#8 Florida Gators (10-1, 7-1) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9-2)
Saturday November 28, 2015; 7:30 PM
Gainesville, Florida; Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
The Gators have played above their heads for most of the year, yet have struggled of late. Florida State played below expectations on the season, but is on a feel good, two-game winning streak.
The Gators are due for a good showing and will no doubt be sky high for this contest. That said, here are some things to think about as we get closer to the big match up.
The crowd needs to be loud… I have zero doubt that The Swamp will be rocking Saturday night. Ten win seasons have been hard to come by lately in Gainesville and getting the Noles at home is something people have been looking forward to for a long time. There will be more top flight prospects on hand than at any time in recent memory, this crowd should be and needs to be energized from start to finish,
Nothing easy… In the four road games the Seminoles have played, they have scored a combined six touchdowns. Half of those (3) were scored in the Wake Forest game in week three of the season. Three of the six scores came from 70 yards or more. That means that at most the Seminoles have scored three touchdowns on multi-play drives in four total road games. Don’t give up the big play on defense and you give the offense a chance to keep up.
Win the turnover battle… The Gators are (+10) I turnover margin, while Florida State is (+4). Florida has a penchant for getting the ball away from other teams, but in this game it is more important that the Gators don’t turn the ball over. Don’t put the defense in terrible situations.
Stop Dalvin… This one goes without saying, but the defensive line and linebackers have to be working like a fine tuned machine. They need to control their gaps up front and fill them solidly. Don’t let Dalvin Cook get to the second level and be one-on-one with a safety.
Injured defensive linemen… Florida’s sack leader will miss the game. Alex McCalister is still nursing a sprained ankle and won’t go. Jonathan Bullard ranks second on the team in sacks and just provides so much more up front. The last time we looked into it, Bullard was at best a game time decision, and they don’t expect him to play. Everyone else is fine and at least with that Florida does have some numbers. The key again is to play assignment football, which they have been great at all year.
Treon Harris needs to play within himself… We mentioned above, but more than ever Treon Harris has to keep his composure and not turn the ball over. You can’t restrict him too much, because he does bring big pay capability, but he can’t make careless mistakes that have creeped up on him in recent weeks.
Run the ball… Against a pretty weak schedule, the Noles are ranked 40th overall in rush defense, giving up 143 yards per game. The Gators need to top the 200 yard mark behind mostly Kelvin Taylor who should play with extra zeal in this contest, but also both freshmen running backs that have shown flashes this season. The Noles don’t go deep on the defensive line, so pounding on them, if possible, will pay dividends later in the game.
Red zone equals touchdowns not field goal tries… I think it is okay taking longer field goal shots since the offense isn’t very efficient. But, in the red zone, with the squirrelly condition of the Florida place kicking game, Jim McElwain and staff need to just go for it on fourth down and continue drives. Have the mindset going into the red zone that it is four down territory and it will be easier to call plays to that train of thought.