Florida Gators vs Florida State Seminoles Breakdown
Date: Saturday, November 28, 2015
Time: 7:30 PM
Last meeting: 2014 Florida State defeated Florida 24-19. Florida leads the all-time series 34-23-2.
Last time out:
- Florida defeated Florida Atlantic 20-14 in OT
- Florida State defeated Chattanooga 52-13
Meet the Seminoles:
- Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher (67-13 in his 6th season at Florida State)
- Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division
- 2015 Overall Record: 9-2
- 2015 Conference Record: 6-2
- Rank: #14 in the College Football Playoff Poll
Player(s) to Watch:
- Sophomore Running Back, Dalvin Cook. Cook is a touchdown waiting to happen. He has ran for 1,475 yards on 185 carries, 8 yards per carry with 16 touchdowns. He leads all of Power 5 players with 22 plays of 20 yards or more.
- Junior Cornerback, Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is a lockdown corner that can be disruptive all over the field. He has 10 pass break up’s and 2 tackles for loss, to go along with 1 sack
5 Things to Know About Florida State:
- Jimbo Fisher is averaging 11 wins per season since becoming head coach at Florida State.
- Dalvin Cook has a set a Florida State single season record for rushing yards with 1,475 yards and is averaging 196 yards against FBS opponents with winning records.
- Florida State ranks 11th in the nation in scoring defense giving up 17 ppg
- The Seminoles have won 4 of the last 5 versus the Gators but have never won 3 in a row in Gainesville.
- In their last two trips to the Swamp, Florida State has held Florida to 14 total points.
5 Things to Pay Attention To:
- How Healthy Are the Gators?
Despite the injuries, McElwain suggest the Gators will run a team out the field, the question is, which one? The injuries are starting to pile up on the Gators and they are becoming more significant. Florida’s health could go a long way to determining the outcome of the game. They will need to have some players step up in a high intensity moment.
- Florida’s Field Position
One of the more disappointing things about the Florida offense recently is that they have not been able to finish drives with good field position. Florida has the 2nd best average starting field position in the nation (35 yard line) but yet cannot produce points. The Florida defense continues to do the job, can the offense be a complement.
- Florida in Field Goal Range?
The place kicking portion of the Florida team has been inept at best. Last week Hardin missed 2 field goals and an extra point in overtime that would have been devastating had FAU scored. It will be interesting to see what McElwain does on 3rd and 4th down with Florida in scoring position. The Gators could be more aggressive knowing that 3 points is not guaranteed, regardless how close they are to the end zone.
- Can Maguire Make the Winning Throws?
When Florida played LSU, Fournette was the focus but they allowed Brandon Harris to make plays in the passing game that turned out to be the difference in the outcome. Can Maguire do the same with Cook being the main target for the Florida defense? If Maguire is able to complete critical throws that will open up space for Cook in the running game.
- Are the Seminoles Ready to Play Spoiler?
Florida State enters this game with not much on the line, they could be playing for a potential New Year’s Six Bowl berth, but outside of that, their motivation is to ruin any playoff hopes for the Gators. They come into the game favored and should be the looser team with no ACC Championship next week or chance of making the playoffs.
5 Things to Expect:
- A Rowdy Swamp.
If there was ever a time for the Swamp to be rocking, it will be on Saturday night. Honestly, The Florida players and fans have not had a home game to get excited about since playing Ole Miss the first weekend of October. That night many Rebel players were affected by the crowd noise. Expect a loud and energized Swamp on Saturday night.
- A Defensive Struggle.
Saturday night could quickly turn into defensive war. Florida enters the game ranked 6th nationally in total defense while Florida State is 20th. Florida’s offense has really bogged down the last few weeks for many reasons and Florida State will lean heavily on Cook to produce against the Florida defense.
- High Rivalry Emotions.
Big game emotions are fueled by the magnitude moment, rivalries are fueled by something totally different, its borderline hate. This will be a highly emotional game and both teams will need to handle their emotions, typically a personal foul or two happens purely because of trash talk.
- No Dead Fish
With so much on the line we should all be surprised and disappointed if the Gators don’t show up with more fire. Florida needs to drown out the noise about the last 3 weeks and play with greater effort. Those are the Florida teams that we saw against Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU and Georgia.
- A Better Treon.
Since taking over the starting role, Harris’ play has been a mixed bag. He seems to play better in pressure situations or when the odds seem to be against him. Treon has to play a clean game if Florida has any chance of winning. Between McElwain, Nussmeier and Harris himself, his output will be better Saturday night.
5 Keys to Victory:
- Protect the Football
This cannot be stated enough, protect the football. For three straight games, Florida has turned the ball over multiple times. Fortunately enough none of the teams they played were good enough on offense to take advantage of these mistakes, Florida State is. The defense will keep Florida in any game as long as the offense is not giving the ball away. Protect the football!!!
- Block, Block, Block.
Earlier in the season Florida was able to play around the offensive line woes, as the season has gone along, the concerns in preseason have finally showed up. Treon will need some time to work in and outside of the pocket and if Florida wants to have any success on offense, they will need to run the ball effectively.
- Win the Red Zone.
Florida will need to finish drives consistently if they want to win, the red zone production has tapered off in recent weeks. The Gators have been in enough scoring opportunities the last 3 weeks to make these games more comfortable, but they are not finishing drives, whether it is turnovers in the red zone, failure to convert on 4th downs or special teams blunders, the Gators have to come away with points.
- Be Opportunistic
Although the Florida offense has been very inefficient at times, they do find ways to be opportunistic in the right moment. They will need more of that Saturday night. This goes for the defense as well, as they seem to always make the big play when the Gators need it. This is a team that is learning how to win and being on time at the right time has been in Florida’s favor this year.
- Break Even on Special Teams.
Florida State has the advantage on special teams with the ability of Aguayo kicking and Whitfield returning. They are major threats on special teams. Florida will need a big game from Townsend who has been spectacular this year forcing teams to drive long fields against the defense and Calloway is destined to take another punt back after nearly doing it last week. The Florida field goal kicking game is a concern, if this game is tight in the 4th quarter.
5 Signs It Was a Good Day:
- Keep Dalvin Cook Contained.
Florida will once again be tested against am elite running back. Cook is averaging 8 ypc, but like I said against LSU, Fournette will get his, it just can’t be in chunks. There is no better chunk running back in the nation than Cook. If Florida prevents the big runs and can keep the yards per carry to 4.5 and 5 they are doing a good job and keeping the Seminoles under wraps.
- Win the Turnover Battle.
As I mentioned before, turnovers will be critical in this game. Florida State is -5 in their last three games with 8 turnovers after only turning it over twice in their previous 8 games. This game will come down to which team protects the ball. If Florida can limit the turnovers ado what they have been doing all season in forcing mistakes on defense, they will have a chance to win.
- Taylor has 80+ Yards Rushing
Kelvin Taylor has done a great job of finding the end zone this year, scoring 13 touchdowns and scoring one in all but one game. He is having a career season, but will need to find some holes to keep the pressure off of Harris and the passing game. If Taylor is up around 80+ yards the Gators are doing enough in the running game to keep them balanced.
- You Get Something Special from the Kicking game.
Talking about the kicking game is pretty much beating a dead horse, but as the stage gets larger every piece of the game becomes more critical. Whoever kicking does not have to win the game, but he can’t lose it. That has nearly happened twice. The margin for error is shrinking and anything positive from the kicking game would be special.
- The Gators are playing for a lot more than an SEC Championship next week.
The Gators have been fighting and clawing their way into the playoff picture and by the slightest of margins are still alive. Florida has a lot riding on this game, win or lose, they still will play in the SEC Championship next weekend, but this game is about beating your rival and taking another step towards 15. Regardless if it is 1 point or 40 points, if the Gators are on top next week will have tons of meaning than just being a spoiler.
The question I continue to ask myself picking this game, is Florida ready to lose? Not because of the way they have played the last three weeks, but because of what they have done all season long. This team has found a way week and week out to overcome the odds. Yes, Florida has played three lackluster games in a row, I’m sure part of that is because of the competition, this week, that all changes. The Gators will be highly energized in a game sure to get a little chippy. Florida and Florida State will play a defensive struggle which could turn into a pitchers dual. Dalvin Cook will make a play here and there, but the Florida defense will be too strong. The team that makes the fewest mistakes wins and I believe this Florida defense can force a couple turnovers. With that Florida will finally take advantage of a few short field situations and will walk away winners. A motivated Florida team along with the home crowd will play a major part in this game much like it did against Ole Miss.
Florida 17 Florida State 13