South Carolina Review / Florida International Preview

The Gators followed the season-long script against the Lamecocks, showing signs of breaking out of a scoring funk, and yet not quite executing well enough to make it happen.  The playcalling seems to be loosening up, and more of the entire field is now being attacked, which is a promising sign.  But time is running out to make the key plays it requires to win an SEC championship.

The long TD to Cooper definitely set the tone early and took the crowd out of the game, and the entire offense looked as good as it has all season — until the 10 minute mark of the second quarter.  After forcing a turnover with a 17-7 lead and starting at midfield, the offense went flat, and wasted multiple opportunities provided by the defense to put the game away early.  Then Coach Meyer made a surprising call to go for a long FG instead of pinning Carolina down and letting the defense continue to dominate.  They then went on a TD drive to make the score 17-14 at the half — not exactly Meyer’s “Plan to Win” formula.

It was then a fight until the play of the game to start the 4th quarter, the tipped pass and interception return by Trattou that set up Florida with a short field to ice the game.  A great play all around, and excellent blocking by the defensive players.  The defense completely dominated the 4th quarter, as the Lamecocks could not figure out the Joker package and the various blitz packages thrown at them — great work by Coach Strong and the defensive staff.

The offense in general is actually improving.  Less predictability, more downfield passing, and the pass protection is getting better, but still has a ways to go.  The most interesting development was Xavier Nixon getting the start at LT, with Carl Johnson moving back to LG, where he is a natural, and can really help the interior running game take off.  If Nixon can play a serviceable game going forward, this move could be enough to push the Gators to a win against Alabama……but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?

This week is another glorified scrimmage, which is fine with me.  Get the rust knocked off of Brantley and the younger players.  Rest the starters and……wait for it……NO INJURIES!  Two big games coming up to close out the 2009 regular season, and it’s imperative to have the full complement of players ready for F$U and Alabama.

Prediction Florida 45        FIU 7