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Florida Gators

Gators- Franks must be better than sloppy opener with Miami

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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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

Vols Coach Pruitt- “Yes I hate Florida”

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee series with Florida has not been too kind to them as of late, but even as a heavy underdogs at the Swamp Saturday, they believe that they could change that. Oh, and then there’s your second year head coach wanting to make it clear he definitely dislikes the Gators.

Jeremy Pruitt, whose team suffered a humiliating opening-week loss at home to Georgia State and then followed that with another loss in heartbreaking fashion to BYU in overtime in week two, took to the radio airwaves Wednesday to answer questions from Volunteers fans. And, one wanted to make sure how much he despised Florida:

The caller asked a question about whether the Vols might be able to pull a shocker, like they did over Auburn in Pruitt’s inaugural season of 2018, but also very plainly put it to the former Alabama and Florida State defensive coordinator,  “do you hate Florida?”

Pruitt answered the question about the mentality going into Gainesville, as a 14-point underdog in their SEC opener. Then threw in the line,

“And yes, I hate Florida.”

And, while Gators fans might take that insult, as perfect “bulletin board material” to motivate their team, the dislike has been there from both sides for 25 years or more.

Encouraging for the Vols, and even though it was under previous coach Butch Jones, Tennessee should have a mentality should be that they can hang with Florida. As each of the last two meetings in Gainesville under Jones, Tennessee had the lead in the final minute of the game, only to let Florida dramatically score the game-winning touchdown on a huge pass play.

A year ago in Knoxville, the Gators used six turnovers and two defensive touchdowns to wipe out Tennessee 47-21 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final.

Meanwhile, instead of the “level of hatred, or not” Gators coach Dan Mullen has bigger concerns about using dual quarterbacks in Kyle Trask and Emory Jones. And, he must deal with the expectations that the Gators should, once again, wipe out “The Big Orange.”

Then, let the media and fans talk about insults, afterwards.

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Florida Gators

Gators coach Mullen likely to use two QBs against Tennessee

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After losing starting QB Feleipe Franks to an ankle injury on Saturday night against SEC rival Kentucky, the Gators have now found themselves with an unexpected decision as to who will be starting QB?

Franks was replaced by redshirt junior Kyle Trask, who was seeing his first significant action of his Florida career, especially trailing by double figures in a hostile SEC road environment. However, it’s likely that RS Freshman Emory Jones will also take some snaps at quarterback this season.

Mullens decision to potentially go with both QBs could be not only to determine which guy will be his offensive leader for the rest of the season, but to also give their next opponent, Tennessee, more to prepare for as the head into their next conference rivalry game.

The Gators second year coach announced on Monday that Franks is officially done for the season.

On a fourth-and-one scramble with 3:21 remaining, Franks was sandwiched between multiple Wildcat defenders and bent backwards. Even though replays weren’t shown, it was clear he had suffered a dislocated right ankle injury.

So bad was the injury, that trainers who came to assist Franks on the turf at Commonwealth Stadium immediately put an air cast on his right leg. Then he was eventually carted off to the locker room after nearly the entire Gator team had surrounded him and wished him well.

Frank’s has been a “lightning rod of criticism” throughout his Florida career, but did silence a lot of those critics with his play down the stretch last season. That included a late season comeback win over South Carolina, playing well in the rivalry victory over Florida State, and then, following that up with a good performance in the easy victory in the Peach Bowl over Michigan.

However, Franks and the offense struggled much of the first three quarters of Saturday night’s SEC opener at Kentucky. At the time he left with an injury he was an efficient 12-17 for 174 yards with a TD pass and 1 INT. Still, they had only put one touchdown on the board while trailing 21 – 10.

Trask went in for Franks and went on to pull out a come from behind win for the Gators, completing 9 for 13 passes, with 126 passing yards. He’ll be competing for playing time with Jones, the No. 85 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 and four-star dual-threat quarterback.

Jones saw limited action last season to maintain redshirt status, but completed 12-16 passes for 125 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the four games he play in. Jones is also more of a dual threat to run and that will give Mullen and staff more options on play calls, if/when he’s on the field.

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