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
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.
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.
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
Florida 45, Charleston Southern 10
(Last season: 9-2)
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.