Florida returns the third rated scoring offense and 14th rated total offense in the country from a year ago and returns all of their significant contributors from the '07 campaign other than Andre Caldwell who graduated to the NFL and Cornelius Ingram who was injured during fall camp. Of the returnees is Percy Harvin, the 5-foot-11, 195 pound, sub-4.4 burner at wide receiver and running back – a threat to score any time he has the football. Also returning are two track stars in Chris Rainey and Joe Demps. Their speed is unquestioned and of the elite in the nation.
Chavez Grant breaks down Florida's offensive speed and why it is so dangerous:
"They have a lot of playmakers, it is why they are so good. They have a lot of great wide receivers. They spread a lot of guys out and they are able to do it because they have so many players."
"It will be tough, whoever we have to (cover). We will have to man up and its going to be tough to stick any of them up."
Spencer Adkins talked about the teams preparation against a team with that kind of speed:
"It is the same speed we see at practice every day, there isn't much more to it, we are prepared for it."
If the Hurricanes are able to match and/or contain the speed of the Florida defense, it will have to contain the rugged former Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Tim Tebow. The 6-foot-4, 230 pound dual threat quarterback returns from a 50+ touchdown season. Pundits believe he is on track to become one of the greatest collegiate players of his time. The junior brings to the table a capable arm and running skills on par with the elite of his position.
Grant breaks down the challenge of playing against a dual threat quarterback, like Tim Tebow.
"It is always a challenge playing against a quarterback that is a dual threat, one that can run and pass, because if you want to drop back he'll run it, if you want to blitz him and then when everyone has their back turned in man he'll run it. He can also throw the ball over you or run you over."
"Every week we are going to get after the quarterback, that is what we do on defense. Every week we are going oto go out and play hard. We are going to go out and execute our defense and try and execute our game plan and play assignment football. Anything other than that we are playing out of character and doing things we shouldn't do. Teams that step up and do things they shouldn't do for a big game is the team that will lose."
Grant agrees with Phillips.
"I believe that is a good concept with any quarterback. If you hit him enough you'll rattle him and get his mind shaking. He is a tough quarterback. Some quarterbacks can take it and some guys can't. If you blitz them enough you can throw them off."
Special teams will be another major factor in such a big game. The Gators will bring to the table numerous contributors from offense to special teams including Brandon James, a 5-foot-7, 186 pound, sub-4.4 athlete that can turn the tide of a game on special teams and reverse field position in seconds.
Hurricanes Head Coach Randy Shannon details his belief that Special Teams will be one of the biggest factors in Saturday's contest.
"Special teams will play a big part of this game, because it will be a field position game. If you can win the field position battle early in the game, you can keep it, and with that comes the speed, like who can cover a kickoff, you can get a good return, who can cover a punt on a punt return. Those are vital things in a game like this."
Shannon credits the coverage units to being the key factor in a game the magnitude of UM/UF. With great skill position players and good defenses, special teams and field position are paramount to victory. While the Hurricanes will use a bevy of young players on coverage units that had success in week one versus Charleston Southern, the Gators will use some veterans of the game that Shannon believe are a daunting task for special teams and how these types of players win ball games.
"You will have three or four guys on special teams, we call them demons, that are on every team. Brandon Hicks is one of their guys who does a great job on kicks and Doc Holliday's son (Cade Holliday) does a great job covering kicks."
On the other side of the coin, the Hurricanes expect big plays from special teams to give their team momentum in a potential win.
Freshman cornerback and return man Brandon Harris explains…
"I am still expecting to take reps at kick return. Hopefully we‘ll change the game a little bit on special teams like we did versus Charleston Southern. It will be a real important part of this game and we are taking it very seriously. It will be a major part of the game. You are playing two high caliber teams, both are speed teams. Special teams really becomes a role because it can change the game either way."