the last 4 minutes when what Florida needed to do was run out the clock?” That, my boy, assumed that we had a running game.

  3. Yes, the “W” is what matters most, though this game revealed some offense weakenesses and rediculous pass interference penalties by veteran Gator DBs (say what?). Two big offensive pass plays coupled with pretty solid defense is what won this game. I was concerned that our defense might be the difference, and yes, quite unfortunately, it was (thank God for the Gator D). The offense has a long ways to go before we can say it is a really good O. No, Franks is not a Hesiman candidate, but yes he is a good QB. He just needs to be much more consistent and quit throwing INTs. The O-line played fairly well but needs to greatly improve if we are going to beat UK, UT, UG and Auburn. GO GATORS!!!

  4. Well I am glad that it is over. I don’t think I could sit through any more of it. Clearly there is plenty to work on. Penalties, tackling, developing a running game, etc. I had a bad feeling from the beginning when they announced “Heeeeeere come the Gators!”…and nobody came out of the tunnel. I thought…did the team think we were still playing next week? We had some emotion but not enough. We made some plays but also gave up some huge plays, especially giving up a first down with a penalty on 4th and forever! Much needs to be done and once the game ended, I had no emotion. I stood there next to my son (UF student) and my two co-workers who are big Miami fans and nobody said anything except a minute later when one of them said…”well,…do you want to go?…” They had nothing to say because their team lost. We had nothing to say because we were lucky to win. The season is here and they have a bye week to watch plenty of film and get a lot better. Hit the books guys, the next game will be here before you know it! Go Gators!

  5. That was a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT!!! Dooley, here’s all that matters, Mullen doesn’t have control of his team! The player celebration was abysmal and showed an undisciplined brand of football that was no reflection of the Gator standard! Again, Florida’s offense tried to give the game away for sixty minutes, and the defense seemed to join the offense with @ four minutes to play. Don’t misunderstand me, I thought the Gator defense mostly saved the game. Although, Spurrier’s face said it all about Franks and probably was about the play call! It’s a cold day in hell when the old ball coach is speechless! I thought Franks rounded the corner last year. Instead, he looked sophomoric–although he was far from alone. The team acted like the thugs from Miami! Here’s the only thing that matters, a mature quarterback, because Franks is not it!!!

    • Lighten up, Francis. I don’t think anyone acted like ‘the thugs from Miami’. Kids are not ‘thugs’. They’re just kids. I don’t recall seeing any of the UF players running around with finger rings on. Or a big chain around their necks. I’m sure all of the hiccups that we all saw will be corrected during this bye week. I was extremely frustrated just as everyone else was but at least there’s s big fat W next to UF instead of an L. Coach Mullen needs to reign the guys in a bit more on the penalty situation and really needs to have a sit down with Feliepe. He might be emotional and all but he needs to have some tact. Win with some humility. You played like crap. Own your mistakes, look to improve upon them and move on. Stop blaming everything on emotion, the moment of the game, etc. He just carries himself like a 3rd grader. I’m happy with the win but will wait until the next game to see if these mistakes have been addressed. GEAUXXX GATORS!!

      • I think you’re right, BRGF. CDM can see the warts for sure now without having to take an “L” to do it. I also agree that Feleipe needs to examine himself and begin to conduct himself in a much more mature manner. Since some mentioned he might be a dark horse candidate for the Heisman, he could learn from the Gators’ previous Heisman winners about how to have confidence without looking like a high schooler. Good win, but the obvious deficiencies should keep them humble and ready to work.

        • Thanks Joe. Great points yourself. Instead of running towards the sidelines slapping high fives with the fans, exchanging words with Miami AND UF fans, and glaring into the TV camera with a ‘this is what I do’, line he should’ve been talking with the o-line and/or getting on the headset w/ the OC upstairs. I fear that with all of this dude’s God given gifts, his knuckleheaded-ness will win out and he won’t amount to anything football-wise. A career backup at best or maybe an XFL star. You can’t continually keep giving the ball away and get away with it. I’m sure his o-line would’ve appreciated an encouraging word or two instead of giving that word or words to the hecklers. At any rate…a win is a win and I’ll take it. GEAUXXX GATORS!!!

      • Exactly. Miami”s sidelong antics with the takeaway chain and finger rings made me doubt that Diaz has his team under control. That said, Franks needs to be working with the guys upstairs and thinking about the next possession, not running around like an extra cheerleader, when the defense is on the field.

  6. That was the most frustrating Gator game I’ve seen since the Choke at Doak. The late hits, the pass interferences, the turnovers, the shoddy tackling, our QB’s immaturity… wow. Seems like this team really let two wins over an unmotivated Michigan and a down FSU go to their heads. Gator D-line and the UM muffed punt won the game for us. Mullen seemed pretty happy afterward; I’d bet coaches like Spurrier and Saban would have barely been able to talk, they’d have been apoplectic. Spurrier’s face after the INT said it all. Time for some discipline, CDM.

  7. I tackled better than that playing for Gainesville Boys Club in 1972 –we were the city champs of Gainesville, and they took a bunch of 8 yo boys to a sorority house on UF campus to have a pizza party is the celebration for being the champs. I kid you not. 8 yo football players and coeds in their panties.

      • They really were indeed. We were sponsored by Burger King back during the reign of the Yumbo’s. I had a 5th grade sub teacher (hot coed) at Stephen Foster shove her tongue down my throat on the last day of school there – that was freakin awesome! A hot teacher at Buchholz that liked me a little too much too. Loved finding sharks teeth in Hogtown Creek, drinking too many bears at Buddy’s Landing, jumping off of SR 206 bridge in St. Augustine but having no memory of it until my 25th HS reunion. Really enjoyed Blue Springs, and catching rattle snakes with my dad to sell to Shands for antivenom because we needed the money. Played through two years at Buchholz until I realized a 200 pound, 6′ tall defensive lineman would never make it at UF – having probably a 12.7 in the 40 probably didn’t help too much. Lot’s of crazy, fun and tragix stories like everyone. However, Hogtown was off the chain between 1978 & 1982. Teachers at Buchholz nodding off in class with white circles around their nostrils as an example.

  8. Somebody, some where, some how needs to talk to FF (or better yet show him film clips of how QBs act after a good play – see Wuerffel and Tebow and Rex etc – and also how to motivate others after adversity) and get him to GROW UP fast. I will grant him his gifted skill set, and even his athleticism, but until he acts like a grown up man, he will continue to be a sorry young boy (or thug). Grown men are needed to LEAD this group of gators to the top. Thugs show people the gutter. C’mon, punting the ball into the stadium? That “tradition” (?) was done in the past after/during games that far far exceed a nationally ranked #8 team beating an unranked team (even if it is Miami). Have you ever seen a ‘bama QB brag into the camera, depart the bench to interact and taunt fans in the first row, or punt a football into the stands? Of course not. Hey FF: Act like you have been there before!

  9. First and foremost, both teams could have used another week of practice. What a mess of a game. Good drama. Good competitiveness. Multiple lead changes. If you ignore the details, a pretty good showcase for college football. But if you look at the details, yikes!

    That 2nd interception. Wow. Where to start? The play call was brutal. The execution even worse. I’m sitting there praising Franks multiple times during the game for successfully identifying single coverage and throwing to it. Good good good. Then I watch him stare into the teeth of triple coverage and let it fly. Bad, bad, bad! How? Why? What did he see? I saw (3) white jerseys. All snarkiness aside, is he color blind? Or still not able to read defenses? Coach him up, Dan.

    The Gators won on the strength of their strength – the defensive line. After the 1st drive, the Gators clearly figured out the snap count and the protection schemes. The Miami qb was mostly a tackling dummy. But when he had a little breathing room, he was pretty good.

    The coaches have plenty to “clean up”, plenty to get after the boys about. The good news is they will get better. Don’t drop the ball. Get on loose balls. Be smarter on potential PI plays. Kudos to the kick/punt teams. Special teams had a pretty good game.

  10. This game was Exhibit A for the argument a Week 0 game is not good. No one was ready. Not Florida, not Miami, and not the referees. Do they not review plays in college football anymore or is that something foreign to Big 12 refs? Florida’s pass rush was mind blowing. So was the lack of consistency on offense. Miami had the better QB. Our offense will reflect our QB’s personality. Franks needs to dial down his emotions, act like he has done this before, stop counting his chickens before they are hatched and look more like Joe Montana than Joe Pesci .But he won’t. Because he can’t. He is what he is. Which, in the end, means we will have a big play offense. We’ll make some 70 yard or 50 yard passes and runs at times. Borrowing a basketball analogy, we’ll be a team who lives or dies by the threes. But we will also often look like a car with Mr. Pibb rather than oil in the engine. If we can make enough big plays, minimize turnovers and stay strong on D and special teams, we can accomplish our goals. Still a long season. We have some work to do, but we can’t freak out as fans before August is even done. That’s just stupid. Bottom line is we found a way to win against a better Miami team than most expected.

    • That’s kind of rough on Mr Pibb, MKF, which is my favorite spit can.

      I still say tho that it remains to be seen if Miami is any good or not. All that we saw Saturday was that they were just enough worse than the Mighty Gators to lose. Your central point is a good one tho — let’s not lose our heads this early! Lots of talent on this team, and lots of football to be played. One game at a time, as old Gator65 would have said.