Florida vs Utah Preview

Date: September 3, 2022
Time: 7:00pm EST
Network: ESPN
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida
Spread: Utah -3.0
Over/Under: 51

Florida vs Utah Preview

The #7 Utah Utes travel to the Swamp to face the unranked Florida Gators for each of their opening games of the season. Utah is coming off of a Pac-12 Championship last season, led by a fantastic running game, a tremendous defense, and a quick passing game commanded by quarterback Cam Rising. Utah looks to be an early favorite to repeat as Pac-12 champions, with a few other contenders in Oregon and USC to compete with. The Utes’ toughest non-conference matchup looks to be this opening game. The Florida Gators are coming off a tumultuous season that led to the firing of previous coach Dan Mullen. New head coach Billy Napier looks to lead Florida back to success in his first season. Florida opens the season with a tough stretch with three of the first four games against quality opponents, headlined by Utah.

Florida vs Utah
Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty images

Individual stats are courtesy of sports-reference.com, and team stats and rankings are courtesy of teamrankings.com

Utah Utes

2021 Recap

2021 Record: 10-4
Passing Leader: Cameron Rising, R-Jr (current year), 63.8% 2493 yds, 7.8 YPA, 20 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing Leader: Tavion Thomas, R-Jr, 1108 yds, 5.4 YPC, 21 TDs
Receiving Leader: Brant Kuithe, R-Sr, 50 rec, 611 yds, 12.2 YPC, 6 TDs
Sack Leader: Mika Tafua, NFL, 48 tackles, 13 TFLs, 9.5 sacks
Tackle/Interception Leader: Devin Lloyd, NFL, 111 tackles, 22 TFLs, 7.0 sacks, 4 INTs, 1 FR, 1 FF

2021 Offensive Stats

Points Per Game (Rank): 35.8 (13)
Total Yards Per Game: 429.8 (39)
Passing YPG: 210.6 (85)
Rushing YPG: 219.2 (11)
Points Per Play: 0.521 (7)
Yards Per Play: 6.2 (20)
3rd Down Conversion %: 49.69 (7)
4th Down Conversion %: 50.00 (66)
Red Zone Scoring %: 80.00 (88)

Rush Play %: 57.1 (33)
Yards Per Carry: 5.6 (2)
Runs Per Game: 39.3 (39)

Pass Play %: 42.91 (98)
Completion %: 62.63 (48)
Yards Per Pass: 7.4 (71)
Passes Per Game: 28.6 (90)
Interception %: 1.88 (31)
QB Sack %: 3.13 (2)

2021 Defensive Stats

Points Per Game: 23.0 (32)
Total Yards Per Game: 349.1 (23)
Passing YPG: 223.0 (57)
Rushing YPG: 126.1 (21)
Points Per Play: 0.337 (38)
Yards Per Play: 5.1 (34)
3rd Down Conversion %: 38.12 (56)
4th Down Conversion %: 53.33 (72)
Red Zone Scoring %: 79.55 (42)

Rush Play %: 48.31 (13)
Yards Per Carry: 3.8 (37)
Runs Per Game: 33.0 (16)

Pass Play %: 51.61 (118)
Completion %: 61.28 (71)
Yards Per Pass: 6.9 (32)
Passes Per Game: 32.4 (80)
Interception %: 2.14 (89)
QB Sack %: 8.28 (25)

2021 tEAM Advanced sTATS

FEI is a per-possession metric to determine the scoring differential between opponents on a neutral field. SP+ is a tempo (plays per game, etc.) and opponent adjusted metric to judge efficiency. F+ combines these two metrics. Offensive F+ (OF+) and Defensive F+ (DF+) break that down to the side of the ball. All five metrics are courtesy of Football Outsiders. PFF’s Point Spread Rating is their version of power rankings.

F+: 1.22 (10)
FEI: 0.74 (7)
SP+: 15.2 (16)
OF+: 1.35 (11)
DF+: 0.90 (20)

PFF: 10.5 (10)

Utah Utes Team Breakdown

The Utah Utes are an extremely talented team that is returning a majority of it’s starters from last season. They have a good team culture with coach Kyle Whittingham in his 18th season, and are built to play a bully-ball style of game. They will pound the rock with a vicious barrage of running backs and have plenty of skilled playmakers at the tight end spot to go big. Defensively, their line will look to eat up space to let their new linebackers make plays. The secondary is very talented on the outside, but is a mixed bag at safety. If one of the new safeties can step up, this could be one of the best secondaries in college football. Quarterback Cam Rising will look to play efficiently and deliver the ball to his playmakers quickly to avoid mistakes.

Florida vs Utah
Photo by Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Utah Utes Keys To Victory

  1. Stop the Run
  2. Force Turnovers
  3. Avoid Early Deficits
  4. Run the Ball Effectively

Florida Gators

2021 Recap

20221 Record: 6-7
Passing/Rushing Leader: Emory Jones, R-Sr (Transferred), 64.7%, 2734 yards, 7.9 YPA, 19 TDs, 13 INTs, 143 carries, 759 yards, 5.3 YPC, 4 TDs
Receiving Leader: Jacob Copeland, R-Sr (Transferred), 41 rec, 642 yards, 15.7 YPC, 4 TDs
Sack Leader: Brenton Cox, R-Sr (current), 41 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, 8 sacks
Tackle Leader: Mohamoud Diabate, Sr (Transferred) 89 tackles, 2.5 TFLs
Interception Leader: Rashad Torrence, Jr, 87 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 3 INTs

2021 Offensive Stats

Points Per Game (Rank): 27.4 (61)
Total Yards Per Game: 443.0 (20)
Passing YPG: 236.6 (61)
Rushing YPG: 206.4 (22)
Points Per Play: 0.386 (63)
Yards Per Play: 6.2 (21)
3rd Down Conversion %: 38.89 (70)
4th Down Conversion %: 56.00 (50)
Red Zone Scoring %: 84.44 (54)

Rush Play %: 53.64 (63)
Yards Per Carry: 5.4 (6)
Runs Per Game: 38.1 (52)

Pass Play %: 46.36 (68)
Completion %: 61.94 (59)
Yards Per Pass: 7.5 (68)
Passes Per Game: 31.8 (55)
Interception %: 4.72 (129)
QB Sack %: 3.54 (7)

2021 Defensive Stats

Points Per Game: 24.7 (44)
Total Yards Per Game: 354.3 (34)
Passing YPG: 186.3 (9)
Rushing YPG: 168.1 (82)
Points Per Play: 0.361 (50)
Yards Per Play: 5.2 (39)
3rd Down Conversion %: 34.78 (22)
4th Down Conversion %: 47.06 (51)
Red Zone Scoring %: 82.05 (56)

Rush Play %: 54.20 (89)
Yards Per Carry: 4.5 (85)
Runs Per Game: 37.1 (65)

Pass Play %: 45.80 (42)
Completion %: 55.98 (13)
Yards Per Pass: 6.5 (18)
Passes Per Game: 28.6 (32)
Interception %: 2.33 (77)
QB Sack %: 8.78 (17)

2021 Team Advanced Stats

F+: 0.68 (34)
FEI: 0.33 (36)
SP+: 11.0 (30)
OF+: 0.58 (39)
DF+: 0.69 (30)

PFF: 5.9 (25)

Florida Gators Team Breakdown

The Florida Gators are helmed by new head coach Billy Napier. Napier will be tested in his opener at the swamp, but his NFL-style offense can be effective against a superior opponent. The Gators will look to use their strong offensive line and deep running back room to move the ball effectively and make the Utes’ linebackers run and chase. Anthony Richardson is unlike any quarterback Napier has ever had, so expect more creativity with the position than he has previously shown.

On the defensive side of the ball, a lack of depth up front will have to be made up for with the star power of Gervon Dexter and Brenton Cox Jr. The Gators do have experience in the secondary, and that group should be talented. Linebacker remains a question, as those with experience lack athleticism, and those with athleticism lack experience.

Florida vs Utah
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Florida Gators Keys to Victory

  1. Effective Anthony Richardson – 300+ Total Yards, 2+ Total TDs
  2. Run the Ball Effectively – 5.0 + YPC, 200 Total Yards
  3. Limit Turnovers – Turnover Margin Within 1
  4. Explosive Plays – year’s3 25+ yard plays
  5. Gets Stops On 3rd Down – Under last years average of 49.67% conversion rate

Official Prediction for Florida-Utah

Florida – 31 Utah – 28

Week 4 Florida Gators vs Tennessee Volunteers Preview

  • Date: Saturday, September 25
  • Time: 7:00 ET
  • Venue: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
  • TV: ESPN
  • Record: Gators (2-1) Volunteers (2-1)

Week 3 Recap

The Gators had a close loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 31 to 29. Florida missed an extra point, and then subsequently had to go for two. If they had simply made both extra points, they would have been tied. Obviously, other factors led to the loss. Most notably, giving up 21 points in the first quarter. After that, the defense really tightened up significantly. Alabama finished the game averaging just 6.9 yards per pass attempt and 3.3 yards per carry. Florida’s offense also ran for 245 yards on 43 carries for an average of 5.7 yards per carry, which is extremely impressive against Alabama. However, they threw for just 195 yards. That is not a recipe for winning, especially when you go down big early. The absence of Anthony Richardson, who looks to be back for this game, was a big factor in their struggles. Richardson provides a much higher level downfield passing game than Emory Jones.

What to Watch

Florida’s Quarterback Rotation

With Anthony Richardson expected to be fully available for this game, it will be very interesting to see how often Dan Mullen uses him. Throughout the first two games of the season, Richardson looked like the better quarterback. Emory Jones played well against the Crimson Tide, but struggles with ball placement leave concerns about whether or not he is the answer at quarterback. Richardson gives an added dynamic as a passer while also being a superior running threat. Richardson has the skill to eventually overtake Jones if Mullen sees fit, and a game against an inferior opponent is the perfect opportunity to test it out.

Florida’s Run Defense

Florida has yet to give up more than the 3.3 yards per carry average in a game that they gave up to Alabama. The Gators will looks to continue this trend in this game. Tennessee’s top two running backs from last year transferred out, and they haven’t had the same level of talent come in to replace them. The Gator defense is still without linebacker Ventrell Miler, but played well despite not having him last week. The defensive line is very deep, and has three studs along it in Zach Carter, Brenton Cox Jr, and Gervon Dexter. They are a threat to any offensive line. The Gator’s will look to have to stop a running quarterback as well this week.

Keys to Success

Limit Turnovers

Emory Jones has thrown at least one interception in every game so far this year. That has to stop, or he simply cannot play anymore. If the Gators can not turn the ball over, they are a superior team in terms of talent, and can rely on that to easily win this game. Turnovers in small numbers could be overcome in this one, but is something they really need to focus on going forward.

Corner Two Play

Again, if this is one of their few issues, they can still probably win this game. However, to be totally effective as a defense both in this game and going forward, they must get solid play out of whoever is corner two. My favorite for the position is Jason Marshall, who as a freshman has flashed his skill and athleticism, but lacks much consistency in his play. If he can prove to be a consistent player in this one, he can win the job going forward. If they do get good play out of corner two, they can shut down any and all hopes of offense from the Volunteers.

Run Game

The Gators have dominated everyone they have faced on the ground offensively. They have a large stable of talented running backs, and a powerfully built offensive line that is best going forward. The quarterbacks both are tremendous runners. Anthony Richardson being back adds explosion in the running game. Jones, is a consistent runner who is good on read options. Having a backfield made up of Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis, Nayquan Wright, and Demarkus Bowman is just downright unnecessary. If they can continue their previous performances, they will be able to control time of possession and dominate both field position and on the scoreboard.

Score Prediction

Gators 45 – Volunteers 24

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