Florida Team News

A harsh reality check Gator Nation didn’t see coming

Florida Gator fans disappointed

Ok, never saw that coming. When a team beats another team 31 times in a row, is playing at home, and comes in as a prohibitive favorite, you just sort of assume No. 32 will come easily too.

The common narrative following Florida’s 27-16 loss to Kentucky Saturday night has been this: Dan Mullen’s rebuild is going to take much longer than expected.

For whatever reason, there was this belief — and I was as guilty as any — that the Gators had all these good players who underachieved because the Jim McElwain staff did a lousy job of coaching them. We believed quarterback whisperer Mullen would transform athletic, strong-armed Feleipe Franks into a decent and maybe even good player. We believed strength coach Nick Savage would transform those marshmallow soft bodies into pillars of granite and that Todd Grantham would have those fast, athletic defenders coming from every which way to swallow up opposing offenses left and right.

Then came a sobering reality check on a Saturday night in the Swamp. Admit it, before the game you were thinking eight or nine wins, maybe beyond. Now you’re wondering, other than Idaho and maybe Colorado State, just exactly who are they going to beat. That’s how fast perceptions can change.

As always, the truth is probably somewhere in between. Still, it’s hard not to have a few observations, even from afar. So here are mine:

• Franks still doesn’t see the field very well. He is physically gifted in some ways, but still seems to lack the vision, instincts, football IQ to be a winning quarterback in the SEC. How in the world did he not see Malik Davis in the right part of the end zone for the easy two-point conversation?

I can’t help but wonder what Kyle Trask would do if given a chance. I get it — coaches see practice, we don’t. And Franks must be clearly better in practice. But sometimes guys shine when the lights are on. It has to be worth a peek.

• Malik Davis may be better than Jordan Scarlett. I know he is not that far removed from a severe knee injury, but he just seems to have more burst, quickness, natural running ability. I’d like to see more Davis.

• Kadarius Toney has to play more. He gives the Gators a dimension they just don’t have in anyone else. I’m not saying he is as good as Percy Harvin or former FSU star Peter Warrick, but his playing style is very similar to both. The ability to stop on a dime, to stop and start and change directions, is just hard to find. He needs a minimum of 10 touches per game.

• Martez Ivey isn’t as good as the hype. From the day the heralded 5-star got to Florida, we’ve had visions of the sport’s next great left tackle, a dominant collegian headed for the first round of the NFL draft. He’s been anything but that.

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