Dooley Grades The Gators: Elite effort from defense

Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) and tight end C'yontai Lewis (80) lead their fans as the team celebrates a 13-6 win over Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Offense C

First half: Once again, Florida struggled with the running game, generating only 40 yards with half of them coming from Kadarius Toney on two Wildcat runs. Feleipe Franks made some nice throws, almost threw an interception and was hurt by five penalties against the offensive line.

Second half: There were a lot of screen passes again and Florida had to use a trick play to get into the end zone. But in a grinder of a game, the Gators had just enough offense to score just enough points.

For the game: It was a smart game plan to throw so many screens and negate the Mississippi State pass rush. Florida finished with 357 yards of total offense and Franks showed the kind of composure he needs to show every week.

Defense A

First half: Mississippi State was able to run off a pair of long drives against the Gators with both ending in field goals. Still, Florida gave up only 159 total yards in a half that flew by. The three sacks were nice to see as Florida was able to get pressure at times.

Second half: The Gators put an end to Nick Fitzgerald’s running game by playing more physical and more disciplined. The Bulldogs only averaged 1.6 yards a play in the half. That’s elite defense.

For the game: Certainly, Miss State struggled on offense last week, but considering where this game was played and how beat up Florida is in the secondary, this was an awesome performance for coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense, right down to the final call of the game.

Special teams B-

First half: Trey Dean III was ejected for targeting on a fair catch in the first quarter, which kind of told you this might not be a winning night for special teams. And then there was the kickoff return from Freddie Swain that set Florida up on its own 10. Kickoff coverage, on the other hand, was excellent.

Second half: Tommy Townsend was asked to drop a lot of punts inside the 20 and he did a tremendous job doing so. Also, while it was a chip shot, another made field goal for Evan McPherson at a big moment in the game.

For the game: Special teams didn’t have the big play this week and there were some mistakes early. But the punting and punt return game gave the Gators a slight edge in that department.

Overall B+

You kind of had to be there to understand how intense the environment was. And Florida may not have looked pretty, but the Gators won back-to-back road games and get through September 4-1, which was all most people hoped they would do when the season started. Wins are wins, a wise man once said.


  1. This team is getting a little better each week. Franks is looking more composed. Defense is playing with the required intensity. Yellow Teeth would have lost this game. Receivers are much improved as well. The loss to UK is looking better each week. Go Gators !!!!!!

    • Heloman. Franks is getting better. But Franks needs to learn how to throw the slant with some touch. He simply throws the ball unnecessarily hard and often result in INTs. My only negative about Franks’ play tonight. But I would sure have liked for him to have taken the Gators into the end zone late to put the game away. But great, great win tonight. Big program win. Now, let’s go chomp on some La. Tiger.

  2. B for special teams? Seriously. The punter backed up MSU all night with great punts and the coverage guys go down and fielded the ball inside the 10. Punt placement and coverage was one of the big keys of the game. And McPherson simply drilled two perfect FGs with total coolness, and his kickoffs were high and deep and allowed the kickoff coverage to get down and make stops inside the 25. And Swam caught every punt and caught some short punts that would have not been caught last year and would have rolled for long punts. Yes, he had one bad decision on a kick return. He should have either not fielded the ball (likely would have gone out of bounds) or called for a fair catch. But special teams play tonight was a high A. Almost an A Plus, and would have been that if Swan had not returned that kickoff to the 10. Special teams play tonight simply was a big key to the big win tonight.

  3. Those cowbells are something weird that we won’t be f facing a g ain for ten years so I would cut the offense some slack and call it c plus. I think the grading is too harsh on the special teams.

    The defense is good..or Msu is overrated. Probably both are true

    • Mveal, don’t get me wrong….I think MSU is a solid SEC team…..but I do think they were over-rated in the polls from jump street. And, I think that was because their new coach was from a darling Big-10 program, at least in the AP’s opinion. Regression to the Mean still applies.

      • I think this is a classic case of how you have to watch the games as opposed to just checking the scores. 13-6 win by McElwain and Nuss you would walk away frustrated as hell, knowing the offense looked utterly incompetent, and with the Defense probably having scored the sole touchdown. With this game, with Mullen at the helm, it was a hard fought defensive game, great team effort, good offensive plan and execution by a team we all know still has a long way to go. We are probably not going to win the East this year yet I think most of us are happy with how things are going, as opposed to those last two SEC East wins where I think most of us felt like it was the luckiest result of amazing defense and an incredibly weak division, knowing full well we were just going to stick the place up at the SEC Camp game. I know there is still a lot of football to be played, and we still are not a great team, but I sure like how the team is developing.

  4. Pat…a C grade for the offense is too low for the following reasons. This was, on paper, the most talented D that they have faced this season, and the Gators kept their composure, recovering when mistakes were made, and scoring when they needed to score to win in a very hostile environment on the road. They kept it relatively pedestrian, except for the trick TD pass, and the fourth down conversion before the last field goal was special because it took critical time off the clock. The play calling was creative and well executed overall and pretty much designed to take advantage of weaknesses in the defense. For the offense to stand up against a talented defense and walk away with more points than their conference opponent on the road deserves at least a B grade. Just saying.

  5. Been a while since we had a coach who gets it done on the road, in a game where attitude and toughness on both sides of the ball is the only way we win.

    Been equally as long since a QB was actually developed here as well.

    It’s early, but it looks to me like both are happening.

  6. What does this team, especially with how they ended last season, need to do to get an A from Dooley? Beat Bama by 40?

    Very hostile environment against a better team, with all the emotion of coach’s homecoming and win by 7? Even with all the penalties an no run game. Simply outplayed them in 2nd half. Favored to lose by 7 too.

    Great coaching tonight! The future looks bright indeed!

  7. Other than the play with the open receiver that dropped a sure TD pass, the Gator Defense played great. I don’t think losing Dean was a big deal as I have not been impressed by his play to date. Yes I know he is just a freshman, but so were Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, Teez Tabor (just to name a few) that as freshmen launched the term “DBU” for us.

  8. *Franks is NOT the answer at QB…indecisive and just plain sloooow to react. but he’ll get Mullen’s praise because it’s his choice for steering the boat. not impressed at all.
    *Perine is THE running back…so, give him the rock. period.
    *lack of focus and/or concentration with illegal procedure penalties…little attention to those details would help especially with raucous crowd and the noise…
    *yes, a win is a win…on the road…big accomplishment for this team…just hope offense can finally start taking pressure off the D…about time!

    • My God Debbie, how’s the rest of the Downer clan.
      Just go back to your hole with the Franks bashing. The kid IS improving…
      Perine looks good but PIERCE is the best pure runner….
      Lack of focus is CAUSED by the raucous crowd…
      In case you didn’t notice the Offense DID take pressure off the D by NOT leaving short fields and possessing the ball thus RESTING the D…
      I’ll give you credit for “a win is a win”….
      Otherwise FAILURE….

    • Hey Bill Belichick! Perhaps you should be emailing CDM, not wasting your tremendous football knowledge and insight on message board schlubs like us.

      Yours is just another opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.

  9. We need to have a separate grade for coaching. Here, that grade would be A+. In all three phases the Gators were ready, had a plan, played with intensity, and did not let the surroundings negatively effect them. DM did not ask the OL to do something that it probably wasn’t up to. Those passes in the flats are really modified running plays. My man Toney still proves to be our best QB, and the more we use him the more this truth becomes apparent to the faithful. You have got to love the last play of this game. A signature call on D by Todd, the Safety Blitz. The guys on D live for the chance to make a play like that. You could feel the energy in the players after that tackle was made. Our best tailback is clearly Pearce (sp.?) Scarlett seems to be have an internal debate as to where to hit the line/hole, this delay kills him. Not so for Damian. If we can only get him more carries earlier in the game which might give our O more breathing room and separation on the score board. As for LSU, this should be a barn burner. Lastly, it is encouraging to see the player development of Franks by DM. Franks is really trying his best. Overall I leave this game with joy, and even if the two prior coaches had won this game, and I am not sure they would have, I would have had a bad taste in my mouth. DM is real, authentic, honest. The other two were frauds, see the Carolina score last night, and we need to pin that on no one but, Jeremy Foley the ticket taker.

    • Everthing you said is 100%. Foley is to blame for this rebuilding mode we are in. FOLEY IS TO BLAME FOR EVERY SINGLE BAD HIRE WE HAVE HAD–PERIOD. gIVE HIM CREDIT FOR WOMEN’S LACROSS. Forgot about that. Zook was a bad hire, Muschamp was a bad hire and need I mention McElwain? Spurrier was not hired by him and neither was Urban. UF should never be a stepping stone job. When its time for a coach to leave, we should just reload with someone proven who wants to come here. No more DC’s. Sorry, I call shots as I see them. But I know there are people on here who don’t feel that way about Foley.

  10. Defense definitely an A. While at times out muscled on the line of scrimmage, Gators D held MSU to only 6 points, which is what I thought MSU would hold Florida to. Great job, Defense. Special Teams get an A. Look, Townsend is showing every game he’s a weapon to be counted on. McPherson is going to get a shot one day to win a game with a 45-50 yard field goal, and he’s already showing you can count on him. Why Toney is not returning more kicks is beyond me. Offense is a strong C-. Look, Franks’ stats and numbers can say what they want, but this offense is being coached not to make mistakes rather than make plays. Aggressiveness, toughness, and attention to detail are severely lacking. Personnel changes are required, too. You have to wonder how long a player performs at practice, and in games, and then doesn’t get the nod to start when he’s clearly performing better. For all the hype and talk about Jefferson and Grimes, they’re not producing plays and points!

  11. Pat: Your consistently too hard on special teams. They are still making mental mistakes, yes, but kicking is “A” with McPherson (a freshman) 7 for 7 (ignoring the stupid ref) an +A. Yep, he will get a chance to win a game. Franks is improving with much help from Dan’s play calling. So refreshing to have a Coach who knows how to help his team with imaginative play calling. The Defense is “jellying” with toughness.

  12. I certainly agree with Patrick’s post about the different feeling imparted by this nail-biting, one-score win, as opposed to similar games the last few years. Even though few points were scored, it was great to see the progress made by Franks, and the offense as a whole, in executing what was necessary against this particular opponent. Moreover, I loved the coaching staff’s adjustments made during the game, another thing that had seemed totally absent most of the time, in recent years. The fourth quarter all-out effort on both sides of the ball was impressive. However things play out in terms of wins/losses, I now believe that the Gators are
    finally on the right path for a return to national relevance. GO GATORS!!!!

  13. I thought the OL played well especially in the 2nd half when they opened up holes for our backs. The short quick throws kept their pass rush to a minimum. Fred Johnson is the weak link on the OL. I don’t remember Brett heggie on the field. If he’s 100% healthy he needs to get more playing time. Nice defensive adjustments in the 2nd half. MSU couldn’t have had more than 35-40 yards after halftime
    Another big test next week. If we win out we need KY to lose twice since they hold the tiebreaker against us. I expect some of the recruits that committed elsewhere to flip based on them seeing the positive direction we are headed.
    Go Gators 🐊

      • While I have no reason to doubt Ljs’s mental health — or his sanity for that matter — I have to say that you’re correct, daz. While a possibility, it is not a probability in the least. We need to remain realistic, remember that this is the first of two or three transition years, and that hope is neither a strategy nor a tactic!

        But Go Gators anyway, and wouldn’t be sumpin’ on a stick if we do?

  14. A for the Gators big win in a hostile environment.
    D- for Pat’s not picking the Gators to win.
    D- for Robbie not picking the Gators to win.
    Let’s start believing in this team and this coaching staff.
    Next week is LSU at home. We need everyone being in on this one.

    • I held my breath there, but liked it – if that makes sense. Seems like we’ve been playing not to lose for the past decade. I felt like that call was a ‘we’re playing to win’ call. One 8 yard completion ends the game without any drama at all. We didn’t get it of course, but that happens.

      • I get it – and I’m not one to talk. I have always said if you have the lead, your defense is gassed, and it’s 4th and one on your own 12 yard line – go for it! I think we lost a couple of games years ago (Tennessee for one) by punting and watching the opponent march down the field and score.

  15. Pat, appreciate the straight talk analysis. The rah rah crowd is sure jumping on the bandwagon. Don’t ever let off the gas pedal, i.e. scrutiny. Funny how readers complain when you’re too positive, and if too negative. For what it’s worth, your analysis this year has been just about right. And yes this was an upset, although that’s what we certainly all want to see. I save my cheering for after an SEC Championship, or major bowl win.

    • Again for the umpteenth time, this was NO upset to anybody who knows how to analyse football team wins! MSU had 3 wins over nobody, were thus overranked, were beat badly by UK and and still overanked so the odds makers and most clueless fans had them winning. I on the other hand knew because of proper eval. told everyone all week i guaranteed the Gators to win and encouraged people to bet on it. I did and maxed out the moneyline and points for a cool 2 grand!
      Now because we beat an overanked team now we are overanked and people think we will beat LSU and Ga. It aint going to happen! Love our Gators but I know what we have , a good average team and Im happy with that in Mullen’s 1st year. We will beat vandy, SC, Idaho and FSU, book it! Not sure about Mo yet and probably not LSU or Ga. We will hold the score down in the last 2 because of our defense but that should not be interpreted that we will win.

  16. Good morning Pat…..always enjoy your comments & news articles about THE GATORS….can you advise what happened to MLB #33 DAVID REESE…he seemed to have disappeared during the MISS ST game???? thank you for your response……Bill Raines….NSB,FL

  17. Arnold, just like so many others, it’s hard for me to be objective about Timmy, so I will give him a pass on this one. He better be right on the LSU game though, especially since he gets inducted into the ring of honor this weekend at the Swamp. Go Gators!