Florida Gators Must Improve to Beat Miami Hurricanes

John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Florida Gators opened the season with a 24-6 win over Toledo Rockets last weekend at the Swamp in Gainesville. While the Gators were not spectacular, they did get a fairly easy win to open the season.

However, the Gators will be on upset alert this weekend as they travel to Coral Gables to face the Miami Hurricanes. This could be the last game in this series for these two opponents who used to play every season, barring a matchup in a bowl game. Now, with new conference schedules, a game like this no longer fits into the plans for most teams, including Florida and Miami.

So while that storyline will serve as a backdrop, the game itself figures to be between two teams that appear to be evenly matched. While Florida was winning last week, Miami was able to do the same, beating Florida Atlantic 34-6 behind 186 rushing yards from sophomore running back Duke Johnson.

This week, Johnson may find it tougher to run against a Florida defense that held Toledo to just 50 yards on the ground and 202 overall.

Florida also must find a way to score against a tough Miami defense. The ‘Canes gave up just six points on a pair of field goals, and they allowed FAU only 250 yards of total offense. This will prove to be a challenge for the Gators’ offense, which has seen its share of struggles over the past season-plus.

The Gators will have Matt Jones in the backfield on Saturday, which should boost the running game. In Jones’ absence last week, Mack Brown had a big game with 112 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. If these two backs can get the ball moving, that would take significant pressure off of quarterback Jeff Driskel, who played better last week but primarily threw short passes for short gains in the win over Toledo.

Miami will want to make a statement in this game. The ‘Canes will have a chance to take down a ranked opponent from the mighty Southeastern Conference and give the Atlantic Coast Conference another big win early in the season.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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