In just two days, the Florida Gators’ season will commence at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium against the Idaho Vandals. If you’re a Florida fan, you probably haven’t given Idaho much thought, especially with a full SEC slate and a road game against Florida State to worry about.

But just what can you expect to see out of the Vandals on Saturday night? Do they have a realistic shot of competing with the Gators for 60 minutes?

These are just some of the questions I posed to Theo Lawson, the Idaho beat writer for The Lewiston Tribune out of Lewiston, Idaho. Lawson explains everything from why Idaho will be playing two quarterbacks to impact players on offense and defense. Plus, he’ll give us his prediction on the outcome for Saturday night.

Drew Laing: Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan will both be getting time at QB this weekend. What can fans expect out of those guys on Saturday in terms of playing style?

Theo LawsonChalich, who was Idaho’s starter last season as a redshirt freshman, tends to run the ball more. He’s good with the zone read stuff Idaho runs and relies on his legs probably a bit more than he should, but he didn’t make many mistakes with his arm last season before going down with a shoulder injury. Linehan is a taller, more traditional pocket passer. His dad Scott is the Dallas Cowboys’ passing game coordinator so he comes from a great football family. He has the better arm, but as a redshirt freshman, is still trying to get a grasp of the offense.

Laing: The defensive side of the football was a struggle last season for Idaho, allowing 46.8 points per game. Is there any reason to believe that they’ll improve on this number in 2014?

Lawson: There’s every reason to believe they will. Four of Idaho’s 2013 opponents were ranked in the Top 25 at some point — including Florida State, which put a huge dent in that average with an 80-point outing. Derek Carr of Fresno State, now of the Oakland Raiders, wasn’t too kind to the Vandals either. More than that, Idaho likes its chances in the defensive backfield, where the team is bigger and faster than it was last season. The front four could be the best unit on the team and all of the linebackers return from last year. Just based on who Idaho plays, I’d guess that number will go down by at least six or seven PPG.

LaingPaul Petrino is considered one of the better offensive minds in football. What kind of offensive system can fans expect from the Vandals?

LawsonA lot of that will depend on who’s operating behind center. As I mentioned, Chalich is adept with the read-option/zone read and doesn’t exactly have the breakaway speed to jet off for 60-yard TDs, but the offense does move well with him back there. You won’t see much of Linehan running the ball, but Idaho still wants to run a fast-paced, high-tempo offense when he’s in. They’ll find ways to get their playmakers the ball using the spread offense. It’s all a part of Petrino’s “FTS” approach. That stands for “Feed the Stud,” by the way.

LaingSpeaking of playmakers, who will Florida need to be aware of on offense and defense? Any game-changers?

LawsonOn offense, the one who sticks out is WR/RB Richard Montgomery. He claims to run a 4.29 40-yard dash and it’s become hard to keep track of where he lines up when Idaho is on offense. They call him a scatback and he reminds me a lot of ex-Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas. Defensively, I would give you a number of linemen. QuayShawne Buckley, a 6-3, 305-pound tackle, is the most intimidating of those and is poised to have a stellar senior season.

Laing: Idaho will be a major underdog on Saturday, but what’s been the team’s and Paul Petrino’s mindset heading into the game? Any belief from players that they could steal a victory in The Swamp?

LawsonI think they have to go in with the mindset they can win, even if they do realize they’re the major underdog (which, rest assured, they do). It’s one of those things they don’t talk much about and give fairly generic answers when questioned about, but Idaho has played a number of these “money” games, as we call them, with no such luck. Maybe the players feel they’re overdue for a win…

LaingHas Petrino discussed specific areas where they feel they can attack or expose the Gators?

LawsonThe hope is that the D-line will be able to make things difficult for Driskel. The secondary is unproven, so if there’s any chance the line can disrupt his flow, Idaho could limit the damage — passing wise at least. And it sounds like the Gator offensive front isn’t Florida’s strongest unit, so yeah, the Vandal defensive front will have to be at its best. Defensively, it sounds like the Gators play man coverage and talking to Idaho’s QB coach Bryce Erickson, there’s hope they can attack that.

Laing: Talk to me a little about starting running back Richard Montgomery. He’s from Jacksonville, Fla. and grew up a Gators fan. Is he perhaps looking for a little revenge since he was passed over by the Gators?

LawsonYeah, talking to him earlier this week, he said they “slept on him.” He was the same way when they played FSU last season and on the first play from scrimmage, he broke off for a 50-yard run that was called back for holding. He’s THE sparkplug for this offense as a true sophomore and I’m still at a loss as to why he didn’t get  — at the least — a look from the schools in his home state.

Laing: What’s your prediction for how things will turn out Saturday?

LawsonI’d look silly to pick the Vandals, so I won’t. If Idaho does everything right and the young QBs are able to keep their composure, it could be a close game for a few quarters, maybe three at the most. A 1-11 Idaho team hung with LSU for a couple of quarters in 2012, so there’s always hope. But in these games, when one or two things go wrong for the underdog, that’s when the Vandals tend to unravel. Idaho is capable of covering the spread (36.5 last I heard), and I think they will.

A huge thank you to Theo Lawson for participating in this.

The Gators and Vandals kick off their season this Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on ESPNU.