Gators Gearing up for Atlanta

Florida head coach Urban Meyer is very aware of the history between Florida and Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The two teams will be meeting for the sixth time on Saturday with the winner likely heading to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami.

For the Gators, reaching the SEC title game is the first step to reaching the goals set out at the start of each year.

"Our goal here at the University of Florida is to get to Atlanta," Meyer said during a Sunday teleconference. "I've studied a lot of history since I've been here and Florida and Alabama have a lot of history going back to Birmingham and the original SEC Championship Game to the Dome."

Meyer hasn't spent a ton of time watching Alabama. He took time out earlier on Sunday to watch two games mostly focusing on defense and special teams. He did have a few assistants watch some film during the Citadel week.

"I've watched a little bit of Alabama on film," Meyer said. "I know their coach. They have good players and they're well coached. The University of Florida is very excited to represent the East."

Of course, the biggest question facing the Gators as they begin their preparations for Saturday surrounds the health of wide receiver Percy Harvin. Harvin went down in the first half against FSU and left the game with a sprained ankle.

"He's questionable," Meyer said. "It's going to be day-to-day. He's certainly not going to practice the first couple of days, but he's here and he's moving around a little bit."

Defensive tackle Brandon Antwine is doubtful for next Saturday's game as is Matt Patchan. That leaves Florida very thin on the interior of the defensive line. Lawrence Marsh was at about 70 percent against the Seminoles and Meyer expects him to be 100 percent for next Saturday. Terron Sanders, Torrey Davis, and Jaye Howard will make up the rotation with the possibility of Carlos Dunlap moving inside.

In place of Harvin, the Gators have a ton of playmakers on offense, but losing their most talented offensive weapon will still hurt. David Nelson has played well over the last couple of games, and Louis Murphy could line up at the slot in place of Harvin. Brandon James also knows the position well, and Florida has developed some depth at wide receiver with Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore.

Harvin, though, is a player that helps free up everyone else on offense.

"There's been a lot of focus on Harvin [from opposing defenses]," Meyer said.

Alabama and Florida run different types of offense with the Gators running the spread and the Crimson Tide running a more traditional pro-style offense. But there's one thing in common about both teams, and that's that they like to run the football. They rank 1-2 in the league for average rushing yards per game, and the Tide run the ball more than any other team in the league.

"I think at the end of the day, it's contrasting but it's similar," Meyer said. "We believe in running the football and always have. We believe in development of the offensive line and controlling the offensive line of scrimmage. We throw the ball about the same amount of times."

Florida and Alabama don't just rank 1-2 in the country. Both teams also ranks 1-2 in the SEC for scoring defense and scoring offense.


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