Andreu’s Analysis: Gators got a chance

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald taps the bully statue on the head for luck while walking into Davis-Wade Stadium before the game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15 in Starkville, Miss. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Back in the summer, going down Florida’s schedule, I penned in (as opposed to penciled in) this Mississippi State game as a loss for the Gators. A sure thing. Two weeks ago, I upgraded it to a blowout loss. A category five disaster.

I’m not so sure now. In the words of the HBC, the Gators have a chance. I’m not saying they’re going to beat the Bulldogs on Saturday night, I’m just saying they’ve got a chance.

And, really, isn’t that all Gators everywhere are asking for — a competitive game, a chance to pull the upset.

For the upset to happen, the Gators have to stay composed in what may be the most hostile environment many of them have ever been in. They can’t get rattled, they can’t collapse when bad things happen, and bad things will happen, because that’s the way it is on the road in the SEC.

They also have to contain dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and prevent him from killing them with his legs. Kentucky showed that can be done last Saturday. Keep Fitzgerald in the pocket, put him in some third and longs, then go make plays. He’s a great runner, but not a great downfield passer. Not even close.

Offensively, Dan Mullen has to give Feleipe Franks plays that he knows he is comfortable with and can execute. And he has to help his QB manage the game and avoid difficult situations.

The Gators also have to win the turnover battle and play great on special teams.

It can happen. The Gators can pull the upset. They’ve got a chance.

But I’m not saying it’s going to happen. Not quite.

Prediction: Mississippi State 24, Florida 13.



  1. Special teams is key. Starkville will shut up pretty quick with a blocked punt to set up an easy 6 and a punt return for 6. Knoxville sure did. I was on your side last week Andreu, but not this week. Are you forgetting Kentucky, who we played closer and terrible against, beat them handily last week? Mullen will have a fire lit up in our team just as much as the MSU players will on Mullen’s return…… and our gators won’t wanna let him down. FL 35-27

    • “theyve got a chance” ? What a joke that is! Robbie!…. Aaron, Ive been saying exactly this about UK. MsSt is overrated, they have 3 wins over nobody and lost big to a team we would have beaten if the refs hadnt blown the whistle illegally after we started the TD play at the goal line, or taken away the subsequent FG. We will win this game , no doubt in my mind. Even with the UK loss we played Uk way better than them. Our D will greatly limit their Offense and our Special teams will make up the difference. Ive never seen the Gators this good at special teams, they are elite, at that.

    • You are indeed the Master of Sarcasm, CO……and I get it, believe me. However, Robbie probably feels by now if he says we are going to win, and we don’t, some of us are going to start screaming, “See, there you go again, all the hype and false hope!”.

      Glad to see you’re back mixing it up more, buddy… all is well.

      • Gator-6 – I believe that the GATORS are going to win as well. It may be close, but I bet the Mississippi Women Bells will set the GATORS off with their sound. The men in Mississippi make their women folk wear the bells so that they know where they are at all times…LMAO. Yes I went there! GO GATORS!!!
        PS: Our Lady Gators are too Lady like and classy to wear such ghastly jewelry. I watch every game and I swear our women in Florida are way prettier than all other states. I do have to admit that Tennessee was close. GO GATORS!!!

        • HA! I almost went there too! Actually, thought it would be kind of neat to get off the beaten path for the 3 years the Army was allowing me on campus and still get to see some SEC games (this was back in 1987). But alas, they had other ideas and I wound up in California, a thousand miles from anywhere that made sense to me.

          Florida women are Southern Belles, and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing cheap costume jewelry like a cow bell! (uh oh, I’m sure I just offended somebody’s wife) /////// And I totally agree Ed — this is the game where the Gators wake up and realize what they’re capable of. 👍🐊

  2. Special teams could be a hidden weapon for us. If we can win the field position battle, I believe we will win the game. Of course the turnover battle wouldn’t hurt us either. We will learn early if this team has gotten tougher.

    • Dave. I do not believe the Florida special teams are hidden anymore. Even Pruitt said last week before the game that he feared the play of the Florida special teams. The Florida special teams are playing at a high level, and that is apparent to every team in the SEC now. And they will be preparing for them, which means that they will have less time to spend preparing for the rapidly improving Florida defense and offense. To me, all that spells a good win for the Gators Saturday evening.

  3. If I had to pick the one area we need immediate further, tangible improvement in to have a good chance this week it would clearly be the running game. And to me, that leads us back to the offensive line because I believe the rb’s are more than capable. 200 yards+ I think we’re walking out of there with a win. Less than 100, we’re gonna be sad. In between…well that’s why they play the games. Actually, imo this holds true for the rest of the season. Improvement in the running game must occur for good things to happen.

  4. Robbie, I’ve been where you’ve been. I had this penned in as a loss before the season started. After the KY game, I said no way Jose. Now, after KY handled MSU last week and how the Gators responded at Neyland last week, I’d say this game is even money.

    I’d argue that last week at Neyland was the toughest environment this team will face all year. That place was LOUD and the fans are not very nice to anyone wearing blue (trust me on that one). I get the Dan Mullen returning to Starkvegas angle and I get the cowbell thing, but I’d suggest that last week’s big win in front of 100,000 prison orange lunatics was a great confidence builder for this team. If Coach Mullen has a good gameplan for handling the Bulldogs, I can see a win for the Orange and Blue. I think it’ll be closer than last week so I’m gonna call it Gators 24-13.

    • “prison orange lunatics ” LOL good one
      When did freaking Starkville become this super tough place to play? How is it any different or even worse than playing not only in Neyland, but in Tallycrappy, Baton Rouge or any other SEC venue?

    • Rog, you called it. MSS has everything to lose and will come out tight wanting to show up the old boss. Good guys play loose, Special Teams stay special, D continues to be ball hawking, and Offense is serviceable. BOYS IN BLUE — 24 lil-doggies 17

      Btw, this the same as Rogdochar?

    • The only thing I worry about with using the MSU/UK game as an indictment of their abilities, is the thought that maybe they fell victim to the looking ahead mistake. You almost have to wonder if they weren’t looking ahead to this week’s game thinking UK would be a cakewalk and wound up losing a game they should’ve won easily. I guess we’ll find out soon.

    • Playing in Starkville is always bizarre for the Gators – weird things always seem to happen there. Shane Matthews threw five interceptions in the 1992 game. Teams coached by Steve Spurrier (2000) and Ron Zook (2004) lost to unranked Mississippi State teams there.

      I think Mullen’s experience coaching there will be a difference maker. Mullen beat Meyer in the Swamp in 2010, and I think Mullen will get a 27-25 win on Saturday. Go Gators!

      • I’m pretty sure it was in Starkville, maybe the 2000 game, where the Gator captain said, “We want to kick.” after winning the coin toss. He stuck to his guns even after the official subtly tried to show him the error of his ways. The Gators ended up kicking off to start both halves, and the result wasn’t pretty.

    • What everyone is forgetting is they dont have Dan Mullen as a coach this year, we do(look at the difference in this team, thats the same difference they are feeling). Even money isnt even close, we will win handily! They have 3 wins over nobodies and a big loss to UK, we have 3 wins over nobodies and even with UK!

  5. Why am I not shocked that Robbie picked MSU to win and by double digits. The same person who pick Tennessee by double digits over the Gators. Yes, Tennessee. But, Robbie, I believe Florida has better overall talent than MSU. And I believe the Gators are better coached and starting to get it things in a very good way on the football field and is playing as a unit better than I have seen in years. And the Florida head coach knows the personnel of the other team better than the MSU head coach knows the Florida personnel. Therefore, I predict the Gators win the game 34 to 21 and has breakout performances by several Gators, including Feleipe Franks.

    • Tampa – can I ask what the first three sentences add to your post? Is it that Robbie shouldn’t have an independent opinion, or one different than yours? I don’t get it, especially when neither of his predictions were far fetched in any way. As for your prediction, I hope you’re right.

      • Gator1. Robbie has been negative about the Florida football program since before the spring. Him predicting that Florida would only score 9 points vs. a terrible Tennessee team and lose to them by 11 points (and I watch the replays of all of Tennessee’s games) was, frankly, ill-informed nonsense. It also showed, in my opinion, a lack of awareness of the progress of the Florida was making and change of attitude of the team since the Kentucky game, as well as a lack of awareness of the bad to poor play of the Tennessee team heading into the match up vs. Florida. I call it lazy journalism, and I have a problem with lazy journalism. And, frankly, I miss the non-lazy reporting that Zack A. once provided on Gatorsports and which Graham occasionally provides. I think Gatorsports needs an infusion of new blood, or at least an infusion of energy and effort into old blood. Having said that, I hope Arnold does not now ban me for having an opinion about all that.

        • Hmmm…ok. I’m not here to defend gatorsports or its writers, so it’s weird I am even having this exchange. Makes it seem like I have a vested interest. I guess I just think it’s a big leap from – ‘someone has an opinion that’s different than mine’ to ‘lazy journalism’. I bleed orange & blue, but can’t get myself to be indignant about anyone who’s not a believer in this team yet. Too much inconsistency still, as CDM keeps telling us. Side note: I am really finding CDM’s transparency refreshing. Such a change from the past several years. Go Gators.

          • Gator1. I did not have that much of an issue with Robbie’s Tennessee prediction as I did with his (my perception and deduction) lack of support and reasoning for it. Same with this pick. If the final score is MSU 24, Florida 13, or if Florida scores 13 or less points vs MSU, then I will apologize. But I think one of these teams (Florida) will score at least 31 points and one (MSU) will score at least 21 points. I think Florida will load the box and stop the run and force Fitzgerald to try to pass on them. And I think the Gators get two or three turnovers and again score from a short field. MSU will likely rack up the majority of their points on explosive plays.

          • Tampa: My big issue with R. Andreu is not the picks he makes, it’s the fact that his picks in big games for UF don’t mean any more than a pick you or I would make, because he has been historically wrong so often. Just because he is a UF beat writer hasn’t proven that he has any more insight into picking UF games than you or I have.

          • CI. A beat writer should have more insights than we have in order to make predictions because they get to talk directly to players and coaches and get a much better feel for the team that week, in my opinion. In this article, Robbie provides information what Florida must and must no do to beat MSU. Please review those things and tell me which one you could not have provided in an article. Very little inside insight in my opinion. No review of stats of the two teams. No review of recent tendencies of the two teams. No analysis as to what both teams do well or do not do well and how that currently projects into this game. No research was done and presented to base a good prediction. Just a bunch of retreaded thoughts, mostly developed from the irrelevant past. And that is why I call it “lazy journalism”. A more dedicated journalism would have done more research and would have presented a much more in-depth article and much better data to support his or her prediction of a game. I have no doubt Zack A., if he had written this article, would have done exactly that. Again, just my perspective.

          • daz, Hopefully, when Robbie and Pat retire, GS will go make Zack an offer he cannot refuse. I think he is one of the best, young sports journalists out there. But he now has a good job where he can write and direct the in-depth and timely stories he seems to get that others do not.

    • If the the writer any of them was a homer on top and a fan that called all games an absolute win it would be the same as having a negative view it there are/is no insight to back it up. I’m with Tampa here but I am no genius at these things, but one can wonder if the article was written to get people going in this thread. Not sure. Kinda like the radio shows when a caller to a station says I’ll hang up and listen. Not sure that there is that level of manipulation but it is interesting. Our defense appears to be finding it’s feet. If they are moving on the ball, NOT COMMITTING PENALTIES, GIVING RELENTLESS EFFORT, the talent level will away the game or way. While both teams have new HCs MSU is ahead of us in unity and maturity, experience. We will have to win on not making mistakes. The game will be close through 3qtrs. If we prevail we’ll pull ahead then. The score will be 17 point differential Florida if and only if the offense is serviceable. Depth takes us ahead big in 4th qtr. Fl by 17. If we can’t the score will be flipped but they will be leading big by half.

      • Journalists seem to consider themselves “citizens of the world” for the last many years, above the fray of ordinary allegiances, national or otherwise, supposedly to be more “objective”. In my opinion, that’s why you saw the New York Times and others calling the 9/11 terrorists “freedom fighters” in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. Be that as it may, could it be infecting sports journalism too? I would say maybe, but probably not. Pat, Robbie, and the gang really are Gators at the core, clearly, and while they at times infuriate us it is their job to write their opinions in an honest, interesting way — no different than some of the guys on here do every day, and they’re still Gators, aren’t they?

        This comment wasn’t directed at you, 65, rather than just being the platform for my certainly unqualified opinion in light of the other retired journalists who post with us. Now on the other hand, the day Pat or Robbie uses the words “freedom fighters” to describe our………………😜

  6. When on Gods green earth did Miss State become a powerhouse? Good yes but my God get ahold of yourself Robin! – Match them up by athlete to athlete and then coach to coach and lets see what that demonstrates. Ridiculousness!

      • You don’t want anyone from the Knox News Sentinel. John Adams, the Sports Editor, is hugely negative (of course he hasn’t had much to be positive about around these parts in a long time) and we don’t need any more of that. I think Pat and Robbie are just fine. They, like the rest of us, are a little gun-shy about being positive given the state of our program the past 9 years.

  7. I think that’s a fair assessment. Out of the two quarterbacks, which one scares you? Certainly not Franks! Fitzgerald is only a run or short passing threat. Defense just keep him in front of you. If MSU comes out and plays mistake proof football and doesn’t turn the ball over, that will put the pressure on our offense to move the ball and score points to win. And I don’t see it. I don’t see Florida’s offense being able to put the game on their shoulders, move the ball, score points, and win the game. MSU 19, Florida 6.

      • I have laid money on it, Ive maxed the moneyline and the points! This is the most out of line game this week. they are giving us 7 points and the moneyline tonight is +225(payout is $225 for every $100 on a straight up win). Like taking candy from a baby! BTW i dont gamble, but I will bet when its obvious!

    • Bashing Franks seems to be much in vogue with a certain set of fans. He was a poor qb last year. so it is easy to be critical. The problem is that this negative perspective tends to discount what we have seen so far this year. Franks has shown that he is capable of making great plays (and so can be scary), but he has not been consistent (hence the poor completion percentage). If he begins to gain consistency (as he probably will given time), he will win some games for the Gators. He may not be ready to put it all together this week, but I will not be surprised if we see him play better than he has in prior weeks. That’s been his pattern so far.

      • I think so too, 67……this is the 5th game of the season, and I think if the Gators are going to ever wake up and realize their potential, this is the time. I could be wrong, but my gut tells me it really begins now.

        • 6, I agree. I think the coaches have figured out who the gamers are vs. the practice pros, and the players are beginning to figure out what it really takes to win in the SEC vs. being high school heroes. With Reese back, and Shuler in the lineup the defense is an entirely different unit. It looks like the O line is doing better with much simpler blocking schemes, and I expect that Scarlett, Perrine, and Pierce will pound it big time. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that this will be an impressive win for the Gators. Not even close. Go Gators!

    • Come on Grump….you can’t mean that? With the improvement shown by the defense in the past two games, including getting Reese and Jefferson back, there is no way MSU outscores the Gators. I can’t see more than a TD and a couple of FG’s…. 13 points. The special teams have been huge and the offense is make baby step improvements. I don’t see the Gators ringing up 47 without turnover help (and I credit the D for that, not just inept Vol offense), but 6 points??? Come on Grump, have a cup of coffee and reassess your prediction.

  8. I didn’t realize we were going into Tuscaloosa to play Bama tomorroe evening, because that’s what everyone is making this out like it is. That said, it’s a toss-up game imo. It can either way based on mistakes.

    Miss St. was on a roll and favored but still got man-handled by UK worse than we did, and we were in the game against the Cats right up until the end, despite the horrendous tackling, dropped passes, and no Wilson, Jefferson, and Reese on defense.

    I actually like our chances a little better than MSU’s in this game for two primary reasons that everyone seems to be over looking… Miss. State is also breaking in new coaches and systems and don’t have the Mullen Factor there anymore, and Mullen and most of his staff know the MSU roster, especially Nick Fitzgerald, very well.

    I think this will come down to turnovers, run defense, and special teams, and I’m going with Florida in the upset.

  9. I love how I left a comment on this this morning and it didn’t register. Therefore I’m not typing it all again. lol

    Anyway, Robbie did you not watch the UK game? They lost pretty handily to them. Even worse than us and we played horrific. Special Teams again like UT baby! Gators 35-24

  10. It all depends on our line of scrimmage. If we can block those 2 big defensive ends they got then we will have a good chance to win the game. I believe our D will keep them in check most of the night and CDM will call a good game for Franks to manage. If we come out with the same energy as we did against UT we will be hard to beat regardless of who we play. Go Gators!

  11. My heart says that the Gators will win, but my head says it’s not likely. Gators have historically not played well in Starkville and MSU is going to be playing with a little special intensity. Gators certainly have a good chance to win, but it appears to me that MSU’s chances are a little better. I expect it to be a close game, less than a touchdown difference, but not one Gator fans will be able to celebrate. Of course, I will be very happy to be wrong.

    • Well, the first thing to do then is go have your head examined!

      Actually, I get you 100%…….the factor I’m reading into this weekend has to do with the culmination of all the progress the team, and Franks, have made in the first four games. I “feel” pretty confident in that, but given that this is also the first of at least a couple of transition seasons, I don’t “know” anything for sure.

  12. We will witness an air assault tomorrow night in cow bell country. That we haven’t seen since the days of Steven Ore Spurrier roamed the sideline. Heisman hopefull Felipe Gunslinger Frank’s wil throw 3 touchdowns and will have a big day on the ground. Rushing for 100 yards. Mr. Polite will be living in the backfield all night along with Mr. Shuler. CJ Smooth Henderson will have a interception return for a touchdown. Gators 35 Puppy Dogs 24.

  13. My view: The games comes down to how well the Gator D forces Miss. St. to rely on the passing game. With Reese back, please no more DB injuries. The pass defense can stop Miss. St. But the D has to make sure no 50 yard rushes. I guess this is the “Captain Obvious” speaking, but Reese is a beast at the LB spot and can pick up the TE. I believe it comes down to STOP THE RUN AND WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE. \And please give Pierce and Toney some more touches. Who has the shot at being a game-breaker? Pierce, Perine or Scarlett?

  14. I picked Florida go win, 33-26, Tuesday elsewhere. I’m sticking with that score. Robbie has a history of underestimating the Gators. He and Pat echo one another. Tampa already well stated most of the reasons I believe the Gators will win. And with Tampa I miss Zach from the Sun staff. He was the most energetic, thoroughly researched reporter over the last number of years the Sun offered. And I wish Graham had a bigger role. But I’m fine overall with Robbie’s reporting and Pat’s columns, though he often complains about being in places most Gator fans would relish getting to go, preferring seeing games on tv instead of being in the Florida press box. And I sure hope Pat and Robbie are wrong about the Gators again.