Saturday, December 16, 2017
Colleges

UF spring game: Feleipe Franks looks like QB to beat

GAINESVILLE — Before getting too excited about anything from Friday night's Orange and Blue Debut, remember that quarterback Luke Del Rio threw only one incompletion in the Gators' spring game last year. That didn't exactly translate into success in the fall.

With that said, here are four takeaways from Florida's spring game, in front of an estimated 48,000 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

1. Feleipe Franks is quarterback to beat

"I think he's ahead," coach Jim McElwain said. "There's no doubt about it." Playing with the Orange's first-team offense (which won 31-0), Franks finished 8-of-14 passing for 119 yards. The highlights were a 16-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway and a gorgeous 46-yard throw to Josh Hammond that was as impressive as any play by a UF quarterback last year. "Obviously a confidence-booster," Franks said. He wasn't perfect; he missed throws high and committed a McElwain sin by holding onto the ball too long. But he outplayed fellow redshirt freshman Kyle Trask, who finished 4-of-13 for 31 yards but mostly played against the first-team defense. Trask missed on seven of his first nine passes, fumbled on a sack and threw an interception to linebacker Vosean Joseph. Trask finished 4-of-13 for 31 yards. The competition isn't over. Coaches say Del Rio will be in the mix in the fall, once he returns from offseason surgeries to both shoulders. Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is reportedly considering UF as a grad transfer, if the SEC changes its rules to allow that to happen. But through spring ball, Franks remains the favorite to start the Sept. 2 season opener against Michigan. "It's going to be a dog fight until the very end," Trask said.

2. The Gators' defensive line will be fine

With tackles Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivie and end Bryan Cox headed to the NFL, UF's defensive line must reload. And the early indications are positive. End Antonneous Clayton had a sack on the first-team offense, and breakout lineman Jabari Zuniga had the strip/sack on Trask. Trask said it felt as if Khairi Clark was in his face all night, and tackle Taven Bryan showed why he has drawn rave reviews this spring by stuffing an early run and pressuring Trask on the next play. "Man, he's been pretty dominant…" co-defensive coordinator Chris Rumph said of Bryan earlier this spring. The rest of the rebuilt line looked the part Friday, too.

3. The red-zone troubles haven't disappeared

UF scored touchdowns on half of its 42 red-zone drives last year — the worst rate in the SEC and No. 115 nationally. McElwain hasn't been thrilled with the efficiency in the spring, and it continued Friday. "We missed, what, three (throws) that were touchdowns?" McElwain said. Franks missed two inside the 10 by himself. It wasn't in the red zone, but running back Mark Thompson lost a fumble — a recurring problem for him, which doesn't bode well for a bruising back who should get touches inside the 5.

4. Kadarius Toney will have a role in the offense

The early enrollee was more effective against the first-team defense than Trask was. He had a nifty scramble and 4-yard touchdown pass to Tucker Nordman, and he added a 34-yard rush. "That'll be a guy that needs to touch the ball," McElwain said. Expect a change-of-pace quarterback package.

Comments

Tim Tebow wants to help throw you a tailgate wedding (sausages included)

Tim Tebow loves weddings.He apparently also loves football, tailgate parties and a good brat, which might explain why he’s lending his pitchman talents to a contest that ties all four together.In a promotional video, Tebow asks, "What happens when yo...
Published: 12/14/17
River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

Two years ago, Chris Schwarz was mulling over his college choices. The former River Ridge High standout had offers from Valparaiso, Florida Tech and West Florida. West Florida?That one baffled Schwarz, mostly because he knew nothing about the school....
Published: 12/14/17
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Published: 12/13/17
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17
Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

TAMPA — Back home in Indiana, he was basketball royalty. He played in his first league at age 2. He lived — and loved — the hardwood life. He was accustomed to performing before more than 10,000 fans for his big games.Pat Bacon capped his storied pre...
Published: 12/06/17