As we near the halfway point of this season, conference games are just now getting underway. And it’s nice to know that Texas and Florida are getting us started. The Longhorns may sit at 2-1, but those Gators are at 1-2, and this is the first conference game for either team. Florida can set the tone for their season by opening up conference play with a critical win. Here’s how they can do it.
The Gators may be 1-2, but they’ve looked anything but bad. Quarterback Kingston Fox has been impressive so far, but he’s going to have to outdo himself tonight, and a win over the Longhorns would impress big time. Halfback Avery Jordan is trending in the right direction, they just need him to establish massive plays with consistency. Fox’s targets of tight end Jonathon Taite and receivers Nick King, Cole King, and Darren Pegues all have come down with crucial catches, but now they need to add major yardage to those catches.
The Florida defense is in a tricky situation. They’ve played well, being led by linebacker Xavier Halle and safeties Elliot Wells and Othello Jones. All three have been stepping up, crashing hard against the run. They’ll need to reverse course big time tonight. After all, they’re going to deal with a pass heavy offense, meaning corners Dakota Wolf and Chaz Gorbachuk are going to be tested. They’ll be helped by defensive ends Mohammad Dmour and Ashton Cox. But still, Gator fans are hoping they all studied.
Two victories out of three games and heading into conference play feels pretty good. A conference win to open this stretch of the season up would probably feel great. The good news is that quarterback Ray Tatum has not lost a step from last season. In his senior season, he’s on a mission to distance himself from the rest of the CFSL quarterbacks statistically. Aiding Tatum’s quest is tight end Jackson James and receivers Vincent McCoy, Scooby Lewis, and Ray Conley. Of those four players, three of them were 1,000 yard receivers a season ago. Conley transferred into Texas during the off-season. Speaking of off-season acquisitions, halfback Tarraj Walker has been surprisingly effective at complementing the play of his quarterback, who has been running more than expected.
The Texas defense rioted a week ago, in celebration that is. After all, safety Jimbo Smithers finally recorded an interception, which helped him to win defensive player of the week. Corners Terrence Top and Jakari June have each stepped up and have played well, complemented by safeties Zachary White and Tayshaun Thompson.
What TO WATCH FOR
Alright, so we all know that Texas is going to push the ball through the air, after all they’ve trademarked it. Ray Tatum has set the standard of putting up 300 yards and five touchdown passes in a game. We can’t even be surprised by that anymore. Which is why it would be impressively surprising if Florida can cap Texas’ aerial assault. If the Gators can do that, or if Fox can prove he can keep up with a seasoned vet, then we could be in for a light show tonight.
Look, Texas is favored and rightfully so. They’re a proven commodity, have been around the block several times. They’ve clashed with Clemson and have come out on top more than once. Ray Tatum is a guru of the passing game, knows how to take shots and be precise through the air. But, Florida is the rising team, the Gators could pull off a critical upset and throw everything out of commission. The established order could very quickly go down the drain. Tonight is not the night for that. Texas wins.