The No. 13 Florida Gators open their season on Saturday in The Swamp against the visiting FAU Owls. The last time the two met the Gators had to survive an overtime fourth-down play that would have cost them the game – as a 31-point favorite – so Gators fans will be hoping for something a little calmer this time out.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
1 – The play of Emory Jones
It will be interesting to see how Florida uses the unique gifts that Emory Jones possesses on Saturday. Kyle Trask led the offense last year with a pass happy style that was tailored to his lack of mobility. Jones, however, is a different animal. Head coach Dan Mullen has always been a genius when it comes to designing offenses to fit his signal-caller and we will get to see how this works with the dual-threat of Jones and what he brings to the field starting on Saturday. Expect him to shine.
2 – The Swamp
It is going to be very, very loud on Saturday night and that will work to the Gators advantage. FAU is a legit team. They were the best Conference USA squad in terms of pass rush last season and they return 13 of their top 14 tacklers from that squad. Quarterback N’Kosi Perry – a Miami transfer – isn’t going to be afraid of the speed and power of an SEC defense and he has enough weapons around him to be a threat. The noise in Gainesville with therefore be a factor in a matchup that is much less of a basic tune-up than it may appear on paper.
3 – Show intent on defense
The Florida defense is expected to be one of the best units in the country this fall and by shutting down a far better than average FAU attack they can show a statement of intent immediately. The linebackers will be a menace – maybe behind only Alabama in terms of units at the position in the SEC – and the whole unit will want to prove that 2021 was nothing more than fluke when looking at the history of the Florida defense.