Florida Gators: Rashad Smith

Jacksonville State (6-5) at No. 6 Florida (9-1)
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.
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Gators to watch

[+] EnlargeMatt Jones
AP Photo/Wade PayneFlorida freshman running back Matt Jones has run 33 times for 113 yards and a touchdown in 10 games this season.
RB Matt Jones: Going on the assumption that the Gators get up big and play a lot of young players in the second half (although we thought that last week, too), Jones should get some pretty significant work, especially with Mack Brown out with an ankle injury. Jones has run for 113 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries in spot duty. He hasn’t done much lately, though. Since carrying the ball 10 times for 45 yards against Kentucky, he has touched it only 10 times in the last six games, including six carries for 24 yards against Missouri.

SS Matt Elam: This likely is Elam’s last game at Florida Field because he’s expected to leave early for the NFL instead of returning for his senior season. He is such a versatile player and the Gators lean on him pretty heavily for a lot of things. He lines up near the line of scrimmage to help in run support, can play as a single high safety as well as two deep, and is also pretty solid in man coverage.

QB Jacoby Brissett: He’ll be making his first start since the opener and should put up some pretty decent numbers considering Jacksonville State has one of the worst defenses in the Football Championship Subdivision. Two things on which to focus: How quickly does he get rid of the ball, and how does he react to the blitz. Those are two important issues that he’ll have to deal with against Florida State next week if starter Jeff Driskel can’t play.

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ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation is previewing each of Florida’s 2012 opponents. Today is Jacksonville State (Nov. 17 in Gainesville).

[+] EnlargeWashaun Ealey
Dale Zanine/US PresswireWashaun Ealey led Georgia in rushing in 2009 and 2010 before transferring to Jacksonville State.
JACKSONVILLE STATE

2011 record: 7-4 (6-2 Ohio Valley Conference).

Coach: Jack Crowe, 13th season (81-52); 18th season overall (95-82).

Series record: First meeting.

Top returners: QB Marques Ivory (5-10-0, 56 yards, 1 TD); RB Washaun Ealey (1,082 yards, 8 TDs); LB Rashad Smith (77 tackles); S Pierre Warren (37 tackles, 3 INTs).

Did you know? Former UF coach Charley Pell spent five seasons as JSU’s coach (1969-73) and went 33-13-1, including 10-0 in 1970.

Scouting the offense: Ivory missed the 2011 season after suffering an injury in the opener. He has 2,740 career passing yards and 25 career TD passes. Ealey is a former Parade All-American who spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons at Georgia and led the Bulldogs in rushing both seasons (717 in 2009 and 811 in 2010).

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Gators Lose Two ESPN 300 Commits
National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert discusses where Florida goes from here now that its recruiting class has shrunk to eight. Haubert says, however, there's reason for optimism in Gainesville.
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