SEC football is, almost, back. The No. 5 ranked Florida Gators will travel to Oxford to face the Ole Miss Rebels at noon Saturday.
Lane Kiffin will make his head coaching debut against an experienced Florida team.
Along with a brand-new coaching staff, the Gators will, likely, see two different quarterbacks.
John Rhys Plumlee rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on 154 attempts as a true freshman last season. He is a dual-threat quarterback that is expected to get some playing time Saturday.
Matt Corral, a redshirt sophomore, was the leading passer for the Rebels in stats last season. Corral saw action in 20 games last season.
“We’ve got to be ready to play both,” Florida Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham said in a Zoom interview with Sports Illustrated.
Corral was once committed to the Florida Gators.
He was a part of the 2018 recruiting cycle and later flipped to Ole Miss.
The Gators, on the other hand, have more certainty surrounding the quarterback position.
Redshirt senior Kyle Trask, who did not begin 2019 starting for the Gators, completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards and 25 touchdowns last year.
The 6-foot-five 240-pound quarterback will have both TE Kyle Pitts and WR Trevon Grimes returning for another year of catching passes.
Because of the mystery surrounding the Rebels’ offensive scheme, Florida’s secondary is going to be challenged.
The good news, for Florida, is that they are led by a veteran defense that’s returning eight starters.
The Gators are stacked at the defensive end position. Redshirt junior Marco Wilson started in all 13 games last season recording 36 defensive stops and three interceptions.
Sophomore Kaiir Elam also accounted for three interceptions last season, making him one of four UF defensive backs to have at least three interceptions in the season.
Returning just five defensive starters, Ole Miss has a lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball.
The Rebels had the worst pass defense in the SEC last year. They ranked 83rd in the FBS in yards allowed per game and 42nd in rush yards allowed.
Things are looking up for the Rebels, according to co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach, Chris Partridge.
“The team is doing a great job of adapting to what we’re going to ask them to do,” Partridge said in a Zoom interview with 247 Sports.
Who We Won’t See
Florida will open the season without center/guard Ethan White, who underwent knee surgery. White is expected to “be back shortly,” Mullen said in an interview with ESPN.
Brett Heggie is expected to play center.
Kiffin is no stranger to the SEC. He was the head coach at Tennessee in 2009 and an assistant at Alabama from 2014-2016.
Most recently, Kiffin led the FAU Owls to a 2019 Conference USA Title. He was 27-13 at FAU in three seasons.
The last time these two teams met was in 2015. Florida walked away with a 38-10 victory.
The Gators are coming off an Orange Bowl win and an 11-2 season. The Rebels, on the other hand, went 4-8 last season and are favored in only four games by ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) this season.
Ole Miss does not have anything to lose in this matchup, and Kiffin is known for surprises. Do not be shocked if you see a few trick plays Saturday.