The Florida - Tennessee game continues to be one circled on the calendar of both schools. To learn more about this Saturday, Scout takes Gators and Volunteers fans in-depth on this Southeastern Conference Eastern Division matchup.
Bob Redman is the Managing Editor at FightinGators.com and has been covering Florida football and basketball since 2004. Prior to that, he worked with the Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook staffs at Florida for 10 years, leaving his spot on the Florida staff as a quality control assistant in the summer of 2004. Redman answers your questions here.
Take a deeper look at the matchup as Redman answered key questions from InsideTennessee managing editor Danny Parker.
Rare is it that Florida will have a void of talent at any of the nine position groups. That lack of experience along the Florida offensive front is well documented. In what shape is that position and is it something that could lead to the Gators losing games they shouldn't?
Redman: Absolutely. It is the Achilles heel at the moment but not in terms of talent, more in terms of these kids have to grow up and do it fast. You don't want to be light in the trenches in the SEC and on defense they can run double digit numbers on the field. On offense, they have nine they like and only left guard Trip Thurman returns with any starts from previous seasons. They have found it tough to move the line of scrimmage at all, and that is expected to get tougher as the schedule does before finally getting to a point where they are somewhat seasoned.
Florida may have the best secondary in the nation. Where does the talent of Vernon Hargreaves, Quincy Wilson, etc. rank among the program's all-time best?
Redman: As a unit, they could be the best ever. They still have a lot to prove to be better than the 2008 and a few others in the past, but they are really good. Hargreaves, Tabor and even Quincy Wilson are likely future NFL players at cornerback. Safety Keanu Neal just returned after being injured in the first two games and he should play on Sundays as well. Safety Marcus Maye has the potential, but he is going to have to be in the right fit. He gets lost in coverage, but as a roaming safety he is a good one. The forgotten guy is Brian Poole. He plays nickel and is the only senior in the secondary. He has a ton of experience and it shows when he plays. He is another that wil play on Sundays. The backup safeties are quality too, they wil get their turn soon enough to play more and the staff actually isn't afraid to roll out Nick Washington, Duke Dawson, or Marcell Harris in any series.
The talent on the defensive side should have Florida in games all fall. That means specialists could decide the difference between winning and losing. How much confidence does Jim McElwain have in his kickers and punters? Can they make the big boot again this year the way they did last year in Knoxville?
Redman: Punter Johnny Townsend should be fine. He has shanked two this year that he would like back, but otherwise has boomed them or pinned them deep. Austin Hardin missed two field goals against East Carolina and had one blocked against Kentucky that McElwain is pinning on him. I think McElwain wants to trust Hardin, but that leash is getting shorter and shorer from the way it sounds even though he keeps winning the job in practice.
Treon Harris and Will Grier are two of the team's leading rushers. Will the staff continue running its quarterbacks as the SEC schedule gets more cranked and more defenses that can pack a punch come to town?
Redman: Grier led the team in rushing Saturday against Kentucky and I don't believe there was one called run for Grier among all of those rush attempts. So it isn't by design for the most part when he is in there. When Treon is in there you should expect more of it. Grier is going to have to start trusting his offensive line and they are going to have to start giving him a reason to trust them.
Where's the fan base with Florida football? The Gators haven't headed north to Atlanta since the 2009 season. Are fans still all-in? Will this one be a sellout and rowdy atmosphere?
Redman: It should be a sellout. The first two home games have been excellent crowds even though the opponents haven't been marquee games. It has been a little bit of a wait and see with McElwain because he wasn't an over-the-top name hire, but I believe fans are starting to see that he is an offensive coach and that has been missed by the fan base for the four years or more.
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