69ºF

Florida focused on slowing down FSU's Dalvin Cook

photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Historically the rivalry between Florida and Florida State has been defined by quarterback play. The two schools have combined for six Heisman Trophy winning signal callers. Although both Austin Appleby (Florida) and Deondre Francois (Florida State) have been playing well, Saturday’s winner could be determined by the play of Dalvin Cook.

Last week, Cook became Florida State's career rushing leader. The junior is averaging 163.5 rushing yards in two meetings against Florida and has 10 straight 100-yard games at home against FBS teams.

Florida defensive end Jordan Sherit called Florida Cook "the best back we'll face."

Better than Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, Rawleigh Williams and every other running back who has lined up against the 13th-ranked Gators this season.

"What we have to do is not let him do what he likes to do, and that's hit the edge and get going," Sherit said. "He does have tremendous speed, so we've got to limit the perimeter and stuff like that and just wrap up and tackle."

The Gators defense comes into this game ranked in the top five in six defensive categories including third in scoring (13 points per game) and fourth in passing yards allowed (160 per game).

They’ve been especially tough inside their own 20-yard line where they have the nation’s top red zone defense. The Gators held opponents scoreless on 9 of 26 possession, including a game winning goal-line stand at LSU last Saturday.

Florida State comes into the game with the nation's top red zone offense, scoring on all but two of its 51 possessions inside the opponents' 20 (39 touchdowns, 10 field goals). The Seminoles have scored on 24 straight red zone trips and have a string of 14 straight touchdowns.

Several of those touchdowns have come courtesy of Cook who’s rushed for 17 scores this season.

"The guy can run behind his pads the way he's built and yet he can give you that side-to-side jump cut and get to top speed so quickly," Gators coach Jim McElwain said. "You can't blink. You got to keep your head up and you got to wrap this guy up. We got to get people around the ball because he's going to make some guys miss and that's what makes him so special."