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Florida Gators

Gators- Franks must be better than sloppy opener with Miami

Matt Zemek

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators are 1-0. The Miami Hurricanes are 0-1.

The official historical record says the Gators won. The scoreboard showed that the Gators had more points than the Canes after 60 minutes of regulation on Saturday night in Orlando.

Winning beats losing.

Florida won’t give back its win because of how ugly it was.

Yet, if a win over Miami — always cherished by Florida fans, and rare in the last 16 games of this series (12-4 Miami) — could mean very little, if this scenario “fits the bill” down the road.

This was a win over the Hurricanes, which somehow felt very minimal and uninspiring.

“What a game!”, Dan Mullen exclaimed, when interviewed by ESPN on the field right after the final seconds ticked away:

Yes: What a game. What an atrocious, frightfully bad, jarringly ugly game.

Sure: It was August 24. We knew there would be lots of mistakes and rough edges. Week one football will be ragged and uneven and filled with mistakes.

Yet, a team with SEC Championship aspirations and a No. 8 preseason ranking ought to be able to make at least SOME adjustments, SOME corrections, SOME improvements within the course of a game. Show the ability to polish technique. Show the ability to learn from failure. Show the ability to identify flaws and go in a different direction.

The Gators didn’t really do that.

They won. They won because their front seven smoked Miami’s offensive line; because the Canes missed a short field goal; because the Canes muffed a punt; because Miami missed tackles and suffered an untimely breakdown in coverage which led to a huge gain.

This was a game in which nearly all the points scored came from huge breakdowns — on offense, defense, or special teams. It was the antithesis of a game in which both teams earned what they got.

No, in this contest, both teams were handed gifts.

Yes, it was only August 24, but Florida was supposed to be better than this This doesn’t mean the Gators were supposed to play a low-mistake game. We have already established that this game was going to be messy and sloppy.

But THAT sloppy? That disjointed? That ugly?

Plenty of Gators, particularly in the secondary, have a lot to answer for, but none more than quarterback Feleipe Franks.

This is the harsh reality of Saturday’s win: Franks, who has to be good for Florida to be great, showed no real improvement from 2018. To be more precise, he regressed from the Peach Bowl against Michigan… a game in which, the Wolverines lacked multiple defensive stars because they were preparing for the NFL Combine or Draft.

With his decisions, his throws, his reads, his sense of the moment, his lack of comfort in moving to his left, Franks looked shaky for most of the night, and occasionally overwhelmed. He threw a few darts into traffic, but for 80 percent of this game, he was a liability for the offense, just as he was last year.

Mullen was cautious with Franks. The fact that he was is not problematic as a reflection of in-game strategy, but it is certainly a problem in that Mullen obviously didn’t develop or prepare Franks well enough for the new season.

Then, there was the near fatal interception that Franks threw in the right flat, on first down, into double coverage, at his own 25 yard line, with just 4:20 left in the game, and while Florida led 24-20. That’s the kind of unforgivable decision/throw that doubters will immediately point to, as proof that Franks isn’t going to lead the Gators anywhere by himself.

Can you say, “Well, it’s only August 24”? Yes you can… and maybe this was simply Franks being very unsure of himself in a very early game this season against a good Miami defense.

Maybe, Franks just wasn’t ready for the speed on the other side of the ball, and from now on, he will settle in. Maybe, that’s true.

Most national analysts, I can assure you, probably won’t agree with that. Franks made way too many mistakes to suggest that he will round into form and be conspicuously better this season.

Mullen can’t look at this game and think Franks will be ready for Georgia. It is as though Mullen needs to start from square one after Game 1.

Florida did win a game… but it didn’t win much of any confidence for the road ahead.

Feleipe Franks needs to dramatically improve, and quickly… or this season will fall well short of expectations in Gainesville.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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