Dooley Grades The Gators: Program-boosting win

Florida coach Dan Mullen celebrates Saturday's win over South Carolina with fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Offense A-

First half: After a bad first drive that included a fumble and a terrible third-down throw, Feleipe Franks settled down and the Gators got the running game going. Florida drove 75 and 69 yards for touchdowns, but Franks was still shaky on throws down the field.

Second half: After a slow start in the second half that included a missed field goal, Florida gashed the South Carolina defense for 255 rushing yards after intermission. That opened up the passing game for some big completions as well.

For the game: Florida had a season-high 33 first downs in the game, none more important than the third down that Jordan Scarlett picked up at the end of the game, Scarlett was a beast throughout the game, rushing for 159 yards as Florida finished with 367.

Defense C

First half: If you didn’t think the Gators could play much worse than they did against Missouri, you were wrong. Florida looked like it had never seen a hurry-up offense even though they faced one last week. South Carolina has been on a roll lately on offense, but at home you expect more from this defense.

Second half: Although South Carolina got 10 points early to take a 31-14 lead, Florida limited the Gamecocks to 38 yards the rest of the game. As bad as Florida was early, the defense made the plays it had to make to win the game.

For the game: This defense is still a mystery, especially when it comes to covering the tight ends. It looked like this defense was going to challenge the Florida record for most yards given up in a game and instead responded when it needed to.

Special teams C+

First half: The Gators were playing with fire kicking the ball to Deebo Samuel and he almost burned them on one return. Maybe Evan McPherson’s leg is getting tired because his final kickoff of the half was really short.

Second half: The fumble on the punt return by Kadarius Toney in the third quarter could have been disastrous, but only led to a field goal. McPherson’s missed field goal was pushed to the right and hurt, but Florida covered kickoffs well in the half.

For the game: Coach Dan Mullen said Florida won all three phases of the game, but it was pretty much a wash with the turnover and missed kick. Still, the Gators did a good job covering kicks and Tommy Townsend averaged 60 yards on his two punts.

Overall B+

The Gators showed the resolve that we weren’t sure was still there after two straight losses. While this win wasn’t all that big in the overall scheme of things, it was an important one for the future of the program. And it certainly improved Florida’s bowl profile.


  1. Offense: B. Ground and pound is what you have, and once the passing game was finally reduced to screen passes, and Franks became the runner that is required in a Dan Mullen offense, coupled with Jordan Scarlett deciding on being the running back from 2016, you have success against South Carolina. This is what Florida is. These are the offensive weapons they have. This is the beginning of a true Dan Mullen offense. Run first, run second, screen pass third, pass in the classroom. Hey coach, did you finally listen to the fans about Toney? He’s electric and he can take the 2 yard pass to the house! He still needs more touches! If you’re looking for downfield passing, if you’re looking to light up the scoreboard with passes to wide receivers and tight ends, look elsewhere. Feleipe Franks has become the runner we need, and has abandoned trying to be the passer he cannot be. On Franks giving the silence sign to the crowd, we earned that one. Good for him.
    Defense: C. 3rd and Grantham is a real thing. But, they did recover once the offense started to produce. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, 10 games into the season this is a program problem. Defense has an inflated opinion of themselves, and when offense isn’t producing, they’re in the tank. A quarterback that can read the blitz and hit the hot receiver, like Bentley did today, can have great success. Kudos though to the defense for stepping up and making it happen in the 4th quarter. Need that effort for 60 minutes.
    Special teams: C. Can’t muff punts, and cannot miss field goals in games like this. If you know a kick returner is dangerous, like Samuel, just kick it out of bounds! Better at their 35 than yours!
    Overall: A. Yea, I know, doesn’t add up. But, 21 unanswered points against even a Muschamp coached team is something to celebrate. Florida has found a formula that will work the rest of the way. Run, run, run, and run some more, screen pass, and then punt if you have to. Depending on who the bowl game opponent is, it’s a formula that will win out the season. This isn’t the Florida team we want. It’s not the Florida team I believe Mullen wants, but it’s the Florida team we have. They got the job done today.

  2. This is a one game season provided we don’t totally screw up and lose to Idado. We beat FSU and it’s a different season than the last many. We lose to FSU and it’s essentially the same. We haven’t beaten them since 2012. They stink this year.

  3. My grade? A +++++++++++++++. Remember, Mullen was matched up against the Olympian coaching God know on the earthly realm as Will Mushchamp!!! He’s NICE, and that proves no coach in the history of football has been so awesome! Plus, he once lived in Gainesviole, so that also proves he is a coaching mastermind and everyone should bow down and worship him! How, oh how, did Mullen ever pull out a win against this celestial coaching legend? Mullen should retire now becaus he will never do anything greater than beating a NICE coach who looks like he is 8 months pregnant.

    My guess? USC will build a statue of Mushchamp to commemorate this almost win that so perfectly embodies his peerless coaching skills!!! Remember, he is NICE!

    • If the Gators can sustain what they did in the 4th Quarter of USC for at least 3 out of 4 Quarters, and if the defense remembers to show up, we will beat them senseless. FSU is going to want this particular game pretty bad; anything short of sustained relentless effort will give it to them on a platter. I would hate to see the season end on that note!

  4. It appeared the game and season were over, then the switched turned on the deflected pass for first down. Out of nowhere, they started playing like men in the UT/MS/LSU games. Why???? Its the same Dan Mullen’s play calling each game. This is why I love College football, DRAMA!

  5. I’m just excited to see EJ get to play and now we may get to see the future of Florida I agree with Grump and his summation except Toney really needs to secure the ball better! Turnovers have killed us and muffling a punt isnt good no matter who your playing. Penalties are also drive killers, these need to be addressed. Although, Bobby Bowden once said “have you ever noticed the top teams in the country also have the most penalties? I chalk that up to aggressiveness” . Not sure that’s why especially on Offense. Frank’s was deserving of the sh sign, especially when he secured the ball and played with an aggressive desire. Congrats to the Gators for a tough game!!!! Goooooooo Gators!!!

  6. These grades unfortunately are too high.

    Overall gets a c or worse. Sc fans are nuclear with rage over champ snatching another defeat from the jaws of victory and everyone who suffered through what he did here knows it’s true. Even if he coaches up players everyone gets hurt. We almost lost to at least half of a team of backups.
    I’d give the offense a b. But without a lucky bounce on a snap and receiver in the same play this thing was lost. You shouldn’t need luck to beat south Carolina.
    The defensive injuries hurt but they still get a c. Without champ going conservative they would have given up 45 today. Not good.

    Special teams…about the only thing good was Frank’s quick kick and the defenders botched that too. A c at best.

    We can still win ten but this year we did have an easy schedule so I’m nervous about next year. I do think QB will be fine but depth is a huge problem or something is still wrong I can’t put my finger on.

    • I think you were predicting the slight step backwards in his third year, if I remember correctly. What is it that makes you think now that it will be next year? No criticism, just curious since I take your comments seriously.

  7. There were quite a few empty seats at SSFBHG Stadium yesterday but there needed to be just a few more. If you’re one of the low life’s that booed our own team/player early in the game, PLEASE stay home from now on. Every one of these kids had offers to go to other schools but chose to be a Gator, so show them the respect that they deserve. If you think your booing is “sending a message to CDM”, then think again. The man that we pay millions of dollars a year to coach this kids knows a little bit more than you do. All you’re doing is making this team resent the fan base. Shut up and go back to middle school.

  8. I don’t think the grades should be as high as they were. Certainly the team is to be applauded for the 21 point comeback but we shouldn’t get down by 17 to start with. It was great to see Dan Mullen firing up the sidelines and I think South Carolina’s band insulting not only the team but the entire Gainesville area by playing during “I Won’t Back Down” really got everybody going. Thanks Gamecock Band! The last quarter goes to show that this team is capable of being focused and playing hard when they really want to. If they can play with that sense of urgency and fight all game, we might be undefeated right now. Keep it going Gators.

  9. Man, he is all over the place with these gradings. A- for offense? You are smoking crack. You have a QB who can’t hit the broad side of a barn and you give offense and A-? I could see maybe giving them a B. Great come-back effort and running game, yes, but not A range offense. I would probably go C+. Defense a C, maybe… probably. I might give them a C-. Overall maybe a C+ or B-. It was a great come from behind win- hard fought and emotional. But you are supposed to be grading aspects of the game. Someone could not watch the game and probably simply do grades based on the score alone and do better grading than you.