As the final seconds ticked off at AT & T Stadium in Arlington, TX, Saturday night, Michigan celebrated a decisive win, but bigger for Gator fans everywhere, they lamented another game with poor QB play and little passing offense.
Thus, leaving the question: when will they finally get it solved?
There was nothing on the field at “Jerry’s World” in North Texas that indicated that it will be anytime soon.
The Gators started a redshirt freshman (Feleipe Franks) in the opening game for the first time in 33 years. So, that allegedly indicated he was the most talented, competent of the three choices coach Jim McElwain had for starting this season. After all, 2016 part time starter Luke Del Rio had recovered enough from off season shoulder surgery to be working with the first team in practice leading up to the Michigan Game. Yet, he was on the bench for the entire game.
Then, throw in Malik Zaire, the Notre Dame transfer, who brought some experience from the Irish and also a different speed dimension to run the read option if they wanted. Zaire had all summer to learn the playbook, and according to McElwain, has been taking some reps with the first team, too.
After Franks showed little to nothing in the first half, and the only reason the Gators were in the game was back to back INT returns for TDs, McElwain decided to try Zaire. And that was a bigger mess.
His total lack of urgency and presence in the pocket while trying to read the Wolverine defenses was striking and painful to watch. Again, the Gators went no where on offense in the second half, and Michigan battered Zaire repeatedly. Eventually, they put the game away with this sack fumble in the end zone for a TD.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) September 3, 2017
Checkout the final numbers for another sobering reminder that Florida had virtually no pass offense: Franks 5-9 74 yards, and Zaire 9-17 106 yards.
Spurrier, Spurrier, “Where for art thou, my Spurrier?!?”
Remember the 90’s when it was Shane Mathews, Terry Dean, Danny Wuerffel, Doug Johnson, etc., you could count on 300 yards and 3-5 TDs every week?
It seems like a long, long, time ago.
Here’s the other thing that has Florida fans spooked. Offense and specifically, QB play, was supposed to be McElwain’s forte’. As offensive coordinator at Alabama or his previous head coaching stop at Colorado State, he was supposed to be a guy that could identify and then, quickly develop an all everything star.
Hasn’t happened. Not close.
And it’s not just McElwain recently, former Gators boss Will Muschamp was a disaster, when it came to their offense and QB’s, too. From John Brantley to Jeff Driskell to Treon Harris, etc. It was a roll call of misery trying to throw the ball.
Check this awful reminder of what they used to have and what the Gators don’t have now:
Since Tebow left, Florida has failed to reach 250 yds of offense TWENTY TWO times, 2nd most in P5. Compare UF talent to similarly bad Os… pic.twitter.com/WhU9FKy6BS
— Crooked Halery (@DavidHaleESPN) September 3, 2017
Look, we understand that Florida had virtually half of their firepower missing Saturday with Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett both suspended with nine others.
But, for three years of Will Grier, Del Rio, Austin Appleby, and now this, the QB/pass offense has looked the same and shown almost nothing.
The Gators will now host Northern Colorado before playing Tennessee in two weeks.
It’s got to get better with someone throwing the ball, and creating excitement, again.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
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:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
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.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
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.