Game day primer: What you need to know entering Florida-East Carolina matchup
Week 2 is here and Florida must put its season-opening win over New Mexico State in the past. Here’s some stuff to get you ready for game day.
East Carolina at Florida, Saturday 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Weather: 69 degrees, 50 percent chance of rain
Line: Gators are favored to win by 20.5 points.
Numbers to know:
* Florida is looking to defeat the same opponent twice in the same calendar year for the first time since it beat Auburn twice in 2000. The Gators beat East Carolina 28-20 in the Birmingham Bowl in January.
* The Gators were 8-for-8 in the red zone against New Mexico State in the opener. It marked the first time Florida finished with a 100-percent conversion rate when it had at least eight red zone trips in a game since 2007.
* East Carolina’s roster features seven players from the state of Florida: QB Kurt Benkert (Cape Coral-Island Coast High), LB Joe Carter (Ponte Vedra High), WR Deondre Farrier (Orlando-Lake Nona High), OL Erik Lenzen (Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons High), LB C.J. Maybin (Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons High), OL Garrett McGhin (Tallahassee-Florida State University School), DB Blake Norwood (Pensacola High).
* East Carolina is a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Gators are 4-0 against teams from the AAC and have won those games by an average score of 40-14.
* East Carolina has lost eight of its past 10 games against SEC opponents.
Story lines to watch:
* QB battle … again: For the second consecutive week, Will Grier and Treon Harris will split time at quarterback for the Gators on Saturday. But this time, Grier is getting the start after Harris got the start in the opener. McElwain said he plans to use a similar plan as to the one he used last week when each quarterback was in the game for six drives. Will one start to gain some separation in the race for the full-time job or will the two-quarterback system bleed into conference play? The Pirates’ secondary isn’t exactly the best unit in the nation, so expect Grier and Harris to put up big numbers again this week.
* Rematch?: Although East Carolina and Florida faced off less than nine months ago in the Birmingham Bowl, both teams will feature a lot of different faces this time around. So the rematch storyline isn’t the strongest one surrounding this matchup. Not only do the Gators feature a new head coach, but they will also play a lot of freshmen who weren’t even on the team yet in January. As for the Pirates, they have a new starting quarterback. Blake Kemp, who went 29-of-37 for 230 yards in the opener against Towson, will start under center after redshirting last season.
* Are the Gators ready for conference play?: This is the final tune-up game for Florida before SEC play begins on the road against Kentucky next week. Despite last week’s dominating win to open the season, there are still plenty of questions left to be answered before the competition gets tougher. Who will be Florida’s full-time starting quarterback? Can the Gators really rely on freshmen like WR Antonio Callaway, and RBs Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite to contribute right away? What will the final offensive line rotation look like and will it be good enough? Those are just some of the questions that Florida hopes to get some clarity on in Week 2.
My prediction: Florida 42, East Carolina 13.
Anthony’s season picks record: 1-0.