Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators wrapped up their 2018 spring practice schedule on Saturday in Gainesville with the annual Orange and Blue Debut in front of over 53,000 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
While the Gators are still more than four months away from playing a game that counts, and while a spring football game is nothing more than a glorified practice, there were developments that stood out about this Gator football team on Saturday.
Here are five takeaways from the 2018 Orange and Blue game that Gator fans need to think about as the summer approaches and fall camp awaits.
The Gators have quarterbacks, but do they have the quarterback
At times this spring, Gator fans have heard positive reviews about both Florida redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. The same can be said for the Orange and Blue game as well. Both Franks and Trask did some good things on Saturday, but both certainly were far from flawless.
The highlight for Franks was two rushing touchdowns showing the speed he possess to leave the pocket and scramble if need be. Franks didn’t do that to much in Jim McElwain’s offense in 2017, but with Dan Mullen’s past of having duel-threat quarterbacks, it is something we should see more in 2018.
Trask looked good in the pocket at times and appeared to have a good control of the offense. While Franks had the better highlight plays, Trask’s performance should leave him in the conversation for the starting quarterback spot moving into the summer.
It is also worth noting that true freshman Emory Jones opened eyes on Saturday as well. While many consider it a two-horse race for the starting quarterback job between Franks and Trask, there is no denying the arm strength Jones has and he showed that on a beautiful 58-yard touchdown pass to R.J. Raymond in the second quarter.
The Gators have choices at running back
There is no question not having Jordan Scarlett in 2017 affected the Gator offense, so seeing him back on the field Saturday was a welcome sight. Scarlett, who rushed for over 850 yards in 2016 before being suspended for the entire 2017 season, looked very good in his return to Florida Field after nearly 18 months. Scarlett ran the ball 10 times for nearly 60 yards according to stats kept by Florida and also added two touchdowns.
The Gators backfield additionally consists of Lamical Perine who led Florida in rushing in 2017, Adarius Lemons, and two newcomers, true freshman Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement who both showed promise this spring.
Florida was without Malik Davis this spring who is still recovering from a knee injury, but if you combine Davis and Perine’s numbers from 2017, with Scarlett’s numbers from 2016, Florida is returning almost 2,000 yards of rushing in just those three players alone.
Running back may be the most loaded position of any for Florida coming up this fall.
The Gators front seven on defense could be really good
Let’s be clear, it’s hard to really gather a lot of information about your defense in a spring game because spring games are usually centered around the offense. But anyone who watched Saturday’s game saw a couple defensive lineman standout.
Antonneous Clayton was one of these defensive standouts. Clayton, who didn’t see a lot of time for the Gators on the field in 2017, saw heavy action on Saturday and made the most of it. Clayton sacked quarterback Kyle Trask on back-to-back plays late in the first half. He was also disruptive on numerous other occasions. The Gators need several defensive lineman to step their games up in 2018 and Clayton appears to be a prime candidate.
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