April 25, 2018

Florida Gators

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  Gators preparing for rival FSU

Florida interim coach Randy Shannon knows a thing or two about rivalry games against Florida State.

As a player, assistant coach and head coach at Miami, Shannon was involved with his share of tussles with the Seminoles.

"With FSU, oh man, that's a lot of them," Shannon said. "Playing-wise and coaching-wise, that's probably over 20, so it's just one of those rivalries that you play."

Shannon will be taking part in his 24th game against FSU, but first as UF's head coach, when the Gators close their season Saturday against the rival Seminoles.

Florida (4-6) snapped a five-game losing streak with a 36-7 win over UAB last Saturday. The Gators forced four turnovers to pick up their first win since Sept. 30 at home against Vanderbilt.

Both the Gators and Seminoles (4-6) come into the game with losing records, though UF will be playing for pride and a chance to spoil FSU's bowl eligibility hopes. FSU has won four straight in the series.

FSU has struggled since starting quarterback Deondre Francois went down with a season-ending knee injury in its opener against Alabama. Freshman backup quarterback James Blackman has progressed for FSU of late, though the Seminoles have relied heavily this season on the ground for offense behind freshman running back Cam Akers, who has rushed for 779 yards and 4 TDs.

Shannon said FSU is always physical at the line of scrimmage and always possesses a good running game.

"Both teams are teams that are going to challenge each other," Shannon said. "This is a rivalry game. This is a state game. These teams always challenge each other no matter what. So no matter what the record is and what the talent level is on both sides of the football it's going to be a very hard, physical game that you want to be a part of.