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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: No. 11 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. No. 8 Georgia (6-1, 4-1)
When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 27
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850