After picking up their first win in the Swamp, the Florida Gators are on the road for the first time this season but they won’t have to travel far. The Gators head south to Tampa, Florida to take on the USF Bulls. Below is a Florida vs USF preview highlighting what to watch and who to watch.
Florida vs USF Preview
Before we look at the Florida vs USF preview, let’s see what both teams did in their opener. The USF Bulls have started their 2021 season with a road blowout loss. The Bulls lost to the North Carolina State Wolfpack 45-0. South Florida is still searching for their first win last season’s home opener against the Citadel.
Florida comes into Raymond James Stadium with a 1-0 record after defeating the FAU Owls 35-14 last Saturday. While Emory Jones didn’t perform well in his first career start, the Gators were in control the whole game and their backup quarterback shined when he was on the field.
The USF Bulls will host the Florida Gators in their first home game of the season. The Bulls will be led by their head coach, Jeff Scott, who’s in his second season as USF’s head football coach.
The Bulls offense is led by sophomore quarterback Cade Fortin. The former North Carolina Tar Heel really struggled in his first game as he only completed seven out of 20 passes for 41 yards and an interception.
Backup quarterback Tommy McClain came in relief and had a better performance against the NC State defense. McClain completed seven out of 13 passes for 126 yards but did throw two interceptions.
Former Colorado running back Jaren Mangham is the current lead rusher for the Bulls. Mangham only had five carries for 26 yards. USF’s offensive line will have a tough test and Florida’s front seven.
Junior wide receiver Xavier Weaver had a solid game against the Wolfpack last Saturday and is the leading receiver for USF. Weaver only had two receptions but had 73 yards. Graduate tight end Mitchell Brinkman also had a good performance, catching two passes for 35 yards.
On defense, the USF Bulls really struggled as they gave up 45 points and 535 yards of total offense. Senior linebacker Andrew Mims was one of the few bright spots in the game for the South Florida defense.
Mims leads the Bulls in tackles with 14 tackles but only had two solo tackles. Another senior linebacker that played well in the season opener is Antonio Grier. The Atlanta linebacker had eight tackles in the loss but also recorded a tackle for loss and sack. Another player to watch for the USF defense is sophomore safety Matthew Hill.
Florida Gators Offense
The Florida Gators will look to play a more complete game as they will be on the road for the first time this season. The Gators are led by their head coach, Dan Mullen, who’s in his fourth season as Florida’s head coach.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Jones will get his second career start and will look to improve after struggling his first start. Jones completed 17 out of 27 passes for 113 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
While Jones struggled against the FAU defense, freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson shined. The Gainesville native only completed three out of eight passes but was playing third stringers and walk-ons.
He did make his presence on the field known with his running ability. Richardson led the Gators in rushing with seven carries for 160 yards including a 73-yard rushing touchdown. Senior running back Malik Davis also had a big night as had 14 carries for 104 yards and a score.
Even though Florida’s passing attack wasn’t great last Saturday, there was still some solid production. Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Ja’markis Weston leads the Gators in receiving with three catches for 44 yards. Sixth-year senior Rick Wells also had five receptions for 36 passing yards and his first career touchdown.
Florida Gators Defense
The Florida defense had a pretty solid performance against the FAU offense, especially the front seven. The Gator defense only allowed 14 points and had six sacks and two turnovers in the win.
Fourth-year defensive end Zachary Carter shined in the game as he recorded three of the six sacks. Carter was also named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week and will be playing against the Bulls in his hometown.
Linebacker Ventrell Miller leads the Gators in tackles with seven tackles in the home opener. Sophomore defensive tackle Gervon Dexter played very well as he had two tackles, half of a sack, and recovered two fumbles.
Five Players to Watch: USF Bulls
1. RB Jaren Mangham
2. LB Andrew Mims
3. QB Cade Fortin
4. S Matthew Hill
5. WR Xavier Weaver
Five Players to Watch: Florida Gators
1. RB Malik Davis
2. DE Zachary Carter
3. QB Emory Jones
4. LB Ventrell Miller
5. WR Rick Wells
1. Jones has over 300 yards of total offense and four touchdowns.
2. USF plays both quarterbacks again.
3. Florida’s defense forces at least two turnovers.
4. Hill leads the Bulls in tackles.
5. Florida Gators beats USF Bulls 48-10.