Gators target tight ends in opening win

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Florida tight end Lucas Krull celebrates his first-down catch Saturday against Charleston Southern at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Florida coach Dan Mullen hasn’t wavered when asked about the role the tight ends will have in the offense.

The first half of Saturday’s 53-6 win over Charleston Southern featured Mullen’s offense firing on all cylinders, albeit against a FCS opponent rather than an SEC power, and that meant the Gators looked to get the tight ends involved early and often.

After recording just 26 receptions among three tight ends a season ago, Florida quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask combined to target tight ends on six of UF’s 27 pass attempts on the night, with redshirt freshman Kemore Gamble and redshirt sophomore Lucas Krull each hauling in a pair. The other two passes, intended for redshirt seniors C’yontai Lewis and R.J. Raymond, fell incomplete, but it was clear Mullen intended to stay true to his word.

“It’s a position (where) we have three senior tight ends. We have some big, young guys. Tight ends are going to be a huge part of our offense, we have some depth at that position,” Mullen said after the game. “We want to continue to see those guys improve because they’re going to be a big part of our offense.”

The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Krull concurred that he needs to continue learning the fundamentals of playing tight end at the SEC level after spending the past two years away from the game while pitching at Arkansas and then at the junior college level.

“It’s been awesome. It’s been a transition for sure, but it’s been a great transition. I’m getting better every day,” Krull said.When I played in high school, I never really put my hand down. I was always more of a receiver type. So, really getting my hand down and learning the fundamentals of blocking and staying low and keeping the low pad level, because I’m so tall — that’s really been the biggest challenge for me.”

Regardless of where he’s at from a progression standpoint, Saturday featured Krull’s talents on full display.

Before finding Tyrie Cleveland on a re-creation of Tim Tebow’s iconic one-yard “jump pass” to former UF tight end Tate Casey, Franks found Krull open on back-to-back receptions. After hitting Krull on a three-yard screen, Franks found Krull open for 33 yards to set up Cleveland’s touchdown and give UF a 31-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

“Good route by Lucas. We had called that play a couple times and I think it was just a good executed route by Lucas,” Franks said of Krull’s 33-yard snag. “He got past the flat defender not too far to where the corner could fall off and get in the way, so it was a good route by him and good catch, and good receiving yards after the catch as well.”

Florida’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come for Krull, who just two months ago was wrapping up a baseball career in junior college.

Now that the first and second receptions are accounted for, Krull can focus on the task at hand: improving his fundamentals to become an all-around contributor.

“I was just excited. My heart was racing, because I was ready to go,” Krull said of Saturday’s debut. “I was sitting on the sidelines jumping up, jumping down, because it was the first time in The Swamp with all those people, and it was just an adrenaline rush I had never had before.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. Here’s to the new GATORS! stay out of trouble. Build on this win. Listen to your coaches. They are going to put you in a position to execute plays. You have to execute. That will result in wins. You guys looked like Gators last weekend. Thank you coaches for that victory. Thank you players for playing like champions.

  2. They did look good, but I want to see them against SEC teams. If Franks can play with the poise that he did last Saturday, then I think we are as good as anybody in College football. Franks looked in control and didn’t try to force a whole lot. The O-line did its job and like I stated before – I feel our defense will be a top tier defense this year. One game at a time and gradually I will get my hopes up to the point that we have all become accustomed to for the last 25 years. GO GATORS!!!

  3. Krull looks to be a future stud TE for the Gators. Lewis looks to be the same kind of TE that drops most of the passes thrown to him, and I saw him clearly miss key blocks on running plays as well, one where he broke off one defender that was keying on Davis running the ball and went for another defender being already blocked by an OL. The decision resulted in Davis being stopped for a very short gain instead of making a big gain if Lewis had blocked on key. Nothing much has changed, it seems, with Lewis from last year. And you have to love the effort that Raymond provides, but Krull easily makes that down the middle catch that Raymond had to go up for and then dropped in the game. I just envisioned the 6’6″ Krull going up for that ball thrown perfectly by Franks. And, OMG, the improvement is Franks is simply amazing. I just pray that what we saw in Franks in this game carries over big next weekend vs. Kentucky. And, please, more of Raymond and Krull vs. Kentucky and less of Lewis on passing downs. Go Gators.

    • The offensive line really not getting a push and owning the LOS against an fcs Charleston southern is a bit concerning scarlett should have had holes big enough to drive Schwarzenegger’s hummer through.

      There is definitely room for improvement after the Kentucky game we will know more about this O Line

  4. Crush! Krull! Destroy!!!!

    Krull has descended on the SEC and brings about the destruction of all he surveys!!!!!

    Mullen said this back in the spring– Defenses will have to defend every inch of the field from sideline to sideline and line of scrimmage to end zone– we will get guys open, find guys open, they will not be able to ignore anyone as every skill player on the field is a threat and an option. Defensive coordinators are actually going to have to work the week they face us unlike last year when we were considered an off week due to Suckmiser and Lady Shark Lothario being total idiots who thought they could win by running the same three plays over and over again (this suddenly known as the “too complex” offense).

    I am not worried about the running game issues in the first half. We will do better against Kentucky. You’ll see.