Bend but don't break

Florida quarterback Rex Grossman will look downfield Saturday and refrain from laughing at a young and depleted University of Miami secondary.

But every time Grossman stands over center to bark out a call against the Hurricanes he might feel like crying considering he will be staring right into the deepest and most talented college football defensive-line in the entire nation.

This much is certain.

During the three hours or so of game time at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Sept. 7 at 5:15 p.m., Grossman will no doubt have his moments with the Hurricanes fresh meat they call their secondary. That said, there is a very strong possibility that Vince Wilfork, Andrew Williams and William Joseph, among others, will make sure Grossman's jersey won't be stainless by the final whistle.

It should not alarm anybody- Gator and Hurricane die-hards included- if Grossman comes out firing against Antrel Rolle, Greg Threat, Al Marshall and the rest of the boys. And it wouldn't be a stunning development either if while doing so, Grossman finds Taylor Jacobs or Carlos Perez all alone. Just the same way, Grossman shouldn't expect to walk away with a clean shirt after 60 minutes of football against the Hurricanes front four.

Get ready for a little of both.

But it says here that Grossman will find himself on the grass and underneath the grasp of Wilfork (or Andrew Williams, or William Joseph, or Jamaal Green, or Cornelius Green, or Matt Wallters, or Jerome McDougle or Santonio Thomas) more often than he will find Jacobs-or anybody else- in the end zone.


Let's go to the drawing board. Much has been made about Miami's defensive backs and their inexperience as they prepare to face a passer with the lethal qualities that Grossman possess. Alright, so we can still call them ‘untested' because the Hurricanes put up 28 quick points against Florida A& M in the season-opener and cruised to easy victory.

We can still call them ‘raw' because FAMU QB Casey Printers had little to offer in his arsenal- thanks again to the Miami defensive line that tormented him to the tune of six sacks. Printers' ears must still be ringing the same way Grossman's will by the time it plays out in Gainesville. The amount of games that Sean Taylor, Marshall, Threat, Glenn Sharpe, Kelly Jennings and Maurice Sikes have played in won't make a difference on Saturday. And those puppies will all be thanking the day the lord put those eight quick-like-a-cat giants in front of them. Holding off this talented bunch will be to much to ask for from a Florida offensive line that has undergone reconstruction and change since a year ago. The Gators are not only counting on three returning starters to take care of the Hurricanes defensive-front, but just only player who still holds the same position he had last season.

Florida's David Jorgensen, a former center and the most experienced as a two-year starter, was recently shifted over to right guard. Jonathan Colan (remember him, Canes fans) now has the task of starting at right tackle, while Max Starks now oversees Grossman's blindside. Redshirt freshman Mike Degory.

Talk about Gator Meat.

For all of Grossman's success last week against an overmatched University of Alabama-Birmingham team he was sacked three times all while the Gators first-unit remained in the game. THREE TIMES! Bet your soul that the Hurricanes will track down Grossman more than a few times.

Another reason on why the Gators O-Line performance is crucial against UM is the prospect of putting together a running game- any kind of running game. Forget Grossman. Whatever chance the Gators may have at winning- yeah, even at home- may lay in the kind of production they get out of Graham. Barreling Graham down Miami's throat, no matter the result, is a necessity for Florida. Remember the last time these two teams met back in 2001 in the Sugar Bowl, Steve Spurrier stripped the Gators of an effective running game in favor of having Grossman air it out.

That can't happen again. Heck, if the Gators find any success running the ball against Miami, it will only soften them up and make them vulnerable to the long ball. If the Gators can't run this contest won't be a nail-biting one.

Both teams will put up some points. For Florida it will be a matter of not breaking down defensively and giving up too many big plays, which is their custom too often in big games. For Miami, it's simple: protect the secondary with their front and linebackers. Since this game was made public, opinions have come from literally every direction on who will come out on top. And why? Some buy into the theory that Grossman already is Brett Favre and that he will shred Miami's DBs like Anne Nicole Smith does ribs. There are those who say Miami has much more talent than Florida and will leave Gainesville unscratched.

It all boils down to this: There is too much commotion along the Gators offensive line these to make a dent in the Hurricanes powerful defensive stoppers at the line of scrimmage. Don't need to look any further than that. The Canes will be a little bruised and battered by the Gators. But it will all be worthwhile.

Miami 31, Florida 20.

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