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Florida vs. Miami: Final thoughts and prediction on what could be an ugly game

Both offensive lines are weaknesses. Both defensive fronts are good. Don’t expect a lot of points.
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2018, file photo, Florida head coach Dan Mullen watches players warm up before an NCAA college football game against in Jacksonville, Fla. Florida State has a chance to salvage their season against No. 13 Florida (8-3, No. 11 CFP) in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 24. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]
Published Aug. 24
Updated Aug. 24

College football’s long, awful offseason is finally over.

Game day has arrived.

A few final thoughts before No. 8 Florida takes the field against Miami tonight at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium:

• Perhaps the most important player on the field will be Hurricanes quarterback Jarren Williams. It’s the redshirt freshman’s first career start, and he’s making it behind a shaky offensive line and against a good defense with a great secondary. That doesn’t sound promising.

• But my vote for most interesting player for Miami is Ohio State transfer Tate Martell. The ’Canes are tinkering with him at receiver because of his athleticism. That, obviously, is not his natural position, and I’m not sure a week or two is enough time to get him acclimated there. But if the move comes to fruition, I want to see how Manny Diaz’s staff uses him. Trick play/double pass, anyone?

• On the other side, the play of UF’s secondary will be pivotal. How does Marco Wilson look in his return from a torn ACL? How (if at all) do the three true freshmen contribute? The defensive backfield has suffered a lot of attrition this offseason, including the loss of blue-chip recruit Chris Steele and backup John Huggins. The Gators should be OK … unless there’s an injury or targeting ejection. If that happens, UF’s lack of depth could be exposed.

• Given how iffy both offensive lines are —and how strong both defensive fronts should be — I think this one could be ugly. I expect lots of pressure and a few sacks on both sides in a low-scoring game.

After watching both teams’ spring games, I left Camping World Stadium thinking the Gators would win by two scores. I’m less confident in that now. The spread (seven points, last I looked) seems about right to me. Prediction: Florida 21, Miami 13

Some links from our coverage throughout the week

This is the second time Manny Diaz and Dan Mullen have faced each other. The first time was a decade ago, in a three-score game that still reverberates today.

In other historical news, our Ernest Hooper remembers his trip to a Florida-Miami game. Like all good football stories, it involves The Karate Kid.

We’ve got a lot more game day nuggets here, including why Calvary Christian product Amari Burney is pivotal for the Gators.

Another local product, ex-Freedom High standout Scott Patchan, is finally in position to start for Miami ... on his seventh different position coach.

Our Joey Knight wrote about some Miami-Florida memories with USF offensive coordinator (and former Gators quarterback) Kerwin Bell.

One estimate expects a 50-50 crowd split between UF and Miami.

Playing in Orlando allows Gators edge rusher Jonathan Greenard to come full circle. The wrist injury he suffered there last year is what ended up getting him to Gainesville.

Miami’s awesome-looking Aussie punter, Louis Hedley, will get some screen time tonight. I asked him about his tattoos.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Juwan Taylor (44) grabs the jersey of Florida Gators running back Kadarius Toney (4) while he runs the ball in the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday, October 27, 2018.   BRONTE WITTPENN  | TIMES
    “I think it would be great to get him back out there,” Mullen says of Kadarius Toney’s expected return.
  2. LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, left, fights off a tackle by Mississippi State cornerback Jarrian Jones on a short pass reception Oct. 19 in Starkville. LSU won 36-13. ROGELIO V. SOLIS  |  AP
    Mullen’s new program is in the top 10, while his old one is in danger of snapping the bowl streak he started.
  3. Florida Gators head coach Mike White, right, takes selfie photos with Gators fan Zev Goodman, 13, during open practice that was available to the public at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on Thursday. Tonight the Nov. 4 Gators take on the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
    Florida State wasn’t ranked but received votes.
  4. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp says he doesn't want to take anything away from Florida, but he doesn't want to keep quiet about the officiating either. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The South Carolina coach says getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct was "gutless.''
  5. After years of complex Internet-to-TV setups and multiple streaming boxes, it seems the tech has finally caught up with the dream of cutting the cable cord, as several companies, such as Roku and TiVo, have begun offering devices specifically geared to cord cutters.
    Live sports without cable TV isn’t as different as you might think. And that can have serious ramifications across college sports.
  6. Florida's James Houston IV (41) and Umstead Sanders (42) jog through the tunnel before the start of the NCAA college football game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) MIC SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY LLC  |  AP
    There were two shakeups to Matt Baker’s top five this week, too.
  7. Florida's Kyle Trask throws a pass against South Carolina in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. Florida defeated South Carolina 38-27. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The quarterback’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns help UF put the Gamecocks away for good.
  8. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith watches as his team plays against Minnesota on Oct. 5 in Minneapolis. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Game-day guide: Plus a look at Penn State-Michigan and a game plan that’s crazy enough to (almost) work for the Vols this weekend.
  9. BYU linebacker Max Tooley (31) tackles USF running back Jordan Cronkrite (2) during the second half of last week's game at Raymond James Stadium. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Game-day guide: And Will Muschamp’s South Carolina tenure looks almost exactly like his time with the Florida Gators.
  10. Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws a pass against Auburn on Oct. 5 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask and Emory Jones are thriving at Florida, while Willie Taggart is being tight-lipped at Florida State.
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