Florida’s timing has not been good in its rivalry with Miami. During the years when Miami has been down, the Hurricanes have not been on the schedule. When they’re back up, they pop back up on the schedule. And so it is again.
Miami has been in full recovery mode under Al Golden, who, like Will Muschamp, is a defensive guy. The Hurricanes may not be all the way back, but they’ve come a considerable distance in a short time under Golden’s guidance. On Saturday in Sun Life Stadium, the Gators will be facing a Miami team that seems to be rapidly developing into potential championship material again (just in time for the Gators).
This will be the best and most balanced offense the Gators have faced since the Georgia game last year. Stephen Morris is a very accurate passer and has speedy and athletic receivers who can make plays down the field for him. And then there’s Duke Johnson, who looks a lot like Percy Harvin with his strong, thick build and explosive running style. The ’Canes have home-run hitters in the running game and the passing game. Toledo was a good first test for a Florida defense replacing seven starters from a year ago. Saturday’s test takes it to a new level for the Gators, who will find out just how good they are with their performance in this game.
Defensively, the ’Canes were susceptible against the run last season, so look for the Gators to try and get their downhill running game going early. If they can, it will open opportunities in the play-action passing game, an area where the offense showed great promise in the opener. Other than that, UF did not show a whole lot in the opener. That will change Saturday. It’s time for the Gators to open the whole playbook and show exactly what they’ve got in the passing game. Muschamp, offensive coordinator Brent Pease and Jeff Driskel have been telling us since August that the Gators have the ability to hit big plays in the downfield passing game. Now is the time to show it (if not now, then when?).
I have a feeling that three starters who did not play in the opener — tailback Matt Jones, middle linebacker Antonio Morrison and cornerback/receiver Loucheiz Purifoy — are all going to have big games Saturday.
Prediction: Florida 21, Miami 17