Matchup Breakdown: Florida

With the big game against Florida just one day away, lets take a position-by-position look at how the two teams compare to each other.

Quarterbacks -- FLORIDA
It's pretty simple -- the Gators have the defending Heisman Trophy while Miami's Robert Marve is making his college debut. Tebow, a junior who was a five-star recruit, totaled 4,181 yards and 55 touchdowns last season with just six picks. Marve, a four-star recruit, watched from the sidelines last season as he recovered from a hand injury. Interestingly, both of these players won Class 4A state championships in consecutive years, won Mr. Football awards in consecutive years, and Marve broke some of Tebow's state passing records. Florida lists two guys as the primary backup -- Cam Newton and John Brantley. Neither have much experience. Miami's Jacory Harris, last year's Mr. Football in the state of Florida, will also play for the Canes.

Running backs -- MIAMI
Both teams have a lot of depth at this position. Miami will use a fullback (Pat Hill), Florida won't. The top three running backs for the Gators (Kestahn Moore, Chris Rainey, and Emanuel Moody) combined for 580 yards and six touchdowns running last season. Miami's top three (Javarris James, Graig Cooper, and Derron Thomas) combined for 1,464 yards and eight scores. Moore and Thomas were three-star recruits; Moody and James were fours; Cooper and Rainey were fives. The Canes have the edge in production and experience. Even if you factor in Percy Harvin, who will likely play some in the backfield for the Gators, Miami's trio has still been more productive as a group.

Wide Receivers -- FLORIDA
The Gators aren't quite as deep at receiver as they are at running back but they have some big time playmakers outside, led by Harvin. Louis Murphy and Deonte Thompson are listed as the two other starters, while Riley Cooper is expected to play a lot as well. Harvin and Thompson were five-star recruits; Cooper four; and Murphy three. The four of them combined for 1,588 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and that's with Thompson redshirting. With so many freshmen now in the mix, it's hard to tell who Miami's top guys will be. Sam Shields, Leonard Hankerson, and Khalil Jones are the only experienced ones from last season. They combined for 424 yards and four scores. Shields and Hankerson were four star recruits; Jones two. Keep an eye on true freshman Aldarius Johnson, a five star recruit, who dominated in big games at the high school level. Still, the Canes don't have the experience or production of Florida's group -- at least not yet.

Tight Ends -- MIAMI
The Gators suffered a big blow when Cornelius Ingram went down to injury before the season. He was widely considered one of the best pass-catching tight ends in college football. Now the Gators will go primarily with senior Tate Casey (three-star recruit) and sophomore Aaron Hernandez (five-star). They combined for just 151 yards and two scores last season. Miami's co-starters are senior Chris Zellner (three-star) and junior Dedrick Epps (four-star);. The two of them combined for 188 yards and two scores last season. The Canes have a slight edge with experience and production.

Offensive Line -- MIAMI
Many people consider this unit Miami's best right now. The Canes have a three-year starter at left tackle in Jason Fox (four-star recruit), a fifth year senior with lots of experience in the middle in Xavier Shannon (two-star), a former five-star recruit in Reggie Youngblood that has started a lot of games, and a pair of 330-pound sophomore guards that have people excited in Orlando Franklin (four-star) and Joel Figueroa (two-star). Senior Chris Rutledge (three-star) is the sixth man and has a lot of experience. Florida is expected to be missing starting guard Tim Tartt, with backup tackle Marcus Gilbert (four-star) filling in. Left tackle Phil Trautwein (three-star) missed last season because of injury but is expected to have a big year. The Pouncey twins (four-stars) man the other guard and center spots, while sophomore Carl Johnson (five-star) is the sixth man. While the talent level looks pretty similar across the board, the Canes have a size and experience advantage going into this game.

Defensive Ends -- FLORIDA
Both teams have one starter coming back and one sophomore both teams are very excited about. The returning starters are Jermaine Cunningham (four-star) who had 64 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season and Eric Moncur (three-star), who had 48 tackles and six sacks. The sophomore sensation for the Gators is 6-6, 290-pound Carlos Dunlap. For the Canes, it's 6-4, 290-pound Allen Bailey. The difference here, however, is Florida's backups are a little more proven at this point.

Defensive Tackles -- MIAMI
Both teams are breaking in new full-time starters this season. The Gators start a pair of sophomores in Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders. Miami has the edge on experience and the group of tackles for the Canes are more proven at this point. Miami's top four players combined for 65 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks last season while Florida's accounted for 28 tackles, 5.5 TFL, and 1.5 sacks. A key here could be how much and how well true freshman Marcus Forston plays. He could end up being the best of the bunch for Miami by season's end.

Linebackers -- FLORIDA
Both groups bring a lot of experience to the table. All six guys have had starting experience in previous seasons. While the top six on each side are pretty similar as far as production and experience goes, getting Brandon Spikes back has to give the Gators the edge here. The Canes don't have a linebacker who has proven to be one of the nation's best just yet. They have some good young ones but Spikes is Florida's best defensive player and is the type of player who can make several game-changing plays.

Defensive Backs -- FLORIDA
From an experience standpoint, it's pretty even across the board. Talent wise, it seems pretty close as well. However, the Gator DB's have come up with a few more plays in the past. Their top eight DB's had 187 tackles, five picks, and 20 pass breakups a year ago while Miami's had 117 tackles, four picks, and 13 pass breakups. Plus, Major Wright is widely known as one of the nation's top hitters so he provides something in run support that also helps give Florida a bit of an edge here.

Special Teams -- FLORIDA
Brandon James is one of the top return men in college football and that gives the Gators the edge. He averaged 28 yards on his 30 kickoff returns a year ago and 18+ on his punts. Meanwhile, Ryan Hill averaged 20 on kickoffs and Graig Cooper averaged less than five, even though he had a long return last week. Until proven otherwise, the Gators have the edge in the return game. Matt Bosher averaged 40.2 yards per punt last season with nine going inside the 20. Florida's Chas Henry averaged 39.3 but put 14 inside the 20 so we'll call the punters about even. Freshman Caleb Sturgis and Bosher are both unproven on field goals while Sturgis averaged 63 yards on three kickoffs last week against Hawaii. Bosher averaged 58 on nine kicks last year.


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