There are truths and untruths in the world of sports. And there are also opinions that are worth discussing. You may agree or disagree. Just do it with decorum. So begins this occasional feature as Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun embrace the debate:
Item No. 1
Feleipe Franks will prove Gator fans wrong at Arkansas.
Andreu: After all that he went through at UF, with all the criticism even when the Gators were winning in 2018, I hope that he does pull this off. But question the fit. Why Arkansas? The Razorbacks are going to be a major rebuilding project under new head coach Sam Pittman and it could take years before the Razorbacks are any kind of factor in the wild West. As we saw at UF, Franks has a ton of talent. He’s got a big arm, he’s athletic and a natural leader. But he’s not going to have a whole lot of talent around him, especially at the skill positions. I hope Franks has a big year and proves everybody wrong, but I just think Arkansas is a less than ideal situation for him to do it. FICTION.
Dooley: The thing is, not that many Gator fans were wrong in the first place. They saw him as a wonderful talent who made too many mistakes and got too emotional at times. They also cheered him wildly when he helped UF win all of those games, including the Heave to Cleve. And while it is true he signed up for a less than ideal situation, the last thing he wanted to do was go somewhere and get beaten out for the job. I guarantee that every Sunday when we watch SEC Now there will be some kind of highlight that involves Franks. The question is which team will be scoring the touchdown. Again, there are a lot of Feleipe fans out there, but they know that it’s not like he’s going to be a Heisman Trophy candidate. FICTION.
Item No. 2
Ventrell Miller will shine replacing David Reese at middle linebacker.
Andreu: In finishing second on the team in tackles last season, Miller showed a lot of Reese-like ability — instinct, being in the right place at the right time, delivering heavy blows, stuffing the run. And he also showed something that Reese did not possess — closing speed and the ability to keep up with backs and slot receivers in pass coverage. Miller came on strong at the end of last season and there’s no doubt he benefited from being around Reese the last two years and watching how things are done right at the position. He seems primed to emerge as a possible elite SEC linebacker this season. FACT.
Dooley: Those are giant shoes to fill. Reese was Florida’s run-stopper, an old school linebacker that any SEC team would love to have on third-and-1. Miller may have more ability when it comes to coverage skills and could be a huge asset to a defense that will blitz from everywhere. But will Miller be an all-SEC candidate. He still has to show me something. That said, it didn’t help that he had to miss all of 2017 in the credit car scandal. If Miller is the player Reese was, Florida will not miss a beat. I think he’ll fall just short. FICTION.
Item No. 3
QB coach Brian Johnson will be the first young assistant on Dan Mullen’s staff to leave for a coordinator’s position or a head coaching job.
Andreu: Johnson’s star is clearly on the rise. A former offensive coordinator at Houston, Johnson is young, energetic and relates well to the players. He’s also a heck of a quarterbacks coach, something Mullen brings up often when talking about his offense and offensive coaching staff. Working under Mullen, with his reputation as a quarterback developer and play caller, Johnson is going to be on the radar of other schools looking for a young, innovative offensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Christian Robinson is another dynamic young coach who is going to have opportunities in the profession. But Johnson will be the first to move on and move up. FACT.
Dooley: It comes down to whether there is an AD who believes in Johnson the way that Dan Mullen does. We all know that it is Mullen who calls the plays, but Johnson has a ton of input. He also has had a big hand in the development of Kyle Trask. A lot may depend on how well Trask performs this season. But there is no question Johnson is on a lot of lists as possible candidates in part because of the offensive success Florida has had and the success he has had with development. The question any AD has to ask is how much of it was Mullen? I think there are a lot of them smart enough to know a good head coach when they see one and Johnson certainly fits the bill. FACT.