Storylines to tonight’s opener vs. Charleston Southern

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[Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

Tonight

Who: Charleston Southern Buccaneers vs. Florida Gators

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, 98.1-FM, AM-850

Tickets: Visit FloridaGators.com. Fans may also call the Gator Ticket Office at 375-4683.

Betonline.ag: Florida by 41.5

Mullen’s return

Florida fans certainly will be pleased if head coach Dan Mullen’s first game in The Swamp goes like his last game did when he was the offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. In that game, on Nov. 22, 2008, Mullen’s offense ran wild in a 70-19 rout of The Citadel. Mullen certainly is aware of how good The Swamp can be for the Gators. In his four previous seasons in Gainesville, the Gators were 26-2 at Florida field, the only losses coming to Auburn in 2007 and Ole Miss in 2008.

Polite power

If the players and coaches had taken a vote at the end of preseason camp on the defensive MVP, junior rush end Jachai Polite would have been the winner. In a landslide. Polite had an absolutely dominant camp, attacking every rep with the relentless effort Mullen is demanding. Several players said Polite was unblockable. He was always in the backfield, always making plays from sideline to sideline, earning the starting job over preseason All-SEC pick Cece Jefferson. “He works harder than anybody else. He believes that he’s the best and that he’s going to be the best,” sophomore defensive tackle T.J. Slaton said.

Hungry/starving Gators

The Gators, as a team, haven’t played a game since losing to Florida State in The Swamp last Nov. 25, so they’re hungry. There are some players who are absolutely starving. They would be the players who were suspended all of last season for credit card fraud — running back Jordan Scarlett and linebackers James Houston IV and Ventrell Miller. Scarlett said he can’t wait to take the field again. “I’m really excited,” he said. “Just can’t wait to get back out there with the guys. It’s going to be unreal (running out of the tunnel), it’s going to be a great moment for me, especially with what I went through last year. I’m just waiting to go out there and feel that moment again.”

Tonight’s game questions

• With a new offense and a new coach, will there be noticeable improvement in quarterback Feleipe Franks?

• Will Jordan Scarlett, or another UF back, rush for more than 100 yards?

• Special teams were weak last season. Can the Gators make something big happen in them tonight?

• Will the transfer wide receivers — Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes — have an immediate impact?

• What kind of momentum will the Gators generate heading into SEC play against Kentucky this week?

Click back Monday for Andreu’s answers

Andreu’s pick

Florida 45, Charleston Southern 10

(Last season: 9-2)

KEY MATCHUP

Florida’s aggressive, attacking defense vs. Charleston Southern’s triple-option attack:

The Buccaneers return only one All-Star candidate on offense — junior wide receiver Kameron Brown — so there are a lot of unknowns for the Florida defense. What the Gators do know is Charleston Southern is going to run the option, which is a tough offense to stop when you see it only once every few years. Todd Grantham’s defense is going to be aggressive and attacking this season, but it may not be all that evident tonight because defenses traditionally are reluctant to blitz the option. It’s more about assignment football. Given that, the defense may have a little trouble playing to its identity tonight. But just a little.

The Bucs stop here

Charleston Southern, a FCS school, is 0-19 against teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision, including a 49-0 loss against Dan Mullen and Mississippi State last year. The Buccaneers have lost those 19 games by an average score of 50-8. CSU last played in Gainesville to open the 2009 season against defending national champion Florida. The Gators won 62-3.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Finally, game day is here…Fall practice has come to an end, but has been very interesting, to say the least…many surprises, but not too many disappointments…UF over the past 10 years have struggled with these kind of opponents, in their first game… even though, these teams have less talent, size and speed… but, some how, they seem managed to keep the game close…I certainly don’t think that will be the case this year…The gators should win this game by 38-40+ points tonight… and anything less than plus 40 on the board will be an extreme disappointment to this group of coaches… These gators are bigger , stronger and faster than CS and much more talented and more depth …CS will be playing in front of 90,000 screaming gator fans,this should be a fear factor in it’s self…especially, when they are thrilled when 6,000 fans show up for their home games…they have more freshmen and sophomores than Juniors and seniors on their rooster…CS, for sure, will be completely over matched and UF should score well over 40 points as mentioned above… it may be a long season, if UF doesn’t score over 40 plus points…if that doesn’t happen…It will be a complete disappointment…Oh well, and lets just say, I wouldn’t want to be at practice Monday…UF’s defense should dominate this game…I don’t look for the defense to give up more than 9 points if any at all…in this game… I have stated many times before about Franks improvements and I still stand by them…but, I still like Trask as well, and think he will play in this game…now, lets see how Franks preforms in game one…although, I do think the game plan offensively, will be very generic in nature…mostly run, run, run…mainly because we are so deep at RB’s and because Kentucky is coming to town next week and it’s an SEC division game and they certainly don’t want to show to much…but, here is what I’ll be watching for, from Franks in the opener…when he does pass, can he get rid of the ball in 3 seconds or is he wasting this time by stepping backwards 4 or 5 steps, like last year…the coaches have really worked hard to reduce his steps backwards… by peddling backwards, he also gives away it’s pass play… you don’t run backwards to hand the ball off…you try to stay in the same location, whether it’s a pass play or hand off…we’ll see what he’s learned…last year Franks was responsible for more than half of his plus 30 sacks, himself… not necessarily the OL’s fault like so many believe, after all M Davis rushed for 500 yds and almost 100 yds per game in those 5 games he played before he got hurt and Del Rio certainly didn’t have to much of a problem, mainly because he threw the ball quickly and didn’t dance around beyond the pocket like Franks… Franks just would never step up into the pocket, but always back peddling from the pocket, wasting precious time or just try to run away from it….and I must say I have seen an improvement in his development and especially his presence and leadership qualities…
    The running game should be stellar this year…I look for two 100 yd rushers in this game and well over 500 yds of offense…but, don’t look for a heavy passing attack throughout the game…I’m looking for several turnovers and some good things happening on special teams…especially on kickoffs and punt returns … PREDICTION : UF 52 CS 06

  2. Gators. A team barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild them. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic team. Florida will be that team. Better than they were before. Better, stronger, faster.
    -Oscar Goldman uh Dan Mullen and crew.