The college football season will kick off its 150th season with a renewed rivalry. Miami and Florida last met in 2013 but the emotion of a rivalry is still present. Although the matchup hasn’t been as frequent as many would like, there is still a familiarity on both sides. Players like Trajan Bandy and C.J. Henderson grew up together and were high school teammates. The coaches are familiar too, Manny Diaz was an assistant under Dan Mullen two different times at Mississippi State. Now, here are our keys to victory in the Camping World Kickoff.
Diaz in his first season as a head coach will start off with a tough task against the Gators coming off of a 10-win season. Mullen returns a good bulk of offensive production but knows that Miami is a tough defensive team. There will be several deciding factors that will determine the outcome of this heated rivalry.
Keys To Victory In The Camping World Kickoff
Who Can Overcome Offensive Line Inexperience?
The Florida Gators only return one starter from the 2018 offensive line in Nick Buchanan. Outside of him, only Brett Heggie has started a game for the Gators, which is concerning when the Hurricanes led the nation in tackles for loss last season. The Hurricanes return defensive end Jonathan Garvin, who compiled 17 tackles for loss as a sophomore. However, Miami has its own problems with an offensive line that is still fairly young. The Hurricanes are expected to start a true freshmen left tackle in Zion Nelson and redshirt freshmen John Campbell at right tackle. A tough task for a freshman to block Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard.
Which Special Teams Can Be ‘Special’?
The battle for field position will help determine how much success both offenses can have. Florida returns an All-SEC punter in Tommy Townsend who averaged 45 yards per punt last season. Matching that Miami has two players that both returned punts for touchdowns in Jeff Thomas and DeeJay Dallas. Online sensation and Australian import, Louis Hedley, will be making his debut to FBS football. In the first game of the season against actual competition, special teams play an important role in the chances of winning.
Which Playmakers Will Take Advantage of Their Matchups?
Both teams feel good about certain matchups that favor their side. For Florida, they return a talented group of wideouts headlined by Van Jefferson. They’ll be lining up against a fairly young secondary which lost three starters last season. The Hurricanes have to feel strong about their tight ends in Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. They’ll help Miami in blocking and should take advantage of smaller defenders in space. Florida’s cornerbacks in Henderson and Marco Wilson will also be tasked with stopping Thomas and K.J. Osborn.
Which Quarterback Will Show More Poise Under Pressure?
At first glance, this question should favor Florida as they have a veteran quarterback in Feleipe Franks. He ended the season really well and improved tremendously as the year went on. However, there is an interesting stat which should be factored into how he’ll perform on opening night.
2 potentially relevant stats:
When pressured last year vs P5 Ds, Feleipe Franks had 25.3% comps (64th/64 qualified P5 QBs), a 62.3 passer rating (53rd) & QBR of 5.3 (52nd).
vs. P5 offenses, Miami’s D got pressure 41.3% of the time. Only Kentucky & Clemson were better.
— David. (@ADavidHaleJoint) July 19, 2019
Redshirt freshmen Jarren Williams will be making his first collegiate start against an SEC opponent. The Florida defense also does a good job of disguising their defense and sending pressure. His ability to move on from any bad plays will be critical on the Miami offense.
As we complete our keys to victory in the Camping World Kickoff, here are our final thoughts. Opening college football games are very emotional but the Camping World Kickoff will be on another level. Due to the rivalry being played such few times, both teams will want to try and leave their mark. That is where the danger will lie as doing too much could result in mistakes. Miami is the more youthful team but has just as much talent and if Florida underestimates them it could prove costly on a national stage.