Gator Gameday: Storylines, question marks and key matchup for Samford Bulldogs at Florida Gators

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
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Things to watch in Florida’s home game against Samford. 

Storylines for Florida-Samford

1. Florida coach Dan Mullen made staff changes following the South Carolina loss, parting ways with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy. Graduate assistant Michael Sollenne will coach the O-line for the rest of the year, while linebackers coach Christian Robinson was promoted to interim DC with Paul Pasqualoni also being elevated to outside linebackers coach. Robinson, 31, is a first-time play-caller. 

How to watch: Florida Gators football vs. Samford Bulldogs on live stream

2. In a battle of 4-5 teams, Florida and Samford meet today for the first time in 99 years. In the previous two games (1921-22), the Gators topped Samford (then Howard College) by a combined margin of 91-0 (34-0, 57-0). UF is 20-1 against FCS opponents dating back to 1981, with the lone loss coming against Georgia Southern in 2013 (26-20). Mullen is 1-0 against Samford coach Chris Hatcher, defeating him at Mississippi State, 56-41, in 2016.

Florida football: Samford scouting report

3. Emory Jones had his fourth two-turnover game last Saturday and became the first UF quarterback to throw 10 picks in a season since Jeff Driskel in 2014. With Anthony Richardson back at practice this week, Mullen may opt to start him for the second time this year. He got the nod vs. UGA, but suffered a concussion in the second half and was then sidelined at South Carolina due to a dancing injury. Samford QB Liam Welch ranks seventh in the FCS with 2,697 passing yards. 

Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) warms up as quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) watches before an NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Today's game questions

1. Will it be Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson starting at quarterback?

2. Does UF place an emphasis on the run, particularly with Dameon Pierce?

3. How does Florida’s offensive line perform with a new position coach? 

4. How is Christian Robinson’s debut as interim defensive coordinator?

5. Samford has never scored against the Gators. Will the shutout continue?

Click back Sunday for Abolverdi's answers.

Abolverdi’s pick: Florida 41, Samford 13. 

Key matchup 

The turnover battle: Despite last week’s embarrassment and the subsequent staff changes, the Gators are 31.5-point favorites against Samford and have no business losing to an FCS team. The only way the Bulldogs will be able to hang around is turnovers. Florida is second-to-last in the SEC in turnover margin (-9) and ranks second-to-last nationally with 15 interceptions thrown, trailing only Arizona (16). Samford holds top-20 rankings in the FCS for takeaways (18) and interceptions (10).

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