Arkansas and Florida haven’t met on the gridiron since the SEC-only COVID season of 2020 in Gainesville.
The Gators won that meeting 63-35, playing their former quarterback, Feleipe Franks, who had transferred to Arkansas following the 2019 season after sustaining an injury, and Kyle Trask had replaced him.
Florida comes into Saturday’s game with Arkansas smarting from a 43-20 defeat at the hands of two-time defending national champion Georgia in its annual rivalry game.
Arkansas, meanwhile, enjoyed a bye after losing six consecutive games following a 2-0 start.
The Razorbacks of course changed offensive coordinators after the 7-3 loss to Mississippi State its last time out, so this will be the first time fans will get to see Kenny Guiton at the controls of the offense.
We caught up with Adam Dubbin of Gators Wire this week to get his thoughts on Florida and the game.
1. What's the quarterback situation like right now for the Gators? Graham Mertz appeared to have a really good October.
Mertz is a perfectly capable place-holder until DJ Lagway arrives next season, but as a whole, he is extraordinarily mid. A lot of people were excited about his South Carolina performance — and for good reason, as he willed the Gators to victory — but even with his superb game-calling, his arm strength and accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. Frankly, his stats are inflated by short dumps under 10 yards and often in the backfield, but don’t underestimate his ability to run the offense effectively.
2. Have fans cooled on Billy Napier? Has he done enough to get into good graces?
It’s hard to say “cooled” when the fanbase was already lukewarm on him following a second-straight losing season last year. For the most part, fans are trying to stick with him as he goes through what has been some serious growing pains, but they have also vacillated based on the results seen on the field… as they are wont to do.
3. Arkansas will be unveiling a new OC and revamped scheme for this game. Is Florida's defense better than average or could the Razorbacks give them problems?
I suspect the change in OC will give the Gators some issues, if not solely for the reason that they don’t have much film to study on the new scheme — if any at all. The defense has been up and down up front this year while the secondary has been pretty terrible, so I expect the Hogs to exploit some weaknesses along the way.
4. The Razorbacks have never won in Gainesville. What would it take for them to do it for the first time?
Winning the turnover margin would give the Hogs their best bet, especially given how awful the Gators have been when it comes to forcing turnovers for themselves. The fumbles and missed fourth-down opportunities killed Florida against Georgia, and would give Arkansas the edge it needs to leave Gainesville victoriously.
5. Score prediction?
The Gators are in serious need of a pick-me-up win after the devastating defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs as well as a victory to clinch a bowl berth, given this might be the last winnable game for Napier and Co. Additionally, the squad will be wearing black uniforms for the first time ever, so there is no excuse for the players and coaches to not be amped for the upcoming game.
Still, this is a very flawed roster and it will only take a couple of major mistakes to flip the table in this one, but Florida does hang on for the victory to improve to 6-3.
Florida 27, Arkansas 20