University of FloridaÕs Graham Mertz (#15) throws a passes the ball during the GatorÕs game against McNeese State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday night, Sept. 9, 2023. The Gators beat McNeese State 49-7. (Ethan Goddard/WUFT News)

Quarterback Graham Mertz Learns About Florida’s Rivalry Games

When quarterback Graham Mertz first arrived at the University of Florida he received a little history lesson on the Gator rivals.

Mertz, a Wisconsin transfer, made sure he took notes and paid close attention to how special these rivalries are to Gator Nation. He filled his notebook with the history and appreciated the meaning behind each rival. He says it’s much bigger than just football.

 The Right Play

After the win against McNeese State, the Gators (1-1) are up against a bigger challenge. At 7 p.m. Saturday they will take on No. 11 Tennessee (2-0) at The Swamp.  The Gators had a great run game against McNeese State (0-2) last Saturday in the 49-7 win, but are still looking for that consistent deep ball. Mertz and the coaches are keen on making the right call if the opportunity presents itself.

Adjustments

Mertz has confidence in his teammates to get the ball down the field. He says he wants to make the right decision rather than force a play. Over the past two games, Mertz feels his timing has been improving. He just feels there’s been a little miscommunication, but everyone is working to fix the issues.

Control the Tempo

Mertz is facing his first SEC opponent Saturday, and looks to control the game. He just wants to help lead his team to a win.

Offensive Line

Center Kingsley Eguakun is coming back to the starting lineup Saturday. He’s been itching to get back on the field and make a big impact for the Gators. Jake Slaughter took over the starting center position while Eguakun was out with a lower-body injury. Slaughter made sure he did his part in the McNeese game and Mertz couldn’t be more prouder of his teammate.

One Job

Mertz is all about business. He has a 73.8%-completion rate, but that’s not his main focus, which is moving the ball around and making sure he’s doing his job. He believes as a quarterback his job is to find and attack that weak spot in the defense and not make any negative plays.

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