University of Florida

Florida Gators offense booms and busts in first preseason scrimmage

In this Nov. 27, 2017, file photo, Dan Mullen, the new head football coach at the University of Florida, is introduced during a news conference in Gainesville, Fla. Mullen has told everyone who would listen his plan to return the Gators to national prominence. Now, he gets to show it. Florida opens spring practice Friday with hopes of finally fixing an offense that has been dormant for nearly a decade.
In this Nov. 27, 2017, file photo, Dan Mullen, the new head football coach at the University of Florida, is introduced during a news conference in Gainesville, Fla. Mullen has told everyone who would listen his plan to return the Gators to national prominence. Now, he gets to show it. Florida opens spring practice Friday with hopes of finally fixing an offense that has been dormant for nearly a decade. AP

Florida’s players emerged from the tunnel at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium into a familiar light drizzle. It had been trickling down all day in Gainesville, leaving The Swamp chilled and moist for the team’s scrimmage on Friday. And just like the rain, Florida’s performance was both annoying and refreshing at once.

The scrimmage was the first of coach Dan Mullen’s tenure and was open to reporters, recruits and some former players. It was basically a tale of two halves.

While no stats were kept, it was clear that defense dominated the first half. In what turned into a festival of turnovers, Florida’s top quarterbacks got intercepted and/or fumbled, while few points were put on the board.

Roles reversed in the second half.

Although there were still some miscues, the offense came back to put together multiple touchdown drives to close the scrimmage.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks worked with the first-team offense to start the day. It did not go well early.

On his second possession of the game, Franks’ pass over the middle was bobbled by receiver Van Jefferson and appeared to be picked off by starting safety and Miami Southridge alum Shawn Davis. It was unclear if it hit the ground but still not a great look.

He got picked once again before the half ended, this time by freshman Trey Dean and this time in the end zone. He also missed tight end C’yontai Lewis on an open crossing route and heaved a ball about 55 yards downfield into double coverage. Luckily his arm strength sent it sailing over his intended target.

Franks finished the half with a touchdown to tight end Moral Stephens, who was wide open down the middle. He largely continued that caliber of play in the second half, finding sophomore wideout Trevon Grimes, an Ohio State transfer and St. Thomas Aquinas alum, for a 50-yard score. He did throw another interception, though, this time on an underthrown sideline pass. American Heritage alum Marco Wilson made the play.

Fellow redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask had a better day, with a higher completion percentage, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. Despite working with the second-team offense early on, Trask led the day’s first touchdown drive — a run from freshman Dameon Pierce — and threw for three more scores, including an 80-yard bomb to Grimes.

Emory Jones, the heralded freshman quarterback, had a rougher day than Franks. He didn’t complete any long passes and few short ones, either. He did show a willingness to leave the pocket when plays broke down, though.

Jordan Scarlett got the start at running back and didn’t do much with it. He scored a late touchdown, but he couldn’t break free for a big run.

Junior Lamical Perine split first-team reps with Scarlett, and although he didn’t score, he had a nice run of about 30 yards where he spun and juked his way down the field diagonally.

Pierce and sophomore Adarius Lemons split second-team reps, with Lemons ripping off an 80-yard touchdown run late in the scrimmage. Freshman Iverson Clement worked with the third team.

Aside from Grimes’ pair of long touchdowns, junior Josh Hammond hauled in a beautifully blocked 20-yard screen pass for a score.

There weren’t many standouts on defense aside from the players with picks, although sophomore corner Brian Edwards, a Miramar High grad, made an impressive tackle on Pierce.

The defensive lineup was the same as it has been for most of spring, although redshirt junior linebacker Rayshad Jackson worked with the first team over Kylan Johnson and Vosean Joseph.

Mullen will continue to tweak those lineups and plays in the lead-up to Florida’s spring game on April 14.

First-team offense

Quarterback: Feleipe Franks

Running back: Jordan Scarlett/Lamical Perine

Receiver: Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain

Tight End: C’yontai Lewis/Moral Stephens/R.J. Raymond

Offensive Line: Martez Ivey, Tyler Jordan, T.J. McCoy, Fred Johnson, Jawaan Taylor

Kicker: Jorge Powell

Second-team offense

Quarterback: Kyle Trask

Running back: Dameon Pierce/Adarius Lemons

Receiver: Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney, Rick Wells

Tight End: Kemore Gamble

Offensive Line: Jean DeLance, Chris Bleich, Nick Buchanan, Kavaris Harkless, Stone Forsythe

Kicker: Daniel Justino

First-team Defense

Tackle: Luke Ancrum

Nose: Khairi Clark

End: Jabari Zuniga

Edge: Cece Jefferson

Linebackers: Rayshad Jackson, David Reese

Corner: C.J. Henderson, Marco Wilson

Nickel: Chauncey Gardner

Safety: Shawn Davis, Brad Stewart

Punter: Jacob Finn

Second-team Defense

Tackle: Tedarrell Slaton

Nose: Elijah Conliffe

End: Antonneous Clayton/Zachary Carter

Edge: Jachai Polite/Jeremiah Moon

Linebackers: Kylan Johnson, Vosean Joseph

Corner: Brian Edwards, Trey Dean

Nickel: CJ McWilliams

Safety: Donovan Stiner, Quincy Lenton

Punter: Jacob Finn

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