You don’t need to be an expert to know the Gators had a better football team than Idaho. The 63-10 final score was like the tickets at Krishna lunch: more a formality than a necessity.
But there were glimmers of what UF students and fans can expect this coming Saturday as Florida attempts to break several streaks. There’s the five-game skid against FSU, the 36 consecutive bowl game appearances and 41 straight winning seasons.
The Seminoles have everything to lose. The Gators, meanwhile, have everything to gain. They can all but secure a New Year’s Six bowl with a win. They can send their seniors and a select few juniors off with their first win against FSU.
Florida can accomplish all of this based on what they showed against the Vandals. Most coaches would be content with running a base offense and defense against a significantly weaker opponent.
Dan Mullen is anything but ordinary. He’s the Posh Spice of the coaching world, forgoing conventional wisdom and splitting off from the majority to pursue his own shenanigans. That’s why he showed FSU coach Willie Taggart exactly what he intends to do this Saturday. There were three specific moments Mullen showed his hand against Idaho this past weekend.
Mullen is self aware
The play is a staple in this offense. The Gators ran a bubble screen — or a variation of it — during the first drive in six of UF’s 10 games leading up to the Idaho matchup.
Then Mullen subverted expectations. UF’s second offensive play was set up like the dozens of other bubble screens it’d run. Receiver Tyrie Cleveland faked a route, came back toward the line of scrimmage and stuck his hands out. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor even took a few steps over to the sideline to sell it.
When quarterback Feleipe Franks pump-faked it to Cleveland, however, the Vandals’ defense was caught flat-footed. Tight end C’yontai Lewis snuck behind the defenders and caught a fade route for a 27-yard gain.
It was a new wrinkle to show off to Taggart and the FSU defensive staff. It’s something extra they’ll have to prepare for. Mullen may or may not roll that look out on Saturday, but it’ll force the opposition to think a little bit more before biting hard on the litany of bubble screens UF throws.
Mullen trusts Franks more now
There has been speculation that Florida’s read options aren’t really “reads.” They were designed to either be given to the tailback or kept by Franks.
If that’s the case, then that changed Saturday.
The first option opportunity came directly after Lewis’ big gain, and it couldn’t have gone any better for the Gators. Franks saw both the defensive end and outside linebacker crashing down on running back Jordan Scarlett and couldn’t resist the open field in front of him. He pulled the ball back for a walk-in 17-yard touchdown. Combined with Mullen’s increased calls for deep balls, it seems he’s at least entertaining the idea of fully trusting Franks.
There will be trickery
It’s almost a weekly theme. The flea flicker on the opening play against Georgia; the Lucas Krull throwback against LSU; the fake punt against Vanderbilt.
Saturday in the Swamp was not different. Receiver Josh Hammond took a reverse from Scarlett for an easy 21-yard score.
Seeing as how this wasn’t against FSU, it’s safe to assume Mullen had this play in his back pocket throughout the year. It’s also safe to assume that because we saw it this weekend, there’s a good chance of something weirder happening after Thanksgiving. Don’t put it past the Posh Spice of coaches to pull out nearly all the tricks in his first FSU game of his head coaching career.
Follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin or contact him at email@example.com.
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks went 19-for-27 with 274 yards and three touchdowns during UF’s win over Idaho.