Silly Gators spring game gives few clues about team in 2018

Florida helmets

Hey, Gators fans. What would you say if Butch Jones had two former Tennessee players run off the sideline to catch touchdown passes in the spring game?

What would you say if he actually counted them on the scoreboard and in the stats?

If you say you wouldn’t laugh and mock, I don’t believe you.

First-year Florida coach Dan Mullen was the right hire. I believe he will win championships at Florida.

But, he went to ridiculous lengths on Saturday to ensure that points were scored.

This was a “Champions of Life” spring game.

Lawrence Wright and Travis McGriff combined for two catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The lone problem is both had their eligibility expire in the 1990s.

Mullen overruled incomplete passes. He allowed a 60-yard rushing touchdown when in reality quarterback Feleipe Franks would’ve likely gotten seven yards before being tackled.

Frankly, it’s hard to write about an event like this because too often it felt more like pro wrestling than an actual game.

The spring game used to be a valuable tool in evaluating players. It shifted the depth chart. It meant something.

Those days are gone. They began to evaporate when Florida went away from the actual game format under former coach Will Muschamp because of injuries one year. Jim McElwain deemphasized it as well after he took over from Muschamp.

Mullen’s carnival approach was fun, but it did take serious credibility away from the competition aspect.

RELATED: New line coach John Hevesy has work to do with Gators’ offensive front.

Still, there were things to like.

  • Mullen allowed the defenses to blitz until the latter part of the first quarter when it was clear the offenses weren’t going to do much.
  • The Gators did run 103 plays, so there were beneficial reps even with the two passes to Wright and McGriff. The first half felt like it took three days before Mullen speeded up the second half with a running clock.
  • The teams were evenly split. Mullen did a good job of making the rosters look like a real game.
  • Mullen allowed the players to take an NFL approach to celebrating touchdowns without drawing a penalty. It was clumsy, but harmless fun.

Now, what can we make of what we saw?

Florida still doesn’t have a legit SEC quarterback. Maybe that will change before the opener, but Franks and Kyle Trask both looked shaky.

True freshman Emory Jones impressed with his passing ability. He has a quick release and lively arm. Jones appears to be leaving spring as a distant third on the depth chart, which is disappointing. Still, it isn’t hard to envision him being the starter by midseason based on how he looked Saturday.

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