On Saturday the Seminoles will be in Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators at 7:30 PM on SEC Network.
Florida is 9-2 on the season with wins against Miami, UT-Martin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Towson, Auburn, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Missouri with losses to LSU and Georgia.
The last time FSU was in the Swamp the Seminoles forced four turnovers in route to a 38-22 victory. Last year the roles were reversed as Florida dominated FSU 41-14 in Doak.
The last time FSU lost to Florida in Gainesville was in 2009. It was Bobby Bowden’s last game versus the Gators and vice versa for Tim Tebow.
Starting left tackle Darius Washington will be out for the season finale.
Cam Akers will be back and will provide a much-needed boost to the rushing attack.
It looks like Bob Stoops is out of the running to be the next coach. Other names that keep coming up are James Franklin – Penn State coach, Mike Norvell – Memphis coach, Mark Stoops – Kentucky coach, Matt Campbell – Iowa State coach and of course current interim coach Odell Haggins. It has been three weeks, but most teams do not figure it out until after the regular season has concluded. The coaching search should be over as early as Sunday or later into next week.
Observations from the last game
The rushing defense has continued to make strides giving up just 80 yards. The passing defense was once again lacking, especially on third down, as the Hornets were 8/20 on third down. This allowed Alabama State to leave their ball control offense on the field.
If it were not for the explosive runs by the quarterbacks, the rushing attack would have had a pedestrian output. But that was to be expected with starting running back Cam Akers on the sideline.
Florida State offense versus Florida defense
James Blackman looks like he has found his footing in Kendal Briles’ offense in the last couple games. Against Boston College and Alabama State the sophomore has combined for 592 yards and 5 TDs. Of course those defenses cannot match what the Gators will bring Saturday night but it gives FSU fans hope that Blackman may have found his stride. UF defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likes to bring the blitz from all angles quite often. I expect him to bring pressure from different angles, but only blitz 4 or 5 at a time due to his dynamic pass rushers and FSU’s troubles on the offensive line.
Florida defensive ends Jonathan Greenard (6 sacks in 9 games) and Jonathan Zuniga (3 sacks in 4 games) have wreaked havoc on some of the best offensive lines in the country. Ryan Roberts and whoever starts at left tackle, Jauan Williams and Abdul Bello, will have their work cut out for them. Staying ahead of schedule is the best way for FSU to contain them and help Cam Akers rip off some big runs.
The Florida defense has not allowed an opponent to score a touchdown on 5 separate occasions this season so naturally there are playmakers at other positions as well. Players that really stick out are linebacker David Reese, safety Donovan Stiner and cornerbacks CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson. Reese leads the team in tackles with 82 and Steiner leads the team in interceptions with 4. Henderson has 10 pass breakups in 2019 and is projected to be a first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Wilson has three interceptions and is a very talented corner as well. It will be interesting to see how Tamarrion Terry and Tre’Shaun Harrison deal with these guys on the outside.
Florida State defense versus Florida offense
Florida’s offense runs through junior quarterback Kyle Trask, who has filled in nicely for injured starter Feleipe Franks. Trask has been very consistent this year with 2,293 yards, 21 TDs and 6 INTs. He does not have the strongest arm and he is not the most mobile QB in the country, but he is accurate with the underneath passes and moves well in the pocket.
When analysts talk about the Florida offense the first thing they bring up is the depth at wide receiver. Yes, the Gators have 6 receivers with 17 or more catches and at least one touchdown but their leading receiver is tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts leads the team in receptions (46) and yards (566) and is tied for the lead in TD’s with 5. All of these talented receivers and a quarterback that puts them in a position to get extra yards after the catch makes the UF passing attack the 18th ranked offense through the air.
For as good as the passing game has been for the Gators the rushing attack has been just as bad. Florida ranks 121th in the FBS in rushing yards per game with 108 yards. It got to be so bad for Dan Mullen’s group that they have brought in backup quarterback Emory Jones for short yardage plays like FSU offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has done with Jordan Travis.
The Gators do have talented running backs like Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce. When Perine had a solid run blocking O-line in front of him he rushed for 129 yards against the Seminoles last year.
Cedric Wood has done a good job filling in for Marvin Wilson against the run but is not able to get to passer as much as the injured star. Putting pressure on the opposing quarterback has been an issue all season long for the Seminoles, so once again FSU will need strong efforts from the outside linebackers like Janarius Robinson and Amari Gainer.
Florida has the advantage on special teams in this matchup. The Gators’ kicker Evan McPherson has only missed two kicks all season, which is three less than Ricky Agauyo. FSU punter Tommy Martin has 58 punts this year with 14 of those being downed inside the 20 and 3 more that have gone over 50 yards. In 20 punts less, Florida punter Tommy Townsend has placed 20 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and a whopping 11 punts over 50 yards. The kick returners for both teams possess supreme athletic ability, but have yet to provide a meaningful return this season.
Florida’s pass rushing duo of Greenard and Zuniga will be too much for FSU’s tackles to handle and Kyle Trask will find enough holes in the Seminole secondary to eventually end the streak in Hogtown. Florida State 21 Florida 35.
For the Seminoles to pull the upset I believe they will need to be at least +2 in turnover margin, DJ Matthews will need to break off a big return and Akers will need to go over 100 yards on the ground and through the air. If this game does not go the way Seminole fans want it to go remember that every current FSU basketball player has not lost to the Gators in their entire college careers. (That goes for the men and women).