November 24, 2012, was the last time Florida State lost in football. The team that beat them?
The Florida Gators.
Now two years later, these two teams meet again in the same place Florida (6-4, 4-4 SEC) beat Florida State (11-0, 8-0 ACC) — Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. The Noles have looked shaky at times this year after having trailed in the second half against five teams and needing a field goal with three seconds remaining to defeat Boston College last weekend. The 2014 FSU team hasn’t been as dominant as last year’s national championship team, but Florida head coach Will Muschamp still thinks they’re a great team.
“They’ve done an outstanding job. They’ve got a very good team in all three phases. Offensively, really with their team it starts with Jameis Winston. He’s a great player, a Heisman Trophy winner. Arm talent, he can throw it really any way you want it. He’s just got a great, strong arm. He’s able to throw the touch throws, take the ball to the right spots. He’s got a great pocket presence. He’s a very hard guy to tackle in the pocket. You’ve got to tackle him high. Great toughness for the position.”
One of Winston’s favorite targets to throw to is senior wide receiver Rashad Greene, who leads the team in receiving with 1148 yards. Many Gator fans are expecting Florida All-American corner back Vernon Hargreaves III to be matched up on Greene, but defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin says VH3 won’t be on him every play.
“Based on coverage and call and situation, it will be different. They’re going to be matched up on each other at times. There will be times when he won’t be. It won’t be one of those deals where he’s with him the whole game or something.”
FSU has their own All-American caliber player on defense as well in Jalen Ramsey. The Gators will need to know where the sophomore defensive back is at all times if they want to have success on offense.
“He’s a really good tackler,” UF offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said. “Everything he does, he’s good at it. He plays with a good fierce attitude. I mean he just makes a bunch of plays. He made a play against Miami, a turnover the first play of the game. He’s around the ball a lot. Very productive on the defensive side of the ball.”
Emotions will be running high for everyone involved in Saturday’s game, but for the UF seniors especially, who are trying to end their careers with a win against their biggest rival and to send their coach out in winning fashion. However, Coach Boom told his players to approach it like any other game.
“There will be high emotions. They need to manage that. They can’t let it overtake them, especially early in the game getting very emotional. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs in the game, and you’ve got to play through them. Any big game, that’s what you need to be able to do.”
The last time Florida faced a must-win game, UF went in to Jacksonville and ran for 418 yards on Georgia en route to a 38-20 upset victory. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher is expecting the same kind of desperation from the Gators on Saturday.
“I don’t think that has to fire them up. But at the same time, I know they have tremendous respect and they really like Coach Will very well. So, I’m sure they’re going to play very hard in his last game and really put a lot into it. They can put all their eggs in one basket and lay it out there and I think they will. We’re expecting their best game probably of the year.”
Kickoff for Florida’s final regular season game against FSU and Muschamp’s final game as UF head coach is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with pregame coverage beginning at 12:30 on ESPN 850 WRUF.