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Chomp: Gators to display different look in opener; David Waters reveals his season predictions

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2020, file photo, Florida players get ready before an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2020, file photo, Florida players get ready before an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.


IT’S GAME WEEK!

Who is ready for Florida football this Saturday?!

The No. 13 Gators are hosting Florida Atlantic under the lights in The Swamp.

The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.


🦉 Previewing FAU game

Florida’s first opponent of the season will be an experienced one.

The Owls, led by Willie Taggart, will roll into Gainesville with many returning starters on both sides of the ball. Starting at quarterback will be Miami graduate transfer N’Kosi Perry.

Taggart was coach of Florida State in 2018 and 2019 but was let go after nine games — before the Seminoles played their annual rivalry showdown with the Gators in The Swamp. Taggart was hired by the Owls the next month and went 5-4 as their defense was among the best in Conference USA.

David Waters is joined by Zachary Weinberger, the FAU beat reporter for Lemon City Live, in the latest episode of Gators Breakdown to break down the Owls.

In the episode, David also goes position by position in what he’s looking for in the Gators’ 2021 season opener.


🏈 Depth chart

After years of waiting behind Feleipe Franks and then Kyle Trask, the depth chart released Monday listed Emory Jones — coach Dan Mullen’s first hand-picked quarterback to sign with the Gators — as QB1.

Mullen made it clear that the offense won’t be watered down or scaled back with Jones at the helm. Jones helped create the game plan and will have the freedom to audible or scramble on any play. Here’s what Jones had to say about the opportunity.

The first-team wide receivers will be Jacob Copeland, Justin Shorter and Trent Whittemore, with Kemore Gamble at tight end. For No. 1 running back, the depth chart lists Dameon Pierce or Malik Davis.

On the defense, Avery Helm is listed as the cornerback to replace Jaydon Hill, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training camp, and start opposite of Kaiir Elam.

The defense will be looking to rebound after a historically bad last season. Here’s why Florida has reason to believe last year’s performance was a fluke.

But Mullen said during his news conference Monday that the depth chart changes every day.

“So show up on Saturday, you get to see who starts,” he said.

You can view the unofficial depth chart here. Also, it’s worth noting that several players have switched numbers.


⬜ Whiteout

We’ve talked about how the Gators will look different on offense this season, but Florida is also going with a unique jersey combination for Saturday’s game.

The Gators on Tuesday revealed they will be wearing white jerseys, white pants and their orange helmets. You can see the look here.

It’s the first time the Gators have worn white jerseys at home since 2001, when they beat Louisiana Monroe 55-6.


🐊 Gators add grad transfer

The Gators have added a grad transfer from Auburn, defensive lineman Tyrone Truesdell.

Truesdell started his final two seasons at Auburn at defensive tackle and has played in 44 career games with 67 total tackles.

Mullen said they’d been looking at Truesdell as they needed to add to that spot. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham did say Truesdell will play Saturday.


Chatfield entering transfer portal

While Florida has added a defensive lineman, defender Andrew Chatfield announced Tuesday that he will be entering the transfer portal.

“I am very grateful for the Gator nation and I really appreciate everything that the University of Florida has done for me. I am now announcing that I will be entering the portal and my recruitment is officially open. Thank you to the Gator nation,” Chatfield tweeted.

Chatfield, a redshirt junior, appeared in all 12 games of the 2020 season, recording 13 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 4 tackles for loss.


🔮 Season predictions

In this episode of Gators Breakdown, David and Will Miles, Read and Reaction, share their predictions for this season. (Note: These are based on 13 games — 12 regular season matchups and a bowl game.)

OFFENSE

Will Emory Jones have over/under 30 touchdowns?

David: Over

Will: Over

Does the quarterback position have over/under 40 touchdowns?

David: Over

Will: Under

Any ball carrier over/under 750 yards?

David: Under

Will: Under

Any wide receiver over/under 45 catches?

David: Under

Will: Over

Score over/under 35 points per game?

David: Under

Will: Under

DEFENSE

Give up over/under 20.5 points per game?

David: Over

Will: Under

Over/under 37 sacks?

David: Over

Will: Over

In the episode, they also give out superlatives for the ultimate game-changer, best tandem, breakout player, biggest shoes to fill and bold prediction.


🏟️ Biggest matchups of Week 1

If you’re watching the games at home, get your remote ready. At the same time as the Florida game is a matchup between two top-five teams: No. 5 Georgia and No. 3 Clemson. The game in Charlotte will feature quarterbacks J.T. Daniels for the Dawgs and D.J. Uiagalelei for the Tigers. Expectations at Georgia are high and could implode immediately with a loss.

And that’s not the only big-time SEC-ACC matchup on Saturday. At 3:30 p.m., No. 1 Alabama will take on No. 14 Miami in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide have eight new faces on offense, including quarterback Bryce Young. For the Hurricanes, quarterback D’Eriq King, who Trask played backup to in high school, will be back after tearing his right ACL in Miami’s bowl game against Oklahoma State last December.

The Big Ten will open the season with a bunch of conference games, including No. 12 Wisconsin hosting No. 19 Penn State and No. 17 Indiana traveling to No. 18 Iowa.

Another ranked matchup includes the debut of Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian as the 21st-ranked Longhorns host No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette.

There is also No. 4 Ohio State at Minnesota on Thursday night, No. 10 North Carolina at Virginia Tech on Friday evening, No. 16 LSU playing UCLA in the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, and No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State Sunday evening.


✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts, questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here and we’ll share our responses to your questions.


🎙️ Listen to more Gators Breakdown

You can catch up on previous episodes of Gators Breakdown at news4jax.com/gatorsbreakdown. Or click one of the following to tune in: Megaphone | Apple Podcasts | YouTube | Google Podcasts | Stitcher


About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.