I know it’s early, but I was pleased it wasn’t a puff pieced laden with hubris and disrespect.
hoping @GatorUte96 and other Florida fans among us will opine.
I know it’s early, but I was pleased it wasn’t a puff pieced laden with hubris and disrespect.
I used to make predictions until I realized that regardless of the line if I assumed the Utes would win, the universe would reach out and slap me. So aside from Weber state I have no predictions this year. Even the universe won’t screw that one up for me.
In Year 2 of the Billy Napier era we won’t get the benefit of a new scheme for them on D in Game 1…but Richardson won’t terrorize our D, either.
We played pretty conservatively on offense, and getting them in SLC at altitude will help, especially in the 4th.
Something tells me Cam will want to atone for the last play, and Lud has a lot more in the playbook, including a seasoned Nate Johnson and many more weapons.
If it’s 85F at RES that’s the equivalent of 7400 feet above sea level in terms of air density / oxygen. Florida has probably never played at anything close to that elevation. The symptoms of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) are tiredness, reduced mental acuity, etc.
Utes get revenge to start their chip-on the-shoulder 2023 season.
My prediction is that Cam will not really be ready to play. He may be medically cleared and he will certainly want to play, but I don’t believe he will have had the time to really test his legs. Cam has been such a warrior for this team the past few years and I hope for his sake that when he does return he can do so at close to 100% and that he stays healthy through the end of the year.
If that’s the case, and Cam can’t play we’ll need a huge game from Jaq Jack.
I think we may see Cam in the same way Bo Nix gutted it out last year on one wheel. The big question is if his accuracy is there.
If yes, I think the offense and Lud can create enough of a run threat to be successful. If the accuracy is questionable, maybe given the amount of time in camp + so many returning players Lud can go to Plan B after a half?
Normally this kind of idea is a non-starter, but Cam’s got such great leadership skills it wouldn’t provoke a QB controversy, and we have QBs who can execute a game plan (Barnes) and create issues for the D (Nate).
Cam says he’ll be ready, but the magnitude of Game 1 + some experienced weapons like JJ, Nate and Barnes suggest the offensive side in camp will be focused.
Utah wins this one going away. I think we’re stronger than we were last year and FLA will have a helluva time playing at elevation at RES. I say Utah 35 - Florida 21.
I predict I will find a way to be at the game and it will be fun but we’ll stomp the gators.
I’ll be in town, coming in earlier now to come to the Thu game. Any suggestions on tickets? 3rd party are >$200 for standing room only (plus probably $100 in stupid fees). Anyone know of unused tickets due to it being Thu or a night game or just any other conflict? Totally willing to pay face value + CC portion even if I can keep my money away from ticketmaster/seatgeek/vivid/stubhub.
Probably only looking for 1, but if reasonably priced, may add one for my kid who has gone to a couple games with me including PAC12 CCG.
My initial thoughts are that Utah wins this one rather comfortably.
Napier has a lot to prove, and it is going to be difficult with Mertz at QB. Not sold on him at all.
Now, recruiting is lights out and far better than the previous coach ever did, so the future is bright, but it will not help us this year against the Utes.
This one will be like the last one and come down to a final play. This time it will be the Gators coming up short.
Lander Barton is now 6-6 / 240, one very large LB.
I predict we’ll see some Cowboy alignments, 3-3-5, where Barton comes down to play DE and Medlock is on the field alongside Reid at backer.
Medlock is a talent - find a way to get him on the field, Morgan!
I have a feeling that unless you have a friend who is willing to forgo a payday to get you in the stadium you are going to pay a premium for this game.
Yep, that’s likely. We’ll see as we get closer as well - there’s usually someone where something comes up last minute and want it to get into the hands of a Ute fan. But there hasn’t been this much greater hype for a home opener (or many home games) than this one.
I don’t know if this will help, but its a popular site for bands - particularly jam bands like Dead & Co - where tix are immediately sold out and often gouged by scalpers.
Dont know how it works for sports events, but the premise is to avoid unreasonable prices and promote good will among a shared fan base.
Rising will be trying not to re-injure his leg and the Utes have a knack for starting the season a little slow. Florida is stacked with elite athletes at every position though they are inexperienced. Florid also will have to deal with the altitude and the unfamiliar environment. Who will have better special teams plays? I have no idea!
I wish I felt more confident about this one but think that Utah grinds out a nail biter:
Florida is predicted to finish in the middle of the SEC East, at 5-7 for their season. I predict;
Utes - 31
I have gone back and forth on this one. I have a ton of respect for Utah. I think Cam Rising is one of the best QBs in the country. I think Kyle Whittingham is one of the best coaches in the country.
My thoughts on UF’s roster is as follows:
- I think CB and Nickel might be the deepest unit on the team. I think this will get overlooked because Jaydon Hill, Devin Moore, and Jalen Kimber are all coming back from injuries.
Devin Moore played at a very high level last year. He was mentioned as the best corner at the Army All-American game coming out of high school. You don’t know him, but you should respect him. He’s big and can move faster than a person should be able to move at that size.
Jalen Kimber is not a name you know, but he was a starter at Georgia at one point. He got injured at UGA, and he decided to transfer because Kelee Ringo became a super star after his injury. Kimber backs up Devin Moore. He’s a very good player, but there is just a lot of talent in the room.
And then Jason Marshall is expected by many to be the next 1st round corner to be drafted from Florida. Some think he might go 2nd round, but he’s the best and most established player in the secondary. He was a 5* recruit.
And then Jaydon Hill was supposed to be a starter last year before he tore his ACL at the beginning of the season. I think he is starting at Nickel now. An important note on Jaydon Hill is Will Muschamp had him at the top of his CB recruiting board at South Carolina, and that is a coach who has put a lot players into the NFL at that spot. So, Jaydon Hill is a player who should be respected.
- The DL seems like it could be a strength this year. Napier has seemed confident about the two DL transfers, Banks and Jackson. Napier specifically said teams will have to find another way to win other than running the ball down our throats this year. So, Napier sounds pretty confident about Florida’s DL standing up to the run.
Big Desmond Watson is a guy who is 450 pounds, but he moves unlike any 450 pound man you have ever seen. He’s explosive and quick, and when he is in the game he can change the game. He’s a guy the DC needs to play call around when he’s in the game. His snap count is limited, but he’s a dude that can dominate the snaps he is given.
LBer is one of the biggest unknowns to me on defense. Shemar James seems like a star in the making. Derek Wingo was a borderline 4*/5* guy coming out of high school, but he has not lived up to the hype yet. Napier has been singing his praises this off-season, though. And then Napier hit the portal for a couple of LB transfers. Who locks down the other LB spot, and the quality of play we’ll see from that spot is something to watch.
Safety is another question mark. Napier mentioned it is one of the spots where there is a lot of youth in the 2 deep. He says Florida is talented but young and inexperienced at those spots. RJ Moten a veteran transfer from Michigan seems promising to lock down one spot. Will the safeties give up big plays due to the youth and inexperience? That is a big question in the first game of the year.
The big question mark for me on offense is the OL. I think the first 5 are very good, especially the interior part of the line. Individually, Mazzccua, Eguakin, and Knijeah Harris could be one of the best interior OLs Utah faces this year. Mazzccua is the best returning OL in college football this year according to PFF. He transferred from Baylor to UF. Eguakin is a solid center, the most experienced player of the group, and Knijeah Harris is a true freshman OL coach Rob Sale has already been declaring a veteran based on his development at IMG. The depth at OT is not quite where I would hope it to be. I think there are 2-3 capable OTs on the team. After that things could get dicey. The other issue here is the OL needs to play as a group. When you have 4 new starters there has not been a lot of time for the team to become a cohesive unit. So how the unit as a whole does in their first game even if they are individually talented is a very big question entering the game against Utah.
QB is another question. I am optimistic here. Graham Mertz won the Elite 11 competition in high school. So, that means something about his ability. Napier has talked about his offer list coming out of high school. Ohio State and Alabama were two schools who wanted him. However, he did not live up to his potential at Wisconsin. There are two camps in the Florida fan base. The first camp is the glass half empty camp. He did not produce at Wisconsin because he sucks. He is turn over prone. He does not make good decisions. The second camp thinks it could have been the offense at Wisconsin. Some people in this camp believe that Wisconsin was running the ball at an extremely high percentage on 1st and 2nd down. Then Graham Mertz was throwing the ball on 3rd and long a lot of the time, often times all verts with no check downs. They think Mertz can be more effective in an offense that is willing to throw the ball more often on earlier downs. I fall in the 2nd camp. Shane Matthews, a former Gator QB and NFL QB has been at practice, and he says Graham Mertz reminds him of the QBs at UF in the 90s. Shane Matthews was Spurrier’s first SEC championship QB at Florida in the 90s, and he played in the NFL for 10 years. So, his opinion should carry more weight than the average fan. Matthew’s has been very impressed watching Mertz at practice. Billy Napier also talks about his above average athleticism. I think his athletic ability could be similar to Cam Rising’s athletic ability.
RB could also be argued as the best position on the team. Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne are one of the best established RB duos in college football, but Shane Matthews has been at practice and said the #3 and #4 guys are very impressive too. Florida has a stable of RBs that should be respected.
The WRs are a question mark as well. I think the group could be underrated because of Anthony Richardson’s lack of consistency in the short and intermediate throw game. A comment Napier made that is revealing to me is he said, “We are going to feature Pearsall, and we are going to feature the backs.” That to me tells you Ricky Pearsall is going to be central in Billy Napier’s plans for the offense.
An important note about the WR room…Billy Napier expressed his disappointment with the talent in the WR room when he arrived at Florida. It is not necessarily that the guys in the room were not talented, but Billy Napier has said he believes a WR room should look like a basketball team. You should have a point guard, a shooting guard, a short forward, a power forward, and a center. Dan Mullen recruited too many power forwards and centers for Napier’s liking. So a lot of Florida’s recruiting efforts have been geared towards reshaping that WR room to have more speed and agility. That is why Ricky Pearsall was brought in.
I have watched WR recruiting very closely and Billy Napier has a type. He’s looking for sub 4.5 guys or sub 11.00 in the 100 m dash. All 3 of the freshmen match those numbers. The 3 freshmen infuse a type of speed and agility to the WR room that simply did not exist last year. To give a comparison:
Eugene Wilson = Tyreek Hill
Aidan Mizell = Jameson Williams
Andy Jean = Amari Cooper
I’m not saying the three freshmen are as good as those players, but it is helpful to understand their body types and their strengths. How fast those players get integrated into the offense is the question. Understanding the dearth of players that possess similar attributes on the roster is key to understanding Napier might accelerate these 3 guys into the offense quicker than you might expect. I would not be surprised to see multiple freshman become instant impact players at WR.
- TE is the other position Napier said the roster has a lot of young players in the 2 deep. Napier really focuses on measureables when he recruits TEs. TE has never been a huge focal point of his offense, but there is not really much to be scared of at the TE position when facing the Gators in my opinion. I think the TEs are capable, but I wouldn’t worry much about them if I was a DC facing the Gators.
I’ll go down with my prediction. I think the Gators are going to win this game. It is not that I disrespect Utah. My prediction is founded on a combination of factors. I just get a good vibe from Billy Napier and Shane Matthews about how good this Gator football team is. I have felt good about the defense for most of the offseason, and I have started feeling a lot better about the offense recently. I think this team can be a lot better than what the media says it can be.
I think Billy Napier has the element of surprise on his side with Graham Mertz. There is no real film Utah has to look at to see how Napier is going to use Graham Mertz in this offense. I think that matters. It mattered last year, and then Mark Stoops got the film from week 1 on Anthony Richardson in the new offense and the 2nd week against Kentucky was a lot worse for Richardson than week 1 vs. Utah. There are also several new faces who could be instant contributers at WR this year. Catching Utah game 1 is an advantage for the Gators in my opinion. I have read the playbook in the spring game was miniscule. So, I don’t think the spring game is worth much as far as scheme and film analysis is concerned. I think Billy is very conscious about what he puts on film, and I don’t think he gave away anything in the Spring. I also think the offense last year was heavily tailored towards a QB who struggles with short and intermediate passes. I think Richardson struggled with turning his back to hand the ball off to the RB. I think Richardson limited what Billy Napier wanted to do because he was still raw and undeveloped in a lot of ways. I think Mertz and the new WRs allow Billy Napier to open up his offense in ways he was not able to last year.
Cam Rising’s knee is also another factor in play here. The DC Austin Armstrong is very aggressive, and the Gators are going to bring the pressure. I respect Cam Rising as a player, but I do believe his legs are an important part of his game and an important part of the Utah offense.
I think the weakness in the defense will be at Free Safety and possibly one of the LB spots. I think Utah will need to work a lot to the backs and the tight ends in the passing game to attack this defense. I know Kuithe killed us last year. So, Utah is going to need another big game from him. I like the match up of Florida’s DBs vs. Utah’s WRs, though. It is the TEs and the RBs in the pass game that worry me. I’ll need to see Florida defend those positions with excellence in the passing game to believe it. Right now I think it is a weakness.
I am a believer in Florida’s defensive line. I know Utah is very experienced on the OL, but I think Florida has a legit SEC defensive line. I think it is in the next group behind UGA and Bama. I think the depth is there now where there is a solid 2-3 deep on the DL. The injury to Justus Boone sucks, but honestly if I had to pick a spot for an injury like that to happen DE might just be that spot. Warren Sapp’s son is one of the back ups. Kelby Collins, who Billy Napier described as maybe the most college ready recruit in the country on signing day, also is behind him on the depth chart at that spot. I think Florida will be able to rotate bodies to stay fresh, and I think the mass and the depth on the DL will prevent Utah from taking over in the run game. Desmond Watson (440 lbs), Cam’Ron Jackson (370 lbs), Chris McClellan (330 lbs), Cameron Banks (323 lbs), Jaelin Humphries (320 lbs), Jamari Lyons (308 lbs)…that is honestly the deepest group at DT I can remember at UF since the end of the McElwain era at UF. It is a bunch of dudes who can play at DT. I can’t say the starters are the best we’ve seen in 7 years, but the depth is really good there. Billy Napier speaks of the two portal acquisitions, Cam’Ron Jackson and Caleb Banks, with a silent confidence about him. We’ll have to wait and see about them, but the quality of the 2 deep at that position is the best it has been in years. DT recruiting has been a problem since Will Muschamp left the football program. UF has lost elite recruits at DT and failed to fill spots with quality backup guys for the past two coaching staffs prior to Billy Napier. So, to see Napier solve the DT recruiting problem heading into the 2nd year is a miracle in my opinion. It means UF has a chance to enter that elite class of defenses in the SEC again.
DE would have been equally deep with Justus Boone, Tyreak Sapp, Kelby Collins, and Kamran James, but we lost Justus Boone to an ACL injury this week. Edge Princely Umanmielen is also one to definitely watch. He’s in that group of top eligible returning pass rushers in the SEC according to PFF. One PFF article I read said he’s the top returning Edge player in the SEC. I’m sure the Utah coaching staff will have a plan to contain him.
So, I think the Gator defense is solid. I feel confident about 9 of the 11 positions and the depth that exists at those positions. I think the Gator defense will be greatly improved compared to last season.
There are way more questions on offense, but those questions are not necessarily automatic weaknesses. QB, OL, and WR are the positions with questions. I believe they are the questions that will probably determine the outcome of the game. Newcomers are going to have to step up. They could make some mistakes because of the new personnel at those spots. I think that could be especially true for the QB and the OL. However, I am optimistic about the answers for those spots on the roster for this season, while others might be more glass half empty types who think every question means we are going to suck at those spots. I don’t think like that. I think the Gators are going to shock a lot of people this year.
I am concerned about the altitude. I think it could affect the players in the 4th quarter. I think I would pick Utah straight up if Cam Rising was 100%, but I think the Gators find a way to steal this one with Rising below 100%.
Utah home field is a huge advantage, just look at our home record the last couple years. So you think Fl would win by more than one score if it were at home? So Florida has improved quite a bit more than we have? It’s possible but AR’s feet was the main difference Last year. Hard to imagine getting better play at that position year over year in this game. Anything is possible tho.
I’ll admit I am somewhere in the middle of an optimistic and pessimistic fan. I probably lean a little more to the optimistic side, but I try to restrain myself.
I think you have to consider that the entire organization is in the 2nd year of offensive and defensive systems with quite a bit of continuity on the coaching staff. There is a lot of improvement to be gained from year 1 of a coaching staff to year 2.
I actually predicted that Florida would score less points this year than last year. 20 points is not a disrespectful prediction for the Gator offense, and I think that shows my respect for the Utah defense and the inexperience on Florida’s offense.
I do think Utah could be limited offensively, and I think Florida can be as good on defense this year as Oregon or Penn State were on defense last year. If Barnes or a physically limited Cam Rising goes out there, then 13 points is not necessarily out of the question. If Cam Rising is healthy then I could see something closer to the 26 points Utah scored last year, and I think I would predict a Utah win.
I am sure that Utah is a tough place to play with the altitude and everything, and I think the game will be close to the end. I think it could come down to the last play like last year’s game.
From a noise standpoint, Florida goes to Death Valley in Lousiana every other year, and they manage the noise of Death Valley quite well. Florida typically plays well there. I don’t think the noise of Utah’s stadium is louder than Death Valley.