Photo: Trevor Etienne; Credit: Alex Shepherd
The first repeat on the X-Factor series, but a necessary one.
After a 24-hour postponement for the Florida Gators' week five matchup against Eastern Washington, Sunday brings the get-right potential contest.
Coming off a gusty performance despite the loss to Tennessee in Rocky Top, Florida has the ability to continue building on the positive aspects of their game that they realized a week ago while simultaneously finding fixes to the evidently broken areas.
A major change is coming with the implementation of varying youthful pieces in week four into the starting lineup. While that will be an area of focus for the group against the FCS opponent in front of them, another area is the game stands to be more important to their short-term and long-term success.
The X-Factor this week, and moving forward, should be Florida’s dedication to the rushing attack.
The Eagles are rated as one of the worst rushing defenses in all of college football, both FBS and FCS. Only Colorado sits behind them in rushing yards allowed per game to this point in the year when you combine the two divisions, with the Eagles hovering at just under 303 rush yards allowed per contest this season.
That bodes well for the Gators.
Boasting an offense that flashes signs of excellence on the ground with the likes of Montrell Johnson, Trevor Etienne and Nay’Quan Wright leading the charge, Florida currently averages
Johnson leads the group with 258 yards and three touchdowns yards on 33 attempts, with Etienne earning 201 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Wright, despite earning the second most carries at 32 this season, only has 126 yards and one touchdown.
However, it doesn’t diminish the fact that the Gators' rushing attack is capable of gashing this EWU squad.
While some may equate a heavy rushing attack as a scheme for controlling the clock, keeping the ball out of the opposing team's hands and playing the long game, this isn’t that.
In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Even against opponents that have shown promise as rushing defenses this season, the Gators have broken off on big runs for considerable yardage. That is particularly true of Johnson in the first three-game before a letdown performance from the unit against Tennessee.
As a result, keeping the ball on the ground with the three-headed monster of ball carriers as well as involving quarterback Anthony Richardson in complementary fashion will allow Florida to overwhelm a lackluster Eastern Washington defense on Sunday.
Not only does the run game align as the Gators' recipe for success against an inferior squad, but it also establishes the offensive identity that the unit has lacked considerably in the first four weeks of the year.
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