Andreu’s Answers: All three phases contribute for Gators

Florida defensive back Brad Stewart Jr. intercepts a pass away from Tennessee wide receiver Brandon Johnson in the third quarter Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. [Joy Kimbrough/The Daily Times via AP]

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 Also check out Andreu’s blog at

Up next

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


  1. The secondary gave up some plays, but also came up with maybe the most important play of the game. After getting beat bad on a busted coverage, the db from the opposite side of the field ran down the TE and caused the fumble. You could almost see the Vols realize at that point that they weren’t going to win. Go Gators!! Relentless effort!!

  2. All things considered, I like the subject of this article. Every phase of the Gators team contributed to this win and I will go even further to say we won all three phases. Normally if you win 2 of 3 phases, that’s a good indicator of victory. One of Mullen’s mantras is to be good (and win) in all three phases of a game. This in itself takes some of the pressure off the offense to win the game. The end result is that Franks has been able to operate without the weight of knowing the offense (and he) must be perfect. I saw some really tangible results of Mullen’s coaching. Franks has learned at least one thing and that is to throw the ball away when a play gets blown up, although sometimes he does revert. The play where he hit Swain for the 65-yard showed he has it in him to be a good quarterback. He had the arm strength to throw it on a line to Swain while moving to his right (and without setting his feet).

    I am very much encouraged by Franks’ progress. Go Gators!!

    • Agree I was happy to see Franks throw it out of bounds at times, this was an improvement in understanding game management. Improvement but I still would love to see Trask in a full half – I will bet he is mentally the best fit and we should get a chance to find out whether he is a gamer with his accuracy. Danny wasnt the strongest arm or biggest most versatile QB at the time.

      • I’ll take the other side of the coin on marshall’s post. What could possibly be the basis for that opinion? I think there can only be one reason – franks’ track record – stank last year, and far from perfect this year. BUT – Mullen was not beholding to franks for any reason, he has watched every snap
        of both in practice, and he says franks gives us the best chance to win. So many Gator fans refuse to accept what he is saying, it’s incredible; despite the fact that there is almost universal consensus that franks has visibly imporoved and that Mullen knows what he is doing. It’s crazy to me.

        • You’re not the only one Gator1. Not sure why most of this fan base isn’t making millions coaching football cause they all seem to think they know more than the coaches. Before everyone thought they knew more than Mac when they were screaming for Franks’ redshirt to be burned. Now they know more than Mullen claiming Trask is the one. If Trask plays and sucks, then Jones will be the greatest QB ever. It’s impossible to wrap your head around that kind of thought process.

          • Joe – exactly! But…to be fair, I do think the McElwain debacle (and Muschamp to a large degree) is a large part of the issue. There was so much basis for legitimate criticism and second-guessing, i think it is kind of just carrying over. But as I said, if we think Mullen is the guy (and I do), does the majority of the fan base ever start trusting his judgment? I do.

        • Gator1. Trask is not suited to run all aspects of Mullen’s offense. And I think that is what Mullen stated when he announced Franks as his starting QB. Teams are not going to respect Trask as a runner or even much of a threat to run. They have to respect Franks as a runner, and that is critical for the type of offense Mullen runs. People simply do not seem to understand that aspect of the two QBs. And, if Franks does not cut it in the upcoming games and Mullen is forced to change QBs, I would not be surprised to see the change be to Jones, not Trask. Jones is more of the long-term solution if Franks is not. But Trask would come into a game right now if Franks were to get hurt because he is more prepared to come into a game in such a situation. Hopefully, that will not happen, as I do not think the offense will be nearly as explosive with Trask at QB.

          • coach made it clear that Jones wasnt close to being able to run this offense as trask and Franks and he also made it clear that Trask was willing and able to run the ball. He also said trask was more accurate and was better at game management he just doesnt have the big arm of Franks which the coach said was his reason(big play ability) for choosing Franks. If Trask started we I think its clear Jones is a redshirt.
            If trask started we would see long drives that burn up the clock and big plays would come from the RB’s and WR’s after they got the ball.

        • Even Coach Mullen pointed out that the offense was lacking in consistency against UT. I don’t think Marshall was advocating replacing Franks as the starter, but putting Trask in the game long enough to see how he can perform when and if Franks is struggling making the right reads on a consistent basis. Nobody is trying to show they can out think the coach by stating an opinion. Just making a suggestion is not being arrogant. Franks may develop into a superstar. Knowing someone is behind him pushing for playing time may help him. Spurrier used the go-sit-on-the-bench-for-awhile approach many times to get his qbs to perform better. Franks was impressive at times against UT and should definitely remain the starter, but if he struggles you’d like to think Trask is ready for action. If he can make good reads, it might help Franks to watch.

          • Fair enough. There’s no arguing the need for better consistency. It’s visible for everyone to see as you mention. I do wonder however if the way to get there is letting your top dog work through it on the field, or pulling him for someone he beat out when the struggles come. I think from I’ve seen over the decades the latter provides better returns. Interestingly enough, I also believe that was true for spurrier in his career. I believe his best years we’re the years he had a qb he believed in and stuck with them through thick and thin.

  3. A total team win with “Relentless Effort.” Great job by the coaching staff in a hostile environment.
    I saw some push from the OLine. Pretty good QB protection as well. The DLine kept the pressure on the QB all night and helped our secondary. Stewart made an unbelievable INT. The Special Teams continue to be Special. Great buy-in by the players.
    Pierce should play more. He will make mistakes but he is explosive and doesn’t need much of a whole to
    go the distance. Swain is making his move to be a top WR. I think Jefferson is rubbing off on him. Moral Stephens is our best TE. Clevekand made an NFL catch for the touchdown and maybe he got his head back.
    Great Win!

  4. Happy with the out come of this weeks game. Still I’m not sold on Franks, but I will say he’s doing better than last year. He has habits he seems that he can’t get rid of. I still would like to see Trask play a little bit more, just to see what he really can do. Coach Mullen is on the right track. If we have a good recruiting years who knows who fast we get back to the top of the heap. The meat of the schedule is coming up, time to see just how good we can be for the year. GO GATORS……………

  5. All of the talk about Trask should be given more playing time is typical. He is sitting on the bench, everybody loves the guy backing up the QB that is playing! You can’t make mistakes sitting on the bench or holding the clipboard on the sideline. I agree with Coach Mullen playing the players who give us the best chance to win games. The players who are playing each week are the ones who give relentless effort in practice and do their business in practice to play on Saturdays whether it be a QB or O lineman or D lineman etc. trust the coaches that make the evaluations on the progress of player or players. As fans we are not in practice and we are not paid to make those decisions but as fans have an important responsibility to support the coaches and the players! They are a part of us they belong to us! Enough said!

  6. I said in another post that I don’t get why everyone is so enamored with Trask, except that they haven’t seen him get a chance yet. Every coach Trask has had since Peewee league has decided he wasn’t good enough to start for their team. Only “ole yeller” thought he was even good enough to offer a scholarship to a power 5 school. Give Mullen a little credit guys, he’s seen a few more qbs take snaps in his offense than any of us.
    Go Gators!

    • It’s kind of telling, too, that he was content to be a backup. Players are constantly moving in with Uncles or Cousin so they can transfer to high-schools where they will be the starter, but he just settled into that role and didn’t even try to go somewhere else and play despite the fact that he evidently has good metrics. That suggests to me he is more comfortable with a clipboard in his hand than a football.

      Nice on “ole yeller.”

    • Mullen said he hasn’t watched any old film on Frank’s, only this spring and forward. Fans have watched Frank’s going on three years now, I think that is enough time to form an opinion on a player. I think you can win some games with Frank’s, but winning division championship, or a national, If I saw it I wouldn’t believe it.

      • Jonzee- Respectfully (I mean that) this is the train of thought I struggle with. Franks started last year. I admit, he was awful. Hard to watch. But let’s be honest, last year’s team was awful in virtually ever way – coaching, culture, fitness, physicality, on and on. Absolutely awful. I am not going to saddle Franks (or any other singular under-performer) for what happened last year. If you think Mullen hasn’t seen enough of both Franks and Trask to have his own educated opinion who won the job, and therefore your opinion is better, then we’ll simply have to agree to disagree.

        • Gator1 exactly. I had so many doubts of Franks ability to do anything right, the improvement week over week further condemns the whole staff that was fired. There will be a point where Franks reaches a limit in his ability to grow. At that point coach will know what he really has. Since it appears that all levels are improving another sign last years dip was coaching not talent. Bottom line I’m in Mullens camp. Until he does something to lead that he is not a capable HC. I wasn’t on here during Mush and Mac. Mush wasn’t ready. Mac wasn’t capable. But none of the players save the 9 suspended should have last season held against them.

        • Ive seen enough of Franks this year to agree with Jonzee, he wont win you any championships just some games. He is the weak link holding us back this year because i guarantee you if we had Grier here this year we would be in the playoffs WITH the rest of the team we have now! Would we be there with Trask? Dont know. What I do know is that with Trask we would not be surviving off big plays, feast or famine, but would have long , clock eating drives that often end in TD’s. According to Mullen he’s more accurate and see’s the field better. Mullen praised him in practice for his use of checkdowns. having said all that, mullen is enamored with franks big arm as most coaches are and has chosen him so I hope franks is very successful and rapidly improves for the Gator nation sake!

  7. Good progress but lets not get to high just yet. The Vols are the worst team in the east and maybe all of the SEC and CSU could not beat a good H.S. team. Lets wait a couple weeks a evaluate things then. I think the progress has given us a chance to win half of the remaining games. I would really like to see what the gators could do now against Kentucky. I think it would be a much more competitive game

  8. Trask had 2 offers coming out of High School, UF and North Texas. His high school coaches never started him. Ole yeller gave him a scholly because he thought he could make anybody into a qb, yet never started him in a game. Now Mullen watches him practice and again doesn’t give him a start. But a vocal few of our fans are so down on Franks that they have convinced themselves that they know better than all of Trask’s coaches. Just stop and enjoy the ride back to championship level with Mullen.

  9. Sparky…Trask is the backup regardless. You better hope he’s a lot better than you think he is. I suspect he is. Did you see that tight slant pass he completed when they inserted him in the game? Franks has a better arm but has problems getting the offense in a rythym. Too often he makes bad reads. He’s still the best choice as the starter, and few people doubt that. Some fans would just like to see Trask given some playing time when Franks fails to sustain drives. It wouldn’t hurt for the backup to get more game experience.

    • How far does your memory of Gator football go back? 1985 at Florida Field our 3rd ranked in the nation Gators were leading Rutgers by 21 pts late in the 2nd half. Galen Hall, in his first season as the permanent coach, inserted his backup qb in the game to give him “some experience”. Before the nightmare was over, Rutgers stunned our Gators and left with a tie game. I was there, and it was ugly. So never think anything is guaranteed when you put someone new in to play.

      • You’re really reaching here Sparky. Trask has football talent, we just never get to see it, but when he (rarely) comes in the game he tends to play good ball. Like that thread-the-needle pass in the TN game. He should have come in much earlier in my opinion. What if Franks gets hurt in garbage time? My memory takes me back too, I had season tickets to the 0-10-1 year under Charley Pell. And we had #1 fsu on the ropes late in that last game – it was STILL Great to be a Florida Gator!

  10. Robbie, you forgot one thing. The lousy prediction you gave for the game. Tenn 20 Fla 9. Really. I hope you gained some more confidence for your future predictions.The gators out scored your prediction in the 1st quarter. You were right about one thing though. It was a long night in Knoxville, for the VOLS.

    • I think we need to go a little easy on Robbie and Pat. What I realized after watching UT play is they looked like a McElwain coached team with the lackluster effort, shooting themselves in the foot, giving up… etc…. Add in that Pruitt is a defensive co-ordinator with no head coaching experience and it is no surprise their eyes lit up with wonder to see the discombobulated disaster UT fielded–

      The Vols look exactly like the monuments to ineptitude they have been praising all these years from Yellow Teeth and Mushbrain, and they are led by a Foley special, so it was basically catnip. I half expect to see an article in the next few weeks mocking and ridiculing Vol fans for being “spoiled fans” because they expect basic coaching competence.

  11. Toney is a weapon on offense that we have still not figured out. His speed, moves, ability to catch and even throw suggest to me that he should be considered as a QB. I agree UF will have the coaching edge against MSU due to our guys knowing their personnel so well. Having David Reese behind you would help any D line.

  12. In all fairness to the previous regime, it’s a different offense and the QB has fewer basic reads and check-downs in the spread.

    Everybody is learning a new offense this season. Franks takes the heat for a lot of things that he can not directly control. I think he’s coming along nicely. I like his calm demeanor on the field and the mental capacity to let a bad play go.

    There’s still plenty of room for improvement with our interior run blocking. Not going to catch much of a break this week with MSU, arguably considered one of the SEC’s best. Last week’s game with UK was a classic example of a smaller offense using leverage and timing to push around a bigger defense.