published Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Florida Gators relieved to start

OTHER PICKS

Florida 31, Toledo 14

Texas A&M 52, Rice 13

Okla. State 41, Miss. State 22

Arkansas 27, UL-Lafayette 14

Kentucky 26, W. Kentucky 23

Missouri 43, Murray State 15

Georgia Tech 49, Elon 28

Miami 48, Florida Atlantic 13

Penn State 30, Syracuse 20

Florida State 35, Pittsburgh 16

N.C. State 30, La. Tech 23

BYU 24, Virginia 20

Ohio State 45, Buffalo 14

Stanford 46, San Jose St. 7

Notre Dame 38, Temple 3

Southern Cal 35, Hawaii 21

MTSU 42, W. Carolina 9

It's a good thing football season has arrived for the Florida Gators.

Perhaps they'll get healthy now.

August was a cruel month for Will Muschamp's Gators, who are looking to build on last year's impressive 11-1 regular season that warranted a Sugar Bowl bid. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel underwent an appendectomy that sidelined him for several preseason practices, and starting tailback Matt Jones developed a viral infection and did not put on pads until earlier this week.

Those were two of the more fortunate.

"The frustrating thing for us and for myself personally was all the non-football issues we had to deal with," Muschamp said Wednesday. "Matt got a viral infection. Jeff has the appendix situation. [Starting guard] Jon Halapio hurts his pec in the weight room. Those things are hard to deal with.

"We have [receiver] Andre Debose who has a noncontact ACL. [Linebacker] Matt Rolin had a noncontact ACL. They were just freak things that happened, and that's unfortunate."

The only season-ending setback that was a result of contact involved starting tackle Chaz Green, who suffered a torn labrum last week.

Despite the setbacks, Muschamp believes his team will be fine Saturday against Toledo and next week at Miami.

"Man down, man up is part of the deal at the University of Florida," he said. "When you sign that scholarship, you come here to compete for championships and do it the right way on and off the field. One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity."

Pasquali's Pix:

North Carolina at South Carolina: There are several traditions that have gone away in college football, but the recent establishment of Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks opening the season is a pretty good one. Gamecocks 20, Tar Heels 16.

UT-Martin at UTC: There are 278 miles between Chattanooga and Martin, proving that Tennessee is quite the lengthy state. Mocs 28, Skyhawks 20.

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: Who emerges as the premier brother tandem in the SEC, the Kouandjios of Alabama or the Nkemdiches of Ole Miss? Rebels 24, Commodores 19.

Alabama vs. Virginia Tech: The Hokies have been sensational on special teams in recent seasons and could use about five blocked punts returned for touchdowns in the Georgia Dome. Crimson Tide 38, Hokies 10.

Austin Peay at Tennessee: Will the opener at Neyland Stadium come close to selling out? And will there be a 50-50 crowd split? Volunteers 55, Governors 3.

Washington State at Auburn: Two up-tempo spread offenses collide, though Auburn's Gus Malzahn prefers to run first compared to Mike Leach's desire to throw. Tigers 33, Cougars 24.

Georgia at Clemson: The Bulldogs never lost to Kentucky quarterback Shane Boyd, which won't have much relevance when they face Clemson's Tajh Boyd. Bulldogs 38, Tigers 27.

LSU vs. TCU: Will LSU coach Les Miles, known as the Mad Hatter, let out some anger after TCU coach Gary Patterson delved into his business after Miles reinstated tailback Jeremy Hill? Tigers 23, Horned Frogs 20.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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