Bulldogs vs. Gators Head to Head Match-up

Preparation by Alabama head coach Mike Shula and his staff hammered then fourth ranked Florida. This week, the Gators face the man who, based on his resume’, should have been leading that Crimson Tide team. Sylvester Croom is an Alabama man, who was passed over for the job in 2003 and last year accepted the head coaching position at Mississippi State.

On October 23, 2004, Florida fans who watched as Croom and his 1-5 Mississippi State Bulldogs stunned much beleaguered coach Ron Zook’s Gators 38-31 in Starkville. The upset allowed President Bernie Machen to move the piece one final time before declaring check mate.

It’s a busy week for Urban Meyer. He is seemingly still searching for answers after the Alabama blast and on top of that, it’s homecoming. A few of the homecoming activities can change the pace of things, especially for the seniors. Based on their behavior since their arrival in Gainesville, Meyer and his family would seemingly embrace homecoming week as they have everything else Orange and Blue.

Certainly Meyer hasn’t gotten a lot of sleep these last few days. Coaches usually receive twice as many offers to speak or make appearances during homecoming week. For instance, Coach Spurrier participated in the Gator Gallop several times.

Meyer did not appear to have gotten the sting out of his system as he addressed the media on Monday. And that is understandable, as it had only been about 42 hours since the final whistle. Maybe a few homecoming activities will afford him the opportunity to shake off the events in Tuscaloosa put them behind him more effectively.

Mississippi State offensive line vs Florida defensive front

Mississippi State offense: Multiple, Pro

Florida defense: Multiple, 4-3

*** Mississippi State ***

The Bulldogs return only two starters from last year’s team, center Chris McNeil and Brian Anderson. McNeil was on the early Rimington Watch L:ist.

They are currently ranked 9th (SEC) in rushing offense, which doesn’t say much when perhaps the top back in the conference, Jerious Norwood is lined up at tailback. Furthermore, they have given up 14 sacks on the season.

Injuries…None reported


#50 Chris McNeil 6-4 295 Sr. 3L Petal, Ms..


#53 Anthony Strauder 6-3 300 RFr. Sq. Natchez, Ms..

#68 Johnny Wadley 6-3 329 Sr. 3L Hernando, Ms.


#55 Brian Anderson 6-6 305 Jr 2L Butler, AL.

#70 Avery House 6-5 315 Sr. 2L Springville, AL.

By the way…Mississippi State hasn’t won in Gainesville since the 1965 season, when they beat the Gators 18-13. Florida has tallied an impressive 15-0 mark in Gainesville, 1-0 in Tampa, and 1-0 in Orlando against the Bulldogs.

*** Florida ***

The Gators were unable to get pressure on Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle, who was lined up behind an offensive line that needed a solid outing to answer its’ critics. Only Jeremy Mincey seemingly came to play the entire game finishing tied for a game high seven stops, including a tackle for loss and a sack. Marcus Thomas was solid in the second half, picking up three tackles for loss and a sack.

The Florida front allowed Alabama to run for 121 yards rushing, the most given up this season. Kenneth Darby averaged 6.7 yards per carry. They were challenged this week in practice.


#44 Marcus Thomas 6-3 285 Jr. 2L Jacksonville

#93 Steven Harris 6-4 281 Jr. 2L Miami


#20 Joe Cohen 6-3 285 Jr. 2L Belle Glade

#57 Jeremy Mincey 6-4 265 Sr. 1L Statesboro, Ga


#40 Brandon Siler 6-2 239 So. 1L Orlando

#30 Earl Everett 6-2 231 Jr. 2L Webster

#47 Todd McCullough 6-5 233 Sr. 3L Jacksonville

Analysis: Mississippi State has run for 56 yards against LSU and 49 yards to Georgia over the past two weeks. They have given up nine sacks over that period as well. It’s unlikely they’ll improve on the road.


Mississippi State skills positions vs Florida secondary

*** Mississippi State ***

The bad news is that Mississippi State has scored on its’ opening possession the past two games against Georgia and LSU. The good news is those are the only first quarter points this season for the Bulldogs.

Coach Croom was visibly upset when quarterback Omarr Conner threw an interception in the first quarter against LSU last Saturday. Croom stated that he felt as though the play “destroyed our confidence”. Conner finished 9 of 22 for 141 yards. I think he’s on to something.

Tailback Jerious Norwood ran roughshod through the Gators defense in ’04. The pre-season All-SEC pick gained 174 yards on 29 carries. He also had a pair of rushing touchdowns and burst through the Florida defense for a 37 yard run. All were season highs against Florida.

The Bulldogs don’t have solid playmakers at wide receiver. In fact, their passing attack ranks 11th in the conference. Wide receiver Will Prosser leads the squad with 18 receptions for 165 yards. Tight end Eric Butler leads the team with three touchdowns.

Injuries: Tailback Jerious Norwood suffered a mild concussion against the Tigers last weekend.

By the way…Brandon Thornton took over for Norwood in the second half last week and ran for 46 yards on four carries.


#14 Omarr Conner 6-1 222 Jr. 2L Macon, Ms.

Running backs

#41 Bryson Davis 6-2 266 Jr. 2L Plainview, Tx.

#12 Jerious Norwood 6-0 204 Sr. 3L Brandon, Ms.

Tight end

#88 Eric Butler 6-3 254 So. 1L Moss Point, Ms.

Wide receivers

#11 Will Prosser 6-3 203 Jr. 2L Starkville, Ms.

#9 Keon Humphries 5-10 176 RFr. Sq. Montgomery, AL.

#19 Tee Milions 5-10 173 Sr. 3L Starkville, Ms.

#83 Joey Sanders 6-0 204 So. 1L Macon, Ms.

*** Florida ***

The Gators were in a Cover Three when they gave up three big plays against Bama. Brodie Croyle is very effective with the play action, but that effective? Kyle Jackson had an awful day, and he had been a bright spot for Florida throughout the season.

I would be surprised if Reggie Nelson weren’t employed more often this weekend. It might well be more nickel. Nelson was all over the field at Palm Bay, including linebacker. He could act a bit like the old rover back better than any other Florida defensive back. Regardless, they’ve got to manufacture more ways to utilize his talents and confuse offenses.

Croom will test the secondary early. Getting a lead, and in turn, kicking the Gators when they’re down is the best way to spark them to a victory in Gainesville.


#15 Dee Webb 5-11 190 Jr. 3L Jacksonville

#16 Vernell Brown 5-8 165 Sr. 2L Gainesville


#46 Jarvis Herring 5-11 205 Sr. 3L Live Oak

#3 Kyle Jackson 6-1 200 So. 1L Jacksonville

Analysis: This season has been a struggle for Norwood behind an inefficient offensive line and without a quarterback that has the ability to raise serious concerns with the passing attack.

Again, the Florida secondary needs a playmaker with Reggie Nelson’s skills in the lineup more often. Don’t be surprised to see him in more often, making good things happen. Here’s hoping they don’t bite hard in play action.

EDGE: Florida

Florida offensive line vs Mississippi State defensive front

Mississippi State Defense: 4-3

Florida Offense: Semi-Spread

*** Florida ***

When Washington and Tartt went out last weekend, Bama seemed that much more inspired. It appears that Tartt is the one player that can ignite this offensive line with aggressive play at guard. A usually unlikely expectation from a young, first year starter, but I really think Big Jim has those qualities. However, he has to be healthy to do so.

Opponents are overloading on the Florida front at times. The coaches will have to adjust to that in some way. There are a few different blocking schemes the Gators will be able to throw at them. If employed, we’ll find out which of these schemes are most effective.


#68 Mike Degory 6-6 304 Sr. 3L Melbourne


#63 Jim Tartt 6-3 315 Fr. Sq. Sopchoppy

#76 Tavares Washington 6-4 320 Sr. Sq Greenville, MS

#67 Drew Miller 6-5 310 So. 1L Sarasota


#72 Lance Butler 6-7 315 Sr. 2L Lexington, NC

#74 Randy Hand 6-6 310 Sr. 3L Ft. Myers

*** Mississippi State ***

Mississippi State is giving up an average of 113.4 yards per game, which is seventh best in the conference. This is the strength of the team. Defensive end Willie Evans has recorded 25 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and six sacks. He also has been fairly effective getting his hands up in passing situations.

Linebacker Quinton Culberson has outstanding speed and is second on the squad in tackles. Littlejohn can run well too.

Injuries: None reported


#94 Andrew Powell 6-0 298 Jr. 2L Clewiston, FL.

#98 DelJuan Robinson 6-4 298 Jr. 2L Hernando, Ms.


#36 Willie Evans 6-2 270 Sr. 3L Waynesboro, Ms.

#58 Michael Heard 6-2 262 Jr. 2L Lovejoy, Ga.


#2 Quinton Culberson 6-0 222 Sr. 2L Jackson, Ms.

#56 Anthony Littlejohn 6-2 225 RFr. Sq. Jacksonville, FL.

#29 Clarence McDougal 6-0 221 Sr. 2L Clinton, Ms.

Analysis: LSU came out and pounded the ball in the third quarter for 180 yards rushing. Georgia didn’t fare as well.

This is a Florida line that has not run the ball consistently. They haven’t blocked too well either as they lead the SEC in sacks allowed with 18.

SLIGHT EDGE: Mississippi State

Florida skills positions vs Mississippi State secondary

*** Florida ***

Three things jumped out regarding the skills positions players last weekend. First of all, Leak rarely used play action, certainly effective play action, to slow down or momentarily freeze the defenders.

Secondly, where was Markus Manson or Skyler Thornton? DeShawn Wynn was inconsistent hitting the hole with a burst of speed or at times, with determination.

Finally, it appears that Florida is not using much of the field beyond the hash marks. Sure, Dallas Baker had a big catch near the sidelines, but it doesn’t seem as though they’re using too much of it. Speaking of Baker, he had a terrific game. Coach Meyer also applauded the blocking of the wide receivers this week.


#12 Chris Leak 6-0 210 Jr. 2L Charlotte, NC

Running back

#2 Markus Manson 6-0 210 RFr. Sq. Tuscaloosa, AL.

#21 DeShawn Wynn 5-11 236 Sr. 3L Reading, OH.

Wide receiver

#8 Chad Jackson 6-1 205 Jr. 2L Hoover, AL

#5 Andre Caldwell 6-1 200 Jr. 2L Tampa

#81 Dallas Baker 6-3 204 Jr. 2L New Smyrna Beach

#6 Jemalle Cornelius 5-11 190 Jr. 2L Fort Meade

*** Mississippi State ***

Strong safety Demario Bobo has been indefinitely suspended from the team. He had started the first four games off the season, but did not start the LSU game because of a knee injury. He was slated to start Saturday against the Gators. Running a 4-2-5 should be a bit more difficult for the Bulldogs with Bobo’s absence.

State is 8th in pass defense, giving up an average of 216.6 yards per game. Georgia torched them for 312 yards in the air and LSU got them for 222.


#4 Kevin Dockery 5-9 187 Sr. 3L Hernando, Ms.

#23 David Heard 6-0 195 Jr. 2L Vicksburg, Ms.


#34 Jeramie Johnson 5-11 209 Jr. 2L East Point, Ga.

#45 Demon Glanton 6-1 185 RFr. Sq. Atlanta, Ga..

Analysis: The Bulldogs should drop into coverage and see if they too can get three defensive linemen to exact a little pressure on Chris Leak. LSU was able to pick the Bulldogs apart with their short passing game.

EDGE: Florida

Fightin Gators Top Stories