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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Day-by-day: Gators focused on USF and weekly improvement

Defensive lineman Zachary Carter and offensive tackle Richard Gouriage return home to Tampa Saturday

Florida defensive end Zachary Carter walks on to the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for warmups ahead of the Gators' season opener against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4.
Florida defensive end Zachary Carter walks on to the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for warmups ahead of the Gators' season opener against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4.

With Saturday’s matchup against South Florida seemingly a cupcake game after USF’s 45-point loss to North Carolina State last week, it could be easy for the Florida Gators to overlook the Bulls, especially with the threatening Crimson Tide looming in the near distance.

Florida, however, insists it’s taking the season a game at a time.

“Coach been telling us keep it day by day, just keep getting better, work on your fundamentals,” left tackle Richard Gouriage said.

Redshirt senior Zachary Carter echoed a similar sentiment, saying he told the defensive line group to keep building off the prior week.

“We’re really just taking it one week at a time,” the defensive lineman said. “You can’t look too far ahead and overlook opponents, so we just taking it as it comes.”

Carter faces a tall task ahead if he wants to improve on his performance in the team’s 35-14 dismantling of Florida Atlantic last week: He tallied a career-high three sacks and a forced fumble in the victory.

“In my mind, I’m like ‘I gotta keep building off of that,” Carter said. “I can’t get complacent, I can’t get satisfied with that performance, you know?... I’m on a mission, so I gotta complete it.”

Saturday will be a homecoming for Carter, Gouriage and seven other Gators, who hail from the Tampa Bay area. The redshirt junior Gouriage said it’s pretty huge that his family can come and watch Florida play, and he’s received quite a few calls and texts from people asking for tickets to come out and support.

Carter said he’s been waiting for this game, having not played a game in Tampa in five years. He said his mom sent him a list of 30 people who want tickets, and Carter is hoping for more.

“My teammates think I’m crazy asking for so many tickets,” he said. “If I can get 40, I’ll take it.”

Sophomore defensive tackle Gervon Dexter recovered Carter’s forced fumble against the Owls and recovered a second one later in the game, his second-straight season opener with a turnover after his interception against Ole Miss a year ago. He’ll try to continue to make an impact against USF.

“Just find the ball and get the ball,” Dexter said. “That’s what I was taught.”

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Florida’s defense should show out once again against the Bulls — USF hasn’t scored in its last three games against Power-5 opponents, including last week’s 45-0 thrashing last week to NC State. The Gators take the field at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Contact Michael Hull at mhull@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33.

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Michael Hull

Michael Hull is a third-year journalism major with a specialization in sports & media. He has a minor in business and leadership and is a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars fan.


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