Can the Gators maintain momentum with the run game?

The Florida Gators quite literally ran over the McNeese State Cowboys last Saturday, 49-7, in the home opener at Ben Hill.

The offense shined, all in thanks to the running back room.

Six different halfbacks got the call during the monstrous win, with veteran Montrell Johnson Jr. leading the way by gaining 118 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Sophomore Trevor Etienne handled his fair share of snaps, running for 85 yards on 11 carries.

The Gators handed the ball off 48 times against the Cowboys, a staggering difference from running the ball only 11 times in the loss to No. 12 Utah. The Utes defense completely shut down the Florida running attack, giving up only 61 total yards.

Head coach Billy Napier said when all goes according to plan, running the ball becomes a much better time

“It’s always a lot more fun when the plays work,” Napier said. “Ultimately, the staff did a good job putting the plan together, and we went and executed that plan for the most part on all parts of our team. That’s what you want when you play an opponent like this, and certainly, as a coach, you’d like to say they’re all the same, but we know that’s not true.”

Napier also stated the run game on Saturday helped them control the game while driving down the field.

“Yeah, I think just staying on schedule, creating favorable down and distances,” Napier said. “I think third down was manageable for the most part all night. The third-and-long that we did have, we converted. That’s where you’re essentially playing with odds on your side, and ultimately that’s where you want to live as a play caller.”

We’ll have to watch closely to see if Napier plans to keep his foot on the gas pedal when it comes to rushing the football. The Tennessee Volunteers allow opponents to gain only 2.4 yards per rushing attempt. The Virginia Cavaliers rushed for 98 yards in week one while Austin Peay gained on 79 yards.

The Tennessee defense has the ability to shut down its opponent’s momentum and if the Gators can’t find their footing at home Saturday night, it could squander the hopes for a Florida upset.

The Gators and No. 11 Volunteers face off at 7 p.m. EDT at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The rivalry game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire