SEC INSIDER

Florida looking to get offense on track

Sports Xchange

September 04, 2017 at 1:16 pm.

Sep 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Malik Zaire (8) throws in the pocket against the Michigan Wolverines at AT&T Stadium. Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 2, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Malik Zaire (8) throws in the pocket against the Michigan Wolverines at AT&T Stadium. Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Florida fans were hoping that the offense would take a positive turn in Jim McElwain’s third season as head coach.

But judging from UF’s 33-17 season-opening loss to Michigan in the AdvoCare Classic in Arlington, Texas, there is still work to be done.

Florida managed only 192 yards of total offense — including 11 on the ground — in the loss to the Wolverines. The Gators failed to score an offensive touchdown, with 14 of their points coming on interception returns for touchdowns by cornerbacks Duke Dawson and C.J. Henderson.

“One thing I want you to know is I believe in these guys,” McElwain said. “They believe in themselves. We’ve made corrections.”

McElwain said he intends to stick with redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks heading into Saturday’s home opener against FCS school Northern Colorado. Franks completed 5 of 9 passes for 75 yards before being pulled in the third quarter after losing a fumble on a scramble attempt while going for a first down.

Notre Dame grad transfer Malik Zaire replaced Franks and completed 9 of 17 passes for 106 yards.

“Both guys did some good things and both guys did some things they obviously want back,” McElwain said.

The status of leading running back Jordan Scarlett (889 yards last season) and leading receiver Antonio Callaway (721 yards receiving last season) remain in question. Both were among 10 players suspended for the Michigan game due to their role in a debit card fraud scheme that’s still under investigation.

Ultimately, McElwain blamed the loss on the inability to physically handle Michigan. Florida’s offensive line was unable to protect the quarterback, allowing six sacks. The Gators were out-rushed 215-11.

McElwain said he didn’t see play-calling as an issue and said that offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will continue to call the plays against Northern Colorado.

“Getting the people the ball with the ability to make plays, that’s the biggest piece of it,” McElwain said. “We’ll continue to work at it.”

–S Chauncey Gardner II and TE DeAndre Goolsby will have MRIs this week to evaluate undisclosed injuries. Both are questionable for Northern Colorado.

–WR James Robinson will play this week after serving a one-game suspension after receiving two citations for possession of marijuana during an eight-month span.