Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports

Orange and Blue Debut: Good, Bad, and Ugly

As spring football games go this one was rather boring. The final score read Orange 31, Blue 0. There were a handful of decent plays, perhaps even enough to whet the appetites of the generously estimated crowd of 48,000 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and however many were watching on the SEC Network.

Nobody was supposed to get hurt and nobody did. That’s probably the best news of all. It wasn’t real football but spring games aren’t supposed to be anything more than a show for the fans who are suffering from withdrawal pains.

Feleipe Franks put up decent enough stats (8-14 for 119 yards and 1 TD) and looked like a first team quarterback. He showed an exceptional arm and nice touch on the deep ball on his first real downfield throw of the game (46-yard completion to Josh Hammond) and he only made one bad throw the whole night (incomplete when he sidearmed the ball). With Franks in charge and a running clock which shortened the game considerably, the Orange offense moved the ball easily but this was not against an SEC caliber defense. Far too many of his throws were defended by a secondary made up of walk-ons which raises this question: Can Franks make those same throws in the fall against SEC defenses and will the receivers get open?

Kyle Trask had problems directing the Blue team, but he was playing behind a patchwork second team offensive line that had problems blocking people. When he finally got a chance to work behind the first team offensive line (Orange), Trask looked comfortable and able to make plays with both his arm and legs.

The Orange offensive line looked good with T.J. McCoy at center, Brett Heggie and Fred Johnson at the guards with Martez Ivey and Jawaan Taylor at the tackles. The Blue offensive line had difficulties. Maybe there are eight good enough linemen to play next season. We can only hope.

Josh Hammond’s 46-yard catch on the first deep ball of the game showed why all the spring reports have called him the most improved of the receivers. Antonio Callaway showed off his athleticism and speed and Brandon Powell looked good both in the slot and out wide.

Over on the defensive side, it was pure vanilla. The objective was to get through the night without any injuries while playing basic coverage and sets. Nobody got hurt. Vosean Joseph had an exceptional game both against the run and in coverage (picked off a pass on a tip drill) and Jeremiah Moon showed that he’ll be a factor in the fall. The Orange secondary looked good. The Blue secondary was made up of too many walk-ons. It’s pretty obvious the freshman DBs are going to have to contribute from day one.

THE GOOD

1. Even though he is still restricted and can’t play, it was good to see Dre Massey out there. Massey was a kickoff and punt returner in a game in which there were no returns so it was all good and all safe. Supposedly, Massey is ahead of his rehab schedule (torn ACL) and will be ready to go in the fall.

2. Ball Park Franks heaved a perfect pass 46 yards from release point to catch to Josh Hammond, who got behind MacArthur Burnett down the west sideline. By the time Hammond was shoved out of bounds, the play covered 46 yards from scrimmage and gave the Orange a first down on the Blue 18.

3. On a third and 9 at the Orange 28, the Blue got a coverage sack. Credit the Blue secondary with excellent coverage but also credit the Orange line with extraordinary protection. If you’re doing the One Mississippi count, then this got to about seven or eight Mississippi before Franks brought the ball down and tried to run.

4. Blue QB Kyle Trask had a nice play for a 9-yard gain to Tucker Nordman in the first quarter. With pressure coming from the edge, Trask stopped looking downfield for his primary receivers and found Nordman between the linebackers and safeties. 

5. Keivonnis Davis dropped in coverage off the line of scrimmage to bat down a Trask pass on the first play of the second quarter.

6. Franks had a nice run through his progressions in the first Orange possession of the second quarter. When the downfield receivers were covered he found Powell on a crossing route underneath that went for 9 yards and a first down.

7. Franks and Powell connected for a 21-yard completion to Powell for a first down to the Blue 35.

8. When protection broke down a bit, Franks kept his feet moving, rolled right and found Antonio Callaway, who got three extra yards when he hurdled a tackler before going out at the Blue 20. The play covered 15 yards.

9. Trask found Mark Thompson on a little screen to the left side that was turned into a 21-yard gain thanks to a couple of nifty moves and a flash of some serious speed. This play showed what Thompson is capable of doing if he will only hang onto the football.

10. Playing with the Orange offense and getting the benefit of decent blocking Trask rolled right and completed a 15-yard pass to Powell, then followed it up with a 20-yard sideline throw to Callaway.

11. While Trask struggled with the Blue offense he showed real possibilities when he took snaps with the Orange, leading a 7-play, 61-yard scoring drive in the third quarter.

12. Early enrollee Kadarius Toney showed speed and elusiveness when he broke containment in the pocket for a 10-yard gain. Toney followed that up by skirting around the right side on a designed running play for 15 more yards.

13. Toney escaped a sack in the fourth quarter, rolled left and got his shoulders square to throw a touchdown pass to Tucker Nordman. Officially it will go down as a 4-yard TDP, but Toney ran about 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage and the touchdown throw actually covered close to 20 yards.

14. Mark Thompson broke loose for a 27-yard run against the Orange defense in the fourth quarter. That carry and the 21-yard screen play showed vast potential. Now if he would only hold onto the football.

THE BAD

1. On first and 10 in the red zone on the first possession for the Orange, Franks both overthrew and threw behind a wide open Josh Hammond on a slant route.

2. The Blue offensive line was completely overwhelmed on the last play of the first quarter. Trask had no chance to get set up in the pocket before Jabari Zunina got to him for a sack and a forced fumble that Trask fell on for a 9-yard loss.

3. The Orange had a first and goal from the Blue 8 and had to settle for a field goal. Until the ball got inside the 10, the Orange was moving the ball just fine, but there were a pair of incomplete passes and a poorly blocked 4-yard running play.

4. It will go down as a 16-yard touchdown pass from Franks to Callaway. Franks made a nice pass and Callaway made a nice catch, but there was a complete bust in the zone coverage. The Blue secondary was filled with walk-ons.

5. Trask threw into triple coverage and the result was a tip drill interception. Duke Dawson made the tip and linebacker Vosean Joseph came down with the interception and a 13-yard return.

THE UGLY

1. On the first play of the second quarter for the Blue, Franks sidearmed a pass into the flat for an incompletion. In an SEC game that likely is a pick 6.

2. Late in the second quarter, Blue running back Mark Thompson had a non-contact fumble that was recovered by Duke Dawson on the Blue 22.

3. The Orange offensive line had a pretty nice evening both on running plays and in pass protection. The same cannot be said about the Blue O-line, which – this is being kind – had a difficult evening.

4. The Blue O-line had another who’s got who moment. While they were trying to figure out who to block, Luke Ancrum broke through for a third quarter sack of Trask for -6 yards.

SCORING

First Quarter

Orange 7, Blue 0; 6:44: Jordan Scarlett 1 yard run; Eddie Pineiro kick (9 plays, 75 yards, 5:26 time of possession)

Second Quarter

Orange 10, Blue 0; 2:03: Eddie Pineiro 21 yard field goal (13 plays, 74 yards; 8:32 time of possession)

Orange 17, Blue 0; 1:03: Antonio Callaway 16-yard pass from Feleipe Franks; Eddie Pineiro kick (3 plays, 22 plays; 0:44 time of possession)

Third Quarter

Orange 24, Blue 0; 1:25: Lamical Perine 2 yard run; Eddie Pineiro kick (7 plays, 61 yards; 4:22 time of possession)

Fourth Quarter

Orange 31, Blue 0; 8:39: Kadarius Toney 4 yard pass to Tucker Nordman; Jorge Powell kick (9 plays, 75 yards; 3:21 time of possession)


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