I, along with the rest of Gator Nation, was excited for last night’s annual Orange and Blue Debut in the Swamp. It was a chance for us to get a glimpse of what the 2017 season will look like, and I don’t know about you, but I liked what I saw. Here are the players that stood out to me.
Felipe Franks He went, what, three for five on his first drive? He finished 8-14 for 119 yards (courtesy of floridagators.com), and the life he brought to the offense was refreshing to see. Yes, he still has things to work on, but he’s made considerable progress since last year’s spring game. The thing I liked the most was the way he quickly threw the football: he held the ball for less than five seconds before throwing it. And the guy has a rifle. To me, part of what’s been missing in our offense is our inability to pass successfully, and if last night was any indication, he can fix that problem for us. Yes, he has things to learn, and it may take him a season or two, but I think the more experience he gets, the more he’ll grow into the quarterback we need if we want to win an SEC title and be back in national title contention.
Mark Thompson I was not expecting to see the explosive plays he created last night. He broke through our defense more than once to move the ball beyond the first down marker, and I think if we play to his and Jordan Scarlett’s strengths, we’ll have a running back tandem that will be difficult for most defenses to stop. The only thing that worries me is his ball handling. He dropped the ball more than once last night, and had we been in an actual game, they could’ve been turnovers which cost us points. But he has five months between now and our first game, leaving him plenty of time to work on that.
The Secondary I’m putting all of the defense together, because they each contribute in such a major way to our success. Vosean Joseph had an interception on a pass deflected by Duke Dawson, and freshman Jeremiah Moon showed that he has the potential to be a major problem for offenses in the fall. Our tackling was good, and we altogether looked like a unit poised for success this season.
Kadarius Toney Can you tell quarterback is one of my favorite positions to watch? I was blown away by his speed and athleticism. He reminded me of another quarterback who has recently blown up the SEC: Jalen Hurts. Both have the ability to move the ball with their legs, and if his touchdown pass was any indication, both can throw the ball. Watching him run reminded me of the days when Tim Tebow ran our offense. I could see him being used in the Wild Cat, or in the same way Urban Meyer used Tebow his freshman season. Or, who knows? Maybe he’ll be our starting quarterback in the fall. I’m not sure whether he’s quite ready to run our offense and be successful against Michigan on September 2nd, but if Jalen Hurts and Tim Tebow could do it, so can Toney.
- The offensive line blocked really well last night. We’re returning four of five starters from last season, and their experience could be key to our success.
- Eddy Pinero and Johnny Townsend did a great job as well. Pinero continued to knock kicks through the uprights, and Townsend’s leg strength never fails to amaze me. Hopefully we won’t need Townsend’s services as a punter too much this season, but it’s good to know he can boom one when we need him to.
- We still need to be more efficient in the red zone. We threw far too many interceptions within the twenty yard line last season, and while last night was better, we still have some work to do. To be successful, we have to capitalize in the red zone.
- We have the makings to be successful this season. If we continue to improve, and if each player plays up to his potential, we can be back in the SEC title game this season. And hopefully, it will be the year we take down the Tide.
What did you think?
You’ve heard who my stars of the game were, and what my thoughts are on the season. Now, I want to know: What are yours? Who stood out to you? What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?