Game Time and Location: 7:30 p.m. EST, September 3, 2016 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Sirius XM Ch. 192, complete list of Florida radio affiliates can be found here
Odds: Florida (-37), -175 (Florida), +155 (UMass), 50.5 (O/U) (via OddsShark)
The 2016 season opener in The Swamp will go a long in establishing what kind of team Florida will be in a SEC East that’ll be very competitive. With the suspensions of Teez Tabor, Tyrie Cleveland, C’yontai Lewis, and Rick Well, there are some opportunities for some of the younger players like Duke Dawson to get playing experience early in the season to help get themselves prepared for the rigors of SEC play. September 3 will also feature some transition offensively with Luke Del Rio at quarterback and no clear answer at running back, but having Antonio Callaway cleared to play and build a rapport with Del Rio is huge in the greater context of the season.
With the absence of Tabor, UMass might be able to move the ball on Saturday with as many spread concepts as the team runs offense despite the lack of experience at receiver. Ross Comis will try to overcome some of the limitations of the roster (10 freshmen as starters or backups) as a dual-treat quarterback who’s been under coach Mark Whipple’s system for a while now. Defensively, they have a couple of JUCO kids in the front seven that can make plays in the run game, and Khary Bailey-Smith is a rock in the secondary at safety.
Expect the Gators to establish the run game early, whether it’s Jordan Scarlett, Mark Thompson, or Jordan Cronkrite, to get Del Rio in favorable passing downs early in the game. Callaway will definitely get targets, but look to see if any of the young wide-outs can step up and be the #2 guy and give another dimension to this offense. Defensively, the front seven has to limit the QB runs while the secondary can’t afford to be confused by the former NFL offensive coordinator Whipple and his passing concepts.
I think the Minutemen will cover the 37-point spread, but it still should be a fairly decisive victory for the Gators and the 51-point over/under feels a little low for this game.