Capital One Orange Bowl Preview
I think it’s safe to say that there were various points in the season where neither of these teams looked as though they’d wind up in a bowl game as big as the Capital One Orange Bowl. When Florida lost Feleipe Franks, the initial thought was that they would struggle more but Kyle Trask improved the offense. Virginia is a team that’s more about being built through having top players and a few consistent contributors.
On offense, Florida is likely going to try and throw the ball a ton today. If Virginia had Bryce Hall then maybe it would be different but I’m expecting Kyle Trask to look at Kadarius Toney, Van Jefferson, Kyle Pitts, and Josh Hammond, and Trevon Grimes early and often in the passing game. Lamical Perine is still expected to be a major contributor but I’d think that the Gators want to air it out tonight.
On the defensive side of the ball, Florida has historically struggled with mobile quarterbacks but the hope is that they’ll be able to get to Bryce Perkins before he gets the chance to scramble. The plan for Florida should be to blitz heavy and play press-man. I’d expect to see exotic looks from Florida’s front seven tonight as they’ll try to rattle Bryce Perkins early.
On offense, this team lives and dies by the arms and legs of Bryce Perkins. Perkins is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the nation and he’s been able to find fairly consistent production in the air this season too. While Virginia shouldn’t have a big rushing game plan outside of Perkins, expect them to challenge this Florida secondary without CJ Henderson with Joe Reed (if he plays), Terrell Jana, and Hasise Dubois.
Defensively, Virginia doesn’t have Bryce Hall back as he’s played his last game for the Cavaliers. Noah Taylor, Eli Hanback, and Zane Zandler should be aggressive early on and challenge a Florida offensive line that’s been the most disappointing part of the offense so far. Charles Snowden and Joey Blount will likely be tasked with trying to slow down both Kyle Pitts or Lamical Perine, with Pitts being the significantly better threat in the passing game.
Just to clarify, when I’m speaking about X-factors here, I’m merely talking about the guys who will have the biggest impact on this game, not necessarily just the best players. These are the guys that if they play well, their team should win, if they don’t, good luck.
For Florida, I’m looking at Kyle Pitts and the edge duo of Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga. Pitts is likely going to be a focal point of this Gators offense. Greenard and Zuniga are going to be tasked with trying to get to Bryce Perkins as often as possible.
Virginia’s X-factor players, on the other hand, will be Bryce Perkins and Joey Blount. It’s easy to pick the quarterback for every game but with Virginia, it rings especially true since the offense lives and dies by both Perkins arm and legs. Joey Blount will likely be the one tasked with stopping Kyle Pitts so his impact on this game will be significant, whether it’s positive or negative, we’ll see.
Spread: UF -14.5
I would take UVA +14.5 here. As much as I love this Gators team, the loss of CJ Henderson is huge along with the fact that the Gators usually struggle with scrambling QBs makes me think that the Capital One Orange Bowl might be closer than 14.5 points.
I’d be looking toward the under here. Florida has a top-10 defense in the nation so I’m not expecting UVA to put up a ton of points and I do think that Virginia is capable of matching up with Florida’s offense.