Even though we share custody of Seth Varnadore, we barely talk, and it’s mostly grunts to each other as we do pick up, and drop off. But, Alligator Army’s Andy Hutchins and myself were able to keep things cordial as we discussed USF football’s game at the Florida Gators this Saturday.
The Daily Stampede: UF has shown some flashes so far during the Napier era, and this game was sandwiched in between two rivalry games. Do the Gators use this as a get-right game?
Alligator Army: I think Florida’s probably more likely to be mad and play mad than to overlook USF, yeah. Nothing about that loss to Kentucky — which, yes, is now a rivalry game — suggested to me a team that is going to be brimming with confidence coming into this game, so I think there will be determination to regain whatever form and edge led to the win over Utah. And given how last year’s game went in Tampa, I think a more motivated Gators squad is uhhh probably bad news for USF.
The Daily Stampede: Anthony Richardson torched USF last season. What has he shown through two games so far that excites you?
Alligator Army: The Utah game was Richardson at or near his best: He made plays with his arm and legs, escaped danger on multiple occasions, and was generally the sort of multi-faceted, multi-talented threat to any defense that his prodigious skill allows him to be.
The Kentucky game was close to the opposite: Richardson sprayed inaccurate passes all over The Swamp, didn’t do anything significant as a runner, and tossed interceptions of both the “sensational defensive play” and “so easy that it looked like he was trying to throw a pick-six” varieties.
The first game is obviously more exciting. But it’s weirdly exciting, in a way, that we have probably seen Richardson’s floor ... and that Florida was really in that game until its end. It is certainly arguable that even a C- performance — instead of the F he turned in — would have swung that game to the Gators. And the hope is obviously that he can both get back to his ceiling and raise his floor.
The Daily Stampede: UF’s defensive line should feast on a much smaller USF offensive line. Who are some key guys the Bulls faithful should know about?
Alligator Army: Gervon Dexter, who is Florida’s best defensive player, and Brenton Cox Jr., who has been playing the best ball to start this season, are the two players I would worry about most up front. But USF’s challenge to its line might be to prevent those two from making plays, so I could see double-teams and chips neutralizing them and other Gators (Princely Umanmielen, Antwuan Powell-Ryland, Justus Boone) being the ones collecting sacks and TFLs.
The Daily Stampede: Is there any area where USF potentially take advantage of the Gators on Saturday?
Alligator Army: Richardson being inaccurate again (and USF daring him to make plays with tight coverage on receivers who have mostly been anonymous so far) could create some chances for the Bulls secondary, but I think most Florida fans would admit that the middle of the defense that many fans describes as their defense’s “soft underbelly” like football is World War II, the A gap is Italy, and said fans are Winston Churchill (even if Churchill never said that, seemingly?) is in fact a bit soft for this team. Utah ran it up the middle to great effect, especially after halftime, and Kentucky got enough late by leaning on its run game to close Florida out.
USF’s offensive line, to be kind, is not Utah’s or Kentucky’s, so whether USF can actually take advantage where two proud and well-built Power Five lines did remains to be seen. But that’s the notable weakness.
The Daily Stampede: We both share custody of Seth Varnadore. What’s your favorite thing about him?
Alligator Army: I like that he only cries for a little while when Dad picks him up these days.
More seriously, Seth’s an excellent communicator of ideas about football, and we’re both lucky to have him trauma-bonded to our respective teams and working for our respective blogs. I learn things when I edit his work and watch his videos, and I hope that our readers do, too: Being able to teach effectively in a space where so many are trying to impart facts instead of knowledge is a skill I envy.