You got that right, Bruce.
With apologies to those jonesing to watch Hawaii swing into late night action, I’m going to spend my blogging effort here on the first game of the night, Florida-Miami.
Michael Irvin is pumped.
This should come as no surprise.
It’s a neutral site game and Florida comes in as around a seven-point favorite. Bill Connelly thinks the Gators will cover the spread.
As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation. While, as this chart notes, overall talent for both teams is fairly even…
… the experience level at quarterback definitely favors Florida.
That being said, I don’t think that alone is going to be the deciding factor tonight. For one thing, these coaches know each other, and in some cases, know each other really well ($$). Diaz worked for Mullen. Grantham and Enos have faced off against each other in the SEC wars. Moreover, Miami’s defensive strategy isn’t going to be a blank slate for Florida, as Diaz was the ‘Canes DC last season under Mark Richt.
So everybody knows what everybody’s up to, which makes for some interesting history to track. Start with Franks’ passing on third downs last season.
It wasn’t his strong suit: 36-81 (44.4%), 2 TDs, 1 INT all added up to a 100.73 passer rating. Can you guess whose pass defense was really good in third down situations last season? If you picked Miami’s, give yourself a gold star. Diaz coached these stats: 39-98 (39.8%); 5 TDs; 6 INTs; 78.77 passer rating.
You’ve got two very aggressive defensive coaches who will be calling a ton of blitzes against two very shaky offensive lines. Mullen, obviously, will do what he can to avoid putting Franks in third down passing situations, but Miami has its own problems dealing with pressure. Check out this bit of 2018 awfulness:
If you’re looking for whether Dan Enos is going to have a positive impact this season with Miami, start with that. Because Dan Enos loves the screen pass.
When Dan Enos was head coach at Central Michigan in 2014, he recruited David Reese. The Florida linebacker and Michigan native recently recalled Enos, now Miami’s offensive coordinator, as “a really great guy.” That’s nice, but Enos’ personality isn’t what Reese remembers most about the 51-year-old.
Reese remembers the screens.
All eight of them. During Reese’s freshman year in 2016, Arkansas, with Enos as its offensive coordinator, beat Florida, 31-10. Austin Allen, the Razorbacks’ quarterback that day, went 8-for-8 on screens for 115 yards (14.4 yards per attempt), according to Sports Info Solutions,
“They threw the most screens in a game I’ve ever seen in one game,” Reese said.
Grantham is going to go balls out attacking the line of scrimmage, because that’s what Grantham does. In this case, it’s an especially good strategy against a green quarterback and an inexperienced offensive line. There’s also a decent chance the Gators run blitz Miami’s rush game into being ineffective, which takes away one obvious means of reducing the pressure on a rookie QB. If Miami can’t use a screen game to take some pressure off Grantham’s scheme, it’s going to be a long night for Enos.
I’m not forgetting what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, but Florida, with its secondary and second-year coach and quarterback, would appear to be the better equipped team.
The real wild card, of course, with questionable at best offensive lines and aggressive defenses, is turnovers. Last year, Florida was +12 in turnover margin. Miami was minus-1. You tell me how that breaks tonight and you’ve probably got a very good chance of calling the winner.
As usual, comments are there for a game night thread. Have at it.