Before every Florida game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 8:
1. Will the Gators come out sluggish, suffering from the same kind of hangover they had going into last year’s game against Missouri following a loss to Georgia?
The players last week vowed that they would come out ready to play and would get off to a fast start. They didn’t. The defense gave up a big play — a 43-yard pass — and a touchdown on the opening possession of the game, putting UF in an early hole. Then the offense came out, blew assignments on the first three plays, and had a quick three-and-out. It was a sluggish start for sure, but the Gators recovered and finished the game strong with a 21-point fourth quarter.
2. Can Florida’s shaky offensive line protect quarterback Kyle Trask?
The line had a winning performance against one of the best defensive lines in the SEC. The big guys gave Trask enough time to throw for 200 yards and four touchdowns, three in the fourth quarter. Trask was sacked twice, but for the most part he had time in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open receiver.
3. Who wins the battle between the Florida receivers and the South Carolina defensive backs?
The win goes to the Florida receivers, and it starts with Jacob Copeland, who came up big in the first half. His 32-yard reception led to a field goal in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, he won a 50-50 battle for a ball and turned it into a 37-yard touchdown pass play. When the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, the receivers stood out. Freddie Swain made a diving catch for a 25-yard TD and Kyle Pitts and Trevon Grimes had touchdown catches to put the game away.
4. Will tight end Kyle Pitts continue to be a major player in the passing game for the Gators?
His numbers weren’t huge, but once again he was a go-to guy in the passing game, catching five passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. He was clutch in the decisive fourth quarter. He caught a nine-yard pass to convert a fourth-and-three from the USC 34. On the next play, Trask threw a 25-yard TD pass to Swain that put the Gators up 24-20. Later in the quarter, Pitts caught a five-yard TD pass to give UF a 31-20 lead with 7:53 to play.
5. How does the Florida defense respond after the awful performance a week ago at LSU?
The short-handed defense gave up some explosive plays on the ground and in the air. But when the game was on the line in the second half, the Gators came up with some key stops, including on a fourth-and-two from the USC 37, and forced a huge turnover — the sack/fumble by end Zachary Carter that was recovered by tackle Kyree Campbell and led to a touchdown that gave UF a 31-20 lead.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: No. 7 Florida (7-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. No. 10 Georgia (6-1, 3-1)
When: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2
Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850