GAMEDAY: Ask Ack - Qs & As with eye towards UT

In this week's Q&A with Brady Ackerman we focus on the upcoming Tennessee game. Today he answers questions on the O-Line, which freshmen caught his eye, special teams improvement, the good and bad vs. EMU, thoughts on Midgett's situation, the bye week advantage for UT, how much UF may have held back in the EMU game, and if the loser of this week's game is out of it for the SEC race.

Q: How do you think the O-line graded out for the EMU game?

A: I think they did quite well as far as assignments and pass protection. When you are bigger and more talented than the other team it is important to dominate in red zone situations and they did that. Coach Wickline was able to play a lot of guys up front and that will make it hard on Tennessee as far as locating any weaknesses in the offensive front.

Q: How do you think the freshman did in their first game; anyone catch your attention?

A: I believe UF played eight freshmen and the two that did not play caught my attention some. Mike McIntosh? and Marcus Manson are as ready as any freshman the last two years and if they redshirt that will be a good sign for this season. Brandon Siler is going to be real good because he is so fast but this week is a different level. I thought Eric Rutledge hit it up in there on some blocking situations but Siler was the highlight for me this week.

Q: Did Florida improve in any areas on special teams or is it too early to tell?

A: Well, it's very early but obviously Chad Jackson's return of a kickoff is hope that it will be a source of strength. Jackson's 47 yard return is the longest in the SEC this year and the best for UF since last year's Arkansas game. I like the way Vernell caught the punt and got north and south. That is a big key on punt return and he is fearless which is a good combination. The coverage team was solid but this week some of those guys should get a good test. I like the athletic ability of the kickoff coverage team and they seem to be a step faster than last year's unit.

Q: Why has the road team done so well in the series the last couple of years?

A: That's a good question and I really think one reason is both programs have played loose away from their fans. It started in 2001 with Tennessee coming in and playing well here in Gainesville and Zook's team went to Knoxville and rallied the troops for a big win. Both teams will be loose this year because Florida plays that way on the road under Zook and Fulmer took the pressure off his team going with the freshman quarterbacks. One good sign for the Gators: Tennessee has not beaten them two times in a row since 1970-1971.

Q: How will UF's offensive line match up with Tennessee?

A: This is going to be one of my angles in my insight column this week but this is where UF wins the game. The Gator offensive line is much better than many think and the Vols are not as good up front as year's past. The defensive front only has 18 career starts and 11 of those are Parys Haralson. He is their best player and could see a lot of Randy Hand and the tight end. This unit did have five tackles for a loss in the first game against UNLV but I don't see them getting much pressure on Leak in the passing game.The Gators did not play Tavares Washington against Eastern Michigan and he would provide some depth along with Guerrero and Mitchell for this game.

Q: In your opinion what did UF do well and not so well vs Eastern Michigan?

A: I thought the Gators were a bit rusty but in the middle of the game they took care of business. I like the fact they were 7-7 in the redzone with touchdowns. Last year they scored touchdowns less than 50% of the time so this is a good starting point.I thought the running game was solid, and OJ had a nice day. Defensively Crowder is a man and he will be even better this week against a team that will go under center. No interception for Leak was a positive and I thought the kick and punt return teams were encouraging. As for the negative I thought there was some shoddy tackling at times and dropped interceptions. This is typical for a first game but it still needs to improve. Also the time of possession battle was a bit disappointing because UF needed to get more three and outs. I would also have like to seen Leak attempt more passes for the benefit of the receivers but it was obvious that the running game needed the work with the score and Tennessee next up.

Q: Do you think Justin Midgett will be back this season?

A: Yes, and probably in October. I could see him missing four to five games and returning and I think he needs to just deal with this suspension and come back hungrier and better than ever. It puts UF in a precarious situation should one of the top two guys get hurt but I still think Ingram will get to go play basketball when he wants to, provided Midgett returns when I think he will. Justin has improved greatly with the offense and now he just needs to take the next step mentally and with his own maturity and he will be a very good quarterback.

Q: Does Tennessee have an advantage with a bye week vs UF?

A: The numbers and history say no with the Gators holding a 7-3 advantage on the Vols in ten career match-ups. Seven of the last eight have been this way and UF has faired pretty good. The Vols did win the last time the game was in Knoxville and a 8 pm start.

Q: How much did UF show in the first game and do you think they were holding back?

A: First of all they did not show the entire package and for good reason. It was a game they could handle with their base offense and defense. I would still like to see the defense bring more pressure and looks this week but with a young secondary we may not see that. Offensively I think UF will be under center more this week and the play action pass will hit two big plays, perhaps both for touchdowns.

Q: Is the loser of this game done in the SEC race?

A: History says no but I do not see the loser winning the East. Georgia is pretty good and they have owned Tennessee and have LSU at home. I think a win for the Vols gives them a real shot to hang in the race while a win by Florida will allow them to go to the Georgia game barring a major upset with destiny in their own hands. Even if they lose at home to LSU the Gators would win the head to head with the Dogs assuming they take care of Tennessee. The Gators have needed help the last two years and did not get it, so controlling your own destiny is the only way to get back to Atlanta.

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