Ole Miss at Florida Preview: Three Key Matchups to Watch

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Sep 26, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier (7) calls a play during the first quarter against the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Freshman Connection vs. the Landshark Defense

Last week against Tennessee, the Florida Gators overcame a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Tennessee 28-27. Though they had managed just 45 yards since halftime, the Gators gained 145 yards on their final two drives of the afternoon – both of which resulted in touchdowns.

Florida Gators
Florida Gators /

Florida Gators

The two stars that led the comeback were redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier, who threw for a career-high 283 yards, the final 63 of which came on a 4th-and-14 touchdown pass, and true freshman Antonio Callaway, who caught it and scored what proved to be the game-winning score.

Calloway also set a new career-high with 112 receiving yards on five catches, which made him just the second true freshman Florida receiver in school history to record more than 100 receiving yards in a game (the other being Reidel Anthony, who did it twice in 1994).

Grier and Calloway’s emergence is a good sign for the Gators, who have struggled at times this season, but have also found some consistency on the offensive line (the team has fielded the same five starters all season) and in the running game (running back Kelvin Taylor has run for a TD in every game this season, becoming the first Florida player since Tim Tebow to run for a TD in four straight games – first running back to do so since Ciatrick Fason in 2004). But, Florida has yet to face a defense like Ole Miss.

The vaulted Landshark defense has struggled getting to the quarterback this season, and has averaged just 0.75 sacks per game through the first four weeks, which is ranked No. 13 in the SEC and No. 117 in the nation. However, Ole Miss has forced ten turnovers, which ranks first in the SEC and No. 7 nationally. The Rebels leads the SEC with seven interceptions, which ranks No. 8 in the country, and safety Trae Elston is tied for the nation’s lead with three interceptions (two of which he returned for touchdowns).

For the second straight week, Ole Miss will be playing without Tony Conner, who is still out due to knee surgery. But, AJ Moore, Conner’s replacement at the hybrid linebacker/safety Huskie position, leads the SEC with two fumble recoveries and is tied for the league lead with two forced fumbles.

Next: Prediction