FIU Review / Florida State Preview

Mission accomplished against FIU, except for the injury to AJ Jones that could keep him out until the bowl game.  Florida was able to clear the bench in the second half, and give the young guys plenty of reps before the next 2 games.  Coach Meyer complimented the team for staying focused and practicing well, even with an outmanned opponent to play against. 

It was apparent that the staff wanted to work on the passing game quite a bit with Tebow, and they went with a lot of empty-set looks to work on timing routes and underneath stuff — good idea to work on this now, as the level of competition ramps back up with the Criminoles coming to the Swamp.

The defense played a solid game.  Coach Strong knew he could keep things simple against FIU.  The tackling was good, and once again no touchdowns allowed.  Business as usual.

It’s now on the Florida State, and Rivalry Week.  This is not a vintage Criminole team, what with a lousy defense, no running game, and a serious lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball.  Even providing on-line courses with the answers, the usual cash inducements, and always discounting any lack of character, it looks like F$U just doesn’t have the cache it once did.  Gator fans have had to put up with the garbage coming out of Taliban City for 25 years, but karma is now putting them back in their rightful place.

On offense, E.J. Manuel won’t have weak sister ACC defenses like Wake Forest and Maryland to face.  Hopefully Coach Strong unloads a lot of pressure on the F$U OL and WRs to disrupt the dink-and-dunk passing game of Dumbo Fisher, which should lead to a lot of 3-and-outs and possibly some turnovers.  The Turnstiles on their OL are still in place, and I expect a lot of Gator meetings behind the LOS.  The only thing that could be problematic is Manuel’s running ability, and I fully expect some draw plays and read options called to take advantage of that.  However, Florida’s defense can run with anyone, and should be able to limit the effectiveness of that.  The Gator front seven is superior in ability and more physical than F$U, and should be able to dictate the pace of the game.

The F$U defense is in shambles.  Their DL is the weakest it’s been since the early ’80s.  They have their usual talent and thuggishness at LB in Bradham, Watson, and Carr.  The Criminole secondary also has some talent at CB in Robinson and turncoat Greg Reid, but their safety play is poor, and has been for years.  The fact that they can ruin Florida’s season will give them extra motivation to play hard and to “the echo of the whistle”, but, quite simply, they don’t have the talent or coaching to stand up to the Gators for a full game.

 The Florida offense has to elevate it’s level of play now.  No more excuses — it’s time to physically dominate in the run game, and to execute some crisp pass plays to gain momentum early and slowly beat down F$U.  There are only 8 more quarters of play to achieve their goals, and there’s no reason the Gators shouldn’t push through to the finish.  The OL should be able to impose it’s will all game, and allow Tebow, Demps, Rainey, Cooper, Hernandez, and Co. to make plays.   

** Extra Bonus Points **  Florida gets to kick Mickey “the Lizard” Andrews’ *#$ one more time before he retires as well.

It’s going to be an especially emotional Senior Day, with an outstanding class playing their final home game at Florida.  Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes are the headliners, but there are a ton of talented players that have contributed from their freshman year, and as the names are called, it’s really going to hit home all of the great things they have accomplished.  There will be a lot of tears shed by not just the fans, but Coach Meyer as well.

With all of the attention of Senior Day, the imminent fall of the Criminole empire, the countdown to St. Bobby being wheeled away from the sidelines, and the SEC Championship Game talk, this will be a real test of the leadership of this team to focus on the immediate job at hand.  Fortunately for Florida, it doesn’t get any better than Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, and Brandon Spikes to lead any team, and the players have already had an almost weekly dose of distractions to deal with and push through all season.  The Gators will be ready for this game.

Preciction – Florida 34        F$U 14