253 days have passed since the Gator football game. The wait is almost over. Players are eager to get back on the court and wipe away the sour smell left by the Gasparilla Bowl. The Florida Gators are looking to kick off the Billy Napier era with a bang on Saturday night.
It’s not an easy task for a crocodile. #7 Utah is in town and wants to do business in the Everglades.
The Gators can win this football game, but they need to beat Utah in the way they do best.
Five keys to the game
1- Disciplined football
If the Gators can limit penalties, especially disciplinary ones, they will have a great chance of winning this football game. Utah will, as always, be ready. They’re not going to give the Gators too many free yards on Saturday night. Crocodiles need to make sure they are doing the same. Utah is a good football team and can’t give them free yards. Utah is not a more talented team, and if the Gators can limit penalties and play disciplined football, they will have a good chance of beating the Utes.
2- Win the battle for turnover
This goes hand in hand with playing disciplined football. The Gators defense was terrible at making turnovers a season ago and needs to change this season. The Gators made just nine turnovers a year ago, tied for last in the SEC. Winning turnovers will always be the key to the game, and that’s what the Gators staff emphasize. I don’t think Utah is careless in football, but the Gators need to put Utah in a position to make mistakes. Utah’s QB, Cam Rising, had just five interceptions last season. It just means Anthony Richardson and the Gators will have to protect the football. The Gators can’t give Utah any freebies tomorrow night.
3- Stop running
It’s no surprise that the Gators struggled to stop the game last year. Utah will test the Gators defense and test it early. If the Gators can’t limit Utah in the run game, it will stifle momentum and could lead to a long night for the Gators.
Wide receivers and tight ends will have to create space, it’s that simple. Anthony Richardson has the ability, but he needs his receiver team to create separation and let him relax. I’m looking for people like Justin Shorter and Xzaiver Henderson to join here.
5- Make the swamp a mad sanctuary
Utah football players have never seen an atmosphere like the swamp. I’ve talked to several players this week and they’ve told me Utah doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. “They still have to come to the swamp,” Trevitz Johnson said. Fans need to arrive early to create an intimidating atmosphere. It’s going to be hard to knock Utah out of their game, but it’s possible.
Play on special teams
It’s been a long time since Florida State had a great special team game. Anything that encourages the Gators to be on a special team can take the pressure off offense or defense. These players can really change the game; they need to prove it on Saturday night.
If the Gators play disciplined football tomorrow night, I think they’ll end up winning.