Daily Football Fix: Five areas UF must improve to avoid bad season

Florida players and coaches celebrate Tyrie Cleveland's game winning touchdown catch against Tennessee, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. The Gators won 26-20. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

It’s no secret Florida had a bad football season in 2017. The coach was fired and the Gators only won four games for the second time in five seasons.

There’s a new coach with a new attitude, but there are areas where Florida must improve to avoid another bad season.

Here are five of them:

  1. Total offense: Well, duh. Florida’s run of bad offenses has been an embarrassment. Last year, the Gators ranked 110th, a ranking Gator fans are too used to. The offense under Dan Mullen should be better. How about the top 50?
  2. Fumble recoveries: Nobody seemed to fumble against Florida last season. It was almost surreal. Some of that is bad luck, but most of it is not causing fumbles to be recovered. The Gators recovered three, count ’em, three, all season. That ranked next to last among Div. 1 teams. Where’s Brandon Siler when you need him?
  3. Turnover margin: And the lack of fumble recoveries led to a minus-3 in turnover margin despite 14 interceptions. The Gator offense helped by turning it over 20 times in 11 games. Every coach in America will tell you how important turnover margin is. It’s not an overrated stat.
  4. Long plays from scrimmage: The Gators ranked 113th nationally and had only five plays of 50 or more yards. Florida football used to have that many in a game.
  5. Punt returns: UF had zero for more than 20 yards last season, Special teams were a joke, with the exception of the kickers. Mullen has put a new emphasis on special teams. Let’s see if it pays off.


  1. I think 99 percent of Gator Nation fully realizes now that the coaching and leadership under McElwain was nearly a total joke. But an experienced and Power 5 competent head coach is now running the show. And if Jefferson and Grimes receive their transfer waivers from the NCAA to play this year with Cleveland, Toney, and Scarlett, this Florida team will have plenty of offensive weapons/options and will be hard to stop offensively if either Franks, Trask, or Jones step up at the QB position. Big if remains with the QB play, however. But I have more confidence in Mullen and Johnson coaching those three than I ever had with McElwain and/or Nussmeier coaching any player, and especially the QBs on the team. And I am sure Mullen will not call a run up the middle on every second and long this coming season. God, I still have nightmares of Nussmeier calling the same unproductive plays over and over again on cue.

    • And the McElwain bashing continues. McElwain left 3 letters in his desk for Mullen and Gator Nation with instructions to open one whenever we have a bad day at the office. We have already opened the first letter before the season has began under Mullen and milking it pretty good. I can’t wait until the first letter has ran its course and we move on to open the second letter.

    • I am very confident Mullen will get the offense in gear. He will find a way. He always has. nothing will stop him.He will find a QB who can manage a game and minimize errors if he has to grab a a random kid off the street. If the offensive line struggles, he will find a way around it. If players get hurt, he will get the next one to step up. Mullen is not. Pitiful excuse making whiner like Nussmeir. All he does it win win win mot matter what what what.

  2. Total offense is a barometer, but games are decided by points, not yards. UF needs to score, and no one cares how many yards they get if they score more points. They have three paid scrubs to inflate their scoring, so how well they put up points against the rest of the schedule is what matters.
    Speaking of scoring, UF needs a lot of improvement on defense, where they finished 69th in points allowed.
    It’s hard to see how UF will be good on offense, though. The incumbent starter, Franks, is still not intelligent enough to do anything. He couldn’t even execute a trick play in the Spring game. The TD to Travis McGriff was supposed to be thrown by Doug Johnson, but Einstein didn’t even look at him. We are, also, fed this propaganda about “playmakers”, but it’s always just been a lot of hot air.

    • And we are supposed to care about your opinion……why?

      According to you, there is no more pathetic team among the Power-5, and never has been. It has the worst coaches ever, and the worst athletes. The administration is blatantly stupid, the fans are idiots, and the program as a whole is a disgrace. Does that pretty much sum it up?

      • No, I just point out facts. That bothers some people. Is there a single thing I said that isn’t true? How long have we heard the propaganda about “playmakers”? Wasn’t Dre Massey going to be awesome? Then he gets hurt and that’s one excuse for why UF’s offense still sucks. Yet he is healthy last year and UF’s offense still sucks. Kadarius Toney was hyped before last season. Did he do anything noteworthy? As for UF’s RBs, none have ever come close to the description of “playmakers”.
        Now, surprise…surprise, we’re fed the same propaganda about the transfer WRs, Jefferson and Grimes. They aren’t even, yet, eligible to play. In the grand public scrimmage, otherwise known as the Spring game, did either one even give a hint that they were a “playmaker”?
        Sooner or later, even some Gator fans have to become aware of reality. How long can be a sucker for the same con game that is different only in the names?
        Mullen may be a fine coach, but you need proper clay, and I don’t know how you can expect a masterpiece to ensue when you have bad clay like Felipe Franks. As Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does…”

        • Cursedude…… don’t forget who was doing the propaganda-ing… McElteeth.

          You don’t hear Coach Mullen putting out false hype (and hope).

          The truth of the matter is….Scarlett is a stud (thanks Gator Steve) and Jefferson looks (to my eyes, not based on hearsay) to be the real deal. Toney has shown flashes of play-making ability. You are correct that we should not get overly-excited at this point, but dang dude.. lighten up. The new sheriff in town looks a lot better than the old sheriff. After 3-4 games we can all better assess the new state of the program. For now we have a little more hope.

          • Rog. The person is a troll of many different personalities on here, and a troll of the FSU variety. Just so you know.

        • Let’s get it straight Mikey, they’re opinions not facts. You see the FACT is Franks fully admitted that he purposely didn’t let Johnson throw the TD cause he was trying to pad his stats. Somehow your brain manipulated that into him being too dumb to even look for the trick play and claim it as fact. Same as your opinions on playmakers. I know that’s extremely hard for you to understand, but that’s not surprising considering you couldn’t even get into the glorified community college up North that you obsess over. Maybe grab the dictionary to educate yourself on the difference between facts and opinions.

          • Oh, thank God, at least one more poster on this board besides me who isn’t Mikey/Boyfriend/Gator6/GatorG/Tebow/etc. C’mon Gainesville Sun, ban this clown.

          • No, what I said can’t be disputed. How dumb can you be to not properly execute a play because you’re more concerned with personal stats in a meaningless scrimmage? How about the comments he made after the last real game he participated in? Instead of saying the obvious, that he sucked in the game, he made an idiotic comparison to Tom Brady. He’s as dumb as a rock, football-wise, and doesn’t appear to be any smarter off the field, as well. Have you ever heard him talk? Call me crazy, but it’s not hard to understand why he’s not intelligent enough to play QB. Facts, nothing else, is what I present. But in a world where a moron is in the White House and facts become “fake news”, it’s not surprising that facts that are not welcome are characterized as opinions.

          • Exactly; as was Toney. Let’s see how good FSU’s new coach develops his player since, let’s face it, that’s been his major weakness in his ~.500 career thus far.

          • Consistency…you, and others, fail to understand thatis what matters most. Malik Davis and Kadarius Toney “flashed” but, and it doesn’t matter the reason, they aren’t consistent. Believe it or not, that’s what ALL coaches expect before they’ll call someone a good player, much less a great one, which I think is the definition of “playmaker.” A “playmaker” is just what the name implies…someone who CONSISTENTLY makes plays. Antonio Callaway came very close to fitting that description, but no one else, I repeat, NO ONE else fits that desccription on the Gators. Even Callaway didn’t fit the description because he coulkdn’t be counted on to even be availab;le to play. Even on the field, he wasn’t consistent. Remember his punt fielding brain freezes? How about his droppong a perfect pass, the announcer was an idiot, from Austin Appleby when UF had a chance to go ahead of and, possibly, even beat FSU?
            So, no, you can’t say someone is a “playmaker” and then have an excuse for why they were not. Dalvin Cook was a “playmaker”, in case you nee to know what one actually looks like.

        • I agree with everything you said here! I have yet to see a single playmaker on offense over the last 4 years. We hear so much about a player in practice and never see anything on game day.. I’m tired of these sports writers giving false hope year after year.. We haven’t seen a true playmaker for years, so every time we see a player with just a little talent we get all excited. Go back, watch the 2008 season, I don’t care which game, you will see what true playmakers looked like against real teams, not just teams like TN and UK. Even the worst running backs on the 2008 teams looked better than our best since. Percy would juke even the best playmakers on opposing teams out of their skin. Those were real playmakers! I’ve yet to see any player since those days that even have come close..

  3. When the Gators lost to Arkansas on the road in 2016 Mac and his staff, and his dog, should have been fired. But our great writers at the Gainesville Sun did not want to stir the pot and do the analysis needed to point out how bad Mac really was, not to mention his being dishonest about LDRs level of ability to play and his being hurt. Objective journalism is a rare commodity.

  4. These boards never cease to amaze me. Is anyone who posts on here a true Orange and Blue bleeding Gator? Look, there is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but the same people over and over again do nothing but bash the Gators. I think we can all agree that McElwain was terrible, but Dan Mullen hasn’t even coached his first game and he is terrible too. Oh, Pat Dooley is the worst journalist ever if you go by the postings here. Again, amazing to read. By the way, I am happy to use my real name. GO GATORS!!!

    • Billy, respectfully, pay more attention. It’s the same bizarre guy posting 95% of the negative posts. Numerous of us real Gators point this out after almost every article.

  5. Still think we’re 4-5 years away from a true turn-around. We simply don’t have the talent on the roster to make serious progress in the SEC or prevail against big time programs. Nor are we (at the moment) a polished brandname that attracts big time recruits. Truth is, we’re getting seconds and thirds. Just keeping fingers crossed that the fan base is patient and does not run Mullen out of town in 2-3 years.

    • I think we’re gonna see a “turn-around” this season. A turn-around from what we’ve seen the past few years. But I’ll agree that it will take 3-5 years to fully transform the program, top to bottom. What that means to me is we’ll see a better brand of ball this season but I don’t expect to end up in Atlanta for a few years. An 8-4 season with a nice upset, capped off with a bowl win will help recruiting immeasurably and when we start recruiting in the top ten again, then we’ll compete for Atlanta and the NC every year.

      Unless Coach Mullen does something really stupid, like wrestle a shark, or unless his teams just flat out stink, I don’t think the fan base will run him out of town anytime soon. I suspect Dan is here for the long term.

        • TampaGator. GatorG is not, I say again, NOT TebowCurse. Nor is Gator-6, who you now have Mac’s Stinkin’ BBQ Sauce believing.

          Here it is: Neal H. Trent III, Colonel, US Army (Retired). Gator-6 was my call sign in the Army through 4 different levels of command. I retired in 2003 as DCS of III (US) Corps, Ft Hood with 30+ years active duty, both enlisted as an MP and commissioned (combat arms, combat service support, and multifunctional logistics among others). I am a Vietnam Veteran. After retirement, I took a faculty position, civil service, in academic medicine at the Ft Hood MEDCEN, and retired from that in 2013. You can look me up on Linked-In or Facebook, or on the internet, or all three, I don’t care. If you still think I’m TebowCurse or any other FSU troll, well son, kiss my a**.

          • Gator-6…very impressive resume, sir! Thank you again for your service and supporting the Orange and Blue. I’ve heard all about the old UT football days — too bad they let football go when they did, or else USF may not have much to brag about these days.

            But please, word of advice, don’t indulge that vacuous millennial punk, TampaGator. The imbecile isn’t worth it. His contributions are meaningless and his challenged mind won’t be persuaded. Go Gators!

      • I agree, Rog…8-4 would be ideal. I’m a huge Mullen supporter, but am realistic in my expectations of what he he’ll be able to do in short order. Just won’t wear the rose colored glasses just yet.

  6. The kind of leader that can make a difference when you have this NFL talent does not have to be at qb. With 2 train wrecks in 5 years with this much talent, finding that person is job#1. I guess the newspaper doesn’t know or it can’t tell us but hopefully coach Mullen can find one. He has done it before.

  7. Easy way to eliminate the stupid comments:

    The moderator should delete any comments that doesn’t have facts of support.

    Most of social media is worthless opinion created only to antagonize and create rancor.

    When I implemented this rule on my wall, the participation increased threefold. Smart people won’t participate in unfactual opinion contests.

  8. The gators had a rough year losing 9 players, including Scarlett and Callaway right before the season started… not to mention seven other players. We are returning the whole Oline and we have plenty of studs on both sides of the ball. I’ll be surprised if Franks throws the ball more than 20 times a game judging by the fact that we have a top two running back stable in the SEC. If you’re not optimistic about our team or Mullen, you’re an asshole, a dumbass, not a Gator, or a mix of those.

    • No, you’re incorrect. Top two running back stable in the SEC? What have you been smoking? Perine is UF’s top returning rusher. He’s average, at best. he projected starter, Scarlett, has done very little, unless you’re delusional. I’d take Georgia’s returning back, Swift, all day, by himself, over both of them. That’s not even counting the pair of five stars coming in this season. Do you even know what a five star RB looks like? As for UF returning it’s entire offensive line, only someone who hasn’t seen them play would call that a good thing. They are all bad. Every single one of them!No, my friend, you seem to be loiving in a fantasy world, but reality is going to wake you up in the Fall. Do you even realize how cloose these “studs” you describe came to winning only TWO games last season?

  9. Mikey is a FSI troll who is ranting and raving about how bad Florida players and coaches are on here after his team barely made it to a bowl game last year after being picked to be in the final four playoffs at the beginning of the season. And Mikey, no OL in the country was worse than the FSU OL last year. None. If you do not believe me, ask the QB who started the season last year and did not last through one game. But, of course, you switched from FSU to Georgia late in the season last year, just like a good troll does.

    • If FSU’s offensive line is worse than Florida’s, which you implicitly claim, I don’t understand how they beat the Gators. How did Blackman throw any TD passes or Akers run for another TD? I guess you must be learning from Rudy Guiliani on how to spin reality. Don’t embarrass yourself. The Gators might be a mess right now, but they are far from being the train wreck called Donald Trump. Anyone trying to cover for that congenital liar is going to look stupid.

        • daz. A troll throws out controversial comments just to get a reaction from people. Mikey has posted on here, using multiple IDs, both against Trump and against Hillary. He is a troll. And that is all he is.

          • And daz. Being liberal is not an immediate association to being a dumba….. Sanders is not that. He is actually a brilliant man. He just sees the world differently that conservatives or even moderates like me. Now, being an inflexible liberal or an inflexible conservative, is dumb. And why I am a moderate thinker. But, when you refer to Mikey and all of his troll IDs on here as such. You are dead on correct. And why he could not get into Florida. Or even FSU.

      • Tebowcurse (Mikey). FSU beat Florida because Franks threw stupid INTs at critical moments in the game. Period. Other than that the two teams were evenly matched. And troll, how is this for “reality?” With no “spin.” Just facts. According to the statistics based website, “Football Outsiders,” which evaluates all stats to determine team rankings in various areas of college football production, Florida has the 32nd best offensive line in the country during the 2017 season. FSU was ranked as the 35th best offensive line in the country for the same season. The truth hurts, troll. And ignorance should hurt trolls. Too bad it does not.

  10. Where can I get a program that lists the pink and yellow posters on the site? And who’s the idiot doing the political postings? Got to be a FSCWer…
    I believe Dan will have the ship righted in no more than 3 years. Not only is he the right man for the job his enthusiasm is so infectious that kids will gravitate to him. Plus his coaching resume speaks for itself.
    Go Gators!

  11. When the guys up front get beefed up and strong enough to play in the SEC and master the fundementals, and the receivers learn how to get open, Mullen’s offense will pile up yards and put up points. It’s all about the strength program and coaching fundementals and it appears that the new coaching staff has that covered. Give Mullen a couple of years to recruit top talent, which he will do, and the Gators will be a solid top-ten program and the trolls will have nothing to blab about.