Gators not making excuses, looking to step up, Swain says

Florida wide receiver Freddie Swain (16) hauls in a long pass in the second half against Vanderbilt at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the Sept. 30 game. Gators won 38-24. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain wasn’t looking to admit the offense struggled against LSU without its top two deep threats.

But after Florida couldn’t create any explosive plays downfield, resulting in just 108 passing yards on 10 completions for quarterback Feleipe Franks, it was logical for UF’s wide receivers to admit the unit struggled without Cleveland.

But with a full week of practice sans Cleveland under the team’s belt, Florida isn’t looking to make the same excuses for Saturday’s battle with Texas A&M.

“I mean, it affected us because Tyrie is one of the faster receivers and he can definitely be a (defensive back’s) nightmare,” Swain said. “So it affected us a little bit, but not too much. Like last week, he’s down and next man up. Somebody needs to step up.”

That’s the motto in Gainesville throughout the Jim McElwain era: “Next man up”. But if someone stepped up in Cleveland’s absence against the Tigers, it wasn’t apparent to the home crowd, who were once again disgruntled with the lack of explosive plays on offense. One of the few spark plugs, freshman receiver Kadarius Toney, was deemed “highly doubtful” by UF coach Jim McElwain, meaning an unproven talent may be called upon to fill a greater role.

Regardless of the name on the back of the jersey, Swain knows the Gators have enough playmakers to feature a formidable offense. But there are greater overall concerns than just the lack of a consistent deep threat. A Franks-led unit still hasn’t displayed a consistent intermediate pass offense, which Swain believes will come with the continued growth of his redshirt freshman signal caller.

“He’s progressed. He’s getting good. He’s young,” Swain said. “I mean, we’re trying to give him patience and time, but he understands what he’s doing.”

With that said, the Gators are running out of time to put together an adept offense. With a record of 3-2 with games against Georgia, South Carolina and FSU still in the mix, Florida’s toughest tests appear to be in front of it, which means the offense must find a fast fix or brace for another disappointing finish. However, Swain and the Gators believe a faster tempo will bring out the best in Franks and allow the offense to finally flourish.

“We got to run more plays. We got to keep Johnny (Townsend) off the field. I mean, we just got to get the ball in the end zone,” Swain implored. “Got to get it faster. Once we get that faster, we get more plays called, we’ll get the ball into the end zone.”

Swain knows it won’t happen unless Florida finds a way to eliminate the errors that have erased any noticeable offensive progression this season. But rather than cast blame on those that led to the one-point loss, the Gators are united rather than divided.

(As a team), you’re going to have some downs. It’s what happens. But you’ve got to rally around each other and come back stronger,” Swain said. “It felt like we were the better team (against LSU) on Saturday, it didn’t show. But we’ll bounce back.”



    • Wish we could fire self proclaimed Gator fans or are you a troll? Anyways, I thought I would throw out this trendy stat just in case you really root for the team to the west….

      Florida State ACC Conference Record and Standings:
      2014 / 8-0 / 1st (Atlantic)
      2015 / 6-2 / 2nd(Atlantic)
      2016 / 5-3 / 3rd(Atlantic)
      2017 / 1-2 / 4th(Atlantic)

  1. The coaching and the leadership does not improve from week to week, or year to year, going on for almost seven years now. Therefore, players like Swain do not improve from week to week, or year to year. But the coach speak continues at a high level, and now with the players. One more year to get it right, I would expect, for these coaches. But hopefully that does not include Nussmeier.

    • I agree …with your statement…the reason these players are not developing property truly lies with the coaching…the passing scheme under both Muschamp and Nuss have been terrible, to say the least…short passes certainly don’t help the receivers development…both Swain and Hammond were both 4 star WR’s in high school and some of the WR’s in the state, but, have been crippled by Nuss’s passing scheme…

  2. I think Swain has great hands but, very inconsistent in his route running…on short pass routes he has always been short on those routes…for some reason he never knows where the first down marker is…my theory is never throw a 3 yard pass…especially bubble screens where you throw the ball 20 yards across the field and you haven’t passed the line of scrimmage…this seems to be a beard and butter play for the gators and maybe it works 1 out of 10 passes…we need more slants to the TE’s or slot receivers…at least you are going forward and not sideways or have your back to the goal post… on 3rd and 3 give the ball to Malik Davis and send the receivers deep down field to clear out the DB’s and safeties.

  3. Amazing.

    After reading that entire article, it covered what UF has to do to get bette on O, but not ONE mention of the NUMBER ONE PRIMARY PROBLEM with the offense… Doug Nussmeier.

    I know he is, Gator Nation knows he is, you Gator beat writers know he is, and Coach Mac sure as hell knowa he is.

  4. Ok Gator fans, let’s cut out this “woe is me” BS, we are decimated by injuries and suspensions, but you know what? this team is going to show up tomorrow and we are going to give a good account of ourselves!!!! I can feel it!!!, I am going out on a limb, but I predict we will win 24-21. GO GATORS!!!!!!

  5. Work ’em silly Gators!!
    A 7:00 kickoff hopefully has most of the negative, delusional fans drunk and passed out. They will be spared and not have to watch.

    Let’s cheer for the boys in swamp green!!

    I’m all kinds of weather…

  6. Work ’em silly Gators!!

    A 7:00 kickoff hopefully has most of the negative, delusional fans drunk and passed out. They will be spared and not have to watch.

    Let’s cheer for the boys in swamp green!!

    I’m all kinds of weather…

  7. The easy path is to cave into negativity – as Coach Ellison once said, self-pity and cowardice are bed mates. It takes courage and resolve to be positive when the chips are down. We lost a squeaker to LSU – could have gone either way – we cannot win all the close ones – just does not work that way. I like Swain’s attitude – the loss to LSU should motivate the Gators to step up their game and rise to a higher level of play. Just because we have two injured receivers (Cleveland and Toney) does not mean we cannot throw the ball. We have some good receivers who can get the job done – they just need to get open and Franks must check-off to find the open receiver (there usually is someone who is open). Keep the running game going, and our defense needs to put pressure on A&M’s QB – get a few sacks – let’s win this one by being tough!

  8. Coaching always looks more competent when the QB has the “it factor”. The only QB Florida has put on the field since Tebow with the “it factor” was Will Grier. The offense finally put some fear into opposing defenses. I believe Coach Mac’s schemes will work once we have that QB in place. Franks may develop into that. Very few QBs with this little experience win games against top level competition. The key is to not lose them. Combining that with losing Scarlett and Calloway has left Franks short of the weapons necessary to operate. Look at Georgia. They are winning with a great rushing offense and a strong defense. Their QB hasn’t won any games for them although he looks much more comfortable than Franks. Remember that Danny Weurffell was benched early in his career. Coach Mac is doing the best he can with a depleted roster. Malik Davis and Tyrie Cleveland have bright futures. We need more guys like these. The Gators offer plenty of opportunities for the future and new recruits. Go Gators!