Florida Gators vs. Idaho Vandals Complete Game Preview
The Florida Gators begin their football season with what should be a painless matchup against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday. It’s your typical opening-week cupcake game that allows teams to warm up for the tough conference schedule that is soon to come.
Florida returns seven starters on both sides of the ball and hopes to be one of the more improved teams in the country, while Idaho has 15 starters returning and has nowhere to go but up after winning just one game last season.
Certainly not the flashiest game of the opening-week schedule, but it sure beats harping on last season’s failures over and over.
Let’s take a look at this weekend’s matchup.
Idaho's Keys to Victory
The Idaho Vandals could always watch film of Georgia Southern pulling off the monster upset over Florida a year ago. It would at least give them motivation and possibly a little insight into how to beat the Gators when all the odds are stacked against you.
Other than hoping for a miracle, though, there’s not much Idaho can do to win this game.
The Vandals were 126th in the country last season with an average of 46.8 points allowed. Things got so ugly defensively that they eventually put wide receivers in the secondary in hopes of getting stops.
The team sees seven starters return on defense, but is that such a good thing?
Offensively, Idaho was one of the few teams that was worse than Florida last season, finishing 118th in points scored.
Needless to say, the Vandals have very little chance of winning this game.
Florida's Keys to Victory
Florida wins this matchup simply by showing up and playing a clean game. Avoid turnovers and stupid penalties, and the score will take care of itself.
There really isn't much of a game plan needed when you have the advantage at every position. The athleticism, strength and overall talent level is pretty obvious and begins to take over the game around the second quarter.
Unless the Gators give up five turnovers and maybe 100 yards in penalties, Idaho doesn’t stand much of a chance of pulling off this upset. Florida would have to play one of the worst games in program history to lose.
With that in mind, the key to this game for Florida is avoid shooting itself in the foot repeatedly.
That shouldn't be difficult.
Idaho's Players to Watch
Richard Montgomery, RB
Montgomery is one of the few explosive players on Idaho's offense, scoring six total touchdowns in limited action last season.
He's a speedster who can hurt you by taking the ball out of the backfield or by playing receiver.
In last year's blowout loss to Florida State, he caught three passes for 23 yards and a touchdown.
Montgomery is simply one of those players you want touching the ball 10-plus times a game. He's also from Florida, so you know he's had this game circled on his calender for quite some time.
QuayShawne Buckley, DT
Buckley is a grown man in the middle of Idaho's defensive line at 6'4", 305 pounds. He led the Vandals last season with 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, finishing his last four games with 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
He's a player Florida may have to double-team if he gets going.
This will of course be a massive challenge for Buckley, who doesn't face this level of competition very often. Even so, he is one of the few above-average players for Idaho.
Florida's Players to Watch
Jeff Driskel, QB
The last time Florida fans saw Jeff Driskel, he was throwing interceptions and leaving the field with a broken leg.
A lot has changed since then, including being thrown in a new offense led by offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.
Driskel will be getting the ball out quicker and running an up-tempo offense. More importantly, he will have chances to make more plays with his legs.
It's going to be interesting to see how he handles it all, as his performance level is the key to the Gators turning things around this season.
While Driskel's showing should be taken with a grain of salt given the competition, it's going to be good to see the new and possibly improved quarterback.
Jonathan Bullard, DL
Entering his third season, Bullard should have a breakout year on the defensive line. He has the skill set to be a nightmare defensive end, but he's struggled to put everything together in his first two years.
There's no better team to face and get off to a fast start than the Vandals. They allowed 53 sacks last year.
There's a good chance the Florida defense could approach double-digit sacks in this game. Everybody knows about Dante Fowler and Leon Orr, but Bullard's production could really take the Gators defense to the next level.
There’s really no explanation needed for this game. Florida is going to win, and win rather easily.
As well as home-field advantage, the Gators will have the advantage at every on-field position. They will also be motivated to use this game to help put last season’s struggles to bed.
It’s a new year, and a blowout win would certainly help Florida fans focus on what’s to come rather than what they experienced a year ago.
We’re talking about an Idaho team that finished 1-11 last season and allowed 80 points to Florida State.
This is sure to get ugly.
Florida wins 43-3