Kneauxing the Enemy
Record 3-1, 3-0 in SEC
The Florida Gators are in the SEC East. In this particular division, two conference losses can get an invitation to the SEC championship game. The Florida Gators are undefeated in SEC play, and they have not looked particularly good in doing it, but they just keep doing it. Like the Purple and Gold, the Gators have had their share of injuries, suspensions, and players moving on. In addition, some suspended members of the team have come under the shadow of a criminal investigation. However, they just keep finding ways to win.
The Florida offense has been inconsistent this season, particularly because of inconsistent quarterback play. The Gators have used three quarterbacks this year. The starter for the game Saturday will be Feleipe Franks, a redshirt freshman who almost went to LSU. The Florida depth chart shows only one other quarterback available for Saturday, Malik Zaire, a graduate transfer from Notre Dame. Zaire is a potentially lethal playmaker. Florida has used at least four quarterbacks since its game with LSU last November.
Last week, the Gators rushed for five touchdowns in their win over Vanderbilt. They do running back by committee. The top man on the committee is freshman Malik Davis who ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt. Sophomore Lamical Perrine rushed for 58 yards and three touchdowns against Vandy. Perrine ran well as a freshman last season in Tiger stadium. Senior Mark Thompson ran for 24 yards last Saturday.
The Gators have played with a minimal passing attack this year. Sophomore Tyrie Cleveland is the leading receiver for the Gators after four games. He has 316 yards in receiving, with two touchdowns. He is questionable for the game Saturday with an ankle injury.
The offensive line is led by junior returning starter and left tackle Martez Ivey, who has also played left guard in his career at Florida. Junior returning guard Fred Johnson has also started at right tackle at Florida. Sophomore right tackle Jawaan Taylor had 12 starts in the 2016 season. The offensive line of Florida has experience and versatility.
The Florida defensive line is good. They alternate a first and second string. Junior lineman CeCe Jefferson leads the team with 2.5 sacks. Sophomore Jachai Polite is a second string defensive lineman who has four tackles for losses (tfls). Senior defensive end Jordan Sherit has 3.5 tfls and two sacks. Sophomore defensive end Jabari Zuniga has 3.5 tfls. Junior defensive tackle Taven Bryant has 2.5 tfls.
Sophomore linebacker David Reese leads the team in tackles with 32 and 13 solos. Like the Tigers, the Gators are very young at the linebacking position, starting two sophomores and a freshman.
Senior cornerback Duke Dawson and freshman defensive back C.J. Henderson lead the team in interceptions with two each. Florida has not been good defending the pass in their three conference wins. The Gators gave up 259 yards in the air to Tennessee, 220 to Kentucky, and 264 to Vanderbilt. The Gator secondary frequently plays man-to-man defense.
The Gators are notably absent in any national defensive categories. They are not in the top 50 in total defense in the country. It is unusual to see Florida without a strong defense. Yet, they have found ways to win football games.
The Purple and Gold need to find a way Saturday.