The 2015 season and the Jim McElwain era kicks off with the New Mexico State Aggies traveling to the Swamp for a large paycheck and a beatdown.
Most of the attention of Gator Nation will again be given to the performance of the offense, under it’s 4th Offensive Coordinator in 5 season. Doug Nussmeier has to determine which of Will Grier and Treon Harris will be his full-time starting QB, and can use the first 2 games of the season to (hopefully) see one guy step to the forefront and be the leader heading into the SEC schedule. Harris gets the start this Saturday.
As much as everyone would like to see an effective passing game develop, the first order of business is to establish a solid running game, and set the rotation at RB between Kelvin Taylor, Jordan Scarlett, and Jordan Cronkrite. After that, we’ll see if either QB can spread the ball around to let WRs Demarcus Robinson, Brandon Powell, and Ahmad Fullwood show their abilities. Hopefully Jake McGee and C’yontai Lewis can help out at TE to take some pressure off the QB. The rebuilt O-Line should take advantage of the opportunity to start the process of developing chemistry. This is a great opportunity to work out some kinks with the base offense, and begin the process of rebuilding the confidence of this group.
The Aggie offense should not prove very challenging to the Gator defense, as they are overmatched physically and in skill level. Their best unit is their OL with 4 returning starters that allowed only 14 sacks last season. The priority for the Gator defensive coaching staff is to determine the playing rotation for the front seven. Plenty of young guys will get their chance to prove they belong in the rotation this week and next at various positions on the D-Line (Caleb Brantley, Khairi Clark, Cece Jefferson, Taven Bryan) and at LB (Alex Anzalone, Rayshad Jackson, Jeremi Powell, Matt Rolin).
Here’s hoping that the Gator offense can show some life early and start to gel in real game conditions. There are so many new starters and variables right now that it’s hard to say of they can score enough points early to provide the defense the opportunity to rest the starters after halftime and allow for a lot of guys to gain experience and develop depth.
This should be a good opener for the team to settle in with all of the new coaches and to start building momentum before the SEC season begins. As always, the mantra for these games is, “no injuries!”
Prediction: Florida 41 NMS 10