Some things change, some don’t. Penn State’s offense hasn’t changed from last season, but they face one of the CFSL’s biggest changes in the University of Florida. The Gators come to town looking to make their mark on the league and Penn State wants to make some noise. Tonight should be an intriguing matchup as it’s our first look at Florida as a whole against a CFSL team. It’s also our first actual CFSL look against Penn State’s new quarterback.
Enter Kingston Fox, the quarterback of the Florida Gators and the face of the university for the season. Fox impressed in his spring performance, and looks to maintain that this season. He won’t be alone, as halfback Avery Jordan is in this offense, as is receiver Darren Pegues. Both of those players come in from Iowa, and they’re joined by receivers Nick King and Cole King. Nick transferred in from Michigan, while Cole was signed in the offseason. This offense will go only as far as Fox takes them, and we’ll see just how far that could be tonight.
This Florida defense is no slouch, and one of the more underrated ones in the league. Mohammad Dmour and Ashton Cox are the defensive ends, and that will make life easier for linebackers Xavier Halle and Marcin Olesniewicz. Halle committed during the offseason and will certainly make an impact quickly. Then, there’s the secondary. Corners Dakota Wolf and Chaz Gorbachuk should be fine on the perimeter with Elliot Wells and Othello Jones playing at safety. Their first real test as a unit comes tonight.
Walker Mills is the new kid on campus, but it’s a nice situation for him. The former A&M quarterback is in a plug and play system for his position, as the Nittany Lions love to run the football and love to have their quarterback run which is something Mills does well. And, Mills has support in halfback Robert Davis and receiver Ronald Fields. These two players have a knack for coming up with chunks of yardage in crucial situations for Penn State. Receivers William Craft and Dee Kendrick both made plays in the spring game, Kendrick especially. The reliable tight end Robert Gomez is here too and he is a great player for Mills to lean on as well.
Defensively speaking, we’re going to see what Penn State is made of. Drew Ekstrum is back at defensive tackle, and will have to cause havoc in both the passing and rushing game. That running game portion is crucial, because the Nittany Lions will have to lean on their secondary to help with that. Corners Harper Allen, Justin Jones, and Winston Schmidt will have to be crucial in run support, as safety Aiden Berry can’t do it all himself. Although, I expect Berry will get involved pretty heavily in the run defense.
WHAT TO EXPECT
I anticipate that Kingston Fox is going to have a big game, in part due to his being utilized in the rushing game. Yeah, expect Florida to lean heavily on the legs of Fox and Jordan to try and attack the Penn State defense. And we know Penn State’s strength, so expect a combined 500 yards of rushing offense, if not more.
HB Avery Jordan vs. FS Aiden Berry
This is not likely the ideal situation that Penn State wanted defensively, but it’s where they are. Aiden Berry is going to have to be heavily involved in this defense, and is essentially being asked to play a critical role in all aspects. That includes slowing down the rushing game and that will be difficult. Avery Jordan is an impressive back who had a down season last year, but could show signs of resurgence here tonight.
So, we’re going to see each team running the football a lot. It’s written in Penn State’s DNA, but it’s certainly going to be crucial for Florida as it will be their best means of attacking this Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions are depending heavily on Mills and Davis to get the job done, but more importantly their secondary to slow down the Florida offense. That’s a tall task, and one I don’t know that can be done enough tonight. Florida should win by three.