Dooley Grades The Gators: Florida gets job done

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Florida coach Dan Mullen high-fives fans Saturday after the 48-10 win against Colorado State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Offense C

First half: It was a miserable first quarter for the Gators and Feleipe Franks, who did not complete a pass and threw a pick. Better in the second quarter, but still only seven first downs in the half.

Second half: Florida enjoyed a pair of plays in the fourth quarter that inflated the stats a bit, but the offense is still a work in progress. Franks was a more efficient 4-of-5 passing in the second half.

For the game: Don’t let the final stats fool you. Florida had 122 yards after the Gators had already gone up 34-10. Franks needs to start faster, and the running game can’t wait until mop-up time to pad stats.

Defense B+

First half: The only points came after a 51-yard kickoff return, so you have to say it was a successful defensive half. There were fewer missed tackles, but Benny Snell Jr. wasn’t running against them.

Second half: The return of the missed tackles was a problem. Florida struggled to get off the field allowing 4-of-9 third-down conversions.

For the game: It was a weird game for the defense, which gave up 22 first downs and allowed Colorado State to run 83 plays. But they held up, and even the one TD the Rams scored came because two secondary starters were off the field with minor injuries.

Special teams A-

First half: Despite the CSU kickoff return, it was a strong performance by the special teams. A blocked punt turned into a touchdown, and a smothered punt attempt resulted in a field goal. Freddie Swain may be turning into a decent punt returner.

Second half: Um, yes, I think we can confirm that Swain is working out running back punts after his 85-yard touchdown. There were only two kickoffs for CSU and neither was returned, but let’s work on Kadarius Toney’s style of catching them.

For the game: As coach Dan Mullen said, the special tams were the difference in the game. He’s emphasized it, and the players have bought in. The only reason this grade is not an A+ is because of the two long kickoff returns and a short punt.

Overall B-

This was a losable game coming in, and Florida got the job done despite some early struggles on offense and still missing linebacker David Reese. Now, the SEC grind really cranks up.

72 COMMENTS

  1. I am absolutely thrilled with the performance by the Gators today, as I honestly thought they might lose this game. But the defense learned how to tackle and stay in their gaps this week. Thank goodness for that. Now, the offense needs to continue to get better.

  2. I wonder what would have happened last week if Coach Mullen would have taken my online suggestion and used Toney as the QB. Our defense would have still had their problems, but I believe Toney would give defenses fits with his abilities. Anyway it is just a what if. I was stung by several Mahogany wasps last Sunday and my right hand and arm was so swollen it felt as though my arm and hand were broken from a sledge hammer…LOL. I can laugh now, but they tore me up. If you are taking a window A/C our be sure that there aren’t any critters that made it home first. My A/C is still laying on the ground. GO GATORS!!!

    • Ed, we got scorpions so big out here in Texas that they can stand flat footed and make love to a turkey……but I’d rather deal with them any day of the week than mess with those Mahogany Wasps of yours. In fact, I’m considering rounding them all up into a herd and applying for a livestock exemption on my property taxes.

      Anyway, your Toney suggestion was batted around here last fall and again in the Spring……doesn’t ever seem to get any traction, but you know what? It’s just crazy enough to work!

          • Not sure who may have said it the other day, but it’s a great song from Waylon. Anyway, I’m sure you’re not the only one of us that throws like a girl, but we have to be careful not to insult them by the comparison!

          • Oh damn, I stepped on it again Joe! Of course I didn’t really mean I throw like a girl…..we’re all equal in physical abilities, what’s wrong with me?

            (but secretly I do)

          • Yeah, but it’s still worth discussing. Actually, I asked the same question in April before I got shouted down, so you’re doing pretty well, Ed.

          • I hear ya, Ed, but the UK QB, with his limited passing skills, should’ve never been able to do what he did to us. Maybe it was a lack of focus, over-pursuit, lack of physicality, or injuries, but the Gators should’ve been able to stack the box and force Wilson to beat them with his arm. A defense worthy of the DBU moniker should have no trouble defending a passer of Wilson’s caliber. Good defenses would likely have little trouble stopping a one dimensional QB. Unless you have an exceptional talent like Tebow, Newton, Watson, Prescott, or a few others, a dual threat QB is usually just another RB that can throw the ball a little. In those situations, both the running game and passing game suffers, and I think that’s what would happen if Toney was the regular QB.

  3. I give special teams a solid A. We have a FG kicker, woo hoo! Defense APPEARED to step up a level, with some enthusiasm. Offense is just pitiful. Franks can only look at the primary receiver and no body else, telegraphing ever pass play. But better than last year, LOL. I don’t like our run play designs, reminds me of Zook’s favorite play the 6 yard deep draw hand off, like here is boys, come get’em. I guess we just can’t line up and push people back, so Dan has come up with this fake someone out design. Will not work! We might be able to edge out UT, hmmmmm? Overall on a scale of 1 to 10, a 4 for level of improvement.

    • Assuming we start from zero, getting up to a 4 or 5 after game 3 is fair enough, DeWayne. Of course, I’d start Pierce to take the pressure off Franks. But I’m not Dan Mullen, and I’ll concede that he knows a little more about football than I do. On the other hand, if he ever needs my advice on……well, I’ll need to get back with you on that, I’m sure given enough time I can come up with something! 😜

  4. The Gator D was all up in the C.S.U. backfield, sacking and harassing their Q.B.. The Gator ‘D’ gets my thumbs up! And Franks is the best Florida has, so people get over it! And while he needs to see open receivers open and throw it more quickly, Coach Mullen said as much in his post game remarks, too.
    He said that ”Franks needs to make better reads.”
    So, it is what it is. Bee`otching about it isn’t going to help Franks. The kid has as many passing T.D.s after only ‘3’ games than he did ALL OF YEAR LAST YEAR. So, to those who say, ”he isn’t improving” well that is just IGNORANT! Because the stats say otherwise. What do you particular fans want? Treon Harris back there, again?!?! GO GATORS! CHOMP-ON!

  5. I too was seriously worried about losing this game. I picked the Gators to win but had serious doubts they would. So count me as super impressed with the improvement.

    Special Teams play to me is a big indicator as to the changes made in this program. Special teams play to me is just making it an emphasis and putting in effort. And we are finally doing that. The defense was much improved tonight, especially up front. Lots of holes in the secondary are concerning but the coaching staff will handle it the best way they can. Offense….is a work in progress as the OL and QB continue to try and improve. I really like the way Perrine runs, not flashy, but he just keeps pounding the rock. Pierce is a stud and I still think Scarlett is still very talented, he just hasn’t gotten into a rhythm yet.
    Great win against a not very good team, but encouraging. The road gets tougher each week. UT is a winnable game but only with continued improvement and effort.

      • Here in Knoxville, it’s all about winning the 1998 National Championship because they beat the Gators. Current local hype is they’re going to win Saturday because it’s the 20th anniversary of that year. Some Vol fans seem to consider the season successful as long as they beat Florida.

        We moved here in 2006, after hurricane Katrina, & one of the 1st things we noticed is that there are thousands of Gator fans in and around Knoxville. It’s great to see Gator plates, logos, shirts & caps every day in Vol country. A big event here is the annual Tennessee vs Florida blood drive, which the Vols have won since 2008.
        Good omen, this year’s score: Florida 1340 Tennessee 1292. GO GATORS!

        • Hey, I like the way you think, Jim! Rog did mention that he’s not entirely alone up there behind enemy lines, glad to hear from you too. We’ve got a lot of Gators up in North Carolina too…..hope they’re OK. Actually, my family has it’s roots in Knoxville-Strawberry Plains-Holstien River, but mostly got to Florida as quick as they could after 1900…..mostly to Avon Park. Still had an uncle up there as late as the early 80s who owned a Cadillac dealership there — but he was a Vol until his dying day and therefore we rarely spoke!

          • We’ve visited with every local Gator Club since we moved here; Knoxville Gator Club, Chattanooga Gators & The Blue Ridge Gator Club. When we lived in New Orleans, for every game that was not on local television, we drove to Pensacola (225 miles each way) to watch the Gators play. Not too bad if you stay over one night & the West Florida Club always welcomed us. Until SOS that was EVERY game except GA v FL. It’s Great to be A Florida Gator because The Gator Nation is everywhere.

            Interesting folk lore. On our 1st visit to Asheville for a Gator viewing party, we were asked if we had heard about the Gator fan who was killed by Vol fans ??? According to the tale he was pushed from an upper seat section at Neyland & fell to his death.

          • Get out of here! Really? Man, that’s the definition of “hostile territory” !

            I recall sitting in the Georgia section (only tickets we could get) one year in Jax, and my Dad getting beat half to death by a high heeled shoe from a “lady” sitting behind us — but that takes the cake.

        • Is it true that C3PO and R2D2 made an appearance in Knoxville, Tennessee, but they got kidnapped and turned into ”whiskey stills?” LOL! Don’t they know up there, ”These aren’t the droids you’re looking for!”

      • Wonder if they will trash an innocent car like the Wildcat mob did if they win?

        Local morning news item: “Tonight–there will be a Gator Hater Kick-off party at K-TOWN Tavern in West Knoxville, and it’s all for a good cause!” No neutral ground this week in Knoxville.

    • For ROG. Trying to spread the word locally. When noticing how many Gator fans we saw almost daily, we wanted to say “Go Gators – you are not alone”. A number of years ago, we came up with an idea of a “From One Gator Fan to Another – Go Gators!” message printed on a business card. Most fans we talked to had no idea there was a Knoxville Gator Club. So on the reverse, it has the web address for all local Gator Clubs. If we see you in person you are handed one but a parked car with Gator media gets one on the windshield. They’re made with Avery software & art from the web.

  6. Priority #1A imo is are we finding some leaders for the program? CDMs biggest gripe in the radio post game against Franks was the jawing that resulted in a penalty, he wants guys that keep their heads in all kinds of weather so to speak. Franks did pick up the pieces somewhat afterwards. this pierce kid can not only run but plays with enormous effort on special teams covering kicks, sounds like the kind of guy that will get his teammates to go harder. you gotta like swain, he lets other guys get the write-ups while he gets the results, whether its Kentucky or either csu. cj Henderson had a successful blitz, so again he might be one of the next leaders we need. Brent hagge had some good moments according to the radio guys, Polite as well. Plus the receiving tight end from Arkansas. i know its a lesser opponent overwhelmed by heat, but this is where the players start to turn this group into a team.

    • In all fairness to Franks, a C.S.U. L.B. got up off the ground using HIS KNEE IN FRANKS’ BACK. Quite literally in his spinal cord. So, honestly, I probably would’ve swung on the CSU player. Franks was cooler than I would have been. Just for the record.
      GO GATORS!

      • yes, and if you don’t retaliate a little they will just do it again. CSU coach is another UGA guy, just not my cup of tea. I like Franks. to me he is a guy that may struggle but is not going to yield. inevitably, the nature of competition inevitably puts us all in a position where we are out of our position of advantage, and those who wont yield when overmatched (assuming its not something ridiculous) has the best shot when that day happens. i apologize if i sounded like a Franks hater even slightly, the guy has won me over. its not a thing of beauty, but remember he has an nfl arm and eventually its going to be worth enduring the things you don’t like. some of our guys i don’t know yet, maybe, or maybe franks etc. can get them there.

        • It’s cool, mveal, I just don’t think too many Gator fans (at the stadium) saw the cheap shot by the C.S.U. player. The SEC Network, doing a great job b.t.w., made it very aware in a replay of the incident with Franks. It was very UGA and Miami ‘ish of the green Rams.

  7. Some improvement this week, especially by the defense. On the job training going on in the secondary. Rams just missed a couple over the top.

    I’ve come to accept that to be successful, we will have to rely more on the threat of the pass this season. The running yards are in the offense in other ways. We may not have a “run it down your throat” offense despite a richness in running backs.

  8. They won. Congratulations. OK so what. They played another inferior team. What are they going to do against SEC competition? We will find out next week. The OL still sucks. No protection, no push and no holes for the RB’s. The play calling is also very suspect. The running plays take too long to develop. Franks is a work in progress. Why not make it easy on him. Very few quick passes. Very few passes over the middle. Very few targets to Toney. Franks is also taking too long to throw the ball and not seeing the open receiver. Also, there were too many dropped passes. The Defense played better. The DL got penetration at times and tackled better. But, there were times that they looked like there was no effort and no pressure on the QB. Henderson’s blitz and fumble was beautiful. We need to do more of that. Pass coverage is still very suspect. I know they have a lot of players hurt, but come on.

  9. We did OK against an outmatched opponent who likely wilted in the brutal heat in the 4th qtr. This performance will win the easy games but not the hard ones. We must still keep the Kentucky game fresh in our minds to know where we really are. That said, Congrats on the easy win with a special Shout Out to special teams – AWESOME today for putting 17 points on the board!

  10. Franks has no confidence in passing – that is why he dumps off and runs as much as he does while receivers are open all over the field. Give Trask a shot because if he doesnt get a chance with the level of play in front of him he should transfer

    • Um, what exactly would Franks have confidence in? He is not a good QB. Might be the greatest guy on campus, but he is just not very good. Not Mullen’s fault, it is what it is and the team will suffer a accordingly.

  11. There’s nothing quite like waking up at 6 am, doing some yoga, eating a healthy breakfast, then going to the range and getting 150 rounds of ammo on target. Now that the relaxation is out of the way, let’s understand where this team is.

    Offense: it’s nonexistent. Sure, there’s some young players like Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis (if he’s healthy), but overall, this wide receiver corps is really bad. If Freddie Swain is the best we have, well, we’re really not good. The tail of the tape is absolutely atrocious route running. I expect that at the high school level. This is UF. And, again, we now know that no program in the SEC would want any of our offensive lineman. None of our lineman would get a scholarship offer at Alabama. (see last night’s game vs Ole Miss if you want to see a football program in action) Fileipe Franks? Yea, there’s a couple of programs at the division II level that will take him. Again, nobody in the SEC wants him, I can assure you. But, Trask can’t beat him out and we have to trust the quarterback whisperer, don’t we? Jordan Scarlett and Martez Ivey have been wasted scholarships. I understand the thoughts and theory that the talent level isn’t there. But even with my previous statements, could you imagine what a 35 year old Steve Spurrier would do with this talent? Very doubtful they’d lose to Kentucky. Even the 1993 team survived.

    Defensively, this group would be ok except for the young secondary. This defense could be really special if they can learn their assignments and play with control. That being said, blown assignments and over pursuing is killing them in certain situations. Trust is an obvious issue with this group. Do your job, gentlemen. Let your teammate do his! We have excellent pass rushers, if we ever play a drop back passing qb. The secondary is the hand we’re dealt. They’ll have to grow up fast.

    Special teams wise, there’s nothing wrong with winning by blocking kicks and punt returns, but how much of that can you rely on? McPherson I believe can kick a game winner, and probably from 50-53 yards too. That’s a weapon. But how often should we rely on that weapon? He shouldn’t be our primary. Just like Freddy Swain punt returns shouldn’t be our primary weapon. His td should have been an add to 5-6 offensive touchdowns. As it is now, first team offense only put 3 touchdowns on the board. They should have had 3 touchdowns in the first quarter. So let’s see if our special teams can be a compliment to our offense, instead of substitute.

    Overall: it’s a win, but it’s not an SEC caliber win. (see what North Texas did to Arkansas? I rest my case) Next week in Knoxville we play a program that is having to be rebuilt as well. I believe it has to be rebuilt with considerably less talent than Florida. But we’ll see. Next week, we will know how far this program has to go. And yet, what is the dedication of our administration to building a football program that can compete with the likes of Alabama, Georgia, and the SEC West. And yet, we wait to see.

  12. Pierce needs to get at least 15 touches in a game. He is the EXPLOSIVE runner the
    Gators have not seen since Percy Harvin. Pierce has been much more impressive than some of the
    RBs who play ahead of him. That said, I do NOT see this team better than Tenn.–unless Pierce becomes an integral part of the offense. Tenn. offense is only mediocore, kind of like the ‘Gator O and D at this point of the season.

    • Cattrick, I think Pierce takes pressure off Franks better than any running back we have, and whats more is that he is a scoring threat anytime he touches the ball. If the D can clean up the secondary issues, if the O-line can at least not regress — I personally think Pierce would be the key to victory over the Vols this Saturday. Of course, that and $2.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Waffle House…..but that is what I think regardless.

  13. The best thing about the game to me is the fact when we played bad on offense early on, and especially after the pick, previous teams would have allowed it to snowball and get worse. Those teams would have been in a dog fight to the very end, maybe even losing. UCLA, Wisconsin, Fla State all got beat by teams with lesser talent. And Scott Frost is starting to look like Jack Frost. But we won and won big. That’s at least a mental step forward. I agree with Tebow, and it is something I wrote last week. We have talent without skill. I see other more successful teams showing more skill with even or lesser talent. CSU’s QB missed open receivers, but he saw the field well for the most part. He is not as talented as Franks , but he is more skilled. I hope our players are taking notes. I think Mullen is good at making players more skilled. He will do it. In two years, we will be in the SEC championship game and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tebow became an assistant coach in some capacity .

  14. 1 of 2 Knoxville news items Gators v Vols:

    Relive the ’98 victory over the Gators with other Vol fans
    Vol fans love reliving the ’98 championship season, particularly this overtime victory over the Gators. The game ended with a missed field goal, fans storming the field, and the goal posts being carried out of Neyland Stadium.
    Author: WBIR Staff
    Published: 3:54 PM EDT September 18, 2018
    Updated: 4:54 AM EDT September 19, 2018
    Knoxville — The Florida Gators are coming to town on Saturday, where the current Vols will hopefully take care of business, but it’s going to feel like ’98 on Friday night!
    Vol fans are invited to the Festival Lawn at World’s Fair Park on September 21 to watch a screening of Tennessee’s thrilling overtime victory over the Gators during that undefeated season that ended with the National Champions clad in Big Orange.

  15. 2 0f 2:

    Will Florida wilt again against UT Vols at Neyland Stadium?

    John Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel Published 6:00 a.m. ET Sept. 17, 2018 | Updated 10:55 a.m. ET Sept. 17, 2018

    A strange thing happened the last time Tennessee and Florida got together at Neyland Stadium: The Gators folded.
    Tennessee spotted them a 21-0 lead two years ago before blowing past the Gators in the second half for a 38-28 victory.
    Their second-half collapse was hardly indicative of how the series has gone since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992. The turnabout should give the Vols more confidence entering their conference opener Saturday night (7 p.m., ESPN).
    But these Gators shouldn’t be confused with all the teams that have dealt so much misery UT’s way.
    Florida players occasionally still talk a big game, just as they did when coach Steve Spurrier was encouraging them to speak their mind. But they’re no longer adept at bringing their pregame chatter to life in the heat of battle.
    Take the recent Florida-Kentucky game, for example.
    Defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson boldly spoke the obvious in declaring that Florida’s 31-game winning streak against Kentucky would be extended to 32.
    Two days after Kentucky’s 27-16 victory in The Swamp, a humbled Gardner-Johnson changed his tone.
    “They came and slapped us in the mouth,” he told reporters.
    That likely won’t be the Gators’ last slap in the mouth. If they pick up where they left off two years ago at Neyland Stadium, there could be another slap-down with a Power T imprint.
    In better Tennessee times, Florida’s decline would be received with celebration. But how can UT fans revel in Florida’s failure when the Vols have tumbled to greater depths?
    Tennessee was 4-8 last season; Florida, 4-7. The Gators maintained their superiority by the thinnest of margins – a last-second, 63-yard touchdown pass in The Swamp last September.
    The Vols and Gators made coaching changes after last season. Eventually that might pay off for both programs.
    There has been no payoff so far. Tennessee looked awful in a 40-14 season-opening loss to West Virginia before beating outmanned ETSU and UTEP back to back. Florida routed Charleston Southern in the opener and won handily against Colorado State after a slow start Saturday.
    But in between, the Gators lost to Kentucky, a team they had beaten with numbing regularity.
    After being whipped decisively at the line of scrimmage, the Gators reached a conclusion that was obvious to anyone watching: They needed to toughen up. They needed to be more physical.
    The Gators weren’t tough enough or fast enough on their last trip to Neyland Stadium. They couldn’t have looked much slower if they had been running in sand in the second half.
    Maybe then-Florida coach Jim McElwain didn’t substitute enough early. But Florida couldn’t seem to catch its breath when it was futilely trying to catch up with Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs in the second half.
    The Gators won’t have to worry about keeping up with Dobbs this go-round. This Tennessee team won’t present the challenges as the 2016 Vols did.
    But Tennessee fans will be honoring their 1998 national championship team. That should raise the decibel level and provide a badly needed advantage for Tennessee, which hasn’t won an SEC game since November 2016.
    And it should tell us if the Gators are any tougher than they were against Kentucky or their last appearance at Neyland Stadium.