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 11:
1. Will true freshman quarterback Emory Jones see extensive playing time?
The coaches went in hoping he would, and he did, thanks to the fast start the No. 1 offense got off to with Feleipe Franks and the passing game. After Franks threw a 34-yard TD pass to Tyrie Cleveland to put the Gators up 42-0 with 5:22 left in the first half, it was game on for Jones. Looking poised and comfortable in the offense, he led the Gators to a touchdown on his first possession. On the drive, which concluded with a TD pass to Josh Hammond, Jones converted a third-and-eight with a 15-yard run and threw a 35-yard strike to Trevon Grimes. Jones threw another TD pass in the second half and finished the game with 12 completions in 16 attempts for 125 yards and the two TDs.
2. The Gators gutted South Carolina with the running game. Can they do the same against an Idaho defense that is giving up 214.7 yards rushing a game?
With so many openings and opportunities in the passing game, the Gators did not even try to establish a running game in the first half. Leading rusher Jordan Scarlett had zero carries and second-leading rusher Lamical Perine had just six for 34 yards, while Franks threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Once Jones took over, the Gators got the ground game going with Dameon Pierce and UF ended up with 201 yards rushing, which is solid but not a gutting.
3. Can the Florida defense cut back on the explosive plays given up in recent games?
They did. The Vandals had only two explosive plays — a 21-yard run by quarterback Mason Petrino and a 23-yard pass from Petrino to wide receiver Jeff Cotton. It will be a much different challenge Saturday against Florida State. The Seminoles have some of the same kind of speed and playmaking ability at the skill positions that burned the Gators badly in consecutive games against Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina. Explosive plays remain a concern for this defense.
4. With the new redshirt rule in place, will we see some true freshmen play who haven’t played yet or only played in the first game or two?
Wide receiver Jacob Copeland saw his first playing time. He had a 16-yard reception and made some impressive blocks on the perimeter. Nine other true freshmen who had not played since the first two non-conference games early in the season played Saturday. That list consists of Jones, offensive lineman Chris Bleich, outside linebacker Andrew Chatfield, running back Iverson Clement, offensive lineman Richard Gouraige, tight end Dante Lang, defensive end Malik Langham, center Griffin McDowell and linebacker David Reese. In all, 16 true freshmen played. Of those 16, 10 are still going to be able to redshirt this season.
5. Idaho is going to be a tough draw. Do the fans show up and make The Swamp feel like The Swamp?
It was a late-arriving crowd, of course, and a lot of the students stayed away, but the stadium eventually filled in decently, about like it did for the South Carolina game. The announced attendance was 81,467, and that looked about right. There wasn’t as much energy as an SEC game, but it was a solid Swamp atmosphere. The fans did enough to earn some post-game praise from coach Dan Mullen.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: No. 13 Florida (8-3) vs. Florida State (5-6)
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850