Gainesville, Fla.—- Tomorrow is the beginning of the Jim McElwain era in Gainesville. This week the Gator Nation got a mild jolt with Coach “Mac” naming Treon Harris Florida’s starting QB for tomorrow’s game. Many had high hopes for 4-star North Carolina high school legend Will Grier. Although Grier will still split time with Harris, I still believe this was somewhat of an indictment on Grier. From all we have heard since spring practice started, it was “Grier’s job to lose” and it resonates to me that he did not seize the opportunity to snatch it and secure it away from 2nd year QB Treon Harris who had flashes of good and bad in his freshman season. With that being said, we look ahead to Florida’s season opener against an inferior opponent from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The biggest thing Gator fans are looking for tomorrow is improvement on offense. Florida’s offense has been mediocre, to be polite, the last 4 seasons. Offensive guru Jim McElwain brings with him new Offensive coordinator and “quarterback whisperer” Doug Nussmeier. Between Mac and Nuss’ experience with offense, this Gators team should score points in bunches tomorrow. New Mexico State’s LB Rodney Butler finished #2 in the Sun Belt Conference with 119 tackles last season. He is the biggest threat to the Gators offense. The Aggies’ defense overall is small and should not pose a threat to running back Kelvin Taylor and the Gators’ shaky offensive line. Freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite should get plenty of reps tomorrow and the coaches should let Harris and Grier throw it all over the lot to playmakers Demarcus Robinson, Brandon Powell, and Ahmad Fullwood.
On the other side of the ball, the Gators boast one the most elite defenses in the entire country and arguably the best secondary in the country. Getting LB Antonio Morrison back is huge. The Gators defense will be missing some key starters for tomorrow’s game, safety Marcus Maye (suspension) and safety Keanu Neal (injury) will not be playing. Look for the Gators defense to shut down New Mexico State’s offense in the passing game led by junior All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. New Mexico State’s QB Tyler Rogers had 23 interceptions last season which should have Hargreaves licking his lips. The Aggies have a very good offensive line and they do not give up many sacks (Total of 10 in 2014). Florida’s inexperienced defensive line needs to get in Tyler Rogers face all night and cause him to turn into a turnover machine.
Prediction: I look for Florida to dominate from start to finish. McElwain emphasizes details to his team and I look for tomorrow to be a good test for Florida to focus on the details. Florida will not let off the pedal as in years past and will run away with this game by halftime.
Final score: Florida 52 Aggies 7