Trey Dean III

Cornerback Trey Dean III (21) will get his first start of the season in place of sophomore Marco Wilson. Wilson was lost for the season after he tore his ACL during Florida's first defensive series last week against Kentucky. 

Fort Collins, Colorado, isn’t known for much. It has an earth science museum and several walking trails. It’s the birthplace of Jake Lloyd, one of the most forgettable actors in one of the most forgettable Star Wars movies.

The Colorado State Rams were an equally forgettable football team before last weekend. They’d lost to offensive juggernaut Hawaii in one of the first games of the NCAA season. They suffered a blowout at home against Colorado in a game where the Rams gave up the most points to their in-state rival since 1996.

But Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins received a great deal of notoriety last weekend when CSU staged its biggest upset in years. The details of that game are astounding. As the clock trickled toward the 2-minute mark, Arkansas’ defense retreated into a three-deep zone coverage. The Rams quarterback got about three seconds of protection before being swarmed by a pair of Razorback defensive tackles.  

The quarterback still got the pass off while being dragged to the turf. His receiver made a spectacular sliding catch inside Arkansas’ 30-yard line. What followed was a methodical drive to paydirt in the closing seconds to secure the Rams’ first win over an SEC opponent.

The players who made it happen are going to have to show up once again as CSU prepares to take on Florida in Gainesville on Saturday afternoon.

 

K.J. Carta-Samuels

The redshirt senior from Saratoga, California, tossed 47 passes last week, completing 32 for 389 yards and a pair of scores. Carta-Samuels isn’t the most mobile quarterback. His longest rush of the season (11 yards) accounts for a third of his ground production, so the Gators defense should at least have an easier time containing any thoughts of scrambling.

But Carta-Samuels is more than comfortable slinging the rock. He’s averaging over 43 pass attempts per game. He also heads the 10th-ranked passing offense in the nation, posting 369 yards per game through the air.

However, Carta-Samuels has also shown a tendency to get greedy at times. He threw up a jump ball in the closing minutes of the first quarter into double coverage, resulting in an early interception. His propensity for hanging around too long in the pocket also amplified itself Saturday when he lost a fumble in the third quarter.

 

Preston Williams

Carta-Samuels’ favorite target by far is the redshirt junior from Lovejoy, Georgia. The 6-foot-4 speedster caught 12 balls for 154 yards and two touchdowns, nearly doubling his production from his first two games.

Considering Florida lost perhaps its top cover man in cornerback Marco Wilson for the season with a torn ACL, Carta-Samuels could look toward Williams often, especially if he isn’t hounded by UF’s C.J. Henderson.

 

Josh Watson

The redshirt senior linebacker from Blue Springs, Missouri, has led his team in tackles every game this season. He accrued a game-high 12 tackles against Arkansas and applied two QB hurries coming off of blitzes.

Watson seems to fancy himself a run-stuffer. He only has one pass defended on the season. That could prove troublesome for a Gators offense struggling to get the run game going early in the season. UF quarterback Feleipe Franks leads the team in rushing so far, eclipsing running back Jordan Scarlett’s meager 3.8 yards per carry. If Watson and the Rams defense gets into the backfield often enough, the Gators could look to abandon the run outright in another game where he has to throw to win.

 

You can contact Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin or you can contact him at mmcmullen@alligator.org.

 

Morgan is the online sports editor at the Alligator. He has previously covered the Gators women's golf and women's basketball teams. He began working at the Alligator in Spring 2016.