Gators Insider: Florida opens season against Ole Miss

Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Gator football team makes a long-awaited return to the field on Saturday in the SEC kickoff at Ole Miss. Florida, like all conference teams, is playing a ten-game SEC-only schedule this fall.

Steve Russell breaks down what to look for in this week’s Gator Insider.

Florida does not play Ole Miss much, in fact, last time they met was here in Gainesville in 2015, when a favored Ole Miss team was hammered 38-10. A lot has changed in just five years. Now Florida must open the season on the road and face a coach in Lane Kiffin, who has turned around programs. He took over a 3-9 Florida Atlantic team, and led them to an 11-3 record in his first year there. Gator coach Dan Mullen says Kiffin brings some swagger to the program.

“One of the hard ones is you have a whole new coaching staff," said Mullen. "They’re looking at us saying, let’s go to last year’s film. They’ve never played a game together, so I don’t know”

And Kiffin has some offensive weapons to work with like running back Jerrion Ealy, receiver Elijah Moore and two quarterback combination in former Florida recruit Matt Corral and the dynamic John Rhys Plumlee - one of the fastest players in the league.

The Gators defense knows it will have to play solidly and tackle well to be successful.

“it definitely shows that we have to be all on point in the first game," said linebacker Ventrell Miller. “It’s not a time to be....we have to make sure everybody is in the right gaps and on the same page.”

Perhaps the biggest question for the Gators is in the run game. Can it be more consistent and can the offensive line be better, even without starting center Ethan White? Offensive line coach John Hevesy says more consistency from his group has been a big focus.

“Running the ball gives us a chance to be a great play action team,” he said. “Everything for us is staying ahead of the chain....ahead of schedule which to me means, if we run the ball on first down, we have to get 4 yards, we have to be efficient."

Because of the circumstances surrounding this COVID-19 affected season, Florida opens up against a league opponent and not against the usual cupcakes, and one person who loves playing top competition every week is defensive back Marco Wilson.

“Personally I prefer to play the better teams," said cornerback Marco Wilson. "So an All-SEC schedule you know....that’s good competition every week and I prefer that I usually don’t like to play the smaller games.”

The wait to play has been a long one but now players at least can drop the masks and strap on the helmet and begin to play the 2020 season.

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