The Florida Gators will play host to a difficult Utah Utes team that is favorites to win the Pac-12.
Florida needs to know if road back to the top of the SEC East will be a long one or a quick turnaround for new head coach Billy Napier.
The Billy Napier era begins with a tough home game against the PAC-12 champions. Utah comes in with a lot of momentum from 2021. After a rough 1-2 start to 2021, the Utes won 9 of their last 11 games. Ultimately, ending the season with a classic battle in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.
Nonetheless, the Gators will not be an easy game for the Utes as Florida is loaded with quality talent and a good coaching staff. Furthermore, the Gators will have arguably one of the most electric quarterbacks in the country.
Hence, the reason for optimism in this game. Gator quarterback Anthony Richardson is a sleeper favorite to win the Heisman. Even with the new staff, Richardson will be hand full for many teams to handle.
With that being said, the Gators will be looking for new talent to step up. Last year’s leading receiver Jacob Copeland transferred to Maryland. Also, 2021 starting tight end Kemore Gamble transferred to the UCF Knights.
Transfer running back Montrell Johnson might be what Florida needs in this game to open up the passing lanes. Johnson will be relied on heavily to take the pressure off the Florida passing games.
The question is who are the guys that will step up at receiver?
On defense, the Gators will have to stop Utah’s quarterback Cameron Rising. Rising completed 63% of his passes, threw for 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 6 other touchdowns. He is dynamic in the passing game as he is on the run. Rising is a very accurate passer when the game is on the line.
Two of his top receivers return in 2022. Tight end Brant Kuithe is as quick and fast as tight ends come. The senior tight end is one of the best in the country. His greatest attribute is the ability to find space and holes within a defense for his quarterback.
In 2021, Kuithe had 50 receptions for 611 yards and 6 touchdowns. Utah second tight end Dalton Kincaid was just as impressive. His 2021 season ended with 8 touchdowns, 36 receptions for 510 yards.
As for the Utah rushing attack, Tavion Thomas will be a handful to stop. Tavion is a big 6’2 238-pound tank in the backfield. He runs hard and will challenge any linebacker once he gets to the second level. He is poised to have an excellent season.
The Gators have a young but capable secondary. This offseason, coach Napier was able to hire long-time LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond. Coach Raymond is credited for coaching some of the greatest LSU defense backs ever. His experience will greatly improve an already decent secondary.
My final conclusion: