Dooley: Taking the bad with the good in Florida’s easy win

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks finished 25-of-27 passing for 270 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against UT Martin at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

It figures that on a night when Feleipe Franks put up sick numbers, he wouldn’t be the biggest story of the game.

Instead, it was more about the injuries and the way a bunch of freshmen came in to shut out the faceless opponent.

As a result, a day that began with a sun so bright it turned the sky the palest of blues ended with sweaty Gator fans wondering where this team goes from here.

It was that kind of night with the good gasps sprinkled in with the bad ones.

Franks couldn’t have had a much better game statistically, the kind of game that must have made Kirk Herbsreit raise an eyebrow and wonder who he can pick on this week.

The numbers — 25-of-27 for 270 yards, two TDs and no turnovers.

(Here comes a big-league cliche).

Those numbers would be good against air.

“It’s Feleipe Franks and it’s Florida,” said Florida coach Dan Mullen. “Someone will be saying, ‘I don’t know. Two incomplete passes.’ “

Yeah, well. He did get a lot of easy throws, but made the difficult ones as well.

“You can’t throw it deep all the time and throw incompletions,” Franks said. “That’s not very smart.”

But the story of the night was the Florida secondary, in both a good and in a bad way.

The bad was the injury to CJ Henderson, who came out of the locker room after halftime wearing a hoodie, a walking boot and crutches.

That’s becoming the standard uniform for this year’s representatives of DBU.

Florida hoped to play a lot of young guys because the Gators had a big lead. Instead, Florida played a bunch of freshmen because it had no choice.

It’s almost comical what has happened to this secondary. Except it’s not funny if you’re coaching this group or a fan worrying about the rest of this season.

Because of injuries and departures and one suspension (Brad Stewart, part of the penalty is you get your name in the paper for the wrong reason), the Gators are running on fumes in terms of personnel defensive back-wise.

Still, these guys held up awfully well, freshman Kaiir Elam picking off a pass in the end zone to preserve the shutout.

We’ll see what happens with both Henderson and the other No. 1, Kadarius Toney, who also had an injury. Henderson has a sprained ankle, but when he was flat on the field and couldn’t put much weight on his left ankle coming off, you couldn’t help but think back to how Marco Wilson was lost in Game Two a year ago.

But you don’t want to focus on the negative. Remember? In honor of Mr. Two Bits this was supposed to be a positive night.

So there was Franks, who kept hitting short pass after short pass and then went deep twice to get easy scores.

“Feleipe is getting comfortable with it,” said receiver Van Jefferson, who had a 69-yard touchdown catch. “He did a great job.”

Said Mullen, “He was taking what they were giving him. He really did a good job of not forcing things. They had eight guys dropping everywhere.”

So there was that and there was a glimpse into the future with Emory Jones and a bunch of baby offensive linemen and there was an offense that had no turnovers and went 9-of-13 on third downs.

Obviously, the opponent was overwhelmed eventually by Florida’s athleticism, even after two of the best athletes were sent to the showers.

“We’ve got two wins,” Franks said.

Yes, they do, but it starts getting a little more interesting next week. (Not that Miami wasn’t interesting, but it feels like it was last year).

If Saturday night felt like the opener to start the season, Florida emerged less healthy but cleaner. The dumb penalties were gone (only three the whole game for Florida) and the play was more crisp than frenetic.

No matter the injuries or the lack of secondary personnel or the number of kids who will be playing significant roles, Florida still has a lot of scrubbing up to do.

“It’s gotta really crank up about 10 notches this week,” Mullen said.

Maybe more.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at