Q&A: UF Style

Fightin'Gators.com writer Bob Redman fields some questions that TigerSportsDigest.com subscribers have pertaining to the battle between No. 4 LSU and No. 1 Florida.

Below is a Q&A conducted with Bob Redman of Fightin’Gators.com where he answers questions on Saturday’s game.

 

 

TSD Subscribers: What is the general feeling from the Florida fan base as to whether or not Tim Tebow should play?

Florida Publisher: I don't think there is one Gator fan that would want Tebow to take any risk at all. I heard a call-in radio show yesterday and the caller said at the time of the injury he wanted Tebow to just quit football all together. That is a little overboard, but Tebow has become the player that will be the face of Gator football for a long time.

 

I think there is a very small contingent of fans that don't want him to play for a while regardless of what doctors say, but I would say 95 percent or more want him to play if he is completely cleared.


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  • A Look Ahead: Florida
  • TSD Subscribers: Which part of the LSU offense concerns Florida the most? Is it the running attack or air game?

    Florida Publisher: I would imagine it is the receivers at LSU that would concern them. LSU has some veteran and physical receivers, probably the best in the league. LSU seems to be struggling running the ball despite having a bevy of top running backs.

     

    TSD Subscribers: After the Georgia game has the perception of stacking the box against LSU changed?

    Florida Publisher: Florida will always come out and try and stop the run first. With a very experienced secondary that returns the entire two deep from last season – that set a Gator record for interceptions – the Gators are confident leaving those guys on an island more often than not. I think you will see Florida stack the box and blitz Jordan Jefferson.

     

    TSD Subscribers: What wide receiver threat does Florida pose against our secondary? How do LSU’s corners match up with Florida’s receivers?

    Florida Publisher: This is probably the biggest match up issue for the Gators. Florida has some talent at receiver, but not like we have been used to seeing. We all know how talented Jai Eugene and Patrick Peterson are having heard their names so much during the recruiting process.

     

    Deonte Thompson is back after missing two games with a hamstring pull. The time off did not help him develop. Riley Cooper is a very good receiver and has size, strength, and speed. Brandon James is going to be used more in this game than any previous in my opinion, but it may depend on how the LSU defense lines up.

     

    Look for tight end Aaron Hernandez to be one of the big receivers in this Florida offense. He was very ill against Tennessee and so he was held down a bit. Florida threw very few passes at Kentucky because they ran for 362 yards.

     

    TSD Subscribers: What are the main factors attributing to the Gators only having two sacks by defensive linemen this year?

    Florida Publisher: The biggest factor is the style of play of the offenses the Gators have faced. Only Kentucky was somewhat of a drop back and the other three were not going to sit there and feel the heat of the Gator defense. There probably have not been 10 passes total thrown 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage against Florida this year.

     

    However, I do not think the front four have been playing up to snuff so far. Jermaine Cunningham has been sick or suspended and that was an issue. Lawrence Marsh has not played at all at the nose due to injury and he started all last year. The push in the middle was an issue last season as well.

     

    The Gators have relied on pressure from non defensive linemen in the past and they tend to blitz secondary and linebackers quite a bit. In turn, they drop their ends in coverage and that takes away from chances at sacks.

     

    They have actually held back so far this season from what they like to do. They were supposed to turn it loose against Tennessee, but the Vols went vanilla and dropped back a total of three times in the game with two of them being picks.

     

    TSD Subscribers: If Tim Tebow doesn’t play, what are John Brantley’s strengths?

    Florida Publisher: Brantley is a pure passer and more of a pro-type passer than what the Gators would normally implore. However, he is going to surprise some with the way he runs the read option. He is not a dynamic runner, but he has really learned to run the read option well.

     

    He has a better arm than Tebow in terms of the long out pass and the precision mid to deep balls, although Tebow is fantastic on deep passes. The offense will definitely become a more pass-oriented offense with Brantley in the game.

     

    TSD Subscribers: With Florida still having the best secondary in college, do you feel that they will load the box? Or do they feel that their corners and safeties can man up on our receivers and tight end?
    Florida Publisher: As I mentioned above, they want to stop the run first, and that means loading the box. They are not afraid to play man coverage and did so against Oklahoma and their wildly successful offense last season. This is an aggressive secondary and that is how the staff likes them to be.

     

    Look for Florida to try and put linebacker A.J. Jones on Dickson and if that doesn't work, they will line up safety Will Hill who is 6-3 and 215 pounds and runs like a deer. They will play man coverage if they have to in a nickel set with Hill replacing Jones and in the nickel.


    TSD Subscribers: Is Florida a little concerned knowing that LSU is building momentum with each win, and our defense is improving game by game?
    Florida Publisher: I don't sense that the team feels this is a gimme game at all. They are totally respectful of the quality of opponent that LSU is. The Gators have not played anyone that will resemble the talent on the field for LSU on Saturday night. Now the fans, that is a different question all together. They believe it will be a blow out.

     

    A lot of the players that were there in '07 are still on this team and a lot of them remember the foul taste of that close loss. They have also constantly been reminded of that game.


    TSD Subscribers: How has John Brantley handled all of the media attention and how do you feel he will handle being thrown into the Tigers’ Den at night with all the press and attention?
    Florida Publisher: John has done well. His father played quarterback for the Gators in the 1970's and his uncle was an All-American and All-Pro linebacker in the 70's and early 80's. He has a lot of people he can lean on.

     

    The crowd will be the biggest thing in my opinion as I think they will do some things on offense to take some heat off of him. But, Brantley played in big games in high school and he has been itching to be the man at quarterback for the Gators for a while now.

     

    Luckily his offensive linemen have all been there and done that, and he has that safety net to help him through some of that adversity on Saturday.

     
    TSD Subscribers: Can we expect Florida to mainly concentrate on short routes to help John Brantley settle into the starting role, and to avoid taking sacks?
    Florida Publisher: I would imagine they open that way, but this staff is usually pretty good at trying to take what the defense gives them. If LSU comes up to stop the short stuff, they will throw deep with either Brantley or Tim Tebow. Riley Cooper and Deonte Thompson are burners on the outside.


    TSD Subscribers: Is the Florida side confident in their chances of winning? Also, is there a sense down in Gainesville that this game is as big as it seems with No. 1 vs. No. 4?

    Florida Publisher: Yes, I believe there is a confidence, but an appreciation of the quality of team they are going to play also. This is a very veteran squad for Florida and has been in a bunch of very big games overall, and on the right side of the win/loss column for the most part.

     

    The staff has done a good job of trying to keep the Tebow distraction away, limiting the media time for most of the players. It has been insane with close to 50 media types here Tuesday just for ten minutes with Urban Meyer to find out about Tim Tebow.

     

    The fact they are using the '07 game as motivation tells me how serious they are taking this game and how important it is to achieve all of their goals.

     

    In the end, this staff and team relish these huge games. They are usually focused and I think this team likes to play on the road as well.


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