Florida football: Gators scouting report vs Florida State

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 09: Emory Jones #5 of the Florida Gators crosses the goal line for a touchdown during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 09: Emory Jones #5 of the Florida Gators crosses the goal line for a touchdown during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Florida football has lost four consecutive home games to Florida State. What can the Gators do to buck this trend?

Offensively, the decisive factor is the ability for Florida football to pass.

I do think that Florida can run decently well against a Florida State defense that can be run on relentlessly. Recently, the Seminoles allowed Syracuse to accrue close to 200 rushing yards and Boston College to almost reach 300 rushing yards.

Losing top draft prospect Marvin Wilson to season-ending surgery impairs FSU’s defensive line.

Still, Florida’s rebuilding offensive line has struggled all season — even against FCS squads. The best bet for Lamical Perine is in the passing game, first of all.

Secondly, Perine can benefit from Dan Mullen’s schematic creativity that has allowed the shifty Perine to achieve big plays on the ground.

With the more accurate and more intelligent Kyle Trask at quarterback, Florida’s pass attack has been hard to stop. Trask has been a measure of consistency in terms of producing solid yardage and passer rating numbers. Currently, he ranks fourth in the SEC in yardage and third in passer rating behind superstars Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.

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Trask is hard to stop because of his plethora of targets, a number of which can step up in any given game. Kadarius Toney is healthy again and always remains a deep threat while Freddie Swain possesses similarly dangerous explosiveness. Van Jefferson is a solid route runner and Kyle Pitts is a constant match-up problem who is versatile in terms of where he can line up. The latter three, plus Trevon Grimes, have each caught at least 30 passes this season.

Grimes’ increased statistical productivity has been pleasant to observe. The former five-star recruit’s talent was never a question. His great size at 6-5 and his athleticism never inspired doubt about his physical tools. Now, he’s improved fundamental aspects like footwork that make him even more dangerous. He’s also very reliable as he’s only dropped one pass this season.

Stopping the opposing quarterback has been a sore spot all season for Florida State’s 114th-ranked pass defense (in terms of yards allowed). In the ACC, the Seminoles have hardly even been tested by respectable passing attacks.

When they faced Clemson, Trevor Lawrence barely had to do anything. When they faced Wake Forest, backup Sam Hartman started and threw for 308 yards in a Demon Deacon victory.

Hot. The Gator defense vs. Florida State's offense. light

So one could say that Florida will give something that Florida State hasn’t really seen excepting its opening loss to Boise State. Like Boise State’s Hank Bachmeier, who threw for over 400 yards in the Broncos’ upset win, Trask heads a passing attack that can produce gaudy numbers and needs for its offense’s success.

On the other side, Florida’s defense is tremendously better when its pass rushers are healthy. Both Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard have been plagued by ankle injuries.

In this respect, Greenard is promising as he amassed six tackles and two sacks against Missouri. The offensive line has been, again, a consistent problem for the Seminoles, which rank 111th in sack rate allowed. This lack of pass protection is critical against a Florida team that lives on pressure. Greenard is one reason, Zuniga hopefully a second, and Todd Grantham definitely another for Florida’s threat. Grantham excels at designing ways for his defense to apply pressure.

An early lead or improved rush defense would be critical against an FSU squad whose best chance to succeed comes on the ground with its most talented player, Cam Akers. Akers is difficult to catch and difficult to bring down. Florida had shown a tendency to allow opposing running backs to perform well above their respective average.

But Missouri’s Larry Rountree only ran for 30 yards. Florida’s advantage in the trenches, especially with Greenard and going against FSU’s awful offensive line, is necessary to limit Akers.

For My Money

On both sides of the ball, Florida matches up very well. Trask will continue to thrive against a repeatedly vulnerable Seminole secondary and maybe Perine can add some support on the ground against a more porous, Wilson-less Seminole front seven.

On the other side, Florida’s pass rush can thrive especially if Zuniga returns to form. Getting a big lead and continuing to improve in run defense will nullify FSU’s biggest offensive strength in Cam Akers.

While the spread is big, Dan Mullen’s Gator squad seems relentless, unafraid to run up the score. This is a rivalry — and one that, like last year, often ends in a blowout for the victor. So I don’t expect any sudden complacency.

Next. Florida State injury report ahead of Florida clash. dark

Best Odds: Gators -17.5

My Record: 8-3