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The Back Nine: Franks' return another hurdle for Gators

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports
Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks is now doing his thing with the Arkansas Razorbacks. He makes his return to The Swamp on Saturday.

The Back Nine comes at you after a historical weekend that resulted in a lot of celebratory cocktails in the Dooley Dome. And that was just for Florida-Georgia.

10. And so, the Gators move forward, hopefully not spending too much time enjoying the victory over the mighty Bulldogs because the toughest game remaining on the schedule could well be coming up. Nobody thought Arkansas at Florida was worth getting dressed up for when the schedules were re-announced, but Sam Pittman has his team playing with its hair on fire (unfortunate that he tested positive for COVID-19 and is doubtful for the game). The Razorbacks are eighth in the SEC in offense and eighth in defense (but lead the conference in interceptions). They get turnovers and Feleipe Franks has thrown only three picks. Arkansas is 11th in the country in turnover margin with plus-8 (Florida is plus-1), but that is not the reason I think this is a scary game for the Gators. 

11. Here is the reason — I still don't trust Florida's secondary and Franks is one of the few quarterbacks remaining on the schedule who can take advantage of it. Georgia had open receivers down the field all day, just nobody to get them the ball. They'd have been better off with Ray Goff at quarterback. Franks has become a more accurate passer at 67.2 percent completion percentage. The Gators won't face another quarterback who can play at a high level, especially with Myles Brennan shut down and who knows who will be playing behind center for LSU? The other three quarterbacks Florida will face are 10th, 11th and 12th in the SEC in quarterback rating. So I think I have made my point. Arkansas isn't just an obstacle because it is the next game, it is an obstacle because it can take advantage of a Florida weakness.

12. Of course, nobody has been able to handle Florida's strength, which is the quarterback on UF's side of the ball. Kyle Trask threw a pass that almost gave Gator fans a heart attack (should have been a pick-six), but he continues to put up crazy numbers. The dynamic of these two quarterbacks going against each other after spending so much time in the same quarterback room will be the story heading into the game. "It's going to be kind of crazy," Franks said. "I love all those guys on staff there and all of those players. I still communicate with those guys. It'll be a fun game and it'll be fun to get back to play in The Swamp." One thing to remember is that Franks was not a popular quarterback in terms of the fans, he owned that Florida locker room and the players hated to see him leave. It's funny, the last time I saw him I was on the field before the Orange Bowl and he was going through his normal warm-up right next to Trask, even though Franks wasn't going to play. 

13. This is a stat that gets overlooked with all of the incredible numbers being put up by the offense, but Florida had only 15 yards worth of penalties against Georgia on Saturday, which brings the Gator average down to 39.2 yards in penalties per game. That's good enough for 11th in the country in fewest penalty yards per game among teams that have played at least four games. "Well, 39 seems like a high number to me," said Dan Mullen. "It's hard for me to jump up and down with 40 yards a game in penalties. But it goes to attention to detail. We have some veteran guys." Also, there is this stat that a reader pointed out — Trask has thrown a pick-six in consecutive games. He answered the one against Missouri with 28 straight points and the one against Georgia with 27 straight points. That is the ultimate in shaking off a bad play.

14. There were a lot of rumors flying after another South Carolina implosion Saturday night (Will Muschamp kicked a field goal down 41-0 and the fans let him have it). However, it was just a rumor and the actual journalists had to put out some fires. There is no doubt Muschamp is in trouble, but his buyout of $14.3 million plus assistant coaches is going to be difficult to deal with during a pandemic-induced recession. But this all feels familiar in that recruiting is getting toxic because of the uncertainty surrounding the head coach. South Carolina has allowed a combined 100 points in its last two games and it's difficult to see a path to anything better than a 3-7 record. The Gamecocks fooled me with that win over Auburn, but clearly there is a talent issue in Columbia.

15. There's no point in addressing the Notre Dame students rushing the field Saturday night because the president of the school already did with his powerful actions (basically, get tested before you leave for break or don't come back). It was just such a pleasure to watch a terrific college football game with such heavy implications. And I'm already looking for the two teams to face off again in the ACC title game. I don't think Clemson lost because Trevor Lawrence was out, but you could argue they never lose regular season games with Lawrence as the starter. I think they got hurt more by injuries on the defensive line. Anyway, my wife and I joined 14 million other people suffering through the ACC refs and the constant reviews and it was worth it, even though I really didn't care who won.

16. This is my favorite week of the year times 100. Not only do we get The Masters, which is in my top three sports to watch, but we get it during football season (and my birthday week). It won't be the same without the patrons and without the Par-3 contest, but I'll still make myself a pimiento cheese sandwich Sunday and settle in. The truth is, I could watch golf at Augusta National every weekend. That's how much I love seeing people on that course. I need to pick a winner and I'm going with Dustin Johnson. Bet accordingly.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to the Hall of Famer, AP sportswriter Teresa Walker — "(Jeremy) Pruitt was talking about the gap with Alabama a couple weeks ago. Heck, his problem is the gap with Arkansas, Kentucky etc." The Kardashians have scored seven points in the second halves of their last four games and that one touchdown came in garbage time against Alabama in a blowout loss.

18. It seems like a weekly tradition to talk about someone who has just passed away. I met Alex Trebek once when I went to a game show in Los Angeles because they needed an audience (my wife at the time and I went to a lot of them that week and ended up contestants on one; it didn't end well). Anyway, he was very nice and today I am very sad. So I'll try to get us all in a better mood with this playlist:

• "Making Do" by Lake Street Drive.

• "Canyonheart" by Israel Nash.

• "Jenny Says" by Cowboy Mouth.

• "The Good Old Days" by the Eels.

• And for an old one, thanks to a reader for the suggestion of "Too Late for Goodbyes" by Julian Lennon.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.