Peyton Manning could not get it done against the Gators in 4 years, can Eli? Well, he is awfully good with a quarterback rating of 131.6. He is fifth in the nation just ahead of Rex Grossman (6th). Eli is 89-159 for 1126 yards and 8 touchdowns in 4 games. He has a quick release and has not been sacked on the season. His favorite target is Bill Flowers who has 16 receptions and 2 touchdowns while Jason Armstead and Chris Collins provide the deep threat with good speed. The running game is centered around Robert Williams who is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and has 3 touchdowns. He sometimes gets forgotten in the pass happy Rebel offense, but he is a weapon. He likely won't start with an ankle problem so look for Ronald McClendon to take his place and he is not as good. The fullback is a weapon out of the backfield especially against the blitz so keep an eye on Rick Razzano and Tremaine Turner. Up front theoOffensive line is big and very good at pass blocking. They did take a hit with the injury to center Ben Claxton, but they may have the best young tackles in the SEC in Tre Stallings and young guards in Doug Buckles. This unit's first goal is to protect Eli.
Ole Miss is an "I"Pro style offense that will replace the tight end with a third wide receiver. The favorite run plays are toss sweeps,counters and isolation. They like to play action out of all three and will even use the slot receiver as a primary weapon in place of the tight end. The Rebels do not throw it real deep down the field with their progression being intermediate to the check down backs and tight ends.I f you blitz them they throw the slant and or a delay to the back who will chip and then get out. The deep curl and comebacks are the staple of the passing game. They attack the outside thirds of the pass coverage.
Gators on the Attack:
The only difference in this wide open attack is the Rebels will use a lot of base personnel and take out the tight end and use two backs and three wide receivers. This makes it tough to go nickel because you have to respect the run threat. Florida should be able to match up physically with Ole Miss. It will be another big game for Mike Nattiel and safety Todd Johnson. Defensive Ends Mitchell, Lee, Mojo and McCray will be facing large pass setting tackles. Look for Florida to run some game with the ends this week allowing them to come inside on some rushes for pressure. Florida will play man on the early down sequences and zone on obvious passing situations. The zone blitz should be a big play in the passing downs because Manning likes to throw to the "hot" receivers. John Thompson's defense will be looking to end Manning's streak of consecutive 300 yard passing games at two.
Big Game Gators:
Mike Nattiel, Todd Johnson, Bam Hardman, Robert Cromartie.
The Rebels have had 4 defensive coordinators in four years and have hired Chuck Dreisbach to install the 4-2-5 system. They have not had much success because the secondary is average and the defensive line is smalll. They are deep and talented at linebacker. Eddie Strong is trying to come back this week from an ankle injury and captain Lanier Goethie is out for the season with a knee injury. Ryan Hamilton is the strong side linebacker and has good speed. Up front, Jesse Mitchell is the nose tackle at 277 and the defensive ends are 230-240 pounds, led by senior Germain Landrum. The secondary has been the focus of opposition's attacks. Chris Knight, who leads the team in tackles, may lose his starting right corner job to frosh Travis Johnson. Pass defense is 9th in the conference and only has 3 interceptions.T hey have caused 5 fumbles to help in their turnover margin.
The 4-2-5 defense is designed to get players to come in zone blitz type attacks to confuse the passing game plus crowd the line of scrimmage to get you to check out of the run. The Rebs have 12 sacks and 9 of those have come from a very active yet undersized defensive line. The Rebels will show some "50" look and force the guards to recognize where the odd man is coming from. Ole Miss likes to slant the defensive lineman to gap protect against the run because of their lack of size. The secondary will play zone with man underneath and they will play a lot of three deep. The secondary is not very good in man to man schemes and are slow to react in the zone coverage. If they don't get there on the blitz you can hit the big play on them.
Gators on the Attack:
It is a similar scheme to what Kentucky ran a week ago, but with less on the defensive front. The Gators should be able to run the ball on Ole Miss who gave up nearly 200 yards to Vandy. Rex should be able to get Taylor Jacobs into single coverage some and expect the focus to shift more to the tight ends as well this week. Carlos Perez should be a main focal point on third down once again this week as team's focus most of their attention on Jacobs Florida will give the ball to Graham more in the first half than they did a week ago (6 times).This will take the crowd out of it and soften up the defense in the passing game. Florida, who has not had early success because of field position and mistakes, should score on it's first drive this week. Look for Florida to show a bunch of formations and motions to confuse the defense and recognize who is the man blitzing. Florida has run 74 different formations in the last 4 games offensively.
Big Game Gators:
Earnest Graham, Aaron Walker, Max Starks and Taylor Jacobs.
The kicking game is nothing special for Ole Miss with place kicker Jonathan Nichols and punter Cory Ridgeway. However, the kickoff and punt return teams has game breaker Jason Armstead. It is hard to predict how the special teams will react, but kick coverage will be better. As for the punters, should Sean Morton win the job hold your breath in a tight game if the Gators need to punt one out of there to preserve the victory.
How will it play out:
I think Florida will play from ahead and hit a big play early against a jacked up over aggressive Ole Miss defense. The Rebels will throw the ball a lot. especially from behind, but I think the Gators get up early then run the ball and force 3 interceptions from Eli Manning. Florida 31-14.