Florida and FSU match up for the 67th time in the 36th all-time meeting between the two teams in Gainesville. The all-time series dates back to 1958 with the Gators owning a 37-27-2 lead. UF is 12-9 vs. FSU at home since 1981. Florida has won three of the last four meetings in the series including two straight victories vs. FSU in The Swamp.
Gator Country previews Florida vs Florida State by providing our roundtable discussion.
What are the keys for the Gators’ offense against FSU’s defense?
AS: The offense is going to be different with Max Brown under center so I expect more zone read and option game from him but the offensive line must protect him and allow the running game to get going. They can’t be forced into being a passing team and expect to win this game.
NM: In order to win this game Florida will need to find success on the ground against the 43rd best run defense in college football. Max Brown has the arm talent, but the jury is out on his decision making and ability to progress through reads. FSU really only has one quarter of game tape on Brown, so the Gators need to find ways to get creative with their running scheme.
GH: I think how well this offense operates RPO schemes will be the difference in this game on Saturday for the offense. Billy Napier mentioned how they will be playing to the strengths of Max Brown, and it’s important that Brown limits the turnovers on the ground and through the air. Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne will also have a big opportunity to cause chaos on Saturday with this offense looking similar to what we saw last season.
What are the keys for the Gators’ defense against FSU’s offense that is starting backup QB Tate Rodemaker?
AS: Tate isn’t Jordan Travis so you can bring more pressure against him and you have too in order to win this game. Florida has to make Tate make quick decisions and make him uncomfortable. So getting pressure is the key.
NM: I believe that Florida needs to stack the box and stop Florida’s rushing attack led by talented running back Trey Benson. Stop the run and force the inexperienced Tate Rodemaker to beat you through the air. Match up Jason Marshall and Devin Moore on Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson. The Seminoles offensive line ranks 7th in pass block and 15th in run block, but things might not look as pretty without Jordan Travis.
GH: Last week Florida’s defense looked like they were starting to improve in certain areas until things quickly fell apart. If the Gators want to pull of an upset, it starts with making things difficult for Tate Rodemaker under center and applying constant pressure. The biggest key however will be how long Florida’s defense can be effective and give the ball back to Max Brown and the offense. If the Gators can do that well for four straight quarters, they will have a good shot at pulling off the upset.
Who would you like to see get more playing time in week 13?
AS: I’ll say it again this week, Ja’Keem Jackson. Florida needs a corner to lock things down so give Jackson a try.
NM: I want to see Aidan Mizell get a package today. Max Brown has a stronger arm than some might think and Mizell is probably the fastest north-south runner on the team. Mizell has only appeared in two games this season, so his appearance would not effect his redshirt year. Mizell may provide the wrinkle that Florida’s offense needs on Saturday.
GH: I’d like to see TJ Searcy get some more snaps this weekend as I think he’s continued to prove himself throughout the year. The true freshman has recorded 23 total tackles (9 solo) with a half a sack and one forced fumble in 2023.
Other keys to victory?
AS: Get out to an early lead is a key for me as the Swamp is going to be loud on Saturday so keeping the fans engaged is a must and also giving Brown confidence.
NM: Winning the turnover battle will be key in this game, especially with so much uncertainty with both teams.
GH: I really think the biggest thing is solid quarterback play from Max Brown behind a Gators’ defense that flips a switch for 60 minutes straight. Play fast and aggressive on defense and pull the crowd into the game early. We saw how hard it was for Tennessee when they travelled to the Swamp, and if the Gators can set the tone and start out hot, it could have a similar impact on Saturday.
Florida State is 6.5-point favorites over the Gators. How do you see this game going? Give us a score prediction.
AS: I have FSU winning in a closing one. I’ll go 27-21.
NM: I think the Gators pull off the upset tonight. Florida wins 24-21. The Swamp will be rocking and it’s going to throw off FSU’s offense. Max Brown does just enough to get the Gators a win in Gainesville.
GH: As much as I think the Gators can win this game, I just haven’t seen anything from this defense that leads me to believe they can play sound football on defense for four quarters. I have the Seminoles winning 31-24 in a back-and-forth football game.