Graham Mertz throws a screen pass to Trevor Etienne in the Gators' 24-11 loss to Utah on Sept. 1. Photo courtesy of Molly Kaiser.

Florida Looks to Rebound Against McNeese State in Home Opener

The Florida Gators football team is back in action tonight after opening the season with the loss at Utah.

Penalties and mistakes cost the Gators along with their inability to convert on third down. Florida was 1-13 on third down and had nine penalties in the game.

Now, they focus their attention to McNeese State for the 7:30 p.m. home opener at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. McNeese State is coming off of a loss to Tarleton State, 52-34.


Florida enters this game on a relatively positive note defensively. Aside from the explosive first touchdown of the game, Florida limited the Utes’ passing attack for the rest of the game. Utah had 165 total passing yards, with the first play of the game accounting for 70 of those.

The Gators were strong defensively on third down against the Utes. Utah went 3-13 on third down and scored only once in the second half. Cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. spoke on the change on defense this season.

Offensively, Florida looks like its has the foundation for a solid pass game. Quarterback Graham Mertz threw for 333 passing yards and a touchdown, marking his first game passing for more than 300 yards in his collegiate career.

The Gators have multiple talented receivers on the roster and a proven duo in Trevor Etienne an Montrell Johnson Jr. in the backfield. The Gators have to do better at protecting the quarterback against McNeese after allowing five sacks against Utah. Offensive lineman Austin Barber spoke on getting back to last year’s form.


Bouncing Back

Saturday is an opportunity for both teams to get back on track for the season.

The Gators need to focus on execution vs. McNeese State. The opening game against Utah was shaky for the Gators, with the infamous two players with the No. 3s on the field taking front and center. Florida needs to limit costly penalties which directly coincided with Florida’s inability to convert on third down. Moreover, Florida must establish the run game as well. The Gators had 13 rushing yards as a team in the Utah game. Coach Billy Napier spoke about the team’s mindset this week.

McNeese State needs to focus on defense and discipline. The Cowboys had eight penalties for 80 yards in the loss to Tarleton State while Florida had nine penalties for 46 yards.

McNeese allowed 52 points in its opener, coming from Tarleton State’s three passing touchdowns to go along with three rushing touchdowns. The Cowboys also found themselves in numerous third-down situations, going 4-19 on third down. Coach Gary Goff gave his thoughts on what he expects out of his team against Florida.

Coverage of the game will be on ESPNU and on ESPN 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF.

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