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Gators To Watch

Feleipe Franks
Feleipe Franks
(Photo by Florida Athletics)

Following a very shaky freshman season in 2017 Franks, as a redshirt sophomore this year, has performed much more consistently. One of the SEC’s biggest quarterbacks at 6-6, 240, Franks enters the Georgia game with 1,406 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes, with five interceptions. He has completed 56.59 percent of his passing attempts and also has the quickness and power to scramble away from the pass rush. After being riddled by LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Bulldog defense will need to bring much more heat against Franks on Saturday.
Suspended last season, Scarlett has returned to the Gator backfield and has teamed with Lamical Perine to give Florida a strong 1-2 running punch. Scarlett, a 5-11, 210-pound junior, has rushed for 381 yards and a 5.4 average per carry while Perine (22), a big back at 5-11, 227 and also a junior, follows closely with 376 yards and also a 5.4 average. Against these two, Georgia’s defense can’t afford to give up the big play like it did in Baton Rouge.
The “quarterback” of the Gator defense, this 6-1, 248-pound junior inside ‘backer recorded a team-high 102 tackles for Florida in 2017 and presently ranks fourth on the team in 2018 with 33 stops. After rushing for just 113 yards in the pasting at LSU, the Bulldogs may have to double that production to win this football game and that means the Georgia O-linemen must keep Reese at bay on Saturday.

Jachai Polite(Photo by Florida Athletics)
Jachai Polite
(Photo by Florida Athletics)

Polite, a 6-2, 242-pound junior, has performed sensationally for new head coach Dan Mullen in the Gators’ seven games to date. He has recorded seven sacks and 8.5 tackles-for-loss while bringing the heat on opposing quarterbacks all fall. Jake Fromm was sacked three times by the LSU defense and, needless to say, the Bulldogs’ offensive front and running backs simply can’t allow Polite to wreak havoc on Fromm, and maybe Justin Fields, come Saturday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field.

Todd Grantham (Photo by Florida Athletics)
Todd Grantham
(Photo by Florida Athletics)

TODD GRANTHAM (Florida Defensive Coordinator)
Following new head coach Dan Mullen to Florida this season after serving as Mullen’s defensive coordinator at Mississippi State last year Grantham, the former UGA defensive coordinator from 2010-13, will have the Gators pumped to frustrate the Bulldog attack come Saturday. Florida is presently second in the nation in turnovers gained with 18 — 11 fumble recoveries and 7 interceptions — and is 14th in scoring defense, allowing 16.6 per game (Georgia is 12th at 16.3). Grantham is known for a heavy blitz package and the Bulldog O-line simply can’t allow Jake Fromm to be sacked three times again, like was the case against LSU’s defense.
DAN MULLEN (Florida Head Coach)
Following the disastrous 4-7 finish in 2017, Florida departed ways with Jim McElwain and brought in Dan Mullen from Mississippi State to guide the Gators’ fortunes. And after a 69-46 (.600) record in his nine years in Starkville, Mullen has pumped new life into the UF program, where he served from 2005-08 as offensive coordinator when the Gators won two SEC and two BCS national titles. Under Mullen, Florida enters Saturday’s huge game against rival Georgia at 6-1 and 4-1 in the SEC and tied with the Bulldogs atop the East Division standings. So Georgia is facing a savvy, veteran coach this weekend and it goes without saying Mullen will have the Gators motivated to avenge last season’s 42-7 pummeling by the Bulldogs and thus grab the inside track to the SEC title game.









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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.