Before every Florida game, veteran GateHouse Media Group college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions. He answered them after the Gators’ 24-20 win over Miami on Saturday night in Orlando.
1. Will the attacking Florida defense be able to force redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams into making some critical mistakes, or does he take care of the football?
He did not make any critical mistakes, but the Florida pass rush was all over him throughout the game, especially with the outcome on the line late in the fourth quarter. Williams had a nice night statistically — 19 of 29 for 214 yards and a TD with no interceptions — but the Gators sacked him 10 times and prevented him from executing a game-winning drive in the closing minutes with intense pressure on the young QB.
2. How will the inexperienced Florida offensive line hold up against a fast and athletic Miami front seven?
It was a struggle all night for the young line. The big guys got almost no push in the running game (which basically didn’t exist) and pass protection was poor for most of the game. Franks was sacked only once, but he was pressured throughout the game and took some big-time shots. He rarely had time to go through his progressions, which had a major impact on the passing game.
3. Can the Florida passing game produce some explosive plays.
It produced two really big ones — the screen pass that Kadarius Toney turned into a 66-yard touchdown play midway through the first quarter and the 65-yard dart from Franks to Josh Hammond that set up the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Other than those two explosives, the Gators did not have much of a downfield passing game. The strength of the offense — the wide receiver group — was not the major factor most thought it would be going into the game.
4. Who wins the matchup between speedy UM wide receiver Jeff Thomas and Florida cornerbacks Marco Wilson and CJ Henderson?
The win has to go to Wilson and Henderson because Thomas caught only two passes for 28 yards, but the two lockdown corners did not have a great night. Wilson’s pass interference penalty on the fourth-and-34 late in the game gave he Hurricanes a chance to possibly pull out a victory in the closing seconds. Overall, coverage from the corners was pretty average.
5. Everyone in the Florida camp has been saying how much quarterback Feleipe Franks has improved since the end of last season. Will that improvement be evident?
It was not. Franks lost a fumble deep in the red zone in the first half and threw two critical interceptions in the second. Other than his long pass to Hammond in the fourth quarter, he never seemed comfortable in the pocket. Much of his spotty performance is on the inexperienced offensive line, which failed to consistently protect Franks and could not generate a running game to take some of the pressure off. Overall, Franks looked like Franks from a year ago.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.