The Florida Gators and the East Carolina Pirates meet in a rematch of January’s Birmingham. We dig deeper into Gator head coach Jim McElwain’s second game in Gainesville in the East Carolina vs. Florida prediction and game preview.
Florida vs. East Carolina Prediction & Preview
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Date: Saturday, September 12
Game Time: 7:00 ET
Why You Need To Care
For the second time in eight months, Florida and East Carolina will square off. The Gators won, 28-20, in the Birmingham Bowl in the last game before Jim McElwain took full control of the program. McElwain’s debut in Gainesville was a successful one, a 61-13 slugging of overmatched New Mexico State. The Pirates opened with a win, too, but they barely escaped FCS Towson, 28-20. ECU is in the early stages of a transition year, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Why East Carolina Will Win
The Pirate offense is transitioning around a new coordinator, quarterback and set of skill guys, but the defense has some bite to it. Attacking linebackers Zeek Bigger and Montese Overton and seasoned ends Terrell Stanley and Johnathon White will cause problems for a green Gator offense relying on a bunch of underclassmen. The Florida O-line will be a particular concern this week.
Why Florida Will Win
The revamped ECU offense is poised for a setback this weekend. A talented Gator D headlined by DE Jon Bullard, LB Antonio Morrison and CB Vernon Hargreaves will flummox Blake Kemp, who was slated to be this year’s backup. RB Chris Hairston is the Pirates’ best weapon, but Florida will simply press defenders into the box and force Kemp to make throws into tight coverage.
Player Who Matters
Gator quarterbacks Treon Harris, the starter, and Will Grier, the backup, were lights out in the opener with New Mexico State. The pair, who battled all offseason, combined to go 30-of-37 for 379 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. Since East Carolina presents more challenges, it’ll be interesting to see if the pair can continue to spread the ball around with accuracy.
What’s Going To Happen?
For the work-in-progress East Carolina offense, this trip to the Swamp will be demoralizing. The Gators will flatten Hairston and the Pirates, offsetting their own attack’s occasional stumbles with the ball. Florida won’t coast the way it did in the opener, but it will ride the play of the D to a second straight double-digit win.
Florida vs. East Carolina Prediction
Prediction: Florida 34 , East Carolina 16
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