GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 22 Florida Gators host Northern Colorado of the FCS on Saturday at noon for their first home game of the 2017 season.
The game was originally scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff but Florida announced Wednesday it would move up the kickoff due to the impending threat of Hurricane Irma. A live stream of the game will be available on SEC Network+.
Florida beat writers Zach Abolverdi, Jordan McPherson and Ryan Young make their predictions for how the game on Saturday will unfold.
Abolverdi: Florida can’t afford to be vanilla
Florida can’t afford to be vanilla on offense. Sure, the Gators may coast to an easy win without opening too much of their playbook, but that won’t satisfy a fan base starving for offensive firepower. The kind that blows up defensive schemes and leaves a trail of touchdowns in its path. Doug Nussmeier’s unit couldn’t find the end zone in Jerry World.
That won’t — scratch that, better not — be a problem against Northern Colorado. Starting quarterback Feleipe Franks should at least triple the amount of pass attempts he had in the season opener (9) and Nussmeier needs to utilize — scratch that, showcase — the supposed weapons Florida’s staff has recruited. Gators win, 45-13.
McPherson: Gators need a blowout win for the sake of confidence
Let’s call it like it is. A blowout win is the only way Florida comes out of this game in a positive light. Even then, it won’t say too much about the state of the team. There’s a lot of noise surrounding the Florida program this week. There’s the hurricane, the continued quarterback battle, the indefinite suspensions of nine players and the need to prove the offense can make a statement. While a matchup against Northern Colorado of the FCS won’t solve any of the Gators’ problems, it could be the morale boost Florida needs after dropping the season opener to Michigan.
Wide receiver Dre Massey only touched the ball once against Michigan. I expect that to change this weekend. The versatile redshirt junior should be a guaranteed mismatch for Northern Colorado’s defense, especially with the Bears also having to focus on containing Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond on the outside. Expect Massey to have a big day, one that will include at least 1 long touchdown. On defense, expect to see a lot of the Gators’ underclassmen getting extensive playing time.
Overall, if the Gators can sustain offense and execute the big plays — which they should — and Franks can stay in a rhythm, the confidence and success could seep over to next weekend against Tennessee and into the rest of SEC play. I think the former happens. The latter will be determined next week. Florida wins, 48-7.
Young: Florida offense should be aggressive
Florida is going to score at least 40 points and pile up at least 500 yards of offense Saturday against Northern Colorado. It won’t change anybody’s opinions about this offense — not unless the Gators can move the ball well again next week against Tennessee — but they’ve got to start somewhere and building confidence against an overmatched FCS team is Step 1.
Expect Franks to play most of the game with Malik Zaire rotating in for a package of plays. The Gators need to let Franks show off his arm, though, and open the playbook. I expect they will be aggressive, which would be a welcomed change. And I expect they’ll make certain that guys like Massey and Kadarius Toney are involved after being afterthoughts a week ago. It’s a no-win situation for the Gators, though.
Again, even if they hang 50 on Northern Colorado, it won’t sway any opinions. But if they don’t, if they skate by and let this be a semi competitive game, the concerns and frustrations are only going to mount. Florida wins, 45-7.
The post Score predictions for the Florida Gators’ game against Northern Colorado appeared first on SEC Country.
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