Thursday, November 15, 2012
Five storylines: Gators vs. Jacksonville St.
By Michael DiRocco
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 6 Florida plays host to FCS opponent Jacksonville State on Saturday. It’s the final home game of the season and the last chance for a tuneup before playing Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 24.
Here's five storylines for the game:
1. It’s the Jacoby Brissett show: Starting QB Jeff Driskel is out with a sprained right ankle, so Brissett will make his second start of the season (he also started the opener). He’s not the runner that Driskel is, so expect the offense to change a bit. More wildcat with Trey Burton, for instance, to run the read-option plays that Driskel has had so much success with. Brissett has thrown just 13 passes this season, but he started two games in 2011 in place of the injured John Brantley. He has likes to throw the ball deep more than Driskel, so expect a few of those early.
2. Big day for Gillislee? RB Mike Gillislee wasn’t able to do much against Louisiana-Lafayette last week, but he should have a big game against Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks are giving up 193.3 yards per game on the ground. Eastern Kentucky ran for 327 yards earlier this season and UT-Martin put up 209 in the Gamecocks’ last game. Gillislee has just two games remaining to reach 1,000 yards in the regular season and needs 158 more yards. He should spend most of the second half on the bench, so he’ll need a big first half because it’ll be tough going against FSU, which is giving up only 74.3 yards per game rushing.
3. Get the youngsters on the field: The ideal situation would be to build a big lead and then get as many of the starters out as possible and get some young guys some significant playing time. It’d be good to get a look at freshmen WRs Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades, who've been on the field a lot but mainly as blockers. Get them involved in the passing game to check out their potential. Defensively, there are a lot of young defensive backs who could use some playing time: Brian Poole, Valdez Showers and Jabari Gorman. Those guys have been on the field on defense and special teams, but Saturday would be a good chance to put them out there at the same time. That experience, even against an FCS team, is invaluable.
4. Unbeaten at home: UF has a chance to go 7-0 at Florida Field for just the third time in school history. However, that stat dates back to 2002, when schedules have expanded to 12 games. The 2006 and 2009 teams are the only others that went 7-0 at home. It’s somewhat of a significant achievement, especially because of the way the Gators have played at home the past two seasons. UF went 9-5 at Florida Field in that span.
5. Senior Day: The Gators will honor 18 seniors (12 scholarship) in a pre-game ceremony. It’s not a star-studded group, but there are several key players who will be playing their final game at Florida Field: LB Jon Bostic, S Josh Evans, Gillislee, WR Frankie Hammond, DT Omar Hunter, LB Lerentee McCray, K Caleb Sturgis and LG James Wilson. It’s always an emotional moment for those players and their families and a neat thing to watch.