Jim McElwain and the Florida players have been talking all week about staying focused and avoiding a letdown against 37-point underdog North Texas.
I can relate to letdowns, because I’ve already had two of them when it comes to picking Florida’s games this season. I don’t know if it’s a lack of focus and energy or not paying attention to detail, but I’ve been clearly off.
In the opener, I picked a rout, with the Gators emptying the bench early. That did not happen in a less than inspiring 24-7 UF win over UMass. Then last week I made the bold prediction that Florida was going to struggle against Kentucky and that there was no way the Gators would cover the 16-point spread. Wrong again — 45-7.
Those two games have given me pause, helped me to refocus. So, I’m ready to try again.
Even if human nature sets in and the Gators do have a little bit of a letdown, UF should have no major issues in what should be a fairly comfortable win.
The offense seems headed in the right direction now and has a chance to improve over the course of the season. Luke Del Rio definitely gets it in terms of making the right reads and finding the open receivers. McElwain has him striving for perfection. And the Gators obviously have a lot of talent and potential at tailback. If the line plays like it did against Kentucky, the offense should go up and down the field again.
On defense, the Gators are playing at an elite level and will come close to pitching a shutout again. The biggest concern will be containing true freshman quarterback Mason Fine, who can run and throw. He’s only 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, but he’s quick and shifty and will challenge the UF defensive front from what will likely be a moving pocket.
One area where the Gators have not been efficient is special teams. UF has worked extensively on that phase this week and will be much more efficient Saturday night. Look for no penalties on special teams this time, and at least one long return and one long field goal by Eddy Pineiro.
I don’t see this being a letdown game for the Gators — or for me.
Prediction: Florida 41, North Texas 6