If Game 1 is your team’s rough draft, then Game 2 is the final tune-up for showtime. For the Florida Gators, that “showtime” game is the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in The Swamp Week 3. Game 2 takes the Gators west on Interstate 4 down to Tampa for what should be a walk-through game against South Florida (USF). The USF Bulls aren’t a good football team and their talent doesn’t come close to that of the Gators.
This game for Florida is absolutely critical in their preparation for Alabama. The Tide looked impressive dispatching the Miami Hurricanes in Atlanta and they will be prepared for their trip to Gainesville. Here’s what Florida needs to accomplish in Tampa to give the fan base any confidence that the Gators could upset Alabama the following week:
- Play Clean – Last week the Gators were very “clean” in their pre-snap formations, procedure, etc. This week the Gators need to simply continue that effort. The offense should have no formation or procedural issues at all.
- On a critical 4th and goal last week, there was an admitted miscommunication between QB Emory Jones and the sideline. There can be no miscommunications this week.
- Settle the QB Position – Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson shared playing time against FAU. Emory Jones is what Florida fans have been waiting for since Dan Mullen arrived. Jones is fast, agile, and has a very strong arm. Watching the film, however, reveals that Richardson is more dynamic running the ball than Jones. Gator Nation doesn’t want to dismiss Jones entirely, but what is seen is believed. What we are looking at here with Jones and Richardson may be a replica of what Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney had to deal with in 2018 with Kelly Bryant and future superstar Trevor Lawrence. Either way, Dan Mullen should settle on a feature QB before Nick Saban shows up.
- Passing Game – Last week the Gators put up 400 yards rushing on FAU, a stat that has them leading the nation in rushing…passing, however, was erratic at best. Jones and Richardson both struggled mightily throwing the football.
- Jones was 17-27 for 113 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT;
- Richardson was 3-8 for 40 yards;
- The vast majority of the completions were either swing or screen passes to the side. Jones and Richardson will need to throw the ball vertically to beat SEC secondaries.
- Get Out Healthy – The best ability is availability. Gators need to get through this game without any major injuries.
Last week Todd Grantham said he was pleased with the play of his defense. Gator fans can see missed tackles and blown coverage; it doesn’t take a $2mm paycheck to see players not getting lined-up.
- Discipline – Defense can be played fast and aggressive so long it is played with discipline. Too many times last week Florida defenders overran plays, took poor angles, or missed entirely. Defenders have to play under control. Outside linebackers and defensive ends must contain. Safeties have to approach tackles under control.
- Do Your Job – A defense who’s members attempt to do someone else’s job is a defense that can be compromised. New England Head Coach Bill Belichick has a common phrase: “Do your job.” This is the essence of good defense. Each of the eleven players has a specific assignment, and each must do his assignment.
- Be Smart – Do not give the offense second chances. Florida gave FAU second chances in last week’s game, and the Owls capitalized on those chances with points. Do not commit stupid penalties that give offenses a second change.
- Shut It Down – Gators need to pitch a shut-out this week. No excuses and no late-game back door “garbage time” points by USF.
- Kickoffs – Florida may be playing with the idea of forcing teams to return kicks by kicking the ball short of the end zone, if that’s the case, the coverage needs to be air-tight. If not, then Florida needs to kick the ball through the end of the field giving the returners zero chance.
- Punting – On short punts, the ball must land in the field of play. Florida had one chance to do this last week and put it into the end zone.
- Field Goals/PAT – Florida made all five PATs last week and did not attempt a field goal. Dan Mullen needs to attempt a field goal this week, if for no other reason than to give the kickers an opportunity on the stage.
- Returns – Do what you did last week.