The college football season is officially beginning in Gainesville! The Florida Gators will open their 2021 season at home against the FAU Owls on Saturday night. The Gators will have a bunch of fresh faces on their roster after losing eight to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Redshirt-junior Emory Jones will make his first start in his collegiate career. In the past three years at Florida, Jones has backed up quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. Jones won the starting quarterback job in the fall camp and Florida fans will finally get to see Emory Jones at quarterback for a full game.
Florida will begin the Emory Jones era with a home game against the FAU Owls. FAU finished last season with a 5-4 record including a loss to the Memphis Tigers in the Montgomery Bowl. The Gators are 3-0 in their history playing against the Owls. Here is the preview between the Florida Gators and the FAU Owls.
The FAU Owls will travel north to Gainesville, Florida to take on the Florida Gators for their season opener. The Owls will be led by their head coach, Willie Taggart, who’s in his second season as FAU’s head football coach.
The Owls offense will be led by their graduate transfer quarterback out of Miami N’Kosi Perry. The former Hurricane was named the starting quarterback earlier this week after beating out Michael Johnson Jr.
Redshirt-senior running back James Charles is back for another season with the Owls. Charles led the Owls in rushing last season in nine games played. He had 92 carries for 429 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Super senior wide receiver TJ Chase is back after leading leads the Owls in receiving in 2020. The former Clemson Tiger had 23 receptions for 334 yards and two touchdowns. FAU also gets back 6-4 wide out John Mitchell after he missed all of last season with an injury.
On defense, FAU had an excellent defense last season as they averaged 17.4 opponent points per game. Redshirt-junior outside linebacker Chase Lasater led the Owls in tackles last season. Lasater had 72 tackles with five tackles for loss, one sack, three QB hurries and two forced fumbles.
While Lasater coming back helps FAU’s defense, they will miss Leighton McCarthy who led the Owls in sacks last season with nine. However, defensive end Jaylen Joyner is back for his redshirt-sophomore season after a nice 2020 season. The Jacksonville native 40 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and one forced fumble.
Florida Gators Offense
The Florida Gators will look to open their 2021 season with a hot start especially on offense. The Gators will be led by their head coach, Dan Mullen, who’s in his fourth season as Florida’s head coach.
The Florida offense will also be led by their new starting quarterback Emory Jones. The Gators offense should look very different than it did last season. With Jones at quarterback, Florida is expected to run the ball a lot more often than they did with Kyle Trask at quarterback.
In his three seasons at Florida, Jones has completed 55 out of 86 passes for 613 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception. On the ground. Jones has 92 carries for 514 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and six touchdowns.
The Gators also return a very deep running back room that added an extremely talented running back from the Transfer Portal. Former five-star recruit and Clemson Tiger Demarkcus Bowman will play at Florida this season. Bowman should get some touches this season but the two starters listed on Florida’s depth chart are senior Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis.
Besides replacing Trask on offense, Florida also needs to replace Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes. Junior wide receiver Jacob Copeland is expected to take the next step and be Florida’s top receiver in 2021. Former Penn State wide out Justin Shorter will also start for the Gators and could have a huge season after a strong spring and fall camps. Two other wide receivers to watch on Florida’s roster are Trent Whittemore and Xzavier Henderson.
Florida Gators Defense
The Florida defense is coming off a historical awful 2020 season as they gave over 30 points per game in 12 games. The Gators have made some coaching changes and added some transfers to fix their issues for last season.
Florida’s defense is still very talented but need to communicate better and make sure that they are not out of position like they were last season. Linebacker Ventrell Miller led the Gators in tackles with 88. He also had 52 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
The Gators sack leader from last season, Zachary Carter, also returns for his fourth season at Florida. The strong-side defensive end out of Tampa had five sacks for the Gators last season. He also had 36 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, 12 QB hurries and a defensive touchdown.
The main man on Florida’s defense is their cornerback Kaiir Elam. The junior out of The Benjamin School was voted as a Second Team Preseason All-American and is projected to be a first round in the 2022 NFL Draft. Elam had two interceptions last season which was tied for the team best but also had eleven pass breakups which was the best on team in 2020.
Five Players to Watch: FAU Owls
- WR TJ Chase
- LB Chase Lasater
- QB N’Kosi Perry
- DE Jaylen Joyner
- RB James Charles
Five Players to Watch: Florida Gators
- QB Emory Jones
- LB Ventrell Miller
- WR Jacob Copeland
- DE Zachary Carter
- RB Dameon Pierce
- Emory Jones has over 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns.
- N’Kosi Perry has over 250 yards of total offense and at least one touchdown.
- Florida’s defense gets at least three sacks.
- Chase Lasater leads both teams in tackles.
- Florida Gators beats FAU Owls 45-10.