Bowl game, bragging rights on the line for Florida, FSU
Gainesville, Florida. Malik Davis, one of dozens of Florida players dealing with a second training change in their college life, got a chance to address his teammates earlier this week.
His message was simple and concise.
“Even though we didn’t have the same goals we scored at the start of the year, we still have a lot to play for,” Davis said. “We have each other to play, our families, the name on the back of the shirt.”
It’s all about the Gators (5-6) who have left this season.
Florida State will host Florida (5-6) with championship eligibility and bragging rights on Saturday. It’s the first time in 40 years that programs with the six national championships combined will play a regular season winner and a loser.
It would be surprising to see the Gators fail given his firing of coach Dan Mullen last week. Mullen was let down after his fourth loss in five games, 24-23 in an astonishing extra time in Missouri. It was Florida’s ninth loss in its last 11 games against Paul Subdivision football teams, and came a week after Mullen’s side escaped a near-disaster at lower-tier Samford.
Mullen was sacked by defense coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line/game coordinator Jon Hevesy.
Now, feeling torn, they will try to unite and beat the Seminoles for the third time in a row. Florida is a two-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
“It’s still one of the biggest rivalries in college football,” said Florida defensive end Zach Carter. “So coming out with a win means a lot.”
That could mean even more for Florida, which is beginning to find a foothold in coach Mike Norville’s third season. Noles’ team won five out of seven, including two in a row, after a 0-4 start.
This will be the first taste of Norville in the storied series. The teams did not play last year due to scheduling COVID-19.
It’s also the second in a row to feature an interim coach. Odell Huggins stepped in to hire Fifa coach Willie Taggart in 2019, and now Greg Knox is replacing Mullen.
“It’s one of the great games that college football has to offer. To be a part of it, to be excited would be an understatement,” Norville said. No. But throughout this season, we’ve learned a lot of lessons. Putting ourselves in a situation that wins us one another is a big deal. It’s a big deal for our players.
“It’s like I told them: they put themselves in a position to remember.”
sweep the sun?
FSU is trying to sweep its Sunshine State rivals for the first time since 2016, when Jimbo Fisher was head coach. Fisher accomplished this feat six times in his first seven years (2010-16) in Tallahassee.
The Seminoles lost four times in a row to Miami before rallying to beat the Hurricanes 31-28 two weeks ago. They haven’t fired the Gators since 2017, when Florida interim head coach Randy Shannon ran the show after he fired Jim McElwain.
Shannon is now a member of the FSU team, working as a Senior Defense Analyst.
QB . Concerns
Florida quarterback Emory Jones suffered a minor ankle injury in training this week that could hold him back — or perhaps even sideline him — against the Seminoles.
Anthony Richardson replaced Jones on the starting line against top-seeded Georgia last month, but Richardson struggled and eventually crashed out of the match with a concussion. He injured his knee dancing at the team hotel the night before playing in South Carolina the following week and got banged up in practice last week.
Knox said he expects to play Richardson, if he is healthy. He may not have a choice.
Florida State athletic director Scott Stricklin doesn’t want to wait long to fill the team’s training void. He wants to replace Mullen in a matter of days, not weeks.
Although Stricklin kept his target cool, at least an interview with Louisiana player Billy Napier is expected. Napier admitted Wednesday that he was stalking.
“No decision yet,” Napier said after practice.
Napier appears strongly in the mix at Florida and Virginia Tech, and could also be a candidate at LSU. Napier’s biography includes the stop in Alabama under Nick Saban and Clemson under Dabo Sweeney.
“If you do something, not only players are recognized. Coaches are recognized,” Napier said. “It’s part of the end of the season you have to go through when you have a good team and you have a lot of people working on their tail. We’ve been there before, and that’s just part of it.”
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