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After suffering a disappointing home loss to Kentucky in Week Two, Florida now hopes to get back in the win column against South Florida. Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times gave Inside the Gators the rundown of what to look out for when it comes to Saturday’s match-up with the Bulls.
Five South Florida Bulls to Know
Gerry Bohanon, Quarterback, Junior
- The Gators faced two highly touted quarterback prospects to kick off the season, and Gerry Bohanon is certainly no scrub. He has a 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame that isn’t too far off from the man under center for the Gators. Baker said the thing that stands out the most for Bohanon is his experience. Despite missing his last two games with the Bears, the Baylor transfer helped set the Bears up for a Big 12 Championship run.
Xavier Weaver, Wide Receiver, Junior
- The Orlando native leads the Bulls with 170 yards through two games. Baker described Weaver as “consistent.” He said he isn’t huge and isn’t a speedster but does everything with consistency. Baker even went on and said, “He’s likely to end this season as one of the most prolific receivers in program history.”
Mekhi LaPointe, Defensive Back, Graduate Student
- LaPointe leads the team in tackles and has one interception on the season. Baker said the super senior has filled some big shoes with the loss of safety Vincent Davis in the preseason and other injuries in the secondary. “USF has needed LaPointe to deliver, and he has,” Baker said.
Jatorian Hansford, Defensive End, Senior
- Florida QB Anthony Richardson struggled last week against Kentucky. Most notably, failing to get anything on the ground. Baker said Hansford could be the guy to keep that going against the Gators. The Missouri transfer was around for two wins against the Gators, including a win in Gainesville. “He had a big sack in their meeting last year in Columbia, so clearly he can play against an SEC line and in The Swamp,” Baker said.
Brian Battle, Sophomore, Running back
- A 2021 NCAA Consensus All-American led the country with three kick return touchdowns last season. “He has the potential to make a game-changing play or two for the Bulls,” Baker said.
Five Fast Facts
- Florida plays host to South Florida for the second time in school history in the third-ever meeting between the schools. The Gators lead the series 2-0.
- In last season’s meeting, Richardson became the first FBS player in the last 25 seasons to rush for 100-plus yards, pass for 150-plus yards and complete every pass he threw in a game.
- UF has outscored USF, 80-34 (+46 pts / 23.0 PPG), and out-gained USF, 1,089 to 627 (+462 yds / 231.0 YPG).
- This is the first meeting between UF’s Billy Napier and USF’s Jeff Scott as head coaches, although the two coached together at Clemson from 2008-10. Napier served as TE/RC Coach (2008) and OC/QB Coach (2009-10) while Scott was WR/RC Coach.
- Florida is the only team in the nation to face opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 during each of the first two weeks this season. Florida is the only team in the nation that has faced two opponents ranked in the current AP Top 25.
Five Gameday Storylines
Neither team has passed for a touchdown through two weeks:
- Despite some success against Utah, Anthony Richardson has yet to pass for a touchdown. The thing is, neither have the Bulls. “The Gators get one first. Their talent will win out, especially if USF’s secondary is limited with injuries,” Baker said.
Florida is projected to win big despite the struggles last week. What does USF need to do to have any shot?
- Since last year’s meeting, USF has upgraded its talent level via the transfer portal. The Bulls added 15 players from the portal including 13 power Fiver transfers. With that said, Baker said the talent gap is still too wide. “So, they need to get some lucky breaks — maybe a blocked punt, or a kickoff return touchdown or something like that,” Baker said, “Defensively, they need to contain Richardson and make him throw the ball instead of running it. Offensively, they’ll need to use what should be a strength (the most experienced offensive line in the country) and somehow block a Gators front that has looked very good through two weeks.”
Are USF fans and/or the team at all worried about The Swamp?
- Like the two teams that came to The Swamp before the Bulls, USF is attempting to prepare for the beast that is Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Baker said the team is simulating the noise and changing cadences, but he said that can only go so far. “The Swamp is a place many of the Bulls grew up wanting to play at, and this will likely be one of the biggest crowds USF has ever experienced,” he said, “I expect it to be a factor.”
Jeff Scott and Billy Napier’s relationship:
- Baker wouldn’t reveal a few secrets due to his own article on the way at tampabay.com but said “their relationship goes back two decades to their playing days,” he said. The two were together at Clemson as position coaches/coordinators. Napier said Scott’s dad, Brad Scott, was a mentor. “There’s a lot of respect between them and their families,” Baker said.
Is Scott on the hot seat?
- “Realistically, I don’t think USF will have much of a chance,” Baker said, “The Bulls do need to be competitive, however, for at least a few quarters. Scott is 4-19 in his two-plus years with only one FBS win. I don’t think any reasonable USF fans or administrators were expecting him to be fielding a top-25 team at this point, especially with the challenge of starting his tenure in 2020. But he needs to show some progress that wasn’t obvious against BYU or Howard. Hanging with UF in The Swamp would be a nice place to start.”
- Baker: UF 42-21
- Chris Will: 35-10