The Florida Gators take on Jacksonville State University on Senior Day this Saturday in one of their annual “revenue” games. A revenue game is a “guaranteed” home game against a Football Championship Series (FCS) school, formerly Division II, who agrees to play the bigger school on a one-game basis for a set price, in this case that price is $500,000. The FCS school, of course, gets the cash and it’s players get the prestige of playing against an SEC school. The Gators get an easy moneymaking home game which offsets the tough nine game SEC schedule they play.
It should be an emotional day for Florida’s 18 seniors as they play the last home game of their careers. While they may not have been able to accomplish the championships most thought they would achieve when they arrived here at the end of the Tim Tebow era, they have vindicated themselves somewhat by bringing Florida back to prominence with a 9-1 record and 7-1 SEC record thus far this season.
Jacksonville State, known as the Gamecocks, is a small school located in Jacksonville, Alabama which resides in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in northeastern Alabama. The Gamecocks of the Ohio Valley Conference come in with a 6-4 record and feature a balànced offense which averages 32.2 points per game and a defense which gives up 33.4 points per game.
Offensively, the Gamecocks are led by quarterback Marques Ivory who has passed for 1908 yards on the season with 16 touchdowns and only 6 interception while completing 58 percent of his passes. Rush carries are split between Demarcus James with 837 yard with 6 touchdowns and former Georgia tailback Waushan Ealey with 718 yards and 10 td’s. Their top receiver is Alan Bonner who has 47 receptions for 837 yards.
Defensively, the Gamecocks are led by linebacker Rashad Davis, from Ft Walton Beach, Florida, who is their leading tackler with 84 total and 5 tackles for loss ( TFL). Defensive end Demetrio Tyson leads the team in tackles for loss with 6.5 while Jermaine Hough has 6.0. The Gamecocks feature a young defense that has surrendered a lot of yards averaging 447 yards per game with 186 rushing and 260 passing.
The Gators come in off a heartstopping victory over Sunbelt foe Louisiana-Lafayette which the Gators won on a last second punt block by Loucheiz Purifoy which led to a game-winning touchdown by Jelani Jenkins. The Gators are hoping this one isn’t as close playing against a foe who defensively ranks near the bottom… of the FCS. Of course, Gator fans have come to realize this season that no opponent can be taken for granted.
With Jeff Driskel sidelined this week with a severe ankle sprain suffered in last week’s game, Jacoby Brissett gets the start. Brissett came on in relief last week after Driskel went down and led the Gators to tying 3 yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar after hitting Jordan Reed up the middle for a 39 yard completion. Without Driskel’s running ability look for the offense to change slightly to better accommodate Brissett’s skill set. According to offensive coordinator Brent Pease,
“They’re two different type of guys. Jacoby’s probably not much of a read-option type of guy. He’s not the runner that Jeff is, he doesn’t have the elusiveness and speed.”
Pease added, “he obviously puts things out there that we will try to do things that benefit him a little more in the game-plan yet he’s going to have to do things out of our base offense to execute,” but “he has been a good deep ball guy.”
In the passing game Jordan Reed has been the go-to-guy with 38 catches for 456 yards and 3 td’s. Quinton Dunbar is the second leading receiver with 24 catches for 254 yards and 3 td’s while Frankie Hammond has caught 16 for 236 yards and 3 td’s as well.
Mike Gillislee has carried the load at running back and with 871 yards is threatening to be the Gator’s first 1000 yard rusher since Ciatrick Fason. Gilly is the leading touchdown scorer on the team with seven. He’s found the going a little tougher since dominating LSU in the second half of the game while defenses have loaded the box to try to stop him. With defenses focusing on stopping Gillislee, Driskel has flourished on the outside running the zone read. With Driskel out, it will be important for the line to open holes inside for Gillislee to take pressure off of Brissett and possibly open up play action.
Defensively, look for Sharif Floyd and Dominique Easley along with freshman Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler to dominate up front. The big play defensive backs should have a field day against an offense that realistically doesn’t have the horses up front to compete against the Gators.
This one likely will be over with by halftime and should be a fun way to send the Gators 18 seniors out on a high note as they seek to be only the 3rd Gators team to go 7-0 in The Swamp.