The Florida Gators (4-6, 3-5 SEC) take on FCS foe Georgia Southern (6-4, 3-5 Southern) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Shockingly, at last report. tickets ARE still available. Of course, unless you’re willing to fork out the money for pay per view, grabbing one of those available tickets may be your best way to see the game.
And an entertaining game it should be.
The Gators turned in a very gutsy effort last Saturday in Columbia and for three quarters it sure looked like the Gators were going to pull off a monumental upset. Florida even had a chance to win in its final possession. Yeah, a loss is still a loss, but there were almost no reasons why the Gators should have even been competitive in that game in the first place. If nothing else, it shows the Gators have not quit on Muschamp and staff, as many have postulated.
So here we sit, needing wins vs. Georgia Southern and Florida State to attain a .500 record and assure ourselves of a bowl appearance. Many fans and writers like to refer to certain, important games as being “must win.” I think this one would be more accurately described as “damned sure better not lose.”
Let’s face it, even though this is a depleted, reeling Gator football team, a home loss to an FCS team that has a losing record in its own conference will kill the Will Muschamp Era. And a loss like that probably should.
So, what should we be looking for tomorrow, besides (hopefully) a comfortable win?
1. Defending the triple option: It’s always a challenge as it’s so seldom seen anymore. The Eagles, like just about any other triple option team, don’t throw it much but can really roll it up on the ground when it’s working. Tailback Jerick McKinnon is GSU’s biggest threat. He may eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on Saturday. If Florida’s defensive front and linebackers play anywhere near as well as they did last Saturday, they should be able to effectively shut down the GSU rushing attack and force them into throwing the ball more than they’d like. If this happens, VHIII, Marcus Roberson and company should be in for a very enjoyable Saturday. As should we all.
2. Skyler Mornhinweg, Chapter II: All things considered, I was very pleased with Mornhinweg last week. No, he wasn’t exactly asked to air it out, but he made most of the throws he was asked to make and went 10-13 on the night. He appeared composed and never made any boneheaded plays that might be expected of a guy making his first career start on short notice on the road against a top 10 team. Now he gets his first start at home. I would be shocked if Brent Pease doesn’t call a much more wide-open game tomorrow. I’m guessing Skyler gets to throw it 15-20 times including a couple of downfield strikes. Also, I’m thinking we’re going to do more to take advantage of his mobility via trick plays and quarterback option reads.
3. The Kelvin Taylor coming-out party continues: KT had his best game as a Gator last week, rushing for nearly 100 yards and both the Gator scores. He’s really progressing well and is growing into that role of workhorse back that most of us expected he’d take. Even if I am right in my prediction that we throw the ball more tomorrow, Kelvin will still get plenty of chances to tote the rock, and maybe we get to see him break his first big one. Further, if I am correct in my prediction that we throw more, it’ll give us a chance to see if his pass blocking ability is progressing.
4. That Jarrad Davis is a little bit of okay, huh?: There haven’t been many pleasant surprises this season but he is definitely one. He’s a starting-caliber SEC linebacker right now and has all the trimmings of a future star. He and the rest of the defense were fun to watch again last week and we should see more of the same tomorrow. Let’s hope for a strong, dominant effort, no injuries and some momentum heading into our matchup with Jameis Winston and Florida State.
Again, not much fanfare nor national attention heading into this one, but it should (I do repeat, SHOULD) provide some much needed catharsis and relief to the Gator fans, players and staff. It SHOULD be a relaxing, relatively easy win for the good guys. Still, these guys SHOULD have been blown out last week and they went up to Columbia and probably should have come away with a win. Logic left the building weeks ago when it comes to this team. This offense probably can’t score enough to blow anyone out, and a turnover here and there can give GSU some easy points. If the defense struggles a bit with the triple option, this could still be a game in the third quarter. Add to that the fact that we’ve not really blown anyone out under Muschamp and you have the formula for relatively close affair. The call is Florida 27, Georgia Southern 14.
As always … Go Gators.