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2 posts from November 2017

November 19, 2017

Florida feeling confident following win

Brandon Powell is the face of Florida's pending showdown with Florida State. 

The senior from Deerfield Beach has never beaten the Seminoles during his time at UF, and this Saturday will be his last chance to do so. It seems like he's let his teammates know it. 

After their 36-7 win over UAB on Saturday, two teammates brought him up unprompted. 

First was running back Lamical Perine, who said he was just discussing the FSU game with Powell. Then there was center Tyler Jordan, who said basically the same thing. 

"We were just talking about that in the locker room," he said. "[Powell's] 0-3 against Florida State. We want to send him out with a win.”

But for Jordan, it's more than just wanting to send him out with a win. He said he's sure of it. 

"Beating Florida State’s going to be something we’re going to do," he said. 

Defensive tackle Taven Bryan is also sure of it. 

"I’m expecting honestly that we’re going to win the next game very solidly," he said. "We’ve just been taking steps and getting better and better. Next week we should have a good solid week and play way better than we did this week.”

Bryan is right. The Gators took steps forward against UAB. They rushed for a season-best 257 yards. They avoided any turnovers. They scored their second-most points of the season. But all of that matters little when the Conference USA opponent was overmatched, despite its winning record. Florida has a chance to take a real step forward this weekend against the Seminoles. 

That step forward will probably get them across the finish line, because win or lose, Florida will finish with a losing record. That makes a bowl game unlikely. So it's up to the Gators whether they want to cross in stride or limp on through. 

"We just need a couple of more fans in there," Bryan said, "and we’ll get thing loud and we’ll win a game for them."

The official attendance against UAB was 84,649, though there seemed to be far fewer fans in the stands than that number suggests. The team is hoping more fans come out against FSU despite both team having down years. 

"That's always going to be one of the pivotal games in college football," Florida coach Randy Shannon said. 

His players are hoping that brings fans back for one last game in a season that many of them would like to forget. 

It’s really big," Jordan said. "Our biggest in-state rival. Big game at The Swamp. It’s going to be a fun one. It’s something we’re going to work on all week, because we’re going to be busting our ass all week to get ready for this team.”

November 02, 2017

Zaire to start for Gators at Missouri

 

He came to Florida to play his final season of college football only to get beat out by redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. But finally, after seven contests, Malik Zaire will get his shot. 

When the Gators travel to Missouri this weekend to take on the Tigers, Zaire will start under center for the first time this season. 

"This is his opportunity," interim coach Randy Shannon said, "to get this team where it needs to be and not to be satisfied just because he's the starter."

Shannon said Monday he planned to shake things up and do things his way while leading the Gators through the end of the 2017 season. He made that clearer with this move, departing from former coach Jim McElwain's preference for Franks. 

Franks started six of Florida's seven games this season, amassing 830 passing yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. The remaining game was started by Luke Del Rio, who was lost for the season. 

Zaire has only played in mop-up duty, helping Florida limp to the finish line in games that were out of reach. In those two appearances, he's thrown for 142 yards and no touchdowns. 

Zaire is more mobile than Franks, who at 6-foot-6 has shown the ability to scramble some, but it's not viewed as a strength. Sometimes he also scrambles to his detriment, sensing nonexistent pressure and leaving the pocket only to lose yards near the sideline. Zaire hasn't had many opportunities to show that he can do better, but he'll get one in Columbia. 

He just has to make the most of it. Shannon said the competition between him and Franks, who will serve as the primary backup this weekend, is ongoing. 

"Today is an opportunity for him to run the offense and understand the expectations that we have for him," Shannon said. "This is not a time for him to feel comfortable and feel like he's made it. We want him to keep grinding and understand that competition is very good." 

 



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