Gator Gameday: Storylines, question marks and key matchup for Florida vs. UCF

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Things to watch in Florida’s bowl game against UCF. 

Storylines for Florida-UCF

1. Today will be the final game at Florida for the coaching staff and several staff members, including interim coach Greg Knox and strength coach Nick Savage. New UF coach Billy Napier is not expected to retain any of the current assistants, while there will be additional changes made to the support staff and recruiting department. Knox is looking to improve to 3-0 as a head coach after beating Florida State with the Gators and leading Mississippi State to a bowl win over Louisville in 2017. 

2. The Gasparilla Bowl will also be the last time Emory Jones suits up for the Gators. He has announced his intentions to enter the transfer portal after the game. Jones had an up-and-down season as Florida’s starting quarterback, setting school marks against Tennessee and Samford while throwing 13 interceptions and getting benched twice. Backup Anthony Richardson led UF to a win over FSU and has rotated with Jones when healthy, but will be out today following minor knee surgery. 

3. Today will be the first meeting between Florida and UCF in 15 years and their third matchup overall. The Gators won the previous two games in 2006 (42-0) and 1999 (58-27), both in Gainesville. Central Florida visits The Swamp again in 2024, the start of a three-game series the two in-state programs agreed to last July. Florida plays at UCF in 2030 and will host the Knights in 2033. 

Today's game questions

1. Can Emory Jones protect the ball and end his UF career with a win?

2. How much production can Dameon Pierce and Mailk Davis provide?

3. Will the Gators be able to generate pressure on UCF QB Mikey Keene? 

4. Who will step up with leading tackler Mohamoud Diabate sidelined? 

5. Does UF win the special teams battle, or at least avoid a critical mistake?

Click back Saturday for Abolverdi's answers.

Abolverdi’s pick: Florida 31, UCF 24

How to watch:Florida Gators vs. UCF Knights in Gasparilla Bowl on TV, live stream

UCF Knights over the Florida Gators?:Five reasons why it'll happen in Gasparilla Bowl

Bragging rights:UF players 'pumped up' for Gasparilla Bowl matchup with Central Florida

UF Notebook:Players give first impressions of new head football coach Billy Napier

Key matchup 

The turnover battle: 

The Gators have struggled this season with turnovers on offense and producing defensive takeaways. Their turnover margin is -9, which ranks 121st in the FBS, and they’ve forced just 12 takeaways (109th nationally). The Knights, meanwhile, have 20 takeaways and a turnover margin of +6, which ranks 29th nationally. Jones has more than twice as many interceptions (13) as UCF quarterback Mikey Keene. He’s thrown six picks in nine starts, but none in the last four games.