Gators game preview: Jacksonville State

ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation is previewing each of Florida’s 2012 opponents. Today is Jacksonville State (Nov. 17 in Gainesville).


2011 record: 7-4 (6-2 Ohio Valley Conference).

Coach: Jack Crowe, 13th season (81-52); 18th season overall (95-82).

Series record: First meeting.

Top returners: QB Marques Ivory (5-10-0, 56 yards, 1 TD); RB Washaun Ealey (1,082 yards, 8 TDs); LB Rashad Smith (77 tackles); S Pierre Warren (37 tackles, 3 INTs).

Did you know? Former UF coach Charley Pell spent five seasons as JSU’s coach (1969-73) and went 33-13-1, including 10-0 in 1970.

Scouting the offense: Ivory missed the 2011 season after suffering an injury in the opener. He has 2,740 career passing yards and 25 career TD passes. Ealey is a former Parade All-American who spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons at Georgia and led the Bulldogs in rushing both seasons (717 in 2009 and 811 in 2010).

Scouting the defense: The Gamecocks did a much better job against the run than the pass last season, ranking third in the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference in rush defense (166.1 yards per game) and eighth in pass defense (225.5 yards per game). Warren’s three interceptions ranked second in the league.

Three things to watch

  1. Gators fans should remember Ealey pretty well, and not just because he’s a former Bulldog. Former UF linebacker Brandon Spikes tried to gouge Ealey’s eyes during the 2009 Florida-Georgia game. Former UF coach Urban Meyer said it was in retaliation for what happened earlier in the game when a Georgia player ripped off Spikes’ helmet.

  2. This is the final “cupcake” game on UF’s schedule, and it comes a week before the Florida State game. Expect starters to remain in the game longer if they don’t look crisp. Otherwise it’s time to empty the bench and get younger guys and walk-ons some playing time.

  3. UF has played five FCS opponent since the 2006 season and has scored an average of 59.2 points in those games.