After a rare Week 1 bye, the Florida Gators return to action in the second week of the college football season. The Gators will make their highly anticipated return to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium after a long off-season as they host their home opener against the University of Tennessee-Martin Sky Hawks. After defeating the Miami Hurricanes 24-20, Florida should be able to use this week against a vastly out-manned opponent to clean up their mental mistakes.
As the Gators enter Saturday’s contest as heavy favorites, it should allow head coach Dan Mullen to give his underclassmen some valuable game reps. This rendition of “Five on the Spot” isn’t necessarily the five Gators who need to perform for them to win, but five Gators to watch out for Saturday night.
Here’s the five Gators to watch for this weekend:
- Emory Jones, Quarterback
Since even before he arrived on campus, the fan base has been enamored with Emory Jones. He’s likely the quarterback of the future, but for now he sits behind Feleipe Franks on the depth chart, and perhaps even Kyle Trask if an injury or needed change occurs. Saturday should provide the opportunity for Jones to get a strong body of work, maybe the largest he’s seen in his college career. The real question will be how Mullen manages Jones when he enters the game. Does he let Jones throw the ball around, or does he manage him by mostly allowing him to use his legs. Either way, Jones’ development as a quarterback is something to look for Saturday.
- Jacob Copeland, Wide Receiver
Much like Jones, since Jacob Copeland arrived on campus, the fan base has been eager seen the young playmaker on the field. After an injury-riddled freshman year, Copeland redshirted and only had two touches in all of 2018. It’s likely Copeland could exceed that total tomorrow alone, as he figures to get some reps as a receiver and may even field a punt or two. As a recruit, he was a do-it-all playmaker who ran, caught, and returned the football. Saturday could be the game Copeland finally breaks through and shows the Gator Nation what he’s capable of.
- Malik Davis, Running Back
You arguably could’ve selected any of Florida’s backs to have a big game, but the nod went to Malik Davis because he seems in desperate need to knock off some rust. Davis was underwhelming to say the least against Miami in his first game back from an injury that cut his 2018 season short. The Gators need to get the ground attack as whole going as they head into conference play, and Davis figures to play a big part in that. He needs to get his legs moving and get back to the form he was in when he exploded onto the scene as freshman.
- Kaiir Elam, Defensive Back
With the Gators already being situated at the cornerback position, Kaiir Elam is the next defensive back in the wings for Florida. A highly-touted recruit, Elam has stood out since he arrived to campus and looks like he’s ready to play as a true freshman if needed. Elam and the other freshmen corners are likely to get a good amount of reps in, and will likely see UT Martin throwing the ball.
- Zach Carter, Defensive Lineman
After the Gators pass rush stole the show against the Hurricanes, they’ll have the opportunity to do the same Saturday, plus get some looks for some of the young defensive linemen. He might not be considered a younger player anymore, but Zach Carter is still a backup but he looks ready to be a valuable asset along Florida’s front seven. Two years with strength coach Nick Savage seems to have done wonders for Carter. Likely to see a good amount of snaps, expect to see Carter wreaking havoc in the backfield.