No. 25 Florida-Charlotte Breakdown & Prediction

Breakdown & Prediction

by Zack Weiss
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What Can the Gators Do to Build Upon Their Win vs. Tennessee?

Lean into what’s been working. Lean into what worked against Tennessee, more specifically. Feed Trevor Etienne the ball. Give Montrell Johnson Jr. a lot of redzone work. Let Graham Mertz throw outside the numbers. And, finally, arguably more important than anything else, continue the defensive energy, the pure intensity, the unrelenting ferocity that left the Volunteers impotent. Something in particular I’d really like to see from the Orange & Blue this week is improved pass protection. Because, quite frankly, it wasn’t good vs. Tennessee and hasn’t been much at all through three weeks. With more time in the pocket, who knows what Mertz could do — given the way this team can run the ball and the emergence of guys like Eugene Wilson III (albeit he’s been ruled out against Charlotte with a collarbone injury) along with, of course, Ricky Pearsall. Outside of improved pass-blocking, though, the Gators need to simply lean into all of the aforementioned, what worked so well against the Vols, this week in order to build upon that win.

Who Are Some Players to Watch vs. Charlotte?

If this game goes the way it’s expected to, especially with Eugene Wilson III having been ruled out, a lot of young receivers are going to get a lot of opportunity for Florida this week. I’m looking at guys like Caleb Douglas, Kahleil Jackson, Andy Jean, and Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman (who’s been out with a lower body injury, but is now listed as active). I’d love to see the offensive line give Mertz (and potentially Jack Miller or Max Brown at some point?) enough time to get some of these guys the ball — to build confidence and see what they can do given touches. As the Gators move into SEC play, starting next week in Lexington, they’re going to need some consistent pass-catching production outside of Pearsall. And Charlotte presents a golden opportunity for Florida to sift it out.

What Would Be Considered a “Successful” Week 4 for Florida?

I hate to say it (actually I don’t), but a win alone is not going to cut it — not after what we witnessed last week. This team has potential — clearly. Fans have something to be excited about again. And they are. This means that a win at home against the Charlotte 49ers can’t be considered a success on its own. A one-score win would not be a success. What would be a successful Week 4 for the Orange & Blue, actually, is quite simple: McNeese State them. Now, I’m not saying you have to shut them out and/or 50-ball these guys. But it’s got to be a wide enough margin as early as possible to where you can get the young guns some playing time. This team needs to go on the road next week and start conference play with the utmost confidence. And, if you’re Billy Napier, if you’re that Florida locker room, what better way to build on the high of the Tennessee win than watching everyone get some game action after beating up on Charlotte for a few quarters?


The Gators’ O-line may struggle a bit early on with two starters suspended for the first half, but the ground game and defense should be enough to build a sizable lead rather quickly. Charlotte’s better than McNeese, but Florida has no excuse for a “hangover game” against this team. 38-10 Florida

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