Florida linebacker Ventrell Miller (51) celebrates after a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Miami Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Gators Look to Show They’re For Real Against UT Martin

Florida football coach Dan Mullen and players talked about playing their first home game of the season this Saturday against Tennessee-Martin.  Much of the conversation revolved around the following: the Miami game, Week 1 practice, and preparing for UT Martin.

The Gators come into the game following a drop in the AP Poll. After starting the preseason rankings at number eight, they slipped three spots to number 11. Though it really wasn’t that the Gators dropped in the rankings, it was more that other teams moved up. The Gators did not necessarily look bad; others might have just looked better.

Looking Back at the Miami Game

Questions kept going back to the Miami game. The Gators felt good, but there were some notable mistakes made and the players addressed them. Florida wide receiver, Josh Hammond, said that the turnovers prevented the Gators from winning by a much bigger margin.

The Gators missed key opportunities to take a serious lead in the first half. With first and goal at the Miami 7, Felipe Franks fumbled and the ball and it was recovered by the Hurricanes. That’s a missed touchdown. Game stays 7-3 Florida when it could have been 14-3. With second and seven at the Miami 37–opportunity to at least get in field goal range–Malik Davis losses 11 yards on a run and then loses the ball on a fumble. This missed opportunity led to a Miami field goal. Score is now 7-6 Florida. Then the Florida defense can’t stop a 90 yard drive down field for a Miami touchdown.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

So a first half that could have been 21-3 Florida, as Hammond said, ended up being 13-7 Miami at half time.

There were however upsides that the team can be proud of. The defense sacked Miami’s quarterback, Jarren Williams, 10 times. This was the most sacks by an SEC defense since 2008. Last season, the only FBS team with 10 sacks in a game was Army.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Florida Linebacker David Reese said he never been on a team that had 10 sacks before. Reese was very happy with how the younger players stepped up, especially Ventrell Miller.

The Gators have spent the bye week looking back, getting work in, and preparing for Game 2 and the rest of the season.

Preparing for UT Martin

The number 11 ranked Gators were asked about preparing for their first ever match-up with the UT Martin Skyhawks. Both teams enter the game with a 1-0 record. UT Martin had a rather decisive victory over the Northwestern State Demons. The Skyhawks scored 42 points and shut out the demons in the second half. Still, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Gators 99.3% of winning.

Despite the almost guaranteed odds of winnings, the Gators are choosing to stay humble. When asked about the upcoming game, Gator starting quarterback Felipe Franks says he is treating every game the same.

The Gators are likely keeping the Tennessee-Georgia State game in the back of their heads. The Volunteers entered the game with a 95.8% chance of winning according to ESPN.com, and they lost 38-30. The Gators feel if they wish to succeed this season, they have to take every match-up seriously or risk being an upset victim.

Looking Ahead to Week 2

The Florida-UT Martin game will be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday with kickoff is at 7:30 pm. The game will be televised on ESPNU and can be heard on ESPN 98.1 FM 850 AM WRUF and 103.7 The Gator with coverage starting at 3:30 pm.

About Harrison Smajovits

Harrison is a sports coordinator at ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF. He served as a beat writer for Florida Gators football for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also contributes to WRUF's Gainesville Sports Center segments and makes appearances on the Clash on Harp on Sports. Harrison has been a content writer for WRUF since January 2019 as well.

Check Also


Tebow Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame

Tim Tebow, a former Florida Gators quarterback and Gator Great, will be inducted into the …