Top 25 preview: Florida at Miami

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 9/7/13
SITE: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
SERIES: Miami leads 28-26 and has won six of the last seven meetings. This is the first meeting between the two schools since 2008.
AP RANKINGS: Florida No. 12, Miami unranked

The 13-year hiatus in the in-state rivalry ends Saturday with Florida going for a 2-0 start and second consecutive win -- after six losses in a row -- over the Hurricanes. Florida will welcome reinforcements in the form of several players who were suspended for last week's victory over Toledo.

Miami proved it could run the ball last week. To upset Florida, the Hurricanes need to show they can catch it, too.
The wide receiving corps never really got it going in the 34-6 win over Florida Atlantic last week.
Freshman Stacy Coley dropped a couple of "sure" touchdown passes -- one of which was knocked out of his hands in the end zone -- but he wasn't the only culprit.
Senior Allen Hurns was the only wide receiver with more than two catches, and the biggest play by the receiving corps all night came on sophomore Herb Waters' 63-yard touchdown run on a reverse.
Waters did have a 33-yard reception among his two catches, but junior Phillip Dorsett, who has 1,000 yards receiving in his career, had only two catches for a mere 14 yards.
"We've got to improve," senior quarterback Stephen Morris said. "There's no doubt about. We've got to get better in that area. We understand that.
"We can't drop passes, and I've got to improve. I've got to make better decisions and I've got to be a lot more vocal to my guys. I've got to understand that third down we've got to improve on, just running our offense."
The inconsistency in the air attack was a contributing factor to Miami's problems converting third downs. The Hurricanes got a first down only four times in 14 such opportunities.
"We were in very manageable distances on Friday night and didn't convert," coach Al Golden said. "We have to throw and catch better.
"We weren't as sharp as we need to be and that's it. No excuses. We protected well, except for one time, but other than that we have to throw and catch the ball better, we have to be more precise in our routes. That starts with me."
Hurns, who did his part with five catches though for only 34 yards, thinks things will pick up against the Gators Saturday (Sept. 7).
"We had drops here and there, but that can change," Hurns said. "We can fix that."
UF starting quarterback Jeff Driskel didn't have many fond memories of the rivalry, and will be looking to make one.
"None. I just know that (former Gator) Ahmad Black tweeted the score (the 26-3 Florida win in 2008). That's about it," Driskel recalled.
Muschamp and Driskel are more concerned about Miami's experience. The Hurricanes return 19 starters including Morris and sophomore tailback Duke Johnson. Morris passed for 160 yards and a TD in Miami's season-opening 34-6 win over Florida Atlantic, while Johnson rushed for 186 yards and a TD.
"They're very talented at the receiver position," Muschamp said. "They've got guys than can run, play in space. They have close to 100 starts in their offensive line. They are big and athletic."
Florida is coming off a 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators will be bolstered by the return of three key starters -- RB Matt Jones (viral infection), LB Antonio Morrison (suspension) and CB Loucheiz Purifoy (suspension).
Driskel said with so many players from within the state knowing each other, it will be important for the Gators to keep their composure in a tough road environment.
"There will be some emotions," Driskel said. "But we're going to have to handle ourselves and I think we will."
Driskel also expects Florida to be able to get its downfield passing game going against a Miami team that will likely stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
"They're going to play tighter coverage than Toledo did," Driskel said. "We're going to have more one-on-one matchups and we're going to have to win the one-on-one matchups."

--QB Jeff Driskel didn't take many shots downfield in the season-opener against Toledo, but was still effective, completing 17 of 22 passes for 153 yards and one TD. Driskel may need to throw the ball more vertically against a Miami defense that will be geared to stop the run.
--RB Mack Brown made the most of his first career start, finishing with 112 yards rushing on 25 carries and 2 TDs against Toledo. Starting RB Matt Jones has been cleared to play against Miami, but expect Brown and Jones to split carries until Jones is 100 percent.
--DT Dominique Easley provided a strong push up the middle with one tackle for loss and three quarterback hurries against Toledo. Easley said he's back to 100 percent after being hobbled with knee problems last season. The Gators will need Easley to keep playing at a high level in an effort to stop Miami's running back, led by talented sophomore Duke Johnson.
--CB Vernon Hargreaves III showed no signs of jitters in his first career game. The true freshman five-star recruit from Tampa had an interception he returned for 15 yards and provided strong coverage throughout the game. Expect to see Hargreaves in several nickel and dime coverage schemes to help shut down Miami's passing attack.

--Sophomore RB Duke Johnson began the season by posting career highs in carries (19) and rushing yards (186) in the win over Florida Atlantic. Florida's defense will challenge those numbers, but there's no question Johnson has the ability to break a big play against anybody.
--Junior WR Phillip Dorsett had a quiet night against FAU (two catches for only 14 yards), but he is one who could make a big difference with his production. He also is a factor in the return game, though he didn't show it against FAU with only 11 yards on one kickoff return and 17 yards on three punt runback.
--Junior LB Denzel Perryman dropped a near-certain interception with nothing between him and the goal line but green grass. But he finished the night with a team high five tackles and is a huge key to Miami's overall defense.
--Junior DE Anthony Chickillo will be a big factor in Miami's pass rush. He was credited with five tackles and had one of five sacks for the Hurricanes against FAU.

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