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 4:
1. How will Florida’s depleted secondary match up against the potentially explosive UT wide receivers?
The Gators gave up a handful of big plays — receptions of 28, 36 and 51 yards — but the secondary managed to prevent the Vols from getting into any kind of consistent rhythm in the passing game. One of the plays of the day on the back end was made by sophomore safety Brad Stewart, who made a great interception on a deep pass down the middle in the third quarter. Sophomore cornerback Brian Edwards also showed up, giving the Gators valuable minutes.
2. There is always adversity on the road. How will the Gators handle it in their first game away from The Swamp?
Given the big early lead, there was very little in the way of adversity. But every time it seemed close to possibly coming, the Gators responded with big plays. When the Vols cut the lead to 33-13 late in the third quarter, Franks answered with a 38-yard TD pass to Tyrie Cleveland. On the first offensive play after the Vols scored to close the gap to 40-21 with 5:04 left in the game, true freshman tailback Dameon Pierce stole the momentum back with a 47-yard TD run that ended any doubt.
3. Will quarterback Feleipe Franks continue to take small steps in his development or will he take a step back?
He clearly seems to be heading in the right direction with his latest performance. Despite a shaky start to the second half, he finished the game with nine completions in 18 attempts for 172 yards and three touchdowns. His best play, one that’s an indication he’s improving, came when he went through his progressions, had to eventually flee the pocket, but kept his eyes down field and found an open Freddie Swain, who went 65 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
4. Can Florida’s defensive front hold UT running back Ty Chandler to less than 100 yards rushing?
Overall, the defensive front played physical and did a solid job against the run, and did not let Chandler loose to make any big plays. His longest run was for 13 yards and he averaged only 3.5 yards a carry, rushing for 66 yards on 19 carries. Overall, the Gators held the Vols to 156 yards rushing and only 2.9 yards a carry.
5. Will the Gators win the battle of special teams?
They get the solid edge here again. Evan McPherson made his one field goal attempt and was strong on his kickoffs, punt and kick coverage were good and the Gators came up with the big forced fumble and recovery on the second-half kickoff that led to Jordan Scarlett’s 19-yard TD run that gave the Gators an insurmountable 33-3 lead.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) vs. No. 23 Mississippi State (3-1, 0-1)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, Starkville, Miss.
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850