Five keys to the game: Arkansas

Five keys to the game: Arkansas

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Lauren Reynolds

Staff Writer

Former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks makes his return to the Swamp on Saturday with an Arkansas squad missing first-year coach Sam Pittman.

The Razorbacks (3-3) will be looking to upset the No. 6 Gators (4-1) at home and get their first win in Gainesville.

Here are five keys to Saturday’s game.

1. Produce without Pitts

UF will be without its top playmaker in Kyle Pitts, whose absence was felt in the second half of the Georgia game after his concussion. Florida’s offense has to find ways to keep the passing game productive. Other players who haven’t been targeted much due to the Kyle-to-Kyle connection will have to step up in this game.

The passing game will look a little different with Pitts sidelined, but Trask still has several weapons. However, he must avoid some of his more dangerous throws without his sure-handed tight end, who seems to be able to catch anything.

2. Establish the run

Pitts will also be out against Vanderbilt, so look for the Gators to lean on its ground game more than usual. They should try to establish the run early and try to take advantage of Arkansas’ weak spots.

Florida has been held to 100 rushing yards in three of its first five games, but could find success on Saturday against a team that ranks second to last in the SEC in rushing defense. This is an opportunity for UF’s backs to run it up with their carries.

3. Convert third downs

Florida has already faced two of the top three defenses in stopping third-down conversions, and Arkansas will be the third. The Razorbacks rank second in the SEC in this category, allowing opponents to convert on just 36 percent of third-down attempts.

Trask and company must do a better job of sw moving the chains on the “money down” to cash in on scoring opportunities and keep the defense off of the field. The Gators were 7 of 16 against Georgia and just 4 of 13 against Mizzou in this category.

4. Pressure on Franks

If the Gators want to frustrate Feleipe Franks, their best bet is to get pressure on him with the pass rush. Arkansas ranks second to last in sacks allowed (19.0) this season, and Franks has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long.

Florida ranks third in the SEC with 15.0 sacks on the year and this could be a huge opportunity for the defense to get after the quarterback. Expect DC Todd Grantham to dial up blitzes on No. 13 on Saturday night.

5. Win the turnover battle

As with any game the Gators play, they will have to minimize their own turnovers and force the Razorbacks to give the ball away. Arkansas ranks first in the SEC and third nationally in turnover margin (+8) and Franks has only thrown one pick in his last five games. Florida’s defense will have to generate pressure, confuse Franks with coverages and try to force him into bad decisions.

Trask, meanwhile, has thrown an interception in three of his last four games, including a pick-six against Missouri and Georgia. Arkansas is ranked No. 1 in the SEC in interceptions this season and has three pick-sixes already this year.

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