The No.13-ranked Florida Gators open their 2021 home season against the State Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday. The Gators are welcoming a crowd of fans for the first time since the 2019 season, with the 2020 season having restrictions for fans and prospects attending games. The Gators are 29-9 under coach Mullen since returning to the program. The Gators are coming out of an 8-4 season in 2020, where the team played an all-SEC schedule for a year, things have changed a bit due to COVID-19. This game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on The Swamp and will air on SEC Network.
The Gators also unveiled their jersey combination on Tuesday night for their game this weekend. The Gators will wear white jerseys with white pants with their traditional orange helmets. This is the first time since 2001 that the Gators have worn white shirts at home. The last time the Gators took out white jerseys in The Swamp was for their home game against Louisiana Monroe, where the Gators won big by a score of 55-6.
Below are the game notes provided by the University of Florida.
– Florida enter their 12-game regular season with their first meeting against FAU since 2015 and their fourth meeting of all time.
– The Gators are all-time 3-0 against the Owls: 2015: W, 20-14 [OT] | 2011: W, 41-3 | 2007: F, 59-20
–Florida beat FAU by a combined margin of 120-37 while winning over the Owls, from 1,221 yards to 820 yards.
– Dan Mullen and FAU Head Football Coach Willie Taggart meet for the third time as head coaches. Mullen has won the previous two meetings – 40-17 in 2019 and 41-14 in 2018 – when Taggart was Florida State’s head coach.
– UF has the longest active home winning streak in the FBS with 31 consecutive wins (last loss, 1989: 24-19 against Ole Miss), losing only one opener (2017) since 1990.
–Florida own an all-time record of 345-110-13 (0.751) at TheSwamp, posting the second-highest home winning percentage in the country since 1990 with a 164-31 (0.841) record. UF have beaten their opponents 37.8-15.8 on average (+22.0) since 1990.
– Florida No.13 is ranked in the top 13 in the AP preseason poll for the third straight season and has been ranked in the top 25 preseason in five of the past six years.
– Florida’s 35.9 points per game since the start of the 2018 season rank seventh in the Power Five programs and 12th in the FBS. From 2015 to 2017, UF ranked 110th nationally and averaged just 23.1 points per game.
>> 2020: 39.8 ppg (best since 2008, seventh all-time high) | 2019: 33.2 ppg | 2018: 35.0 ppg–all summits since 2008.
– The Gators have scored over 40 points 13 times under Mullen (UF had 12 40-point outings in 101 games from 2010-17).
– The Gators have 14 games over 500 total yards in Mullen’s 38 games as a head coach, tying his 115-game tally in the 2009-17 seasons. UF has nine games over 500 total yards against SEC teams under Mullen, two more than it had between 2008-17.
– Florida have improved their total offense (ypg) every season under Mullen, averaging over 426.7 ypg each year and peaking at 509.8 ypg in 2020 – the program’s highest score since 2001 and ninth-best of the country last season.
>> 2020: 509.8 ppg | 2019: 430.5 ppg | 2018: 426.7 ppg | 2015-17: 338.0 ppg | 2010-14: 339.6 ppg
–Florida averaged 399+ ypg in SEC play during each of Mullen’s three seasons, while the program’s best score from 2010 to 2017 was 354.9 ypg in 2016.
>> 2020: 513.5 ypg (highest since 2001) | 2019: 414.0 ypg | 399.6 ypg
–Each of the past three years, UF has eclipsed its combined totals of 2016 and 2017 for touchdowns over 30 yards.
>> 2020: 10 passes, 0 runs | 2019: 7 passages, 5 passages | 2018: 9 assists, 6 races | 2016-17: 5 passages, 2 passages
– Florida’s passing offense has improved by over 77.0 PGJ from 2018-19 (+87.3) and 2019-20 (+77.8).
– The Gators had four representatives on the SEC All-Star Media and Coaching Team: defensive lineman Zechariah Carter (first team), defensive back Kaiir elam (first), linebacker Ventrell Miller (second) and wide receiver Jacob Copeland (third). Elam was also named to the All-American second team of the preseason by AP, CBS Sports and 247Sports.
– After placing 74th in the FBS for points allowed per game (30.8), 83rd in total defense (428 YPg) and 96th in defense of passing efficiency (148.0) in 2020, the defense of Florida welcomes graduate transfers Daquan Newkirk (Auburn) and Antonio valentino (Penn State) to an experienced seven front.
– Newkirk and Valentino join the preseason winners Zechariah Carter (All-SEC first team), Kaiir elam (All-SEC first team), and Ventrell Miller (second-team All-SEC) in a revamped 2021 Gators defense.
– Florida sends three of the team’s top four tackles in 2020 to Miller (88), Mohamoud Diabate (69), and Amari Burney (52), – as well as nine of the top 15 tackles and 15 of the 22 best from last season.
– Valentino won the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2020, starting all nine games with 14 tackles (five solo), 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two rushed QBs and one pass break.
– Newkirk totaled 40 tackles, 5.0 TFL and 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 30 career games at Auburn, including 28 tackles (eight solo), 3.0 TFL and 1.5 sacks in 2020.