Orange & Blue Game: Five things to watch today

Florida's linebacker Kylan Johnson (28) comes out of the tunnel before the Orange and Blue Debut, the annual spring football game, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Quarterback play

Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask both have made positive strides. Now, how will they respond before what is expected to be a big crowd in The Swamp? Franks, of course, has been here before and held up fine in terms of composure. For Trask, this will be the biggest crowd he has ever played before. In practices, Franks seems to have seen the whole field better and checked down to find open receivers. But he struggled in that area in the first scrimmage. He was much better at it in the second scrimmage, where he stood out among the quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see how much true freshman Emory Jones plays today, and if he’ll have a chance to run the ball with a red, non-contact jersey on.

Attacking attitude on defense

Under new coordinator Todd Grantham, the Gators are running a much more aggressive defense than this past season, one that has extensive blitz packages. During the scrimmages, the defense made a whole bunch of plays and came up with numerous turnovers. The question today is will head coach Dan Mullen limit the defense in terms of blitzes and stunts so the offense will have a better chance to make plays? The defense tends to go vanilla in spring games, but there is no question Grantham and his guys are going to want to attack like they have all spring.

The return of Scarlett, Miller, Houston, Wells

The four players who were suspended last season for credit card fraud — running back Jordan Scarlett, wide receiver Rick Wells and linebackers Ventrell Miller and James Houston — returned this spring and all have stood out at times. Scarlett is close to reclaiming his starting role (if he hasn’t already), Wells has caught numerous passes, including some deep ones, while Miller and Houston have had an impact at linebacker. Of the four, the biggest surprise is probably Miller. He’s made some tremendous hits and has positioned himself to see extensive playing time in the fall.

Open targets for QBs

Unlike the past three seasons, the Florida receivers, including the tight ends, are showing an ability to get separation and get open. It’s amazing what a difference good coaching can make. Billy Gonzales stressed when he got here how important technique was in finding ways to get separation from defensive backs. Whatever he’s teaching the receivers, it’s working. Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes have found ways to get open — and make plays — throughout the spring. Some of the veteran receivers, including Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain and Kadarius Toney, seem much improved, especially with their route running and ability to separate.

Amping up the pass rush

Even if Grantham is limited in how many blitzes he can throw at the offense, the Gators are still going to have a chance to show off a much-improved pass rush, not just from the edge, but also inside. Ends/outside linebackers Cece Jefferson, Jachai Polite, Jabari Zuniga and Antonneous Clayton have spent considerable time in the backfield this spring, pressuring the quarterbacks and disrupting the running game. The Gators have also been getting a strong inside push from the tackle, true sophomore Tedarrell Slaton, in particular, who has blown up numerous plays.


What: Orange & Blue Game

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Tickets: Free admission

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 850-AM, 98.1-FM, 103.7-FM

Online: ESPN3



All parking on campus Saturday will be open and available starting at 8 a.m., which is consistent with the time that lots open on a fall game day.

Public parking lots are limited around the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. All lots that are not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis. As always, parking on the grass and sidewalks is not permitted and any vehicles doing so are at risk of being towed.

• Public parking lots: Flavet Field, Fraternity Row, Law School, Percy Beard Track, Reitz Union garage, Commuter parking lot on Gale Lemerand Drive

• Free shuttle buses: Starting at 12:30 p.m. from the commuter parking lot on Gale Lemerand Drive. Lacrosse and softball fans fREE shuttle starts at 1 p.m. from the UF Cultural Plaza parking lot (across the street from Southwest Rec Center by the parking garage)

Road closures

• Beginning at 12 p.m. Saturday, West University Avenue will be closed between Gale Lemerand Drive and NW 17th Street. West University Avenue will remain closed until up to two hours after the conclusion of the game. Fans with parking passes to enter the O’Connell Center parking lot will be able to access those areas from the west on University Avenue.

• In an effort to tighten security around the stadium, starting 2.5 hours prior to kickoff, no vehicular traffic will be allowed on Lemerand Drive between University Avenue and Stadium Road. The closure will remain in effect until the end of the game.


  1. Not that it really applies to today, but isn’t it interesting that a wide receiver, Deonte Thompson, who could hardly play at UF is doing okay in the NFL. Makes you wonder about the coaching he received at UF. Hope that the coaching now will be of some value to our receivers.

      • Keep hearing all this critcisms of Brantley. JB was doping a very good job at QB in his first year under Muschamp until he was injured against Bama. UF led the SEC in passing, scoring, and first downs and was 4 – 0 at the time. If he’d stayed healthy, we probably win 9 games in Chump’s first year. Brantley was brought back with multiple aggravating injuries so I giuve the kid a big break here.

        • Agreed. A healthy JB beat our Cam Newton, so its not like he was bad. For anyone to say they know for sure what went wrong and what the magic potion is – well hopefully we are on to a good new restart, but either way I’m for giving JB a lot more respect than he seems to have been receiving.

  2. Re defensive line being in the backfield and disrupting running plays: the key today is can the O line finally look like an SEC O line? I’ll take that first, before we start talking about a great SEC line.

    • Before anyone starts going crazy about possibly poor offensive line play, or this or that, remember that today is not a 1st team vs. 1st team or 1st team vs. 2nd team scrimmage. Everyone has been split up randomly, so it should actually be a fun game to watch instead of a glorified practice that the last few O&B games have been. I’m rooting for Orange though since that’s the section of the stadium I always sat in.

  3. Re defensive line being in the backfield and disrupting running plays: the key today is can the O line finally look like an SEC O line? I’ll take that first, before we start talking about a great SEC line.