Ga­tors get feel-good vic­tory but pay ($2 mil­lion) for win

The Palm Beach Post - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

GAINESVILLE — Florida coach Dan Mullen strolled to the mid­dle of the locker room and waved his arms.

Then he started mov­ing the rest of his body. A few sec­onds later, his play­ers joined in and cre­ated a full­team dance party.

r last week’s de­ba­cle against Ken­tucky, the Ga­tors needed a feel-good vic­tory.

Fred­die Swain scored twice, in­clud­ing on an 85-yard punt re­turn, and Florida beat Colorado State 48-10 Satur­day in a game dubbed the “Buy­out Bowl.”

“Some­times we’re look­ing at the guys’ eyes and they’re com­ing into this pro­gram and they fear los­ing and they’re re­lieved by win­ning,” Mullen said. “You can’t be suc­cess­ful that way. You can’t play that way. You can’t act that way. You can’t even think that way.”

Feleipe Franks also threw two touch­down passes, giv­ing him nine in three games and match­ing his to­tal from last season.

“That’s a big step for­ward,” Mullen said.

The Ga­tors (2-1) were far from per­fect of­fen­sively, though, fin­ish­ing with 341 yards — or more than 200 fewer than the Rams (1-3) had been giv­ing up this season.

Next Satur­day, they play their first road game of the season at Ten­nessee, the first of seven straight South­east­ern Con­fer­ence games for the Ga­tors.

Franks had a few high­lights, in­clud­ing an 18-yard strike to Swain in the sec­ond quar­ter and an even bet­ter deep ball to Van Jef­fer­son in the fourth.

Jor­dan Scar­lett had a 30-yard touch­down run in the sec­ond quar­ter, his first trip to the end zone in nearly two years.

The Ga­tors were oth­er­wise medi­ocre on that side of the ball, man­ag­ing just 44 plays and 14 first downs.

Spe­cial teams were a dif­fer­ent story. Tyrie Cleve­land re­cov­ered a blocked punt for a score, and Swain de­liv­ered the fourth-long­est punt re­turn for a touch­down in school his­tory.

That was enough to put away the Rams in a game that served as a re­minder of ex-coach Jim McEl­wain’s suc­cess at Colorado State and his fail­ure at Florida.

The Ga­tors will pay the

Rams a whop­ping $2 mil­lion for the game, part of McEl­wain’s $7 mil­lion buy­out to leave Fort Collins for Gainesville late in the 2014 season. McEl­wain didn’t last long enough at Florida to be around for the game against his for­mer team. He is now re­ceivers coach at Michi­gan.

Franks com­pleted 8 of 15 passes for 119 yards, with two touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion. He was 8-of-9 pass­ing af­ter miss­ing his first six throws.

Scar­lett ran six times for 56 yards. Fresh­man Dameon Pierce went un­touched for a 68-yard score late in the game and fin­ished with 87 yards on the ground.

K.J. Carta-Sa­muels was 21 of 34 for 217 yards and a score.

The Rams lost three of their four fum­bles and also missed two field goals. They man­aged 310 yards on 83 plays and picked up 22 first downs.

“Our guys need to hold their heads high,” said CSU coach Mike Bobo, who fell to 6-13 all-time as a player and coach against Florida. “The score is not in­dica­tive of how we played or how close the game was.”

Colorado State did get the largest sin­gle-game guar­an­tee that any school has ever paid an­other, a huge payday to come cross-coun­try and play in drain­ing heat and hu­mid­ity. The Ga­tors still owe the Rams $1 mil­lion of the $3 mil­lion they agreed to pay to lure McEl­wain from Fort Collins in 2014.

Florida got a much-needed vic­tory, but showed lit­tle, if any, progress on both lines of scrim­mage. Ken­tucky dom­i­nated the Ga­tors in the trenches in their South­east­ern Con­fer­ence opener last week.

Mean­while, Florida line­backer David Reese, who led the team in tack­les in 2017, missed his third con­sec­u­tive game be­cause of a knee in­jury. Reese was hurt dur­ing fall prac­tice and Mullen talked ear­lier this week like Reese would make his de­but.

Se­nior de­fen­sive end CeCe Jef­fer­son did make his de­but. He missed the first two games of the season be­cause of aca­demic is­sues.

JOHN RAOUX / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Colorado State punter Ryan Stone­house fum­bles the ball as he is hit by Florida line­backer James Hous­ton IV dur­ing the first half Satur­day in Gainesville. The Ga­tors rolled to a 48-10 vic­tory.

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