Setting the stage
Week 10 marks the 13th all-time meeting between Florida and Arkansas including the sixth in Gainesville. The Gators wield a 10-2 series edge and are undefeated vs. the Razorbacks in five meetings inside The Swamp.
• In those five meetings in The Swamp, Florida has outscored Arkansas by 115 points (23.0 PPG), 217-102.
• Florida has won 10 of the last 11 meetings dating back to 1995. The two teams last met in 2020, with Florida posting a 63-35 home win. The Gators totaled 593 yards thanks to 356 yards passing and six touchdowns from QB Kyle Trask.
• The Gators will honor members of the armed forces, veterans and local first responders in style as part of this year’s ‘Saluting Those Who Serve’ game, presented by VyStar Credit Union, by wearing alternate black uniforms for the first time in school history.
QB Graham Mertz has completed 75.9% of his passes (195-for-257), which leads the SEC and ranks third nationally behind Oregon’s Bo Nix (78.3%) and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy (78.1%).
- Mertz has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four-straight games including notching his first-career 400-yard passing game in Week 7, throwing for 423 yards and three touchdowns at South Carolina.
- Mertz has not thrown an interception in his last 119 pass attempts and has been picked off just once in his last 242 attempts. Mertz’s 119 passes without an interception rank sixth all-time at Florida. He needs two more attempts to tie Tim Tebow (2009) for fifth.
In year one under DC Austin Armstrong, Florida ranks sixth in the SEC, 24th in the P5 and 34th in the FBS in total defense with 334.0 yards allowed per game. Through eighth games last year, UF had allowed 429.3 yards per game.
- Florida boasts the fifth-best passing defense in the SEC (203.5), ranking 35th in the FBS and 20th in the P5.
- The Gators have limited teams to 22.9 points per game (t-50th in FBS), a six-point improvement from 2022 (28.9).
- Conversely, Arkansas ranks 122nd nationally and last in the SEC in total offense (305.9), 105th (13th in SEC) in passing offense (196.9) and 114th in rushing offense (109.0). Arkansas is averaging 26.5 points per game (73rd in FBS).
The Other Side
Arkansas (2-6) returns from its bye week and begins its final road trip of the 2023 regular season, traveling to Gainesville to face SEC Eastern Division opponent Florida.
After the firing of Dan Enos as Arkansas OC, head coach Sam Pittman has appointed wide receiver coach Kenny Guiton to assume play-calling duties for the Arkansas offense. Guiton, who is 32 years old and in his third season at Arkansas, will be calling plays for the first time.
A change was certainly needed this season. In the new scheme, Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson has had career-low numbers in yards per attempt, completion percentage, passer rating, and rushing yards per carry.
- Through eight games, Jefferson has completed 143-of-210 passes (65.3%) for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns.
- He has also rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson, who currently holds the top spot on Arkansas’ career touchdown responsibility list with 82 (62 passing touchdowns, 20 rushing touchdowns), is just two passing touchdowns away from tying the school record. The focus now is on getting Jefferson back to his previous form.
The Razorbacks are hopeful to have their star running back, Rocket Sanders, back this week. Raheim “Rocket” Sanders, one of the top running backs in the country, has been dealing with injuries throughout the 2023 season. He injured his knee in the season opener against Western Carolina.
- Sanders, a preseason All-American, has missed five of the Hogs’ eight games this season: Kent State (Sept. 9), BYU (Sept. 16), LSU (Sept. 23), Alabama (Oct. 14), and Mississippi State (Oct. 21).
- In 2022, Sanders started all 13 games and established himself as one of the nation’s best running backs. He rushed for 1,443 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He also had 28 receptions for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, Arkansas has suffered from Sanders’ injury, going from ranking second in the SEC with an average of 236.7 rushing yards per game in 2022 to ranking 12th with just 109.9 yards per game this season. Sanders was listed on the depth chart to start against the Gators.
Arkansas linebacker Jaheim Thomas is currently the SEC’s third-leading tackler this season.
- He has accumulated a total of 74 tackles, with 6.5 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks.
- Thomas, who transferred from Cincinnati, leads the team with five double-digit tackle performances this year and has achieved six double-digit tackle games throughout his career.
Defensive-end Landon Jackson has established himself as the Razorbacks’ most dominant pass rusher this season. He leads the team in tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (5.5) in the first eight games of the year.
- He was named SEC DL of the Week in Week 7 after setting career-bests with 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks against Alabama.
- His 3.5 sacks in that game are the most by a Razorback since Trey Flowers in 2014. Jackson transferred from LSU and played in 5 games as a true freshman in 2021.
Time: 12 PM
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field
Radio: ESPN Gainesville – WRUF | The Varsity Network | SiriusXM
On the call
Play-by-Play: Roy Philpott
Analyst: Roddy Jones
Reporter: Taylor McGregor