Florida Gators football will look to improve to 2-0 on the season when it hosts the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday evening. The Gators are hoping for a continued resurgence (especially offensively) under head coach Jim McElwain and will take on the Pirates for the second time in three games, this time paying ECU $1.2 million to travel down to Gainesville, Florida.
Here’s a look ahead at Saturday’s game: what to know and how to watch Florida.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 73°F (feels like 76°F), storms (85% chance of rain), winds SSW at 6 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|Florida Gators||East Carolina Pirates|
|Head Coach: Jim McElwain||Head Coach: Ruffin McNeil|
|Record: 1-0||Record: 1-0|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: American Athletic|
Odds and lines
Spread: Florida -21 | O/U: 54
The Gators took down the Pirates 28-20 just over eight months ago in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, but plenty has changed with each team since and it is difficult to get a handle on how Florida will fare against a new-faced East Carolina team, especially on offense.
ECU leaned on tailback Chris Hairston (18 carries, 154 yards, four touchdowns) in its season-opening 28-20 win over Towson last week, and while Hairston may find success against UF’s front, he is unlikely to post anything resembling a similar stat line.
The Gators’ defense should do a good job keeping the Pirates in check for much of the contest, though it is hard to predict a victory of more than three touchdowns for Florida with so many unknowns offensively, particularly how UF’s system will play against a much tougher opponent than East Carolina. The over of 54 is equally as tricky for this contest.
The advice is to stay away from both lines, but if you must, taking the points and picking the over seem like the most-likely scenarios here.
ATS picks: 1-0 | O/U picks: 1-0
Injuries and absences
» Active (2): Defensive back Marcus Maye, defensive end Alex McCalister (off suspensions)
» Questionable (3): Safety Keanu Neal (hamstring), offensive tackle Martez Ivey (knee), defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip)
» Out (1): Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (leg) — FULL STORY
» Suspended (3): Wide receiver Latroy Pittman (violations of team rules)
For more on these injuries, click here.
The Gators will start redshirt freshman Will Grier at quarterback on Saturday, though McElwain noted that sophomore Treon Harris, who started the season opener, will see an equal amount of time in the game and have the same opportunity to impress in hopes of winning the job outright.
Florida will likely use a similar rotation to what it did last week. That would entail Grier starting the game for approximately three series (12-15 passes), Harris entering to end the first half and staying in to start the second half, Grier returning for a few more series and then ceding way to third-string redshirt senior transfer Josh Grady if UF has the game in hand at that point.
For more on the quarterback situation, click here.
— #ECUvsUF (@GatorsFB) September 12, 2015
McElwain said this past week that team captains, which change weekly, are solely responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
» Florida 36-4 in the month of September since 2005.
» The Gators are playing an opponent twice in the same calendar year for the first time since 2000 (Auburn). UF and ECU squared off in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on Jan. 3.
» Florida is 30-12 all-time against current members of the AAC, 4-0 since 2000.
» The Gators are 2-0 all-time against the Pirates, earning a 28-20 victory in their bowl game seven months ago and a 24-17 win in 1983.
» Florida has now won 26 consecutive season openers, the longest active streak in the nation and longest active streak in the SEC by 12 games (Alabama, Missouri).
» The Gators are 166-16 since 1990 against unranked opponents.
» Florida in 2015 will face eight bowl teams, six ranked in the preseason AP Top 25.
» The Gators’ defense has been a hallmark of the program; it are 196-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC since 2000 (397).
» The Gators are tied for the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 10 straight seasons.
» Florida is one of only four teams nationally to play three or more consecutive games away from home in 2015 (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe).
» The Gators have the nation’s third-best home winning percentage since 1990 (.850). UF is 65-7 against nonconference opponents and 110-10 against unranked teams in that span.
» Florida has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (240, Ohio State – 248).
About to relax and tune in for the Florida game
— Sharrif Floyd (@sharriffloyd) September 12, 2015