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Andreu's Answers: Multiple Gators step up in Pitts' absence

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida tight end Keon Zipperer (9) catches a touchdown pass Saturday against Arkansas at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Before every Florida game, veteran Sun college football writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here's Week 6:

How badly will Feleipe Franks hurt his former team? Or will it be the other way around, with the Gators getting the best of him?

 Franks had a good game and definitely inflicted some damage. He had two long touchdown passes — 49 and 82 yards, both to wide receiver Mike Woods — and finished the game with 15 completions in 19 attempts for 250 yards. Usually, that would be considered a winning performance. But those numbers, as good as they are, pale in comparison to what Kyle Trask and the Florida offense put up in the blowout win. The Gators did let Franks know they were there, sacking him four times and hitting him multiple other times. So, bottom line, Franks had a good night, made the home crowd nervous at times, but simply did not have enough to keep up with his former teammates.

If Kyle Pitts (concussion) doesn’t play, who steps up to make plays in the passing game?

 Pitts, who had nose surgery last week, did not play, and he will not play again Saturday against Vanderbilt, but the Gators showed in the win that they can continue to do what they do — fly up and down the field with the passing game — without him. The offense looked just like it has all season, with quarterback Kyle Trask having great success in the passing game, spreading the ball around to multiple playmakers. Five different receivers caught touchdown passes — Trevon Grimes, Keon Zipperer, Jacob Copeland, Justin Shorter and true freshman wide receiver Xzavier Henderson. The two that really stepped up big were Grimes and Zipperer, who was filling in for Pitts. Grimes had two touchdown receptions and caught six passes for 109 yards, while Zipperer had two touchdown catches and flashed big-time potential as a pass-catching tight end.

Will Kyle Trask throw for four or more touchdowns for the sixth consecutive game?

 We knew the answer to this one early, with his 33-yard touchdown pass to Copeland with 4:33 still left in the first half that gave him four for the game. And, of course, he wasn't done yet. He added two more touchdown passes in the second half, giving him six in a game for the second time this season. He has now officially blown away the old SEC record of four consecutive games with four or more touchdown passes. He's done it in every game this season for a total of six. With his nation-leading 28 touchdown passes on the season, Trask is closing in on Danny Wuerffel's single-season school record of 39. By the way, Wuerffel established that record in 1996, the year the Gators won their first national championship. Just saying.

Can improving defense shut down the Arkansas running game?

 The real question coming out of this game is this: can we really call the defense improving anymore? Although UF coach Dan Mullen said after the game that the Gators made a lot of good plays on defense, there also were some glaring lapses, the biggest was giving up an 83-yard touchdown run in the second quarter by Trelon Smith on a running play between the tackles. That's the second week in a row that the defense gave up a long touchdown run where the runner wasn't even touched. Take away that one big play, and the Gators did a solid job defending the run. But they clearly did not shut it down.

After the big win over Georgia last week, will the Gators come out flat or fired up?

 The Gators came out focused and ready to play, the offense more so than the defense. The offense got off to a really nice start, taking the opening kickoff and driving 75 yards in 14 plays and capping it off with a Trask touchdown pass to Grimes. Most of those 75 yards came on the ground, a good sign of things to come with the play-action passing game. While the offense steamrolled down the field, the defense came out shaky, giving up a 13-yard pass play on the first play, then getting beat for a 47-yard touchdown pass four plays later. But, overall, for the game, the Gators were fired up and ready to play.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

Up next

Who: No. 5 Florida (5-1) vs. Vanderbilt (0-6)

When: 12 p.m. Saturday

Where: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Online: Click to Gatorsports.com for more coverage of the Gators' win