With one game down in the Will Muschamp Era at the University of Florida, so far things look really good for the Gators (1-0).
They were dominant in handling visiting Florida Atlantic last Saturday night and should expect similar results this weekend against Alabama-Birmingham (0-0) in the Swamp.
So, aside from undressing the Blazers, what else could happen in game two?
Here are five bold (or in some cases not-so-bold) predictions:
1. Florida's defense will force its first turnover of the season.
Against FAU, the Gators didn't really allow the Owls to do much of anything. In fact, UF had 18 first downs before Florida Atlantic picked up its first.
But the Owls "won" the turnover battle, 3-0. Look for the Gators to get a takeaway early with the guess here being it comes on an interception of UAB quarterback Bryan Ellis by sophomore safety Matt Elam.
2. The offensive game plan will expand.
Senior running back Chris Rainey said he believed Florida ran only six plays in the season-opener—a statement offensive coordinator Charlie Weis disputed with a chuckle, saying Rainey only counted the plays that involved him.
Still, no one argued that a lot of the playbook was left unopened. Even with that, UF rolled its way to 468 yards, a total that was higher than all but two games in 2010.
Expect more variety this week from the offense, but don't look for the Gators to show too much. After all, Tennessee visits next weekend.
3. John Brantley won't throw an interception.
After throwing 10 picks (versus just nine touchdowns) as a junior, Brantley began his final campaign with two interceptions (and just one touchdown) against the Owls.
That said, he looked comfortable running the Pro Style offense Weis has installed and should look even better this week.
I doubt the Blazers will keep the game close enough to allow Brantley to eclipse 300 yards passing, but look for a line like this: 23-for-31 for 265 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
4. The Gators will punt...once.
Gainesville native David Lerner exited the preseason as the starter, edging freshman Kyle Christy. However, the competition was close and the job potentially could switch on a weekly basis based on who practices better.
Last week was supposed to give everyone their first glimpse of 2010 Ray Guy Award-winner Chas Henry's replacement but the offense had other ideas and UF never punted.
Look for Lerner, who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease (an ailment former Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback David Garrard battles), to get his first shot on Saturday night and get off a 47-yard boot.
5. The defensive line will deliver another inspired performance.
Florida's front four controlled the line of scrimmage against FAU, and that was without possibly its best player, sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd.
Floyd will have to sit out once again in the second of a two-game NCAA suspension that drew heavy criticism from Muschamp in this statement released by Florida on Thursday:
“I’m angered, disgusted and extremely disappointed that Sharrif will have to miss two games.
In my opinion Sharrif is getting lumped into what is bad about college athletics. As we indicated in the statement Saturday night his issue was not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida or anywhere else.
Sharrif is what is good about college athletics—his life is about survival, struggle, disappointment and adversity. I have recruited kids that did not know where they would sleep that night or what they would eat. Growing up, Sharrif was one these kids. Sharrif’s life is also about triumph, honesty, integrity, determination, perseverance and character. The NCAA stated that he received preferential treatment; there is nothing preferential about his life.
He grew up with only his great grandmother and still sends her Pell Grant money so she can pay her bills. How many kids do you know that would do that? I know one—Sharrif Floyd.
I want to make it clear that this issue is not about sports agents, Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida or anywhere else. The issue is about his survival and the only reason the NCAA, the SEC and the University of Florida were aware of these issues is because Sharrif brought them to our attention last February. He came forward because, as I said before, he is honest and because of his integrity.
The toughest day that I have had as a head football coach at Florida was the day that I had to tell Sharrif that he could not play in our game vs. FAU last week. I took away part of his family.
He had tears in his eyes and said 'What have I done wrong?' I told him he did nothing wrong. It wasn’t any easier to tell him today that he would be missing Saturday’s game.
I have two sons at home—if they end up like Sharrif I will consider myself a successful father.“
If the coach is that fired up, imagine how Floyd's teammates will react.
I'm seeing six total sacks with five coming from the defensive line. Fellow 2010 signee Ronald Powell will lead the way with two.
And oh yeah, final score: Florida 52, UAB 7
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