Abolverdi's Analysis: Gators will put up more points, but can USF score at all?

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
The Gators plan to make life difficult Saturday for USF quarterback Cade Fortin.

Florida makes the short trip to Tampa for another in-state matchup with South Florida, which was blanked in its season opener. 

While UF wants to score more points Saturday, the Bulls are just trying to find the end zone after being shutout by a combined score of 146-0 in three of their last four games vs. Power 5 teams. 

That includes a 45-0 loss to NC State last week. The Gators won their opener over FAU, 35-14, but two red-zone trips resulted in no points after the first of two interceptions by UF quarterback Emory Jones and a turnover on downs on fourth-and-goal. 

With his first-game jitters out of the way, Jones plays cleaner against USF, misses fewer reads and has better red-zone production. He will toss two touchdown passes for the first time since his true freshman year against Idaho. 

Anthony Richardson once again makes his mark in the run game and takes the majority of the fourth-quarter snaps. However, UF coach Dan Mullen will make sure Jones has played well and produced before pulling him for Richardson. 

Expect Mullen to show little in the passing game before Alabama and rely on his rushing attack for the second straight week. The Gators will have at least 300 yards on the ground as starting tailback Malik Davis has a big day in his hometown. 

Defensively, Tampa product Zach Carter will wreak havoc in the USF backfield and add to his career-high three sacks against FAU. The Gators may not finish with a half dozen sacks like last week, but their front seven will make life miserable for USF quarterbacks quarterbacks Cade Fortin and Timmy McClain. 

The Bulls won’t throw as often as FAU did with N’Kosi Perry, but Carter & Co. will provide a consistent pass rush and UF snags its first interception of the season. The defense is also aiming for its first shutout since 2019. 

Florida’s starters should have no trouble holding USF scoreless in the first half, but once the game gets out of hand and backups take over, McClain will lead the Bulls on a late touchdown drive to avoid the goose egg. 

Prediction: Florida 49, USF 7.