After a long offseason full of chatter, it’s Week 0 and the 2019 college football season is finally here. In this weekend’s lone marquee matchup, No. 8 Florida takes on Miami in Orlando Saturday, in a wildly anticipated game that’s been talked about all offseason amongst the fan bases.
Expectations around this Gators team are high, the highest the program has seen entering a season since Urban Meyer was head coach. Closing the 2018 season in the fashion they did, Florida created a buzz heading into the offseason, which now has them as a preseason Top-10 team. Now that the offseason is over and the games are set to be played, the Gators are now tasked with living up to the expectations, which starts facing off against an in-state rival who has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Florida comes into this Week 0 matchup confident after their offseason, but know they have a job at hand. A game of this magnitude carries much weight on the remainder of the season, so the Gators will need to start off on the right foot to live up to the expectations around them.
With that being said, here are the Five Gators on the Spot this week who will need to perform in order for them to beat the Hurricanes:
- Feleipe Franks, Quarterback
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Franks will be on the spot this week, and he will be on the spot in every big game the Gators find themselves in this season. For the first time in years, the Gators didn’t have a quarterback battle in the offseason. He is looked at as the leader of this football team. With the spotlight on him, Florida needs Franks to shine to get the 2019 campaign rolling.
- Stone Forsythe, Offensive Tackle
The biggest question mark entering the 2019 season for the Gators is how their offensive line would look. Florida will field an inexperienced offensive line, but one that should be familiar with this system. Forsythe will have a big responsibility this year, as he was named the starting left tackle, set to protect Franks’ blindside. The redshirt junior will be thrown into the fire, having the responsibility of slowing down Johnathon Garvin, the Hurricanes best pass rusher.
- Jabari Zuniga, Defensive End
He could arguably be playing in the NFL Preseason this weekend, but Zuniga decided to come back for his senior year and will instead be the Hurricanes problem to deal with. Zuniga is expected to anchor the Gators’ defensive line and is their best returning pass rusher, in line to have a career year. He should fare well Saturday, as the Hurricanes are starting freshmen at both of the tackle positions. Going against a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start, the Gators will rely on Zuniga to wreak havoc in the backfield and get to the quarterback.
- Johnathon Greenard, BUCK
For the same reasons the Gators need Zuniga to show out, Greenard will be just as important. Greenard will also likely be matched against a freshman lineman barring any changes. After missing the whole 2018 season, Greenard transferred to Florida to take over the BUCK position and play under Todd Grantham once again. He has big shoes to fill in Jachai Polite’s, but he should have no problem in doing so. Greenard can get after the quarterback and also stop the run.
- Trey Dean III, Defensive Back
You could really pick any of Florida’s three starting cornerbacks here, but with two All-SEC candidates on the outside, it is a good bet that Dean will be tested by Miami. After standing out as a true freshman Dean takes over the STAR position from Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the Gators defense. Look for the Hurricanes to try to create match-ups against Dean, in particular getting him lined up across from Jeff Thomas, their best receiver. Dean will be tested and given the chance to make some game-changing plays defensively.