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No. 13 Florida closes out home schedule against Idaho

Sports Xchange
14 Nov 2018, 12:21 GMT+10

It will be an emotional Senior Day when No. 13 Florida plays its final home game of the season at The Swamp against Idaho on Saturday.

But how much a freshman plays against the Vandals could garner the most attention.

Freshman quarterback Emory Jones has moved into the backup role behind Feleipe Franks. Jones can appear in two more games before his redshirt is burned and could see extensive playing time Saturday in order to develop for future seasons.

"We always have a plan for Emory," coach Dan Mullen said.

Jones became the backup after redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask broke his foot in the week leading up to last week's game against South Carolina. Franks started at quarterback against the Gamecocks and helped lead the Gators (7-3, 5-3 SEC) to a comeback win.

Down 31-14 in the third quarter, Florida rallied for 21 straight points in the 35-31 win, with Franks scoring the go-ahead TD on a 1-yard sneak. Franks accounted for three of UF's five touchdowns, with two rushing TDs and one passing TD.

"You can't get complacent," Franks said. "I think this game will be a big confidence-builder heading into Florida State week."

But first is Idaho, which dropped down from the FBS level to the Football Championship Subdivision this season. The Vandals (4-6) will be playing their season finale.

This will be their first game in Gainesville, although not their first trip to Gainesville. The Vandals traveled to play the Gators for their 2014 season opener but, after a three-hour lightning delay, the teams managed just the opening kickoff before another lightning delay. The game was canceled after an hour wait as torrential rains created unsafe playing conditions.

Idaho quarterback Mason Petrino, the son of head coach Paul Petrino, has completed 187 of 302 passes for 1,863 yards, with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. The junior passed for a career-high 310 yards in a loss to Montana last week.

Senior running back Isaiah Saunders ran for 123 yards against Montana as he moved to 10th in school history in career rushing (2,155 yards). He broke off a 60-yard run against the Grizzlies.

"They were playing the run all day, over-pursuing," he said in the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. "I knew in the first half I was going to pop one," Saunders said of his long run. "I could have cared less about my stats. I could have run for 30 yards, and if we would have won, I would have been happy."

The Vandals defense is led by brothers Kaden and Christian Elliss, both linebackers. Kaden has 15 tackles for loss, including seven sacks, both team-highs. Christian leads the Vandals with 68 tackles. Their father, former NFL All-Pro defensive lineman Luther Elliss, coaches the Idaho defensive line.

Mullen said this week's game could be a chance for a number of Florida freshmen to see the field because there are no limitations to the number of players that can dress in a nonconference game (the SEC limit is 70 players). But Mullen is not taking the Vandals lightly.

"It's a good challenge for us," Mullen said. "It's their last game of the season so they can treat it like a bowl game. They can throw everything at us on offense and defense and special teams."

Florida will honor its seniors before the game, which includes standouts Cece Jefferson on the defensive line and Martez Ivey on the offensive line. The seniors were part of Florida teams that won back-to-back SEC East division titles in 2015 and 2016. Florida stumbled to a 4-7 record last season but is enjoying a resurgent campaign in Mullen's first season as coach.

"I told them once they buy in, we'll start winning football games," Mullen said. "They've bought in for us."

Florida running back Jordan Scarlett is coming off a career-high 159-yard effort, on 18 carries, against South Carolina. He has a team-high 629 yards on 6.2 yards per carry and three TDs. A redshirt junior, Scarlett also could be playing his final game at The Swamp on Saturday.

The Gators finish the regular season at Florida State on Nov. 24.

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