The Florida Gators added another tally to the win column with a 63-10 massacre of the Idaho Vandals in the final home game of the season on Saturday. It was a bloodbath from beginning to end, which is just what the Gators needed after a long and trying SEC season.
Bailiegh gives her most notable observations from the big win.
1. The Gators beat a severely overmatched team
It’s difficult to draw much from games like this one. Florida beat Idaho handily. It was supposed to beat Idaho handily.
The Vandals had just four wins in 2018 as a part of the Big Sky Conference. Idaho was not a good football team.
Essentially, the Gators had an opportunity to play one more game in The Swamp this season, honor the seniors and gain some confidence before heading to Tallahassee next week, and they did all of those things.
From the very first play when Chauncey Gardner-Johnson intercepted Mason Petrino and took it to the house, it became obvious the game wouldn’t be much more than a practice with a few fans in the stands.
If nothing more came from it, the Gators were able to give lots of guys opportunities. A total of 13 receivers caught passes, eight more rushed the ball and 33 played on defense.
2. Some freshmen made noise
Many of the players to get those opportunities were freshmen. For some, it was one of their four games as part of a redshirt year, and for others, it was a chance to contribute more than they have been for a majority of the season.
Running back Dameon Pierce led the Gators with 77 rushing yards on a career-high 13 carries. He also added a touchdown reception.
Pierce has been a piece of Florida’s offense for much of the season, but hasn’t had nearly as many opportunities recently as Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine have carried the load.
Wide receiver Jacob Copeland made his first appearance of the season. He was expected to make a big impact in his first season at Florida before suffering a knee injury in fall camp that held him back for a large part of it.
Now, he will take a redshirt, but that means he can play in every remaining game.
He flashed a little bit of what he could do with a 16-yard catch in the third quarter and made some nice blocks throughout the game. He also turned the burners on in his only kick return of the game and looked like a great option to stick back there.
Florida fans have been wanting more of tight end Kyle Pitts all season, and they got it in the first quarter when he scored the first touchdown of his career on a slant from Feleipe Franks that he took in for 52 yards. He nearly had a second on a perfect deep ball from Emory Jones later in the game, but just couldn’t make the catch.
We’ll get back to Jones later.
On defense, Amari Burney and redshirt freshman Ventrell Miller were the ones who stood out.
Burney was fun to watch with his outstanding closing speed as he made three tackles along with a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.
Miller had four tackles, but really brought the crowd back to life with his pick-six in the fourth quarter as he ran it 82 yards to the end zone.
3. Let’s talk quarterbacks
Franks put up some nice stats in the game, or half. He threw for 274 yards and connected with three different receivers for touchdowns while also adding a 17-yard touchdown run of his own all in the first half of play.
Dan Mullen set it up for him to throw the ball a ton in his time in the game. He completed 19 of his 27 attempts, with 18 of those attempts coming in the first quarter. For reference, he had only averaged 22.3 passes per game coming in.
While he made some nice throws, he also missed some. Franks is known for his outstanding arm strength, but that doesn’t mean a lot when he continuously struggles with accuracy on his deeper passes.
Against a defense like Idaho’s, there are very few excuses for it. But overall, he had a good game and will have that to build on as he prepares for FSU.
It was up in the air coming into this game whether or not Jones would play. He had two games remaining for his redshirt eligibility, so Mullen had to decide which combination would be best.
Kyle Trask’s injury last week essentially forced his hand coming into this week. There would be no sense in keeping Franks in the game for the second half, especially with Florida leading 49-0 at that point.
Along with that, Jones is one injury away from having to take over at quarterback and he needs all the experience he can get. Idaho gave him that experience and was a game he could get some confidence in by playing in more than just a few packages.
He took over in the final minutes of the first half and the entire second half (other than the last possession). In that time, Jones completed 12 of 16 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
He is still not where Florida needs him to be as a passer, but the improvements he’s made in that area in 10 months on campus is impressive. He made some beautiful passes that even Franks hasn’t hit a lot of this season, but he made some freshman throws and the offense stalled at times with him in the game as well.
It will be interesting to see how the Gators use him either next week or in the bowl game. With continued development in his game and in leading the offense, he could do some really good things at Florida.