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Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

The Gators, and their quarterbacks, make enough big plays to excite fans in a high-scoring spring game
Florida quarterbacks Feleipe Franks (13) and Nick Sproles celebrate after Sproles threw a touchdown pass on the final play of the Gators' intrasquad game Saturday in Gainesville. [AP Photo/John Raoux]
Florida quarterbacks Feleipe Franks (13) and Nick Sproles celebrate after Sproles threw a touchdown pass on the final play of the Gators' intrasquad game Saturday in Gainesville. [AP Photo/John Raoux]
Published Apr. 14, 2018

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.

And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that brought back memories of the Fun 'n' Gun days. Here are five takeaways from Saturday's game won by the Orange squad, 35-30.

1. The quarterback position is still a work in progress

Feleipe Franks left defenders breathlessly behind on long gains. Kyle Trask made critical throws to keep drives alive.

Florida's starting quarterbacks made big plays throughout Saturday's spring game.

Still, there were some errant passes and a few negative plays.

Because of that, Gators coach Dan Mullen is certain of one thing, and perhaps one thing only regarding his quarterback situation: there is more to be done.

"I want to see a lot more out of them moving forward," Mullen said of his quarterbacks. "I saw some really good things. I saw them miss some simple things. It gets into the speed of the decision-making and the comfort of the offense.

"I watched them make a great read and get to the second or third progression and make a great throw and move the chains. And the next one I'll watch them miss the first read and launch one down the field."

Franks was 8-of-12 for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 63 yards and two scores, including a 60-yard burst in which he zig-zagged through the defense before diving into the corner of the end zone.

"Everybody's working hard learning a new playbook, and we have the whole summer to work with each other to learn the playbook and be ready for August 4," Franks said.

Trask, who has been impressive this spring, was 12-of-24 for 178 yards and threw for three touchdowns.

Related: Kyle Trask showed he belonged in Florida Gators' quarterback race

Others saw action, too.

Emory Jones, a four-star recruit who was a key addition in the 2018 class, showed flashes, completing three passes for 98 yards, two going for scores.

Jake Allen, who beat Plant in the Class 8A state title game two years ago, was 4-of-7 for seven yards. Nick Sproles completed both of his passes for 53 yards, including one for a touchdown.

2. The fun is back in Gainesville

Lawrence Wright, a former standout defensive back for Florida, eased his way onto the field, flew down the sideline and made a nifty catch on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Trask in the second quarter off a trick play.

Travis McGriff, a former star receiver for the Gators, also caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Franks on a similar gimmick about six minutes later.

That's not all.

Franks celebrated one touchdown by punting the ball into the stands. He dunked the ball over the goalpost on another score.

It is exactly what Mullen wanted.

"I want to have fun. I mean, life's too short," Mullen said. "We're going to have fun. Now I'm competitive and I want to win, but we're going to have fun doing this."

3. Amari Burney will have a significant role in the secondary

The former Calvary Christian standout decided to graduate in December and become an early enrollee, in part to get playing time in the spring.

Burney has made an impact, so much that he started for the Blue squad and finished with a team-leading seven tackles.

Related: Calvary Christian WR/DB Amari Burney picks Florida

4. The Townsend family can punt

One spot Florida had to fill this spring was at punter. Johnny Townsend, who led the nation in punting each of the past two seasons, is graduating.

His brother appears to be the likely replacement.

Tommy Townsend, a redshirt junior who transferred from Tennessee, capped off an impressive spring by booming a 55-yard punt in the first quarter on Saturday.

5. Antonneous Clayton can be a force on the defensive line

The former prized recruit has registered just 10 tackles and a sack in his first two seasons.

This spring, Clayton is showing off his potential as a pass rusher. He had 2.5 sacks in one scrimmage and came up with two straight sacks on a drive in the second half.

Clayton's teammates notice the difference.

"He's always had it in him," Florida linebacker David Reese said of Clayton. "That man has a motor, he's going to give it all he has until he has no more. He's going to keep running to the ball."

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