Five things we learned from the Gators’ spring game

Florida’s Orange And Blue Debut went about how you’d expect a spring game that pitted the starters against the backups to go; the starters won big.

But that really wasn’t what people were looking for on Friday night. Rather, fans were more after signs of promise for a team that ended the 2015 season without any. Since I used “promise” in a way that comes without guarantees, the team more than delivered on a number of accounts. So here are the five biggest things I took away:

5) The best and worst of Mark Thompson

Perhaps the Gators’ biggest recruit in this year’s class was JUCO running back Mark Thompson. Coaches have raved about his rare blend of power and speed, and he displayed both on a 26 yard touchdown run. Thompson also showed great patience in waiting for a hole to open before exploding through it. But coaches have also expressed concern for his penchant for putting the ball on the ground, which he did near the goal line. That can’t happen in the fall. Nonetheless, he’s a dazzling prospect, and the sky’s the limit for him if he cuts down on the fumbles.

4) Feleipe Franks has a lot of work to do

Freshman QB Feleipe Franks really needed to finish the spring game on a positive note, and to his credit, he did with a touchdown to C’yontai Lewis. But up until the final drive, he had a disastrous night, throwing three interceptions (one of which was taken back for a touchdown) in his first four passes. The worst one was when he threw the ball way behind his receiver, making it an easy catch for defensive back Duke Dawson. There are also mechanical issues that need fixing, and fast. I still believe his ceiling is extremely high, but he may be even farther away from reaching it than I thought.

3) CJ Worton as a playmaker?

Much of the talk surrounding Florida’s passing game revolves around the QB and the freshman wide receiver corps. But how about CJ Worton, who’s been almost an afterthought in the Gators’ wide receiver depth chart? Worton’s the one who hauled in a Hail Mary in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama, and he opened the spring game with a spectacular 46 yard catch and run that featured him rolling over a defender, a la Michael Dyer at Auburn. He also proved to be Johnny On The Spot by recovering Thompson’s aforementioned fumble and scoring with it. Don’t forget about this kid over the next few months.

2) Eddy Pineiro is legit

We knew this guy could kick for YouTube videos, but how about in a real game? Well, he answered that question by nailing field goals of 46, 52 and 56 yards. And though he missed two other kicks from 52 and 54… well, when’s the last time a Gator kicker made half of his attempts from 52+ yards? Another way to summarize his night: he shook off an early miss from 52 to make one from a few yards farther back, displaying the kind of confidence that may be even more important for a kicker to have than leg power. To boot, (pun intended) he did a great job on kickoffs and extra points.

1) Luke Del Rio will be the starting QB

At this point, it feels like Luke Del Rio has to do something abhorrent and/or highly illegal off the field to not be the Gators’ starting quarterback. Which his quiet, humble personality insinuates that he won’t do. So, pencil him in as the starter. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, but it sure is accurate. It also comes attached to a very intelligent human being with a high football IQ, and that was on display last Friday night to the tune of a 10-11, 176 yard evening. Austin Appleby and Kyle Trask made some strides this spring, too, but it just feels like they’re battling for the backup job.

3 thoughts on “Five things we learned from the Gators’ spring game

  1. Add in that Del Rio’s throws were all very tight spirals and precisely placed.

    And give kudo’s to the O-line. They blocked very well and Del Rio wasnt touched the entire scrimmage.

    Not proclaiming this bunch the 2015 SECe champs yet, but boy did they look good up close and personal.

  2. As Spurrier said, no one wins any games in the Spring. The best thing to come out was that there were no serious injuries. AS for performance, except for the kicker, it’s hard to know if anyone is any good. Del Rio was, basically, throwing against air. Thompson DID NOT display power or speed. He was brought down rather easily and his TD run a demonstration that the report of him being a 4.37 forty guy was bogus. He’s no faster than Kelvin Taylor, who looked exactly the same on the same type of run for a TD in a real game. Compare Cook’s last TD against UF last year to Thompson’s in the Spring game. I think you can see a huge difference between a fast back and one with pedestrian speed.
    As for Worton, his $6 yard play was due to a textbook example of how to NOT tackle someone. I don’t know if it was a scrub walk on who made the attempt, but if it was a scholarship player, UF’s in trouble.
    This Spring is no different than the previous years after Tebow left. Some folks are expecting a good offense based on a scrimmage against yourself. It doesn’t work that way. You have to do it against someone wearing different jerseys with bad intentions on a team that is not getting paid to lose to UF. Maybe UF DOES have a competent quarterback and a better offense, but we’ve heard that record before, and it was always B.S. for the past six years. Remember all the times Jeff Driskel was going to be great because of a new coach, system, confidence, etc.? Del Rio has been a scrub at his other two schools, yet we are supposed to believe he’s now going to be great at UF?

  3. HarrisJohn- as soon as I read your first sentence I knew exactly what kind of obvious, non sequitur rambling we’d be in for. First of all, it’s not like Neil wrote all positive things regarding this game- in fact it was pretty well balanced in my opinion. As far as your comments: 1. Throwing perfect strikes against our 2nd string DBs IS NOT throwing against air. These guys could start at a lot of power five schools. 2. Wortons plays in the scrimmage\ game were big. He deftly showed great balance when many WRs would’ve fallen and also showed nice awareness in picking up that fumble in a chaotic moment. The author wasn’t making any grand promise (see question mark at end of title 3), just stating that there’s hope w this guy who has been under the radar for most of his time here except for his other big play against Alabama. 3. I don’t know who said Mark Thompson runs a 4.37 but I do know that in this day and age, coaches know if someone is a fast runner. You comparing a play from 5 months ago that you were watching from your tv in your apartment (aka your parent’s garage- filled with seminole flair and lamborghini posters highlighted by your cheaply-framed Santa Fe Community College Degree) hardly qualifies you as an expert. There is simply no positivity in your negativity here. I hope your life gets better poor guy.

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