Statistically, this has been a solid and balanced attack throughout the season. But the offense has been one of mood swings in which key players have been injured and the play calling has left some in Tallahassee scratching their heads. The numbers say 400+ yards with close to 200 on the ground. Without Greg Jones the past two weeks and a banged up Nick Maddux the ground attack has been non-existent. Maddux probably won't play and Leon Washington could get the carries. Anquan Boldin leads the receiving corps with 10 touchdown and Talman Gardener is a bona fide deep threat. Cro Thorpe will get deep on you if you leave him in man to man coverage. The offensive line is good and will be without Antoine Mirambeau this week. Ray Willis, who handled Alex Brown last year, has been the best offensive lineman this season.
It is a pro-style attack where in they use the "I" formation and the "split back"in the gun. The favorite run plays are the lead, wham and the draw. The staple of the passing game is the curl-flat combo with a back swinging play-side of the curl. At times the back has blitz pickup and other times they free release him and make him the hot receiver. They will also run the shallow cross with all three receiver positions and the favorite deep pass is the play action lead and throw the deep fade. On third down and 5 or higher they like to throw the hitch to the outside receiver.
Gators on the Attack:
The secondary comes in ranked third in the country in pass defense and this is the week to prove it. Chris Rix will play loose and have nothing to lose so expect his best performance. The matchups of Robert Cromartie and Keiwan Ratliff on Boldin and Gardner will be tremendous. The linebackers and nickel backs must pay attention to the quarterback draw and counter. This will be a big play this week in the run game for the Noles. Bam Hardman must be dominant versus the run and punish the crossing routes. The defensive line of Tron Lafavor, Clint Mitchell, Ian Scott and Bobby McCray should get their hands in the throwing lanes on pass downs because Rix is prone to have some batted balls.
Big Game Gators:
Robert Cromartie, Bobby McCray, Bam Hardman, Clint Mitchell.
The Nole defense is ranked 64th in the country giving up 371 yards per game. The pass defense has been opportunistic but not very good and gives up 244 yards per game. Stanford Samuels has played better lately and is the corner that was most picked on at the beginning of the season. The safeties are young and will give up big plays. BJ Ward, Kyler Hall, Jerome Carter and Claudius Osei have all had their moments. The front seven lacks a middle linebacker with Allen Augustin a former walk on winning that job and quality depth on the defensive line. The ends and outside linebackers have played well. Alonzo Jackson and Michael Boulware have been the unit's best players.
The Noles are a 4-3 team and they play a lot of cover 2. This seems to be the formula against Florida although FSU must roll their corners up to be more effective. The safeties are young and have missed assignments and the corners have been sporadic leading to the worst pass defense in recent Seminole history. The favorite blitz downs have been on first down when the offense is backed up and second down and long. The defensive line starts with the tackles tying up and pressuring while the ends get up the field on speed rushes..
Gators on the Attack:
First, Florida will try to run the ball by attacking the middle of the line with Ran Carthon and Earnest Graham. Jeff Womble being out hurts the depth of the interior of the Nole defense. Look for Aaron Walker on tight end delay routes across the middle and UF to continue to use the screen as a run play. OJ Small will play a big factor in the passing game, especially if Taylor Jacobs returns less than 100 percent. I expect Florida to throw it deep on the first play of the game to Jacobs or Ratliff. The plan will be simple and what it has been the last few weeks with clock controlled offense. Turnovers must be avoided and Graham must attack the hole this week or Carthon will see significant time.
Big Game Gators:
Aaron Walker, OJ Small, Ran Carthon, Rex Grossman.
What can you say, UF actually has an advantage in an area. The punt team at UF has been more productive than Chance Gwaltney of FSU. The Seminoles have been fortunate that their blocks have resulted in just safeties not touchdowns. Leon Washington is a dangerous kickoff return man but who may be scheduled to start at running back. Florida will go after a block on the punt the first time it is attempted.
Game Changing Stats:
- First time since 1986 neither team was in the Top 10.(Gators last win in Tally)
- This is UF's least penalized team since...1986.
- Florida has scored 7 touchdown in it's last 7 trips to the Red Zone.
- Opponents are converting only 29% on third down.
- Florida has scored nearly 50% of it's points this season in the 2nd quarter.
- UF is -5 in turnover margin, but they have scored 69 points on the 17 turnovers caused and given up only 69 points on the 22 given up.How will it play out?
How will it play out? With all the distractions the Seminoles seemed primed to be taken down. But sometimes team's embrace adversity and surely Rix will have nothing to lose. The Gators must overcome early emotion and settle in to their game plan. I do think FSU's best chance is to big play Florida and play from ahead. The Semionles will use Boldin at quarterback and have some trick plays up their sleeve. I think UF has a better defense and a better more experienced quarterback...this is Florida's year. Gators 27-13.