On the clock: Gators’ time management issues

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks looks to hand off the ball Saturday against LSU at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

As Florida looked to drive the field with just over four minutes remaining in regulation Saturday, the offense appeared prepared to use as much time as necessary.

But when the drive stalled out and Florida turned the ball over on downs, effectively ending the comeback attempt and sealing the 17-16 loss to LSU, the home crowd grew agitated at what they perceived to be another example of poor clock management.

After the game, coach Jim McElwain didn’t mince words, saying the team’s sense of urgency was noticeably absent, an inexcusable folly considering the gravity of the situation.

“A sense of urgency, it’s pretty obvious that we didn’t have it there,” McElwain said. “We just came up empty with two series on offense and the way they were snapping the ball late in the shot clock, we knew our possessions were not going to be that many. We had to make something happen on those, and we didn’t.”

In two of Florida’s previous three contests, the Gators have had no shortage of imperfect clock management, but until Saturday it hadn’t sealed their fate. First it was Feleipe Franks’ 63-yard bomb to Tyrie Cleveland to stun Tennessee that erased several moments of ineptitude on that game-winning drive. Next, the Gators rallied to beat Kentucky but used a timeout to leave 46 seconds on the clock, allowing the Wildcats a final opportunity to win the game on a field goal as time expired.

Needless to say, fans and UF’s players alike have noticed the lack of clock management, but it sounds like an issue without an immediate solution.

“I really don’t know,” Franks, when asked about the lack of urgency, said. “I think our guys did a great job coming out of halftime with momentum, and you know, just the tempo, maybe we slowed down there a little bit on the last drive. It’s just one of those things we gotta work on this upcoming week, get better at and just get it smoothed out.”

Considering the Gators have had to rally from a deficit in all four SEC games this season, the sense of urgency is apparent throughout the game, but Franks and the offense have yet to identify a factor in why the unit slowed down in the decisive period. The redshirt freshman signal caller made sure to heap praise on the improved play of the team’s offensive line, which has given UF an opportunity to build the rushing attack and wear down the opposing defense. Franks said the team must find a way to either put the game away earlier or regain that needed energy in the fourth quarter.

“Unfortunately we came up short tonight, but we definitely got back in the game,” Franks said. “We’ve got to definitely start fast, come out in the second half fast. There’s a lot of things that we can improve on and it’s only going to get better throughout the season. I don’t think you can just define us off one game. I mean, we’re going to definitely get better. We’re going to improve from here.”


Up next

Who: Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) vs. Florida (3-2, 3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


25 COMMENTS

  1. the offense backed down after the tom petty “don’t back down” tribute. talk about reverse inspiration! the defense was fine though, seemed to finally figure out the jet sweep with some nice tackles by Chauncey gardner

  2. Don’t back down tribute was my favorite part of the game. Tom Petty would have like it. Can’t blame a true frosh QB. Poor offensive coaching in this one. Decent halftime adjustments. Nothing in the first half-laid an absolute egg & tired out our defense. Coach Mac seems intent on wearing out our defense every game. Would be nice to dominate time of possession with good play calling. 8 & 4 mins to go in the 4th quarter to march down the field & win it, didn’t do much. Go Gators!

    • You definitely can’t blame a true frosh QB if we actually had one playing. What you can blame is a red shirt frosh QB who has been in the system for almost 2 years now and has severe mental issues, which is the exact problem a QB has when he scrambles from a clean pocket thinking pressure is there when it’s not. You can also blame the QB when he locks onto the primary receiver and when that player isn’t open, instead of going through his progressions, he scrambles and throws it away or takes a sack. Coaching can only go so far and then the player needs to execute the plays that are called. Mac’s not controlling Franks with a remote control on the sideline and all the blame falls on him. Franks just isn’t ready mentally to be a college QB plain and simple. What is blatantly obvious to everyone but Mac is that Nuss has absolutely no business running the offense anymore. The fact that he keeps sticking by him is the main thing he can be blamed for at this point and if he continues to do so then he’s definitely not fit to run the program.

  3. Guys, this is coaching. You can’t tell me that
    if Mac showed some actual leadership and got himself in the middle and told them to pick it up they wouldn’t. Now, I won’t argue the OC and the QB shouldn’t have to be told to hurry up.

    Mac needs to step up and accept accountability. He needs to take over play calling and he needs to instruct Coach Shannon to be much more aggressive on D. We’re dying a very slow and painful death because of our coaching.

    If you want to argue about the above, I give you Kirby and Richt as exhibits a & b. Both are recruiting and coaching at a high level on both sides the ball in YEAR 2…we’re in year 3….prosecution rests.

  4. Please, just learn to make a play when it’s needed. This team under Mac, has to have desperate situations to extend itself. Why can’t they just play every play likes it’s the last opportunity. They have no sense of urgency to win early. They are very comfortable with 3 and out-punt. I’ll bet we see something different this week. His back is against the wall. If so, my response is why don’t we routinely, every week, play with passion to win. Put ourselves out there. It seems to be Mac’s MO to play to the competition’s level and squeak out a marginal win. He has got to learn to get excited about every game and throw everything to the wind and coach with some risk and excitement. Each game has to have its own strategy with new wrinkles. Stop playing so conservatively and do something to get our players mentally involved in the game. Mac has opportunities to show he can Coach at this level but he must change his philosophy. Otherwise, he is going to find himself on the outside looking in and wishing he had tried something different. Go Gators!

    • I’ve been watching the same thing for so long now, Nassau, that I’m getting writer’s cramp! You said it perfectly. And, I think that’s the issue at hand. We’ve got the athletes, where’s the fire in the belly? Sure, it shows up late when the TEAM has its back to the wall….but that’s only going to get you just so far. For instance, we were just walking through the motions in the first half of the LSU game, like we didn’t have a care in the world. Then we found it in the 3rd quarter and started playing like Gators. But. Where did it go?

  5. It’s really Sad that the coaches don’t recognize that they have other Qbs that can handle the pressure better than Franks, Florida is still stuck on the old checklist for so call being considered a QB like height,What about having HEART???

  6. How is it that all the QBs that transfer to other programs can pass for 300+ yard and when they are here they have so much problems. I don’t think the QBs are the problems, it’s the coach. They should let Frank throw the ball more to the TEs, we didn’t even throw one to the TE. When your plays was working on the first two drives in the second half why would you change it. After this year if can’t score anymore we need to get rid of the OC. Go Gators!!!!!!

  7. Obviously the coaching staff has been working with Franks in practice sessions. Maybe it appears that he understands the playbook a little better each week and maybe he is learning to go through the progressions in practice. But in practice part of the concern is to not get anyone hurt, therefore practice during the week cannot mimic the speed of the game, the brutality of the hits, the pressure of expectations, the crowd, essentially ninety percent of it. So often the progress made in practice is a mirage when some QBs actually take the field against an SEC level defense. Is Franks one of these guys? If Del Rio hadn’t been injured would Franks have ever seen the field again this season? Does Malik Zaire disappoint the coaches in practice? Is that why he sits? There’s many questions to be answered here but I don’t think Coach Mac will give us the answers.

  8. UF is in this position for several reasons. Muschamp did a horrific job of recruiting offense. Mac was behind the 8 ball coming in. MAC has been an average recruiter at best and unable to get top talent to fill the void. Then , Grier gets suspended. Instead of encouraging him to stay, Mac cuts ties because he already hitched his ride to Del Rio. Then Del Rio goes out. Now because of crappy recruiting, UF is stuck with Franks who has physical tools but is as dumb as a box of hammers with no depth of talent to help/bail him out.

    • Crappy recruiting? Last I checked Franks was one of the most highly rated QB’s in the country. Big, strong, prototype QB size. Don’t lie…didn’t you think after the famous ‘Cleveland Steamer’ that beat Tenn you thought we had finally found the QB we’ve been looking for?

      • No, I didn’t. That was 1 play against a crappy team. It shouldn’t have even come to that. Yes, Franks has physical tools. But the kid has been in the system for over a year and still can’t make reads or set up a play. The kid is dumb. Case in point, last play against LSU 4th and 3. How many times do u think they practiced that play? Probably hundreds. Yet Franks throws into triple coverage and ignores the safety valve/RB wide open. That’s not on Mac. I get fans frustrations. But do you think Mac doesn’t want to throw it around? Really????? Again, UF cannot throw it all over the field when the QB can’t set up the play, locks In on a receiver, and when receivers can’t separate (without callaway/Cleveland no depth)!! I do also think the WR coach may be a good recruiter but suspect as coach!

        • Yes, now that we have some more games to evaluate with it does seem he has a ways to go in the learning process. But to say that landing Franks was ‘crappy recruiting’ is stupid. And how do you know Mac didn’t try to convince Grier to stay? That’s just what you conjured up to fit your narrative. I admit, not panning out the way I would have wanted but goodness man, ‘dumb as a box of hammers’?

          • For arguments sake, lets assume Mac did not “run Grier off”. Then your still making my point. How? He is a crappy recruiter. Why?Convincing/Recruiting Grier to stay should have been his ABSOLUTE 1# PRIORITY. Especially when Grier showed promise and UF was/is stupid thin at the QB position. I don’t think all UF troubles are on Mac/Nuss. I don’t think they should be fired yet. Why? Again they don’t have a QB that is close to SEC ready. So their hands are tied. And yes I believe Franks has to be intellectually a moron to be this behind after a 1 1/2yrs.

  9. Watching game on tv, every time cameras pan to coach he is standing on sideline with arms crossed or hands on his hips….showing no emotion. What kind of message does this send to players?? Or for that matter to fans? He’s always talkIng about energy of fans…..maybe a little energy and excitement from the coaches is needed!!