Feleipe Franks and the Gators look to bounce back against the Rams
After beginning the season 0-2, Colorado State overcame an 18-point, third-quarter deficit to beat Arkansas 34-27 last week in Fort Collins.
Now, the Rams will look to make it two in a row against the SEC by handing the Gators a second straight loss in the The Swamp. Saturday's meeting will be the first ever between these two schools.
Colorado State at Florida
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Spread: Florida -20
1. Gators' offense
In their season-opening victory over FCS opponent Charleston Southern, the Gators were able to pile up 444 yards of total offense. But last week, Florida's offense wasn't as proficient against Kentucky.
The Gators gained 360 total yards but managed just 16 points as the Wildcats ended their 31-game losing streak to their SEC East rivals. Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks had an OK game as he threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. But the Gators' offensive line was inconsistent, as Florida averaged 4.4 yards per carry and gave up a pair of sacks.
Colorado State has had its share of issues on defense through its first two games. Even in defeat, Arkansas had 437 yards of offense against the Rams, including 299 on the ground, so Florida should have opportunities to do some damage on that side of the ball.
2. K.J. Carta-Samuels
In last week's win against Arkansas, Carta-Samuels put together a second half for the ages. After Colorado State had just three field goals in the first half, the graduate transfer from Washington lit it up in the final two quarters, completing 22 of 27 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. For the game he finished with 389 passing yards, those two scores and an interception.
Against Kentucky, Florida's defense surrendered 454 yards, most of that coming on the ground (303). But the Gators also didn't record a sack as Wildcats quarterback Terry Wilson competed 11 of his 16 pass attempts for 151 yards, a pair of TDs and an interception.
Carta-Samuels enters this game fifth in the nation in passing at 367.3 yards per game and fourth in completions with 28 per contest. It's no secret that the Rams will try and attack Florida through the air, so it's critical that the Gators find a way to get pressure on Carta-Samuels. Colorado State has allowed four sacks in its first two games and Florida did register three in its season-opening win over Charleston Southern.
3. Florida's defense
The Gators have done a good job against the pass thus far, as they rank second with just 77 yards per game allowed but it doesn't matter when your opponent runs roughshod all over you. That was the case last week, as Kentucky piled up 303 rushing yards in its streak-busting victory over Florida.
The Wildcats averaged 7.4 yards per carry and not surprisingly had more than twice as many rushes (41) as pass attempts (19). How Kentucky's ground game was so effective that its top running back and quarterback both finished with more than 100 yards.
Colorado State hasn't done a lot of damage on the ground through two games (86.3 ypg), but that's because the Rams haven't had to. Behind Carta-Samuels, CSU has the nation's 10th-ranked passing attack (369.0 ypg). Wide receiver Preston Williams has emerged as the team's top target. He is fourth in the FBS in receptions per game with nine and is coming off of a 12-catch, 154-yard and two-TD performances in last week's come-from-behind win over Arkansas.
Florida's pass defense has done its job through two games, but Saturday will be the unit's toughest test by far.
Although last week's loss to Kentucky undoubtedly still stings, Florida has an excellent opportunity to get back on track against a Colorado State defense that has been very generous to opponents through its first two games. The key for the Gators is to find a way to contain and slow down a Rams offense that overwhelmed Arkansas in the fourth quarter last week, outgaining the Razorbacks 195-16 to complete the comeback.
While this could be an entertaining game for a bit, Florida's defense will be the difference as the Gators should be able to get enough pressure on Colorado State quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels to disrupt his effectiveness in the pocket.
Prediction: Florida 41, Colorado State 28
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.