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What will Florida’s Las Vegas Bowl with Oregon State tell us?

Yes, it’s basically an exhibition at this point — but the Las Vegas Bowl is also a big chance for Jack Miller.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Florida at Florida State Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At this point, more than possibly any time in their history, bowl games are truly exhibitions. Whether by happenstance or by design, the only postseason games that seem to matter to all parties involved are the playoffs. Opt-outs and transfer portal entries are far less surprising than hearing that a player will play in his team’s bowl game.

Florida has gotten its fair share of each going into its upcoming matchup against Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Florida will be without Anthony Richardson, O’Cyrus Torrence, Justin Shorter, Ventrell Miller, and 17 — seventeen — other players who have seen the field this season. Those absences mean this will definitively not be the Florida team we’ve seen all season.

However, those absences also provide opportunities. Florida will get a chance to see some of the younger members of its roster play against a quality opponent. While the result doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, these players can use this game as a launching pad into the 2023 season.

One player who this game will be particularly important for is quarterback Jack Miller. Florida currently has two five-star quarterbacks committed in the next two classes respectively, and they certainly seem to be looking at the transfer portal for the position as well. Miller will get his first chance at playing time this season after an injury in preseason camp kept him out for much of the year — and it will be his best chance to establish a foothold in the Gators’ coming QB competition.

I got a chance to see Miller in person during spring practice and I thought he was a guy who could win games. He didn’t have the ceiling of Anthony Richardson, but he was competent. If you want to see more on Miller, I looked at his spring game performance in the video below.

Miller will get his first start against a pretty good Oregon State team. The Beavers are 9-3, with all three losses coming to teams ranked inside the top 12 of the final College Football Playoff rankings.

Let’s take a look at the stats to get a better idea of what to expect from the Beavers.

Florida vs. Oregon State Statistical Comparison

Team Florida Gators Oregon State Beavers
Team Florida Gators Oregon State Beavers
Category Number Rank Number Rank
YPP Offense 6.76 15 6.14 38
YPP Defense 5.95 102 5.27 43
Available Yards % O 54.60% 29 50.50% 44
Available Yards % D 54.60% 114 42.60% 35
Third Downs O 40.91% 50 42.55% 38
Third Downs D 49.08% 128 39.02% 73
Explosive Plays O 73 18 49 85

Oregon State doesn’t appear to have an elite unit on the team, but both sides of the ball have been pretty good. They are above average in almost all the categories that I like to check.

And while they are below average in explosive offensive plays, they make up for that by being one of the best in the country on a down-to-down basis. The Beavers are 11th in the country in success rate, which is a measure of consistency. They appear to methodically move the ball down the field — and will be going against a defense that has shown little resistance on a down-to-down basis.

Scheme Things We May See

Oregon State looks somewhat similar to Florida at times on the offensive side of the ball. The Beavers like to mix up personnel groups. They will play with multiple tight ends and (gasps) even a fullback at times! Motion is used quite often in their offense, and Florida will have to be cognizant of that pre-snap movement.

The Beavers will line up in the shotgun and under center. They are a run-first team that utilizes a variety of schemes in the run game. You will see some split zone, duo, wide zone and a nice pin-pull toss scheme. Off those run schemes you will see a variety of play-actions including boots and drop-backs. They have a good collection of skill players and tight ends to target in the passing game.

However, Oregon State is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to throwing interceptions. The Beavers rank 105th nationally with 13 interceptions thrown. I would imagine they will try to run the ball at the Gators — who have just nine picks on the year, but two pick-sixes.

Defensively, Oregon State presents a good bit of even front looks, often with a stand-up end. You will also see them present some loaded fronts with linebackers walked up on the line of scrimmage. They like to bring pressure from a variety of places and with a variety of players. You will see linebackers, safeties, and even corners come on blitzes. You will also see the front move post-snap and notice ends drop into coverage.

I would imagine they play Florida pretty aggressively. You will probably see a seven-man box early and the Gators will have to take advantage of their aggressiveness. Oregon was able to get some shots over the top on the Beavers and had success in the screen game. It would be a great time to see some screen wrinkles from the Florida offense and also see them attack the perimeter — and with Xzavier Henderson back, you know the coaches have their favorite player to use on screens back in the mix.