UF notebook: Having takeaway fun

Tennessee quarterback Keller Chryst fumbles the snap during the second quarter Saturday against Florida in Knoxville, Tenn. [Joy Kimbrough/The Daily Times via AP]

Florida’s sports information department has taken a playful poke at the Gators’ in-state rivals, Florida State and Miami, in the school’s pre-game release for Saturday’s game at Mississippi State.

On a note on the Gators leading the nation with 14 takeaways is the following headline: No chain. No backpack. Just Takeaways.

Last season at Miami, of course, the coaches started giving a chain for players to wear on the sideline after coming up with a turnover. This season, the Seminoles have started recognizing turnovers by putting a backpack on a player who recovers a fumble or intercepts a pass.

UF hasn’t come up with a ritual yet. But they are coming up with turnovers. Lot’s of them.

In four games, the Gators have recovered 10 fumbles and intercepted four passes to lead the nation in takeaways. UF ranks second in the nation in turnover margin at plus-10. Rush end Jachai Polite is tied with Oregon’s Justin Hollins for the national lead in forced fumbles with three.

The Gators had only 17 takeaways all of last season, just three on fumble recoveries.

Franks developing

Quarterback Feleipe Franks took another step forward in his development with a three-touchdown performance in the win at Tennessee. He now has 12 touchdown passes in only four games after having just nine all of last season. He’s currently tied for seventh in the FBS with 12 TD passes and tied for first in the SEC with Alabama’s QB.

“I’ve got a long way to go,” Franks said. “I’m trying to get better every single day. Coach (Dan) Mullen and coach (Brian) Johnson do a great job of just working with me every single day. You can’t ever get complacent, you have to want to be on top, you have to want to be the best. That’s what I want to be. I want to be the best to ever do it.

“So, just keep on working. I have a long way to go — technique, all that kind of stuff. Much more stuff to work on for me.”

Scarlett’s block

Credit for one of Franks’ 12 TD passes could go to running back Jordan Scarlett, whose block on a blitzing UT defender coming off the edge gave Franks the time he needed to throw a 38-yard TD pass to Tyrie Cleveland in the fourth quarter Saturday night.

“That was huge,” Franks said. “It wasn’t even his guy, him just being a football player. All of our guys, they do just so much for me, giving me time in the pocket, blocking their tails off. On that play specifically, (Scarlett) just went out of his way to get a guy that could have came easily and just hit me in the back, fumble, anything like that.

“He went out of his way to pick him up for me. That’s guys being selfless. We’ve got a bunch of selfless players on this team that are really good players and they look out for us before they look out for themselves. That’s one of the greatest things about our team.”

That’s just CJ

Franks said the players were not surprised by sophomore cornerback CJ Henderson’s hustle play that turned a possible Tennessee touchdown into a touchback.

Henderson sprinted all the way across the field to tackle tight end Austin Pope inside the 5-yard line. His hit jarred the ball loose and it rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.

“It not only has to do with his speed, but his heart,” Franks said. “He practices the same as the way he plays. He’s out there doing that on the practice field. He’s one of those guys that gives full effort every single time, Monday through Thursday. Friday he’s dialed in on the walk-throughs. Saturday he’s doing the same exact thing he does on Monday.

“He’s one of those guys, it’s like clockwork for him. He does it all the time. It just shows up on Saturdays when people see it, but he’s doing it all throughout the week. Really good player.”



  1. odds are we wont have as many turnovers in our favor as we’ve been having, but with continued good defense and effort all over the field, and not turning the ball over ourselves, we very much can and should win this game and others. Scarlett’s blocking, plus downfield blocking do deserve recognition, and CJ Henderson’s hustle are things that are huge in our favor and deserve the recognition they are receiving.

  2. The turnover backpack looks like something a tween girl into KDrama would wear to a slumber party. The semi players must be mortified that when they do something good they are forced to humiliate themselves. Embrace the Suck, indeed.

    As for our team, what i see above is hustle, hustle, hustle… from Scarlett to Henderson. Play hard and good things will happen!

  3. Dr. Mullen is working his magic; Frank’s will be in the Heisman race after the Lsu game. His leadership along with Dr. Mullens mentoring is starting to turn captain Frank’s into the gunslinger that we all knew he could be. Where did all of the Bandwagon Gator fans go? Packing it in after the Kentucky game. Shame shame know your name.

    • I don’t know about the heisman conversation, but he’s a kid who wants to become the best. Have seen a little ritual he does on the way to the practice field, and as soon as I realized what he was doing, I gained even more respect for the guy and his aspirations. If the way Henderson practices is the way he plays, then let’s hope that that’s a mindset that becomes the standard and not the exception.

    • Franks has a very, very long way to go before he could ever be in a Heisman conversation. I do agree that he has a big up side and may end up being in impressive college qb before he is finished. But at the moment many don’t seem to see any real promise in him due to some continuing weaknesses in his game. From my perspective, they lack sufficient vision of the possibilities, but only time will tell.

    • Slow it down Albert, Franks has room to improve, but far from even sniffing a Heisman yet if ever. Tons of room to improve to ever get close to that, may happen next year or the following, time will tell. But not now, not even close.

  4. Just read some terrible news. Former Gator Neiron Ball is in a coma and is not responding to any required stimuli that reflects brain activity. If you remember, Ball underwent surgery while at UF for twisted up veins in his brain and later returned to play for the Gators. He then spent two years with the Oakland Raiders. I met Neiron several times and he was a great and positive person. Wishing with fingers crossed for a miracle for this young man and his family. He is only 26 years old.

  5. PLEASE no juvenile turn-over rituals! Just hard-nosed, smash-mouth, slobber-knocking football! The poor kids strutting the sidelines with their chains, bones, and backpacks look like a Forrest Gump Halloween party. Next they’ll be giving them ice cream cones and Gummi Bears! Please, Gators, avoid the Pop Warner Syndrome, and stick with Big Boy football!

    • I could agree more but I don’t know how (with a nod to Daz). Seriously, when did this type of fadism start to take over college football? At best it is a poor substitute for the inspirational aspects of leadership and espirt de corps……I agree Trooper, pretty damn silly stuff.

  6. It’s great to see the Gators moving up and even leading in the NCAAF statistical charts in virtually every category. I hope everyone appreciates that these stats represent a sea changes in the players’ attitude and performance on the field. Keep up the great work Coach Dan and staff.
    Lou Holtz, then head coach at Notre Dame, told his young, talented team: “First we will be the best, then we will be first.” I see that happening from game to game in Gainesville.

  7. I seem to remember the defense having a chain, not for turnovers, but to indicate that they were a team each link very important to the strength of the chain. Perhaps we need that back. I also remember a chucky mascot that represented the relentless effort that those provided. This team should develop their own traditions or just take those from the past. Go Gators!!!

  8. I’m surprised the offense and Franks are leading or rated highly in ANY category. Just because of the eye test and the way they have played at times, like the 3rd quarter at UT and the UK game. Franks in particular has left so many positive plays on the table, imagine if he would start to see those wide open guys that always seem to be there after his first option is covered instead of taking off to the right for a small gain or loss. Imagine what he could do if only he was a quicker and better decision maker. Maybe he is getting there, slowly, thanks to Mullen and Johnson.