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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Column: Don’t rush to judgement based on an inconsequential Spring scrimmage

<p>UF quarterback Kyle Trask drops back to pass during Florida's Spring game on April 7, 2017, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.</p>

UF quarterback Kyle Trask drops back to pass during Florida's Spring game on April 7, 2017, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

We don’t know anything.

That’s what I think. And that was my biggest takeaway after watching the Florida football team’s annual Spring scrimmage — a glorified practice played in The Swamp and televised on SEC Network meant to satiate fans and provide a valuable stadium experience for UF’s players during the offseason — on Friday.

Those two groups may have been the only parties the scrimmage was valuable for.

As for us, the analysts charged with breaking down the game in some meaningful way, pretending like we know how well Florida’s safeties will fare in the regular season by watching them scrimmage against their own team in April, honestly, felt like a farce. All of it.

The main storyline heading into Friday’s scrimmage was the quarterback competition. Feleipe Franks vs. Kyle Trask. Who would pull away in the race to become UF’s next starter? Who would blow their chance and end the Spring a few steps behind the other?

When it was over, the media and the fans rained judgement down upon the two freshmen: Franks completed eight of his 14 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown, so he was the better quarterback (even though he was pitted against Florida’s defensive backups for most of the game). Trask completed six of his 15 passes for 66 yards, one interception and no touchdowns, so he was the lesser quarterback (even though he competed against the starters for most of his snaps).

And on it continued for the rest of UF’s position groups.

But, in many ways, an exercise like Friday’s was probably extremely useful for the Florida football team. It simulated a game-like atmosphere (despite playing in front of an announced crowd of 48,000, about half the amount that usually attends a regular-season home game) and gave the team a final dress rehearsal, an end-goal to look forward to, four quarters to show off what they had been practicing and working toward all Spring.

It must have been extremely valuable for the coaches as well. After Friday, they got a game's worth of film to evaluate their players, correct some issues that need fixing, and it's a great learning experience to figure out how to best coach their players in an actual game.

My dilemma?

The rest of us don’t know what we’re talking about.

Unless you spent your Saturday afternoon meticulously breaking down each snap, taking notes on the quarterbacks’ throwing mechanics or the defensive linemen’s gap techniques or the linebackers’ play recognition, it’s incredibly difficult to fully understand what we watched.

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I think football is a complicated sport, much more so than viewers give it credit for.

If my boss asked me to evaluate how Florida’s left guard played on Friday, what mistakes he made, why he made them and how Florida should fix it moving forward, I would kindly give him a bewildered stare in return, along with my resignation letter.

So, yes, it may be easy to rush to snap judgments on some of the more prominent position groups. Franks looked like the starting quarterback. Jordan Scarlett, just like last season, looked like the starting running back. And Eddy Pineiro will definitely be the starting kicker.

But I’ll reserve judgement on most of the other players until I see them play in an actual game against actual competition with actual stakes.

You should, too.

Ian Cohen is a sports writer. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at icohen@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @icohenb.

UF quarterback Kyle Trask drops back to pass during Florida's Spring game on April 7, 2017, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

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