Dooley Grades the Gators: Continued progress

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, right, fakes a hand off to running back Lamical Perine in the first half Saturday against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Franks went 9 of 18 for 172 yards with touchdown passes to R.J. Raymond, Freddie Swain and Tyrie Cleveland, whose 63-yard Hail Mary reception beat Tennessee last year. [Wade Payne/Associated Press]

Offense B-

First half: There was the good Feleipe Franks and the bad Feleipe Franks, but the short fields certainly helped him. He finished the half with 106 passing yards, 65 of them on one catch-and-run by Freddie Swain. Swain continues to show playmaking abilities.

Second half: The offense was really struggling after Jordan Scarlett’s most physical run of the season to start the half. But Florida went for the jugular with the deep ball and Tyrie Cleveland made one of those tough catches we haven’t seen in a while.

For the game: It’s still a mixed bag with this offense. Florida managed only 314 yards and had only 12 first downs before Dameon Pierce broke off his weekly long TD run. The Gators were able to take advantage of short fields on turnovers to score 40 points.

Defense A-

First half: The performance of Adam Shuler at defensive tackle and the return of David Reese II at linebacker were the stories of the first half. It felt like Shuler’s name was being called on every tackle and Reese obviously makes a difference.

Second half: The defense struggled a little bit with the big lead and allowed a pair of Tennessee touchdown drives in the second half. There were way too many penalties on the secondary and missed coverages

For the game: Any time you come up with five turnovers (plus one from special teams), the grade isn’t going to slip below an A-. The defense came up with the big plays early that established Florida’s momentum from the start.

Special teams A

First half: Evan McPherson continued to kick well both on kickoffs and made his only field goal. It was a really good half for punter Tommy Townsend, who was part of the Tennessee 2015 signing class before transferring to Florida. He pinned UT twice and also had a 53-yard punt.

Second half: Townsend continued his good punting and McPherson did well on kickoffs. Florida covered kickoffs well. But let’s face it. Forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff and recovering it established that there would be no Tennessee comeback.

For the game: A win for the special teams no doubt despite not having a big blocked kick or a big return. Florida’s young kickers went on the road and performed admirably.

Overall B+

Look, the Vols are worse than everyone thought. Some dummies even picked Tennessee to win. But this was a dose of confidence for a team that needed it. The offense is still a work in progress and the defense had some issues at times, but any time you win in Knoxville by 26 it’s a good night.


  1. Solid road win. Qb that the newspaper doesn’t like had no turnovers. Hated the low shot late on the vol qb although I doubt it was intended to be malicious. Love cdm coaching up the young guys. I think we will finish stronger than people think

  2. What a terrible quarterback we’ve got. Only three touchdown passes and that lone rushing TD! No interceptions or fumbles. Just don’t see any way Feleipe Franks can turn into a quality SEC quarterback.

    Seriously, it was reminiscent of Gator glory days past, only we did it more with our defense than offense. Even so, our line gave Franks time and room to operate and he hit some big passes. All the way around an important and really good Gator win.

    • Love it! Feleipe is making strides toward being a better QB than we’ve seen in Gainesville in a while. I thought part of our 3rd quarter slowdown was Coach Mullen trying to get Franks more live reps in the passing game. We could have easily leaned on Pierce and the running game earlier, but we kept trying to throw for a reason. I trust Mullen’s track record developing quarterbacks enough to give him the benefit of the doubt there.

      This was a good night. The score was never in doubt, and we answered when they tried to push late. Feeling good about the progress we’ve seen, especially considering UK might be much better than anyone thought.

  3. I am beginning to change my mind. I now think the Gators are better than I thought. The offense is still a work in progress, but the defense is better and the special teams are good. I now think that we could win 6-8 games and a bowl game is definitely possible.

  4. I’m starting to think we’re not as bad as previously thought after seeing what Kentucky has been doing lately. I think the game next week is more indicative of where the Gators are at currently. That will be one hostile environment. Go Gators!

  5. I’m good with your grades, but the biggest improvement was “hitting” and not letting go. Our tackling was way cleaner with harder hits, causing the turnovers and mashing them for the safety. Give the kickers a break, we haven’t missed a FG, all center cut, except for the one the ref screwed us out of. Biggest problem with the offense is receivers aren’t getting open. Franks did have a couple of bad throws, but no body is getting open. For the most part, he had plenty of time to look and throw. MSU is now a possibility. In my openion, they showed good improvement over a team just as big and fast as us.

    Oh yea, the fumble through the endzone reminded me of the 1983 Auburn game…I was there with my Dad, even though we lost, it was a big SEC game and I believe still holds the record for the most 1st round NFL picks in one game.

  6. UT was inept. Pruitt will be gone in two years. Sideline tirades lose players. Meanwhile, our Gator program is in great hands. Excitingly the offense is fun to watch again. Ahhh. My three cents… plays die when initial reads aren’t open. Franks akwsys roll right from the pocket and we wind up with run out of bounds or an incompletion. Certainly better then last year would which be a worse outcome. But when the play breaks down should we teach the receivers to drag across the middle, just frustrating to see it happen over and ovee. Pierce and Toney must get scrubbed into more touches. And lastly we need some work on our coverage. There were a ton of overlooked penalties where we mugged players. Regardless I found this game a treat to watch. I’m stoked to watch my gators again. And more exciting recruits will be drawn to the Style of Mullen’s team. Keep rolling! Go gators!!

  7. Gotta include Lamical Perine’s heads up play in the Special Teams section!! That was the play, in my mind, that assured there would be no comeback, and this would never show up in the scorebook, but that play not only kept UF’s defense off the field for longer, but it also indirectly led to a safety since TT pinned them deep, which then led to the field position that allowed for the 65 yd TD pass.

  8. “Reese obviously makes a difference.” What an understatement. His presence and leadership sparked the defense to play with greater confidence and at a higher level. He’s the qb of the defense and they needed someone with his acumen and skill level to lead them. Even the d-line turned it up a few notches. It’s a shame we don’t have more experience in the backfield, but the dbs could have done much worse–as thin as that group is now. I hope the defense keeps up their intensity against Miss St. Some big brutes up next on both sides of the ball. It was amazing how Kentucky beat the Bulldogs in the trenches. Who would’ve “thunk it.” Maybe the Gators can too. Never stop believing!

  9. You are right, Cody S. That was a great play by Perine. The int by Edwards was also VERY impressive, as were the TDs by Swain and Cleveland. A very good night for the Gators! Especially when seeing looks on Vols fans faces, and watching them clear out Neyland, like in the good ole days. I hold no delusion that we are back yet, but enjoyed the game, and find it hopeful.