MIAMI GARDENS — 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 13, a 36-28 win over Virginia in the Orange Bowl:
1. Can the Florida defense prevent dynamic Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins from making explosive plays running the ball?
The Gators executed their game plan to eliminate Perkins as a serious running threat to near perfection. The defensive linemen stayed disciplined, the ends and linebackers did not give up the edge and kept Perkins contained in the pocket for most of the night. As a result, there were no explosive plays produced on the ground by the electric Perkins, whose longest run was only 10 yards. He finished with just 24 yards rushing and was sacked three times. Give linebacker Ventrell Miller a lot of credit for the way he spied Perkins throughout the game.
2. Will Florida quarterback Kyle Trask have time to execute the passing game against what is usually a fierce Cavaliers’ pass rush?
As usual, the Cavaliers blitzed a great deal, but the offensive line, as it has done for most of the season, held up in pass protection and gave Trask enough time to complete 24 of 39 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked only once and hurried just twice, so the line did its job, keeping Trask on his feet and allowing him to execute the passing game.
3. Will the Gators come out flat or fired up?
They came out ready to play and scored on the first possession on Lamical Perine’s 61-yard touchdown dash over the left side. Just like the Gators have done for most of the season, they prepared hard all week, came out focused and were ready to go from the start. UF took control of the game in the first half, setting the tone for the game.
4. Can the Gators surprise everyone by establishing a ground game?
They did. Shocking, but true. It became obvious during the game’s opening moments that Lamical Perine and the running game were going to be a factor in this one when he broke free for a 61-yard touchdown run. It wasn’t a steady ground attack the rest of the way, but it was an effective one. The Gators rushed for 244 yards (amazing, right?), with Perine gaining 138 and scoring two touchdowns to earn the MVP award.
5. Who wins the turnover battle?
It was a tie 1-1 (both interceptions), but that one UF interception was the biggest defensive play of the night. With Virginia threatening to make it a 33-28 game with less than six minutes left in the game, true freshman cornerback Kaiir Elam jumped up and intercepted a fade route on the UF 3-yard line. From there, the Gators drove for a field goal to increase their lead to 36-21 with 2:32 left in the game. That was a 10-point swing in favor of UF, so the pick was huge.
— Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
The Gators open the 2020 season Sept. 5 against Eastern Washington at Florida Field.