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Gators Look for Sweet Finish in Orange Bowl

As this decade is set to wind down, the Florida Gator football team looks to accomplish a feat they haven’t attained since the start of the decade. The Gators look to capture the team’s first 11-win season since 2012 in the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl. Standing in Florida’s way are the Virginia Cavaliers, who will take the field in the first New Year’s Six bowl game in school history.

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Offense

The fuel for the Florida offense all year has been the passing game. Since starting quarterback Feleipe Franks went down against Kentucky, quarterback Kyle Trask elevated the offense with his passing abilities. Trask finished the regular season with 2,636 yards passing and 24 touchdowns.

Trask will be tested against Virginia. Mullen said the Virginia defense is known for, “the number of issues they cause the offense…especially the quarterback position.” He praised the job of Mendenhall’s defense of disguising pressures and coming after the quarterback from all over.

Defense

The attention of the Florida defense squares solely on Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins. The senior can beat opponents with both his arm and his feet. This season, Perkins has totaled a combined 3,425 yards and 29 touchdowns in the air and on the ground.

Mullen said the scariest thing about Perkins’ game is what he does when the play breaks down.

Gators linebacker David Reese had high praise for the Virginia signal-caller.

Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said the key to slowing down Perkins is his defense needs to, “understand how we need to keep the guy in the pocket.” He said there isn’t anything the defense has do differently in terms of preparation because the group has seen athletic quarterbacks this season.

Gators linebacker Jon Greenard knows what to expect from Virginia. Coming from ACC foe Louisville, Greenard understands what the mindset is for the Cavaliers.

Staying Focused

The Gators come into this Orange Bowl in an unusual spot. For most of the season, Florida has been the underdog. They took on this mentality throughout the year. Now, coming into the Orange Bowl, Florida is on the other side of it. They come in as a two-touchdown favorite.

Many teams have fallen into this trap. For example, Oklahoma’s upset to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Even Florida was a victim of a major bowl upset back in 2013 in the Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville.

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask says the team is not losing sight of the goal of this trip.

Finishing Strong

Despite last season’s 10-win season, Mullen put the pressure on his team to work even harder to improve. He said from the beginning of the season that if his team did exactly what they did a year ago, they would achieve similar results.

Now, the Gators have the opportunity for a one-win improvement from a year ago in the Orange Bowl.

Mullen said being in this game is a testament to the work his team has put in to be better than last year.

Kickoff

The Gators and Cavaliers kick things off inside Hard Rock Stadium Monday at 8 p.m.

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