Gators Ready for the Canes

In Urban Meyer's first three seasons, the second game typically wasn't one of those games that Gator fans circle on the calendar. Louisiana Tech, UCF and Troy aren't exactly teams that got the Gator Nation excited. But with the Miami Hurricanes coming to Gainesville in just two days, it's a different story during this year's week two.

The Miami Hurricanes are coming off a 5-7 season, and they finished a disappointing 7-6 the season before that. They're not the Miami teams of the late-80s and early-90s, but they are trying to return back to their glory days and beating the No. 5 ranked Florida Gators on their own field would be one giant step towards that.

But, the Hurricanes will have to handle the Gators who are coming off a 56-10 dismantling of Hawaii. Add to that a raucous primetime crowd and a Gator team trying to defy the last 24 years of history in the Florida/Miami series. An upbeat Urban Meyer is feeling good about his squad after wrapping up practice on Thursday.

"It's been a very good week," Meyer said. "Wednesday was the only day that was a little bit sloppy. Oh boy, here we go."

Meyer said that Brandon Spikes will start on Saturday, and Percy Harvin will play. He did not say Harvin would start because they have so many offensive packages, it just depends which one is used first. Meyer also said that tight end Aaron Hernandez who did not play against Hawaii will play on Saturday.

The toughest part for Meyer over the next 24 hours will be shielding his team from the hype. The excitement over Saturday night's game will begin to increase on Friday, and Meyer is concerned it might be a distraction.

"I like getting them away," he said. "What happens, especially at a place like here in Florida, they'll start rolling in. Then the text messages and the internet and the families, God bless them. I can't wait to get them into the hotel room and then we have them until 8 p.m."

The biggest concern for Meyer is Miami's offensive speed and talent. Even though the Gators are one of the fastest teams in the nation, the Hurricanes will provide some competition for the nation's fastest.

"I think they probably got us," Meyer said. "We'll find out after the game."

One to watch for is Canes wide receiver Sam Shields. The junior wide receiver had a great freshman season, catching 37 passes for 501 yards. His numbers dipped a bit last season, but he's poised for a good season this year. Still, Meyer said it's the backfield to look out for.

"It's the best part of their team," he said. "It's a veteran offensive line. The tight ends are really good players, too. Obviously, Shields, but the running backs are the best part of their offense, [Javarris] James and [Graig] Cooper."

Miami will likely start a new quarterback on Saturday with redshirt freshman Robert Marve under center. Meyer recruited Marve and said that he might have the ‘it' factor.

"I think Jeff Tedford is a great quarterbacks coach," Meyer said. "We've learned some from him and he said it's not the velocity, it's not the size, it's not the speed, it's the ‘it' factor. It's the Bret Favre, the Joe Montana, the Tim Tebow. It's the guy that has a little something to him that finds a way to win a game and that's a competitor that can find a way to win a game."

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 8 p.m.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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