Florida Football Three Keys: Auburn


Florida faces Auburn on Saturday in Gainesville. Here are your three keys to a Florida win over Auburn.

By Matt Zemek

This is the biggest game of college football in Week 6. The Florida Gators get their first real chance to prove how good – and how resourceful – they really are. Let’s look at what they need to do against the Auburn Tigers.

Key 1 – Confuse Bo Nix

This is easily the Gators’ top priority. They have to get inside the head of Auburn’s talented but not-fully-proven quarterback. Yes, Bo Nix improved markedly against Mississippi State… but that was Mississippi State. Florida is not Mississippi State. The Gators should expect to play well on defense, and that starts with rattling Nix and forcing him into key turnovers.

This game for Florida reminds me of last year’s game against LSU. The Gators bottled up Joe Burrow and took advantage of the fact that Ed Orgeron had not yet seen the light in terms of using a more updated passing attack. Burrow was still in the process of figuring things out, and the Gators exposed his weaknesses. Florida can do something similar here against Nix.

Last year’s Florida-LSU game in Gainesville turned on the big defensive plays the Gators made. If you want a template for how Florida will pull off this upset in 2019, that 2018 LSU game is a very good example.

Key 2 – Short throws on first down as the gateway to everything else

Auburn’s defense represents a big challenge for Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. Florida fans would love to see this offense flow beautifully and put a lot of points on the board, but that isn’t a realistic expectation against Auburn’s fire-breathing defense, which has played very well this season.

The reasonable path to a Florida victory involves shortening the game with ball control. It also means giving Trask safe throws he can make for seven-yard gains to facilitate a ball-control offense. Put 2 and 2 together, and you get a game plan in which first downs generally involve short six- or seven-yard passes, followed by two attempts to pound out a first down on the ground. If Florida can win first down on offense with easy throws for Trask, that is a high-percentage path to a game in which UF keeps the ball from Auburn, wins the battle of field position, and scores around 20 points for a 20-17 win.

The Gators aren’t going to win a shootout. They have to keep their defense fresh. Winning first down and giving Trask safe passes represent enormously important keys.

Key 3 – Red zone

This game is very likely to come down to red zone efficiency. Can Florida make huge plays under Trask in closed space against Auburn’s defense? The margins are slim, but Florida will probably face a moment when it has to convert a 3rd and 5 inside the 20. Making that one play will be huge. Auburn will also likely face at least one if not more of those same moments. Will Bo Nix be up to the challenge? Finding something in film study which will enable a Gator to jump a short route and expose a bad tendency from Nix could change the game.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 2:30 PM CT (3:30 PM ET). Watch on the CBS Network.

This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
HighlightsFinal Stats
Auburn vs. FloridaFlorida / AuburnFlorida / AuburnPreviewFlorida 24, Auburn 14Stats
Utah State vs. LSUUtah St.LSUPreviewLSU 42, Utah St. 6Stats
Vanderbilt vs. Ole MissOle Miss / VandyOle Miss / VandyPreviewOle Miss 31, Vandy 6Stats
Troy vs. MissouriTroyMizzouPreviewMizzou 42, Troy 10Stats
Georgia vs. TennesseeGeorgia / TennesseeTennessee / GeorgiaPreviewGeorgia 43, Tennessee 14Stats
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