Andreu’s Answers: Franks, UF offense continue making strides

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks takes a snap against Vanderbilt in the first half Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. Franks threw for at least two touchdowns for the eighth time in his career (five of those games have come this season). [Mark Humphrey/Associated Press]

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Before every Florida game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 7:

1. Coming off the big emotional win over LSU, will the Gators come out flat with the early kickoff in a stadium that usually lacks atmosphere?

Despite the relatively lame environment (at least compared to a week earlier), the Gators came out fired up and ready to play. They just didn’t play like they were mentally into the game in that difficult first half, falling behind 21-3. The interception inside the 5-yard line on UF’s opening possession sent things in the wrong direction and it took most of the half to reverse the lost momentum.

2. Will quarterback Feleipe Franks continue to make strides in his development under Dan Mullen and Brian Johnson?

Despite the two turnovers (interception and fumble), Franks is the guy the players rallied around in the second half, several players said after the game. The interception wasn’t his fault. The fumble was. What mattered most is Franks went on to throw for a career-high 284 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Gators to the come-from-behind victory. So, yes, he continues to makes strides.

3. Will Vanderbilt hit some big plays in the passing game?

They did, the biggest coming on a screen pass that turned into a 75-yard touchdown pass in the first half. Kyle Shurmur also hit some passes downfield, two going for more than 20 yards. The secondary (and the defense in general) was much more sound in the decisive second half.

4. Can the Gators generate a steady and strong pass rush against Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur?

Other than the one sack by Jachai Polite on the intentional grounding call in the second half, the pressure just wasn’t there in this game. Even when the Gators put the Commodores in some obvious passing situations in the second half, they had a hard time getting to Shurmur. The blitzes weren’t effective, either. Give Vanderbilt’s offensive front credit, the big guys protected their QB for most of the game.

5. The offensive line didn’t give up a sack against LSU, although protection was spotty at times. How well will the big guys protect Franks?

The protection was about what it usually is — inconsistent and unreliable. Franks was sacked twice and hit numerous times in the pocket, but, with the help of an effective running game, Franks managed to throw for 284 yards and two touchdowns. Pass protection remains an issue.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.


Up next

Who: No. 11 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. No. 8 Georgia (6-1, 4-1)

When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 27

Where: Jacksonville

TV: CBS

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

70 COMMENTS

  1. I am starting to warm up to Franks as a tough committed guy. The bad news – quarterbacks with wind ups simply can’t be great. A quick release is essential in big time football. But he is our guy, and I am on board for the ride.

      • Yes, the playoffs. We will be favored in every forthcoming game except Georgia, and we can win that one. Of course we might have to down Alabama, but you never know – we could draw a rematch with LSU in the SEC CG. As slim as the chance is, we DO have a chance at the playoffs.

          • I don’t think UK can beat UGA, but then again, I didn’t think LSU would, either. I just think UK’s QB is really one dimensional, and the Gators short-handed defense made him look like a much better passer than he really is. Without a decent passing threat, I just can’t see them beating the Dawgs. But you’re obviously right; if UK wins out, we sit. On the other hand, sitting out the SEC CG didn’t hurt Bama last year. I know, I know: we’re not Bama, but if we also win out (looks like a realistic hope now) we’d have to be lurking around No. 5 or 6 and in the playoff conversation.

          • a shame because if we had our defense completely we could have beaten Kentucky. The Defense would have provided enough MOJO for the offense to get started and score.

        • Well, I’d have to agree that we do have a chance at it, and I still think despite the odds that we beat Georgia, and if we do play LSU again (assuming Kentucky is out), I think we can beat them a second time too — unless of course they open up a can of whoop-ass the likes of which the world has never seen before (don’t see that happening tho). So yeah, we do have a chance albeit slim.

          This is an unexpected and somewhat awkward time for us. Everyone set realistic expectations in the spring and summer, then a lot of us including the more clear headed on here suddenly bought into some hype and once that seemingly exploded in our faces we came back to earth again more realistically in the context of “rebuilding” (or “building”, whichever you prefer). Now after some great coaching, after some great player development, and most of all some great discovery of team work and character…..we find ourselves ranked #11 and virtually a Top 10 team, being discussed in some places as a Playoff possibility.

          For real? Somebody pinch me.

          • We need to slow our roll, Gator fans! In addition to Georgia, we need to beat South Carolina and Missouri, as well as win in Tallahassee, before turning our attention to an SEC title game. After watching the first half against Vandy, what on earth makes you think any of those games are a gimme?! We are capable of losing any of those games. I’m thrilled with where we are, don’t get me wrong. But PLAYOFFS?! Come on, friends! One step at a time here. Lots of football left to be played beyond (and including) UGA.

          • CMS great teams have letdown games every year. Hell can anyone explain the ’08 team’s loss to Ole Miss, or the fact that we needed a blocked field goal to beat USC in ’06? Every title winning Gator team had an inexcusable loss or struggled against a horrible team. The Vandy game isn’t an indictment of their abilities. It had trap game written all over it. This team needed a break after playing 3 very emotional SEC games against teams everyone picked to beat them. The fact that they were still able to pull off the win after starting out flat, speaks volumes. Georgia’s one thing, but South Carolina and Missouri shouldn’t scare anyone.

          • And THAT, friends, foes, and countrymen is the pinch I was asking for.

            We are still in Dan Mullen’s first season. One-step(game)-at-a-time. And by the way, even if we do go to the wire, I don’t even want to hear that this is like Muschamp’s 11-2 season. Luck has had nothing to do with this team.

          • CMS, I think we only need to slow our roll in terms of expectations. There’s a difference between expectations and hopes, and “hope springs eternal”! These are now realistic hopes. Roll on, Gators!

          • I know ! , right ? To think that just 5 weeks ago we were just hoping to get bowl eligible so we could get the extra practice time in after the Kentucky debacle to being 6-1 and getting ready to play a GA squad fresh off being taken behind the woodshed by the team we BEAT last week is almost a surreal feeling. Every game is certainly its own game and just because we beat LSU at the swamp and they Korn holed the dogs in the jungle doesn’t mean we will beat GA, but like you, I like our chances a lot and can’t wait to see what Dan’s got cooked up. Feels like the old days again…

      • It’s all good. Vandy used 6 blockers against 4 D-linemen, sometimes 7. The D-coordinator choose to maintain coverages in 2nd half and not blitz. It worked. I DO NOT expect the same defensive package vs. Georgia. If GA pulls in the TE, one of their major weapons is lost. Pick your poison. Either use 5 blockers and get blitzed, or use 6 and only have 4 offensive weapons vs. 7 in the LB and DB coverages.

  2. I can’t believe the refs have not been evicerated for their horrrendous game. Not only holding, how could there be no call on the Vandys almost in the face of the Gator sideline, screaming…and the targeting call was a joke. The hit was shoulder to shoulder wth the side of the helmet hitting the player after the initial contact! If it had not been for the violence of the hit, no way that gets called. How in the world is a player supposed to keep their helmet from ever making contact? They would have to be a contortionist!

    • I think its stupid to criticise Mullen for the call. A run play was obvious and Vandy had been good against the run when they knew it was coming. They probably had 8 in the box. He did call a run once when there was 8 in the box and it was stumped! Qb needs to watch where he’s throwing.

      • I would have liked to see a run on the play just because I would have wanted to pound down their defensive line in the first half. Franks opened that drive 3 for 3 and every pass was a first down. We used 3 minutes.
        The slant to Jefferson has been effective. The defensive player made a good play for the deflection and the ball bounced their way. Most of the time the ball just goes to the ground.

      • Second and short is the perfect time for a pass, because the defense is likely thinking run. If they had run the ball and been stuffed, then the defense would’ve been more wary of a pass on 3rd down. If you throw an incompletion, there’s still the option to run or pass on 3rd down. It was just unfortunate that the ball was tipped and picked, but just the fact that the play didn’t work doesn’t make it a bad call.

        • Probably – but not short middle in a stacked box run defense formation, swing it wide or back of endzone there, but I also credit Vandy on that defensive play and ultimately agree with your summation. Thats football… So more than very happy with the coaching and the season! This coaching is excellent and reveals so much about who we have been suffering through for years and years.

          • I see your point, but I don’t think you expect a QB as tall as Franks to get a pass tipped, but he does seem to get a lot batted.

          • It certainly would’ve been fine to run the ball, but there’s no guarantee that even two consecutive runs into a stacked D line would’ve led to a first down. If we criticize Nuss for predictable play calling last season, we need to cut CDM some slack for creative calls that don’t work. Besides, TA, when you question the decisions of The Six Million Dollar Man, some Gator fans get testy.

  3. Steve W I totally agree. He did the same thing against LSU when we had 1st and 10 from the 12 and the opportunity to go up 21-10 and on 1st down Franks threw the interception over the middle in the end zone that changed the entire complexion of the game.

  4. Very hard to get pressure on Shurmur when Vandy’s OL literally, and I mean LITERALLY holding on every play.

    We can get a combined 11 sacks on MSU’s and LSU’s OL’s but just one on Vandy’s?

    Bullsh*t!

    I counted uncalled Vandy OL holds that SHOULD have been called on at SIXTEEN plays… Twice they had 2 OL holding on the same play… no flags.

    This was another example the SEC Good Ole Boys Officiating Club.

    Non-flagged PI’s, holds, late hots, a BS targeting call, and then tossing Joseph out of the game?!

    This officiating staff should be fired.

    But we still fought through it and won.

    Very proud of our guys.

    • The targeting call was called correctly. It’s a crack back block and it’s illegal for good reason. Vosean got himself tossed out because he made a WWE move earlier in the game. They should have tossed him then! I bleed Orange & Blue…but sometimes our guys are wrong too.

    • i think sometimes the refs do things in sports to make a game out of it for the other guys, or the home team vibe, etc. its part of the game, or maybe some refs have a different interpretation of what is a hold, etc. In the NBA, the dallas team hired a specialist at analyzing referees as part of their preparation for a game, so there is probably some truth to your argument, although the wording is made differently than the league would prefer.
      and, lets face it, our gators are not totally a bunch of choir boys out there, and if they were, the coaches probably would push them to be more aggressive. UF is a competitive place, guys go here to have a shot at making a name for themselves and nfl, and that means pushing things to get an edge.
      and other schools arent all that nice either. Vandy is a respectable team but i doubt they have many people that know who the fifth string tight end is like the gators (ours threw a touch down pass, but still he has a fan base already). so i can see a ref giving an edge to a vandy linemen thats just as likely to become a doctor or a teacher down the road when he is battling a linemen at florida who has the speed of a nfl player.
      another way of looking at it, is that its good for the players to face odd ball ref situations. i promise you if or when these guys make the playoffs, and its a close game near the end, i doubt the ref will call holding, they just dont like to affect those kind of games unless its really obvious and then they do it for both teams, so we need to be prepared

      • Mveal…Refs aren’t entitled to make subjective calls, or as you say, “giving an edge,” for any reason. Consistency in how they call the game is keyed to fairness. Coach Mullen pointed out what was clear as rain water, their calls were inconsistent. That’s a problem too often with SEC officials.

      • “…lets face it, our gators are not totally a bunch of choir boys out there, and if they were, the coaches probably would push them to be more aggressive.” Exactly right, mveal, and CDM said as much in the post-game interview. He said, “I’d rather have to say ‘whoa!’ than ‘sic ’em!'”.

    • Maybe it’s just my bias as a Gator fan, but it seems to me the Gators have always been shafted on non-holding calls by the refs. We have had Jevon Kearse, Carlos Dunlap, Alex Brown, Kevin Carter–guys who led the NFL in sacks–and we can’t get a holding call with them either? Am I crazy or does anyone else see the same thing, and for a few years now?

  5. I love Mullen’s play calling. It’s always easy to second guess when execution doesn’t go as planned, but he’s periodically throwing on running downs and running on throwing downs. Big picture – that is the key, being unpredictable. Believe me, I’d much rather we ran there after the fact, but after the fact doesn’t mean anything.

  6. Best thing for me on Saturday was watching a run up the middle in which the RB was at least 2 yards past the line of scrimmage when he caught up to the O line. Those big fellers were knocking the Vandy D line back in the second half, just like they should.

    Every game is better. Every game is different. The only constant is having a smart, energetic, tough coach that knows how to put our guys in positions to win.

  7. Great comeback win after an emotional game the week before. 2 questions. Why do we not employ any screen plays? With our inconsistent OL pass blocking, screens would slow down rushing DL. Second question, why do we not see hardly any separation from our wr’s when thrown the ball? It seems they are always covered. Is it that Franks waits to long to throw the ball? Rarely do we have a wr running open. Just curious.

  8. One more thing LSU 5 – UF 11? Ridiculous! If pols were anything but a popularity and fan vote contest would all these highly ranked teams lose to just any team or be played down to the wire by just about anybody. For example Notre dame – Pitt, Oklahoma – Army, even Fl – LSU was a rank separation of 17, or Auburn against anybody period! to name only a very few.

    Lets just have computer generated polls based on statistics and opponent records from now on and call out the overblown over-rated popularity contest we see weekly.

    • Careful, Marshall. You’re getting close to asking for a return to the BCS rating system where the computer polls counted for 1/3 of a team’s score. I, for one, think it was a pretty good rating system, blending the subjective evaluation of the so-called “eye test” with the objective evaluation of the cold hard stats. At least you could read and know the actual criteria used in the rating. The only problem was that only two teams were chosen. Talk about overblown and over-rated, the CFP Selection Committee was never needed in the first place. All that needed to be done was simply expand the BCS selections to four teams and have a four-team tournament instead of a two-team tournament. I know, I said tournament instead of playoff, but that’s another argument.

        • Wont jump LSU or a one loss Bama if LSU beats them in the end. The polls secure who will get to the playoff and the polls are fake news. I dont expect us to get there I am happy with the foundation, but be a shame if its all based on fake media as to who does get there. Beating Auburn carried weight when it has finally revealed it shouldnt have but its still considered a high and mighty win?

  9. Before we get carried away with playoffs, everybody remember what the Dawgs did last year after losing to Auburn. Not saying this is the same team but Kirby knows how to coach them up. If we come out and play like we did against Vandy it will be worse than being down 18. We have everything in front of us just as Georgia and Kentucky have too! Make these next 2 weeks of practice the best yet. Come out in Jacksonville, play smart, play hard, play fast! Not worried about the AP or coaches poll. Means nothing. Beat the hairy dawgs in Jax and move on to the next game. Season has already been a blast and hopefully more fun to come! Go Gators

  10. Please everyone, do your part as I have done. I have kept very low expectations all season and except for UK game, I have been pleasantly surprised almost every single weekend. I just hate it when fans start talking about going to Atlanta and some even saying make the playoffs … you are absolutely setting yourself up to be so disappointed and then we will begin hearing the talk about who the next coach should be. Enjoy this time because it could be a very special time to a Gator fan and the last 20 years in all sports should have us all being very grateful. My first year at UF, our football team went 0-10-1 so I understand how miserable being a Gator fan can be. Enjoy every unexpected win cause those are the VERY BEST ONES!

    • Todd…if you’ve been around that long you should know that the Ole Ball Coach set winning the East and going to Atlanta (or wherever the SEC Championship game was to be played) the number one goal of the Gators every season. Hopefully, nothing’s changed as far as that goal is concerned. Gators are always hungry and have big appetites.

  11. My opinion only: The defense will have to beat Georgia. Look at LSU. They borrowed a page from the UF defensive playbook by disguising coverages, blitzes, rotating zones, moving the safeties up and back, then rolling and rushing. The D-line plugged gaps that Georgia did not recognize. Faked rushes then dropped into coverage. Outstanding D by LSU (and I am a Gator since 1960) and that’s just how Florida D plays when it’s wide awake. I submit the D was not awake in Nashville at 11 a.m. EST in cold weather. Jacksonville should be sunny, mild with a high of 78.
    The D-line rush MUST take out Fromm. Just my opinion. Georgia’s defense can be scored upon, as LSU proved.

  12. PS: Vandy used 6 blockers with the TE staying in to block Polite and the other D-line. But that gave up the TE as a receiver. He did make one catch early. Shurmur had time, too much time, but Gator LBs and DBs were never given the blitz signal because of 6 blockers. Watch the replay. Fromm CANNOT have that much time. As well ALL know, strange things happen at the cocktail, oops, World’s Largest Outdoor Party. Must be politically correct here. Everyone knows NOBODY on either side has booze with them inside stadium. LOL.

  13. Does this season remind anyone of the 2006 team that was flawed and struggled in a lot of games, but eeked out wins and won the NC regardless? Who was our offensive coordinator that year? I forget..