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

Florida Gators vs South Carolina Gamecocks: Week 10 Preview

  • Date: November 6, 2021
  • Time: 7:30pm EST
  • Venue: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, South Carolina
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Record: Gators (4-4) Gamecocks (4-4)
Gators vs Gamecocks
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 9 Recap

Last week, Florida lost to Georgia 34-7. The Gators lack of offense was not a major surprise given the Bulldog’s elite defense. Anthony Richardson got the start, but left the game with an injury. He finished the day 12/20 for 82 yards and added 26 yards on the ground. Emory Jones finished the game, and completed 10 of 14 passes for 112 yards and added 22 yards on the ground. The running game was stifled as compared to normal weeks, averaging just 4.1 yards per carry. They still gained 161 yards rushing, but this was due to 39 carries as a team. Dameon Pierce was by far the best running back last week, gaining 69 yards on just 9 carries.

The defense played well all things considered. They gave up 161 yards through the air on 19 attempts and had two interceptions, both by Rashad Torrence II. They gave up 193 yards on the ground, which is another poor performance against the run, after a similar result against LSU. Trey Dean III led the team in both tackles and tackles for loss, with 8 tackles and the only tackle for loss, which was a sack.

What to Watch

Florida’s Front 7 Against the Run

Florida has struggled as of late stopping the run. The Gators linebacker core has been without Ventrell Miller for the entire season, but that has been the only major injury in the front seven. The defensive line is full of solid players that at times have each shined, yet recently this group has struggled to stop the run. South Carolina on the other hand, has struggled to run the ball, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. This is a classic case of a stoppable force meeting a movable object.

Gators Receivers

The Gators have yet to really have any singular receiver pop to fill the voids of Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts. The leading receiver is Jacob Copeland, who has 25 catches for 450 yards. The yardage by him is solid, but nothing exceptional. Justin Shorter is second with 23 catches for 279 yards. No one else has over 200 yards.

Keys to Success

Quarterback Play

Quarterback play has been a big concern as of late. Anthony Richardson struggled in his limited action against Georgia. Emory Jones had been struggling in his last couple starts, and was mediocre against Georgia. Jones may start against the Gamecocks with Anthony Richardson recovering from a concussion. Jones on the year is 129/190 for 1417 yards and 10 touchdowns with 9 interceptions, and has added 517 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. South Carolina is not a good defense, so Jones has to have a great performance to prove he deserves to play the rest of the year. The Gators need to find consistent play out of one of them, and this may be Emory Jones’s last chance.

Turnover Margin

On the season, Florida is -7 in terms of turnover margin. This is 123rd in the country. They have forced 9 turnovers, 3 fumbles and 6 interceptions. They have turned the ball over 16 times. The Gators have only fumbled twice but have 14 interceptions. It is very difficult to win games when you are turning the ball over almost twice as much as opponents are. The interceptions have also often resulted in opponents’ touchdowns and have frequently occurred in clutch situations. The Gators desperately need to cut down on turnovers.

Pass Rush

Last week against Georgia, the Gators had just one sack and it was by a safety. The defensive front was unable to affect the game at all in any aspect. Florida should go out to an early lead, and to keep that lead an effective pass rush is a necessity. Brenton Cox Jr was extremely ineffective last week and has yet to have a big game this season. Zach Carter has been up and down, and those downs have occurred in the last few games. On the interior, Gervon Dexter has been solid but has not added a ton as a pass rusher. Daquan Newkirk and the rest of the defensive tackle group aren’t freak athletes or skilled pass rushers, so the burden falls on Dexter and the defensive ends.

Florida vs South Carolina Score Prediction

Gators 42 – Commodores 21

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Florida Gators: Recruiting and Development Review

The Florida Gators had eight drafted players this year, as well as three undrafted free agents that signed with teams. Florida is producing NFL players, which can only help recruiting, but how are they doing when compared to their competitors. Compared to their competitors (Florida State, Miami, Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Clemson), Florida is one of the best at developing lower-end recruits into NFL Draft prospects. Eleven players entering the NFL is tied for the second highest among this group. They also had the lowest average recruiting rankings of those players (special teams players not included due to their lower ranks). They were one of only two schools with zero five-star recruits in the span in which these players were recruited (2016-2018), the other being Texas A&M. They also had the second-lowest recruiting rankings on average ahead of only Texas A&M. Florida had the third most top-100 selections (considered to be the most valuable picks due to the likelihood of the player becoming a starter) behind only Alabama and Clemson. What does this mean for the state of the Florida Gators football program? While getting players into the NFL is not the end-all-be-all, it is a positive sign of good coaching and player development. More NFL success of former players, combined with winning, drives players to a program. Florida under Dan Mullen is developing lower-end recruits to compete with teams bringing in higher-end recruits, and putting them into the NFL at competitive rates. When a team can show a history of development, recruits will typically start to gravitate towards that program. It also goes the other way, which is why Florida State has had a worse recruiting class each of the last three years, most likely due to the poor development and coaching leading to just six draftees this year despite significantly higher recruiting rankings and 6 five-star recruits during the three year recruiting stretch in this draft. If Florida can pair this success in development with the greater on-field success of recent years to garner higher recruits, they can begin to ascend to a championship-level team. The top teams have players that on average are higher-level recruits that go pro, and their average NFL player is a top-100 pick, something that Florida needs to work on. Florida currently has an average draft position of 154.45 (with undrafted free agents weighing 260). To get to be a top-tier program, you have to not only put out NFL talent but high-end NFL talent. NFL starters. The other separator of on-field success between these teams has been the output of NFL talent at the quarterback position. Auburn, Florida State, and Miami have been the least successful of these teams in the past few years, and have not put out NFL-caliber quarterbacks. Georgia, Florida, and Texas A&M have all put out mid-round quarterback prospects, and have had success, but have not found championship success. The teams with first-round quarterbacks, Clemson, Alabama, and LSU, have all won championships. So while general high-end prospects are an indicator of success, the real key is to have that at the most important position, quarterback. In conclusion, Florida under Dan Mullen has had success in developing players to higher than expectations, and even higher than many of their competitors. While this is a good sign of a program on an upward trajectory, it is not the level of program Florida wishes to be. The level of recruiting must improve in total, and they must start producing NFL starters. They don’t necessarily need to produce more NFL players, but rather just have them be a higher caliber of player. The most important thing, however, is that they need to develop a first-round caliber quarterback, something that Florida has lacked since Tim Tebow. Kyle Trask was the closest thing that Florida has had since, and even he, a late-2nd round pick, was not enough. Modern championships are won by high-level quarterback play, and Florida will almost certainly not be an exception. Florida is ahead of most of its competitors that have not recently won national championships in its development, and it should lead to more success in recruiting. Other than a slight jump in recruiting, which could lead to a slightly better team all around, the main point of improvement remains quarterback. If they can improve there, then a National Championship is very much in the cards. Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson will look to be that for them. Both were high-end recruits with a lot of physical tools that Dan Mullen can shape into what he wants them to be. If they work out, Florida will be able to compete with and then recruit with the top teams in the country.