It’s been a long 253 days since Gator football; the wait is almost over. The players are itching to get back on the field and erase that sour taste left from the Gasparilla Bowl. The Florida Gators are looking to start off the Billy Napier era with a bang on Saturday Night.
It won’t be an easy task for the Gators. #7 Utah comes into town, looking to take care of business in the Swamp.
The Gators can win this football game, but they will need to beat Utah at what they do best.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
1- DISCIPLINED FOOTBALL
If the Gators can limit penalties, specifically disciplined oriented penalties, they will have a great shot at winning this football game. Utah is going to come prepared, as always. They won’t be giving the Gators too many free yards Saturday night. The Gators need to make sure they are doing the same. Utah is too good of a football team to be giving them free yards. Utah is not a more talented team, if the Gators can limit penalties and play a disciplined brand of football, they will have a good chance at upsetting the Utes.
2- WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
This goes hand in hand with playing disciplined football. The Gators defense was terrible at creating turnovers a season ago, that will need to change this season. The Gators forced just nine turnovers a year ago, tied for last in the SEC. Winning the turnover battle will always be a key to the game, and it’s something that the Gators staff has placed an emphasis on. I don’t imagine Utah being careless with the football, but the Gators need to put Utah in positions to make mistakes. Utah’s QB, Cam Rising, only had five interceptions last season. This just means Anthony Richardson and the Gators are going to have to protect the football. The Gators can’t be giving Utah any freebies tomorrow night.
3- STOP THE RUN
It’s no surprise that the Gators struggled to stop the run last year. Utah is going to test the Gators’ defensive line and test them early. If the Gators can’t limit Utah in the run game, it will kill momentum and could lead to a long night for the Gators.
4- GET OPEN
The wide receivers and tight ends are going to have to create space, it’s as simple as that. Anthony Richardson is capable, but he’ll need his receiver group to create separation, allowing him to let loose. I’m looking at guys like Justin Shorter and Xzaiver Henderson to step up here.
5- MAKE THE SWAMP AN INSANE ASYLUM
The football players for Utah have not seen an atmosphere like the Swamp. I talked to a few players this week that told me that Utah doesn’t know what’s coming. “They still have to come to the Swamp,” Tre’vez Johnson said. The fans need to get there early and create an intimidating atmosphere. It’s going to be hard to knock Utah off their game, but it’s possible.
MAKE PLAYS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
It’s been a long time since Florida has had great special teams play. Anything the Gators can do on special teams that will take pressure off the offense or defense is encouraged. These players really can change the game; they need to prove it Saturday night.
If the Gators play a disciplined brand of football tomorrow night, I think they walk away victorious.