Florida Atlantic vs. Florida Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back Gators Offense to Thrive in Week 1 (Saturday, Sept. 4)
Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Emory Jones.
- Florida faces FAU sans Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts today.
- The Gators will start Emory Jones at QB and should still be in for a big day against the Owls defense.
- Check out Darin Gardner's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.
Florida Atlantic vs. Florida Odds
Coming off one of the best offensive seasons in the history of the program, Florida has a lot of production to replace going into 2020.
Quarterback and Heisman finalist Kyle Trask is gone, as well as tight end Kyle Pitts (the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft) and wide receiver Kadarius Toney (20th overall). There are some intriguing pieces waiting in the wings for Florida, but at this point it is hard to tell how much of a drop-off the offense will experience after last season.
This matchup with Florida Atlantic may not tell us a ton about how this Florida offense will perform in SEC play, but it will be interesting to see how the Gators look stylistically with different personnel.
It’s a good thing FAU’s defense performed so well in 2020, because the offense definitely didn’t carry its own weight. It ranked outside the top 100 in EPA per play, Success Rate, and points per drive, and was one of only 16 teams to average less than 20 points per game.
If Florida builds a lead, which is likely, I’m very skeptical of this FAU passing offense’s ability to consistently move down the field.
Miami transfer N’Kosi Perry has been named as the starter, and he will have to shoulder a heavy load with a pass-catching group that ranked 122nd in the nation in PFF grade last season.
The two areas he really struggled in at Miami were accuracy and holding onto the ball for too long, and the latter could really come into play in this matchup.
Despite Florida’s defensive struggles last year, it still ranked 22nd in Sack Rate and looks to have a real strength at pass rusher this season. There are some question marks in coverage, but Florida Atlantic does not look like an offense that is built to exploit that.
It’s unlikely that Florida maintains last season’s performance in the passing game after all the departures, considering it was a top-10 unit in expected points added per pass and passing success rate.
New quarterback Emory Jones has incredible upside and is a great athlete, but just does not have the experience at this point to make any definitive statements on how he will perform this season. One thing we can be relatively confident in is his rushing ability, as he’s averaged 6.4 yards per carry on 74 attempts over the past two seasons.
The run game will likely be featured much more this season at Florida, with Jones’ ability combined with an incredibly deep backfield. The Gators have five running backs that could have roles this season. It returns Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis and Nay’Quan Wright, who all contributed significantly last season, as well as Lorenzo Lingard, a former five-star who transferred to Florida last season.
The Gators got another boost after bringing in Clemson transfer Demarckus Bowman, who was the 20th-ranked player in the country in the 2020 recruiting class. The running back room has a massive amount of talent and a wide range of skill-sets, which will be needed after the departures in the passing game.
Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney are both gone in the passing game, as well as Trevon Grimes, who was the team’s third-leading receiver last season. The leading returner in terms of receptions for the Gators is actually running back Malik Davis.
The team’s leading receivers will likely be former five-star Justin Shorter and two former top-100 recruits in Jacob Copeland and Xzavier Henderson. The Gators may not have a go-to guy in the passing game this year like it did with Pitts and Toney, but there are plenty of options to choose from.
Look for Dan Mullen to utilize the running backs often in the passing game, like he did when the three-headed unit combined for 212 receiving yards against Georgia last season.
Florida Atlantic’s defense performed well last season under defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, but he has moved on to take the same role at SMU. Replacing him is former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who doesn’t exactly come with a promising track record from his time in Norman.
The Sooners’ defense has seen a night-and-day difference since Stoops was replaced by new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, which is not what FAU fans would want to hear. Additionally, none of FAU’s nine opponents from 2020 ranked in the top-40 nationally in EPA per play. I’m not expecting too much of a fight from this unit against the Gators.
Florida Atlantic vs. Florida Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Florida Atlantic and Florida match up statistically:
Florida Atlantic Offense vs. Florida Defense
Florida Offense vs. Florida Atlantic Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Florida Atlantic vs. Florida Betting Pick
My raw number on the game is Florida -28.1 without regressing to the market. Simply put, I don’t see how this Florida Atlantic offense keeps up with the Gators here.
Florida has a significant edge in the pass-rushing department compared to FAU’s offensive line, and N’Kosi Perry should consistently be under duress, and he has plenty of evidence of struggling against pressure.
Florida’s running game should be able to maintain long drives after a lead is established, which should limit possessions for the FAU offense as it plays from behind. With the line sitting at 23 or 23.5 across the board, give me the Gators here.