Gators overcome mistakes to open with win

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks dives into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Saturday against Miami at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

ORLANDO — No. 8 Florida came into Saturday’s game against unranked Miami hoping to put the Gator Standard on display for the entire college football world to see.

Somehow, some way, they managed to survive for a most improbable win. But if this is the Gator Standard we’ve been hearing about, it certainly needs a lot of work, a lot of polish and probably a lot of patience for all involved, including the fans.

The Gators pulled out a 24-20 victory at Camping World Stadium in spite of themselves.

In spite of their four turnovers — two fumbles and two Feleipe Franks interceptions.

In spite of major (and dumb) penalties at crucial moments in the decisive fourth quarter that gave Miami late life.

In spite of allowing Miami to convert a fourth-and-34 with 1:45 to play when it appeared the game was basically over.

But, in the end, all that probably matters is the Gators found a way to win a game that seemed lost at certain times over the course of this hot and humid evening.

“That last five minutes of the game I aged like 10 years,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “We did a good job keeping their offense on the field by turning the ball over.”

UF did not secure the win until buck defensive end Jeremiah Moon pressured UM quarterback Jarren Williams into a harmless incompletion behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-12 from the Gator 26 with only 12 seconds remaining.

It culminated in a dramatic final drive for the Hurricanes where it almost appeared the Gators were trying to give the game away.

There was the interference call on cornerback Marco Wilson on the fourth-and-34 play. The foul occurred well in front of the line to convert the first down. Had Wilson allowed the catch and made the tackle, the game would have been over. But the 15-yard penalty gave UM a first down, and new life.

Moments later, a pass interference call on defensive back Trey Dean allowed the ’Canes to convert a third-and-12 and put the ball on the UF 36. The defense, especially the pass rush, took over from there and closed out the game.

Miami had a chance to start that last drive thanks to Franks’ second interception of the second half. It came on the first play after the defense had held Miami on a fourth-and-nine from the UF 30 with a sack by Moon and Marlon Dunlap.

At a time when the Gators probably were looking to run some clock, Franks was rushed, hit, and threw a wobbler right into the hands of Miami safety Romeo Finley.

To Franks’ credit, he had come up big earlier in the quarter. At a time when the offense was really staggering, he launched a 65-yard strike down the middle to Josh Hammond that set up a 3-yard Franks TD run that gave the Gators a 24-20 lead with 8:18 to play.

Franks’ final numbers were OK — 17 of 27 for 254 yards and two touchdowns — but included three turnovers, the two picks and a lost fumble in the red zone in the first half.

UM got sometimes stellar play from Williams, the redshirt freshman quarterback. He threw for 214 yards and a touchdown. But he was sacked 10 times and the ’Canes had some struggles of their own in the red zone.

And when the Gators gave them opportunity after opportunity to steal the game in the closing minutes, the ’Canes failed to convert.

“We don’t have a maturity level to see a victory through,” UM coach Manny Diaz said. “That’s a maturing process we have to go through.”

The Hurricanes took a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 50-yard TD run by running back DeeJay Dallas. But following the first interception of the half by Franks, UM missed a chip-shot, 27-yard field goal. Franks then followed with his 65-yard dart and TD run to give the Gators the 24-20 lead.

The Gators got off to a fast start to the game, with Kadarius Toney catching a screen pass from Franks and taking it 66 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter for a 7-3 lead.

But UM dominated the rest of the half, outscoring the Gators 10-0 to take a 13-7 halftime lead.

UF regained the lead in the third quarter with a 27-yard field goal by Evan McPherson and a 8-yard TD pass from Franks to running back Lemical Perine.

The lead evaporated quickly with the 50-yard TD run by Dallas on the opening play of what would become a wild fourth quarter that the Gators somehow survived.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Every word Robbie wrote is dead on.

    But a great Gator win for the ages.

    The only lasting stink was the pregame coverage showing Urban ¥#$@& etc. in a Gator shirt in the press box. Thank goodness it was the the HBC sitting with AD Strickland, and thank heavens for CDM (McEl-sauce would’ve lost this game bigly). Go Gators !!

    • Urban can wear whatever he wants. Brought two National Championships here. No Mullen or Tebow without him. Great friends with Spurrier. Time to move on. No longer coaches at Ohio State. Rather have Urban than McElwain whom made up the death threat issue.

      • Sure, all forgiven, a peach of a guy. Let’s slap him up on the Ring of Honor this week, and toast him with some of Mac’s BBQ sauce.

        Yep, he’s a reason Mullen is here, but that’s ironic given the last decade. 100% behind CDM, that’s hw I move on.

        • Your criticism and praise of the coaches are not balanced. I get the hate for the former coaches but you are giving the current coaches a pass. What I saw was an unprepared and undisciplined team after months of preparation. Sure, we are going to see mistakes in the first game but there were way too many miscues even by first game standards. I can understand Miami making many miscues with a new coaching staff but Mullen is in his second season with virtually all his assistants intact. This doesn’t bode well for when we play a more or equal talented teams in the SEC. A team can overcome a less talented roster with better coaching and preparation. I didn’t see that in this game. I didn’t see the Gator standard that Mullen talks about. On a positive note, we won and the DL was fantastic.

    • I threw up in my mouth when I saw that, too. Please! The guy is a mercenary, win-at-all-costs scumbag, not a Gator. Or have those of you who insist on carrying his water forgotten this Dooley gem:

      https://www.gainesville.com/article/LK/20090805/News/604155831/GS/

      It wan’t too long after that the scumbag was telling Stephon Diggs’ parents he wouldn’t ley his kid go to FDlorida because it was a “broken program.” Then he attempted to get Musclecramp in trouble with the NCCA with a trumped up recruiting violation charge.

      Screw him and the horse he rode in on…

  2. Looked kinda shakey but it was the first game. We’ll get better. We better get better. I think we are ahead of where we were last year after the first game. It’s nice playing a good team instead of what we usually open with. It shows what we need to work on this week. Playing a crappy team gives us overconfidense. I say we instead of the Gators because I bleed orange and blue.
    It looks like some posters have dropped. I don’t mind paying 32 cents a day to enjoy the articles and comments.

  3. We won a season opener against a hated rival. So let’s enjoy and be happy. Who knows what we will find out about both teams? I think Miami looked like a well coached team, but I guess if they go on to have a terrible season then it will lesson this victory. but the opposite could prove true- it could turn out we beat a better team than we know right now. As far as the Gators performance, first games are usually rough. We have a lot to work on, but I think we have a lot to work with. As far as Franks, well, he looked like the same old Franks. Let’s hope he improves as the season progresses. The biggest disappointment to me was his immature attitude. Message to Franks- fans will never really love you or hate you as person- it is all about you well you play, and in that respect you are no different than any player at any top 25 program. If you play great, fans will cheer you, and if you play bad, fans will boo you. So don’t blame anyone but yourself when it comes to fan reaction. Please quit acting like you are mistreated and deserve better. This game is a lot like life in any workplace- if you produce, you will be appreciated, but if you don’t, you won’t. If you can’t handle that without taking it personal, and without accepting that it is your own inadequacies as a player that cause a bad fan reaction, then I suggest you either elevate your play to elite level or you find something else to do. In the meantime, the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut and just play the game. It is as simple as that.

    • Got to agree with you about Franks. Thought he had turned the corner at the end of last year. He reverted back on many occasions last night. He has to act like a leader and stay focused if we are to be a contender this year. He still seems to be very immature in many phases of the game. Mullen can help him just so far but he has to make that next step on his own. He has all the tools and physical attributes but mentally and emotionally he is lacking at times. He thanked his O-line after the game and that’s a start. They performed admirably against a good D-front. Can’t say enough about the play of our D-front. Greenard and Zuniga were a force on their own. Secondary also has to mature. Stupid penalties aren’t going to cut it. Situational awareness was lacking. All this being said, it was a “W”. I’ll take it! No problems that can’t be fixed.

  4. I’m happy with the win, and thank Grantham and the D-Line for securing it. Zuniga and Greenard were monster all night. Still can’t figure out why Trey Dean is out there. Last year, he got burned more times than a 5 year old playing with matches, and last night between losing receivers, missed tackles and personal fouls, his stock sure isn’t rising any.

  5. Wow! The game was exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, exasperating, and a bit embarrassing, but better to be embarrassed in victory than defeat. Some of the regular posters from the pre-subscription gang had suggested Miami was a cream-puff. If so, there’s a lot of work for the Gators to do. The OL play was uninspired, and they gave up on their blocks too quickly and got no push in the run game. FF made some great plays, but negated them somewhat with bad throws and terrible decisions, not to mention some immature conduct. The DB’s tackled poorly and grabbed enough UM receivers to give the ‘Canes a chance to win the game. Thankfully, the DL saved the game. However, this game could be just what the Gators needed: a win with a wake-up call. CDM and staff can now drive home the point that much work is still needed without having to suffer a loss to make it. It looked to me like most of the problems are correctable, so get to work, and Go Gators!

    • Good point- a win with a wakeup call might be the best thing for them. There were a lot of mistakes that are easily correctible, so hopefully they take care of those things over the next couple of weeks. The biggest problem that is not easily correctible is OL play, which is a big problem, well that and Franks of course. Last year the OL started off weak and got a lot better as the season went on.

    • Joe…no doubt…I thought the team and fanbase forgot that in these heated rivalries, guys will play very hard, so I didn’t see the blowout that was predicted by many. I thought we may have taken them lightly, but just like our last game against them…turnovers will equalize the game.

      • I wasn’t sure what to think leading up to the game. Doubts about FF and the OL kept creeping into my head. I didn’t think the DB’s would play as poorly as they did. To get the run game going they may need to just stick with it and pound it to Perine. He’s clearly our most complete and reliable RB. I think he needs more than 10 carries. To do that, though, we have to have more than 54 plays in a game. That’s Mac territory.

        Good to see you decided to pay to stay. Hope more of the old guard posters will come back eventually. A Gators-‘Canes game should generate way more comments than this.

  6. I’ll take the win. We always play poorly vs. UM so to do that and get the win is a positive. We get a cupcake in 2 weeks so we have time to work on some of our issues. OL is shaky but our DL is nasty. I’ll take the good with the bad. Beating Miami, FSU and Michigan in our last three games isn’t anything to apologize for. Remember 2017 Gator Fans.

  7. I remember 2017. I also remember the Kentucky game last year. We had many of the same concerns. Terrible tackling, poor offensive line play and poor QB play. As tough as last night was to watch, we have a better team than the one that lost to Kentucky. And from that point on the team steadily improved. I think (hope?) we will see steady improvement over the next few weeks leading to SEC play. Go Gators!

  8. I agree. Seems like a ghost town. They will be back, even if Gator-6 has to pay. Sloppy victory, but the bottom line, a lot of heart on this team…especially the D-line. I also agree, Franks, grow up and be the leader you need to be. Focus on the game. And get your degree…at this point you do not have the maturity, the talent, or the mental strength to make it as a quarterback in the NFL.

  9. Late to the comment I know but this weekend was busy…

    I really wanted Franks to be the QB we need, but he is not. I’d like to see Mullen give Jones a chance against UT Martin. I’m sorry, but you come in as a Junior, with a whole year of experience, you gotta play better than that, better than some freshman with 0 previous starts. That crappy pic at the end sealed it for me. Yeah, he had one great throw for a big gain. Everything else he did was pedestrian.

    But, whatever Mullen decides I will support. Go Gators!