Dooley Grades The Gators: Florida is bowl eligible

Florida receiver Freddie Swain dives into the end zone after an 11-yard touchdown pass play from Feleipe Franks against Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter of last year's game in Nashville, Tenn. [Mark Humphrey/Associated Press]

Offense A

First half: On the one hand, the Gators were super efficient making 18 first downs. On the other hand, they were super sloppy with two turnovers costing UF points. Lamical Perine had himself a half with 63 rushing yards and 88 receiving.

Second half: After a slow start, the offense was energized by the fake punt and from that point on, the Gators were on their way to a huge day both rushing and passing the ball. Feleipe Franks bounced back to have a career high in passing.

For the game: Florida had 31 first downs and averaged 6.3 yards per play in the game. This was a day the Gators had to have offense and it came by the boatload as they finished with 576 yards and 37 points.

Defense C

First half: A half like that will do some serious damage to your national stats. Vandy had 198 yards on 25 plays and averaged 7.92 yards per play. Florida was unable to get a turnover, but did hold the Commodores on three of four third-down attempts.

Second half: The Gators did much better, holding Vanderbilt to a pair of field goals (one of them was set up by a turnover) despite losing linebacker Vosean Joseph late in the first half. Vandy only had 138 yards in the second half.

For the game: Florida’s defense had its problems in the first half, but settled down. It didn’t hurt that Ke’Shawn Vaughn was injured in the second quarter after piling up 131 total yards in the first half.

Special teams A-

First half: Freddie Swain had a pair of nice returns, but one was negated by two penalties on the same play. Tommy Townsend’s only punt of the half was a beauty and Evan McPherson made a pair of chip-shot field goals.

Second half: Townsend’s run on a fake punt for a first down was the play of the day. McPherson’s 43-yard field goal put the game away. One negative was Kadarius Toney bringing out the second half kickoff.

For the game: Another strong effort for special teams, which contributed in several ways again Saturday. Vandy only tried to run out three kickoffs because of McPherson’s high kicks and averaged only 17 yards a return.

Overall B

As coach Dan Mullen said, this team keeps finding different ways to win games. Who would have thought Vandy would score 27 points, win the turnover battle and Florida would leave here with the win? It wasn’t always pretty, but this team is now bowl eligible.


  1. Again, what did the special teams do to not deserve an A grade? The FG made all of his FG and EXP attempts, including a game clinching FG at the end. Kick off and punt coverage was excellent. Punt returns, with the exception of Houston’s dirty block and dropped punt which Swain recovered, were well executed well. Kick off returning was not exceptional because most of them went into the end zone. Toney really had no chance on his one return. I would have given the STs a grade of A, and not an A plus because of Houston’s bonehead block and Swain’s drop of the punt. But hardly an A minus. And the defense was C minus performance in the first half only. It was at least a B plus performance in the second half. My overall grade for the defense would be a B minus or a high C plus. I will go with the B minus because of the adjustments the D made during the game and held Vandy in check so the offense could come back and win the game. But I would only give the offense a B plus because of the turnovers during the game. No A anything with three turnovers unless they still score 60 plus points. And maybe not even then.

    Overall team grade: B plus

    Will likely need a finishing grade of a high A or A plus to beat Georgia in two weeks, although Georgia is grading out a D during the first half of the LSU game.

  2. And who cares at this point about bowl eligible? Most importantly, the Gators are still SEC East Champs eligible. Who would have “thunk” that would be the case today? Not many on here or elsewhere. Mullen is one hell of a good football coach. So are his coaches. I sure hope the top recruits soon start figuring that out.

    • IF the Gators win out…(and I don’t make that statement lightly…..UGA, Mizzou, SC remain, all winnable, all loseable) and someone else can beat Kentucky, the hello Atlanta. I don’t think anyone in the room thought this was anywhere near possible back in August.

      I really don’t mean to put the cart ahead of the horse, but IF that happens and we meet Bama in Atlanta, I feel a lot better about a respectable showing than either time that Mac took this team there. I NEVER felt like our offense had any chance at all, and they obviously they didn’t, back in 2015 and 2016.

  3. On one hand, don’t forget who you played: Vanderbilt. On the other hand, I never thought I would see the day that Franks was 19 for 29 for 284 yards, 2-TD’s and 1 Int (tip ball). Now, the leading receiver was a running back, Perine, but the yardage in the passing game and the yardage in the running game were almost even (284-293). So while I’ll state for the record that this offense is very difficult to watch, it got the job done today. It is a ground and pound with a short passing game hoping for the long run after catch, but it got the job done today. Dameon Pierce needs the ball more.
    Vandy knew exactly what to do against our defense. Draw, trap, and screen. If you have speed pass rushers coming up field, draw them up field, trap them, and run screen plays. It worked to perfection until Vandy lost Vaughn. Steve Spurrier used to run those plays to stop the pass rush from coming after his quarterbacks. Also, give their quarterback credit…when his internal clock got to 3, the ball got thrown. He wasn’t waiting around for 4-5 seconds. But overall, Vandy is Vandy and they were completely out manned by Florida.
    I have been watching college football for over 40 years. I have never in my life seen an entire football team hit with unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and then have a player have one already, and get ejected. Sideline unsportsmanlike penalties are always on coaches. Mullen’s statement, “Steve Shaw and Greg Sankey have something to look at and talk about.” Hey coach, remember 2006?? Steve Shaw doesn’t know the difference between a fumble and an incomplete pass. Don’t ask him to explain the rules of football to you, or anybody else!
    To Coach Dan Mullen and the Gators, congratulations on another win and setting up your own destiny in the SEC Eastern Division. It’s wonderful that Dooley is announcing at the top of the article, “Florida Bowl Eligible!” Just FYI: that’s expected every year at Florida. Another headline would be better: Once again, Florida is now in control of their own destiny in the SEC East. Florida has won the games and now is set up to play Georgia in Jacksonville in a pivotal SEC East game for a possible trip to Atlanta. THAT is what is expected every year, at Florida.

      • If we beat UGA (unlikely) but lose to USC or Mizzou, UGA beats Kentucky and everyone wins the rest of their SEC games then it would be a three way tie with the winner being the highest ranked team…is that right?

    • Grumpy. Continue to frown, sir. Florida does not yet control its own destiny in the SEC East. They have to win out and hope that Kentucky loses to Georgia or at least another SEC game. Kentucky and Georgia are the only two teams in the East that control their own destiny.

  4. Offensive live still cannot pass block in the first half if their lives depended on it, I’m not sure what makes them marginally better in the second half. Our running backs are studs, good gravy lets keep them healthy. Mullen remains a ballsy call player. GO GATORS.

  5. A win is a win, but they looked very bad at times. The Defense looked like the fell asleep at times. The hurry up gave them problems. They also need to play smarter. Stay home and contain the outside. Penalties/ejections hurt. However, the RBs are studs. The OL is still poor. Franks is still Franks. Even though he had a big game he still makes a few bad plays like he does every game that costs us points. I also question the play call on the 1st interception. You are running the ball great you are on the 5 yard line why throw the ball? Run the ball and throw short swing passed and an occasional long downfield pass. Stay away from the short passes over the middle.

  6. We are 6-1. We should beat Idaho so make it 7-1. We must lose all four games between Georgia, S. Carolina, Mizzou and FSU to finish 7-5. I don’t think we can do it (go 0-4 for that stretch). Who beats us? I am curious to know opinions — not to get ahead of ourselves as we must play-one-game-at-a-time and only focus on one-game-at-a-time — but who beats us?

    We don’t win pretty, but we win and win with character. I am willing to say for the first time this year that it is within the realm of possibility that we win out. Probability is another matter, but even that looks better all of a sudden.

    • I would have rather faced an undefeated UGA team then playing them after their first loss of the season. They were already going to give us special attention but now they’re most likely going to refocus and lock back in for the next two weeks. That’s a long time to work on the flaws LSU exposed. I’m a CDM believer and would take his coaching ability over Kirby’s any day. However, talent can make up for a lot of things and their’s scares me. I go back and forth really, but I had a lot more confidence in beating them before they lost to LSU today.

      Everyone else we should peel off the bottom of our boots. Isn’t it fun to think we should and can win games again instead of hope we can and then be relieved that we did?

      • I take your point Dallas, and it’s a good one at that. I think Georgia’s overconfidence coming in unbeaten would have been a factor, just like it was LSU’s when we beat them. Georgia got behind in the LSU game, didn’t respond with appropriate urgency when they should have (after all, they ARE Georgia), and LSU capitalized on it. Actually, it reminded me of what we did to LSU.

      • Dallas , I told everyone on here a couple of weeks ago that Ga was NOT Bama east and was beatable with a stout defense as their running game had been inconsistent and Fromm has not had a stellar campaign thus far this year. And after watching their game with LSU yesterday, I’m not sure that their defense is all that I thought it was either. Even so, I would have preferred that they pulled out a squeaker against LSU as we undoubtedly will now get their best game. One thing is certain and that is with us having beaten LSU previously we now have their full attention coming in to the cocktail party at Halloween. I still like our odds as LSU was able to get a lot of pressure on Fromm and I think we have a much better pass rush than LSU, plus they really only have a bunch of average receivers but a good tight end and I think Gratham can scheme to make them one dimensional and force them to run the ball. I am somewhat concerned about their power running game against our sometimes suspect and softer middle but that means that it will likely come down to a Mano en Mano as most of these SEC slugfest do and I really like the moxi and guts that this team has shown under pressure. It would have been easy to fold up and say that it just wasn’t their day the way things started out at Vandy and digging their selves a
        three score whole before waking up, but once again they rallied together and found a way to go win it ! GET READY PUPPY DOGS ! WE”RE YOUR HUCKLEBERRY ! GO GATORS !!

        • You did say that, BC, and I remember it because it started changing my opinion about Georgia. To wit, how would they respond when somebody slapped them in the face, and got ahead. No, not Bama-East, but still good and just as Kentucky was our white whale, LSU may have been theirs…….a good game plan, executed well, would really unhinge them!

          • Agreed 6, I like our team and our chances in the upcoming contest. Most especially our coaching staff’s ability to maximize our strengths and exploit their weakness’s . Not trying to trivialize GA as I know that they are a good team, but so are we and it should be a barn burner as both teams know that a 2nd loss will essentially kill any chance at a playoff bid.. GO GATORS !!

        • BC, you’re much smarter than me because I certainly called them “Bama East” in here a couple weeks ago.

          Irregardless, I think we both agree that them losing before we played them, especially the game prior, is not advantageous for us.

  7. Franks looked considerably better in the second half. Burrow had an outstanding game against Georgia today. Hope Franks can do the same or better. Glad Mullen has two weeks to coach him up. As the cliche goes, The Gators now “control their own destiny” on the path to Atlanta. Franks will need to lead the way.

  8. Despite Florida’s overall record in the series, most UF Vandy games are close. Even some of the better teams under Spurrier and Meyer struggled in Vandy games. I’m old enough to remember losses in Nashville under Dickey, Pell, and Hall. Glad it didn’t happen today.

  9. Gripes about the OL, after this game, are baloney. How many running plays consisted of a run up the middle, where the RB immediately ran into the back of his line, which then, over the course of 4 or 5 seconds would guide the RB forward for a 5 to 7 year gain? I realize the opponent was comparatively weak. But the rushing numbers were gaudy because the line truly outmuscled the Vandy DL. Very, very gratifying, among many nice things in the game.

  10. Overall a good (not great) win. Franks did not have his best day, but got the job done. I like the guy, but watching him run the ball is painful. He may be athletic, but he is probably the worst QB runner since John Brantley III, or maybe Jeff Driskel. He just looks awkward and hesitant running the ball. Watching him jump almost straight-up while trying to hurdle a tackler is almost funny (almost). I think he needs to spend some time with the running backs coach, and get coached-up. His running style reminds me of a blue heron splashing through the water, or an Emu plodding across the field. Not trying to be ugly or cruel, but although he sometimes gets to run (or has to), he is not a dual threat QB by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Franks seems like he’s just too big to run effectively. How many 6’6″ running backs are there in the SEC? Where Tebow ran with power, Franks is too lanky to run hard and he tries to do crazy athletic moves like diving over defenders which will only get him hurt. I know it’s part of Mullen’s offense to have a running QB, but the Gators have plenty of good running backs to carry the ball instead of risking your starting QB.

  11. The Sec Officiating is absolutely embarrassing; and I am not talking just about yesterday’s game. If these officials don’t have the ability to officiate a game without malicious intent. And keep THEIR Bias intent out of a game. Then they need to think about getting a job at Wal-Mart has a front door greeter. It’s embarrassing and uncalled for some of the incompetent calls you see in the Sec; week in and week out. Their home office is in Birmingham makes you wonder if they have a bunch of Bama rejects.

  12. Interesting scenario: say Florida and Kentucky win out, and then Kentucky looks somewhat respectable against Alabama in the SEC Chamionship game. Florida’s one loss looks REALLY good at that point. If UCF is unbeaten at that point, and Texas and several others have one loss, who gets the fourth spot in the playoff (assuming Ohio State and Clemson are unbeaten also)? If the committee really is objectively looking at things, they’d have to say that Florida had proven to be much better, but there would be tremendous pressure on them to pick UCF.

  13. Stop with comments about the refs, the coaches, the other team, etc. in EVERY game there are good and bad calls. Look at the rally guys. Enjoy the roses. Look for the “light in the pouring rain.” Well, everyone’s got an opinion. Makes America great. So just look at 6-1, national ranking, 6th best vs. pass, tough players, good offense when they hold onto the ball, and great DC in Grantham. He disguises coverages better than anyone. Vandy took away the blitz, some Gator defenders over-reacted on the 75 yd. screen and 48 yd. run, but outside of those two (123 yds). Vandy only got 196 yds the other 59 minutes.

  14. cattrick. I do recall Mullen being very upset with the refs inconsistency in calls during the first half and got all over them. The refs seems to see the field differently during the second half. Clearly, the refs were not doing a good job of controlling the game with consistency of calls during the first half and the game. But teams always have to overcome that and play better with control of emotions and reactions to them. That was not the case for some of the Florida players during the first half, but Mullen clearly fixed that during his halftime message to the players. But the SEC and the NCAA need to change the rule that a team personal foul does not apply individually to players who have already received a personal foul unless they receive and individual personal foul during the team foul. That is a stupid and unfair rule for a player just standing on the sidelines.

  15. I think you need to consider three things, in particular, in this game:
    Overall execution: B (C in 1st Half, A in 2nd Half = B Average)
    Adjustments at Halftime: A
    Resiliency: A (Overcoming adversity to win )
    There is obviously much to work on after the by week. Execution must improve.
    I expect our practices will be much better with Ga. next up.