Gators pose 'BIG' challenge

The Florida Gators aren't throwing effectively on offense. They aren't stopping the run on defense. And they aren't winning impressively. They were drubbed 41-16 by the one quality team they've faced (Miami) and pushed to the limit by a 41-point underdog (Ohio University) before winning 34-6 last weekend.

But you've got to give the Gators credit for one thing: By gosh, they're
big.

Operating on the theory that ''If you can't say something good, don't say
anything at all,'' Tennessee's coaches are emphasizing Florida's size as
Saturday's Vol-Gator showdown approaches.

UT head coach Phillip Fulmer recently noted that the Gators ''may have the
biggest offensive line in the history of football.''

A check of the depth chart shows left tackle Max Starks checks in at 6-8 and
330 pounds. Left guard Shannon Snell is 6-5, 312 and center Mike Degory (a
freshman) is 6-6, 304. Right guard Randy Hand is 6-5, 300 and right tackle
Jonathan Colon 6-7, 310. For what it's worth, Colon's backup is 6-7,
335-pound Mo Mitchell and Hand's understudy is 6-4, 306-pound David
Jorgensen.

So, how much of a problem will the size of Florida's offensive line pose?

''Well, we will find out Saturday,'' UT defensive coordinator John Chavis
said. ''I cant imagine playing against a bigger offensive line. We have to
make sure that we get off our blocks and swarm to the ball. They are big
enough to just cover you up. So our speed, as always, will be very important
on Saturday.''

Chavis (nicknamed ''Chief'' because of his Indian heritage) has spent
considerable time this week warning his defenders that Florida's line is the
biggest they'll face.

''Oh, Chief really has talked about those big guys,'' end Karlton Neal said.
''My guy (Starks) is about 400 pounds, so I will have to use my speed or
otherwise I might get squashed. He is a big boy.''

Fellow end Omari Hand offered similar thoughts on Florida's massive blocking
wall. Asked if this is the biggest line he's ever faced, he nodded.

''Well, it sure looks like it,'' he said. ''The thing is that these guys are
big and fast. We definitely need to stay alert or they will steamroll us.''


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