Jim McElwain knows the Gators haven't scared anyone lately, but they'll be ready
Florida has recent history on its side, but to some outsiders, that might be it when it hosts rival Florida State on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The 10th-ranked Gators have struggled offensively and in the kicking game as of late, and they’ve been riddled with key injuries as well. Coach Jim McElwain’s team needed overtime to outlast a 2-8 Florida Atlantic team 20-14 last weekend before being able to finally turn its attention to the 14th-ranked Seminoles.
Many wonder how Florida can expect to compete with the mighty ‘Noles, and possibly later against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, when they have been struggling up front in recent weeks against lesser teams like the Owls.
“I’m sure they probably feel like they can jump in The Swamp and have a pretty good chance of beating us based on how we’ve been playing,” McElwain said during Monday’s weekly press conference. “That’s fine. We’ll be here, our fans will be here and we’ll be ready to play this game and see what happens.”
But recent history says the Gators will be just fine because the “Sunshine Showdown,” as their annual game with FSU is often referred, has seen no upsets in the last 10 years. The highest-ranked team has won each game.
McElwain, who last weekend became the first coach in school history to win 10 games in his inaugural season in Gainesville, acknowledged his team still has a lot of work to do.
“We’re a 10-win football team that’s still got a long ways to go in a lot of areas,” he said.
• Florida’s injury-depleted defensive line received more bad news on Saturday when its top player, defensive end Jonathan Bullard hurt his knee. He’s not expected to play against Florida State, McElwain said. Injuries have decimated the Gators’ defensive line to the point where redshirt sophomore offensive guard Antonio Riles was forced to play along the defensive line against Florida Atlantic last week, and true freshman Keivonnis Davis was forced to burn his redshirt year. Other defensive linemen out or likely out include defensive end Alex McAlister (ankle) and defensive lineman Taven Bryan (out, undisclosed injury).
• Other injuries along the defensive line include defensive end Jordan Sherit (questionable with a hamstring), defensive tackle Joey Ivie (questionable with a knee) and defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (probable with an abdomen injury).