Gator Gameday: Things To Watch at tonight's UF-FAU game

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Things to watch in tonight's FAU at Florida game.

The Storylines

1. After three years of waiting, Florida quarterback Emory Jones will make his first career start against Florida Atlantic. Jones has primarily been used as a running QB in the past, but the redshirt junior will finally get to showcase his arm talent this season. He has only eclipsed 100 yards passing in a game once, and that was a true freshman against Idaho (125 yards). Jones should hit that mark before the first half Saturday.

2. FAU’s Willie Taggart will be making his first trip to the Swamp as a head coach, despite a two-year stint at Florida State. He lost to the Gators at home in 2018, ending FSU’s winning streak in the rivalry, and was fired the following year before the Seminoles traveled to Gainesville. Saturday will mark the second meeting between Mullen and Taggart, both of whom were candidates for the UF job in 2017. 

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3. Like Florida, the Owls will also be starting a new quarterback in Miami transfer N’Kosi Perry, an Ocala native. This will be his second time facing the Gators, but his first opportunity to play against them. While with the Hurricanes, he lost his starting job to Jarren Williams prior to the 2019 opener against UF. Williams was sacked 10 times in the 24-20 loss and Perry replaced him as the starter later that season. 

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Today's game questions

1. How many total yards and touchdowns will Emory Jones account for in his first start? 

2. How will Florida manage to rotate all five running backs and distribute carries? 

3. Are the Gators able to establish the run and protect Jones with their reshuffled O-line?

4. Can UF’s front seven generate pressure and sacks on new FAU QB N’Kosi Perry? 

5. Will Florida’s secondary play with better communication and force any turnovers? 

Click back Sunday for Abolverdi's answers.

Key matchup 

Florida’s pass rush vs. FAU quarterback N’Kosi Perry:

The Gators led the SEC in sacks last season and could be just as disruptive this year with their returning edge rushers and a trio of graduate transfer defensive tackles. Big things are expected from UF defensive end Zachary Carter, who led the team with five sacks in 2020. The Owls struggled on offense last year, but have upgraded at the quarterback position with Miami transfer N’Kosi Perry. He’s more of a pocket passer, but has the ability to scramble and evade pressure. Florida’s pass rush will keep Perry on his toes Saturday night, but can the Gators get to him multiple times and/or force some bad throws for their secondary to take advantage of?