April 7, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. (85) before the start of the Florida-Spring Game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE
Hustle Belt's Matt Sussman asked me four questions about the Gators for a preview; I asked him four questions about Bowling Green for a preview. Here are my questions and his answers.
1. Florida's used to not having to deal with dangerous foes in the first week of the season, but the last time the Gators faced a foe from the MAC, Miami of Ohio made the Gators look incredibly bad for a half. With Florida giving Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel a live-action tryout in the first half, is it possible that the Falcons follow the RedHawks' lead?
I'm sure they're watching that game because the 2010 RedHawks are comparable to this one. It's going to be on the BG defense (loaded with experience) to scheme against two different quarterbacks, but they're used to that from playing Toledo. The first half will be close and competitive. And, hey, as long as the UF offense doesn't make halftime adjustments and the Falcons start to wear down from a lack of depth, I'm feeling pretty good about the last 30 minutes too!
2. The Gators were terrible at forcing turnovers last year, coming up with just 14 takeaways. But Bowling Green was just one takeaway better, and coughed up 28 giveaways. Should we expect a messy game, or will both teams fail to strip and rip?
Not to blame the outgoing seniors, but many of their paddlehanded miscues came from the wide receiver position. Anthon Samuel or another running back might lose the grip somewhere, but at least I hope it won't be a chronic malady all game. And of those 14 lost fumbles, nine of them were in the first five games. So they've gotten better.
3. Matt Schilz threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2011. Florida's pass defense ... was bad in 2011. Can Schilz take advantage of the Gators' youth, or is his team's own green receiving corps going to make that impossible?
Well, this is Schilz's fourth year trying to master the Clawfense, and all those cool people he used to throw to are gone. Only one unit was hurt by departing seniors and of course it had to be wideouts. Right now I'm predicting opening week nerves and missed routes by some of those freshmen, and with Shaun Joplin as the primary receiver ... well, Shaun Joplin isn't a primary receiver. Schilz will have to distribute and pinpoint the ball for this to work. It'll be a nice carte blanche test of his so-so accuracy. Worst case, he loses. Best case ... he still loses.
4. Is there any player Florida should be particularly worried about beyond Schilz?
Jerry "Booboo" Gates, maybe as a safety but particularly on kick returns. Wildly entertaining player. He nearly broke one against West Virginia last year before being caught in the red zone and has three career return touchdowns. Of course, he is one of those notorious fumblers. No, Booboo.