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    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Q & A: Guest Columnist: Swamp Ball- A Gator Site

    Mark at Swamp Ball was kind enough to answer a few questions for me regarding the Gator football team.Thanks again to Mark and Swamp Ball for his assistance.

    Q: Florida has had a great year. What have been the major reasons for their success this year?
    A: If you look at the big picture of the season for Florida, the consistently strong defensive performance would be the answer to this question. The Gators defense currently is 5th in the nation in scoring defense (12.1 p/g), 11th in yards per game (268.0) and 5th in run defense (71.8 y/g). While the offense has not put up impressive scoring numbers this season, the defense has continually found ways to lead the Gators to victories, whether it's timely turnovers or stopping teams on 3rd and 4th downs.
    Many may say that the Gators are overrated this season, which they very well may be. However I must say that I think the defense of Florida could keep them competitive against any team in the country.

    Q: Do you think Florida's receivers will be able to exploit the Seminole's secondary?

    A: Yes, I think they will be able to. But will they? Florida has an amazing group of receivers that include several athletes including Harvin, Caldwell, Cornelius and Baker. However the offense still has had trouble putting points up on the board in a few games this year when they very well should have.

    I think it all comes down to balance. If Florida can develop a run, I think you'll see some shots downfield and when that happens the depth of the WR core comes out. There are just so many people that can break open a big play at any time. Even TE Cornelius Ingram, former backup QB, can make plays. If the Gators can not develop a running game then you will more than likely see a lot of quick 4-7 yard routes to make up for this, which could be difficult to do against a quick defense.

    Q: How does Florida's secondary stack up against FSU receivers Greg Carr, Chris Davis, and Fagg?

    A: Florida's secondary can stack up well against good receiving cores. The only reason I say that is because they've been doing it all season. They have faced some very good groups against Tennessee, LSU, Auburn and South Carolina and have performed pretty well against those guys. One thing about this game though is the absence of DT Marcus Thomas (kicked off the team) and the health of LBs Brandon Siler and Earl Everett. The Gators secondary feeds off of QB pressure, and if Weatherford or Lee have time to throw FSU's receivers could make a difference.

    I'm very confident in the safety play with Reggie Nelson and Tony Joiner. CB Ryan Smith has also done very well this season as an incoming transfer. I think they are up to the task, but again it all goes back to whether or not the front 7 can get pressure on the Seminoles QB (whoever that may be).

    Q: Is Florida comfortable with its kicking and field goal game?

    A: NO. There is no possible way they could be. Chris Hetland has been awful in games and Eric Wilbur can be described only as inconsistent. If a game comes down to field goals there is no way Florida will be confident in the kicking game. It really is a shame though, because Hetland was not bad last year. It's just in his head.

    Meyer tried out K Jonathan Philips last week and he seemed to do pretty well. In a road game in a hostile environment, though, that's a different story.

    Q: Do you think Florida's run game will be successful against the FSU defense?

    Florida quietly puts up pretty good performances with the run, even though watching the offense makes you think differently. Some of the big plays on the run come from various end arounds, reverses, etc. so that is always a danger to an opposing offense. Percy Harvin, when healthy, is extremely dangerous and I think he could approach the talent of FSU's Peter Warrick when it's all said and done (I hope, at least). He can make some big plays when coming out of the backfield or on end arounds.

    DeShawn Wynn can get going if Meyer gives him the opportunity. When he gets a good number of touches he is a very effective running back.

    FSU has been pretty good against the run, so it will take a pretty good effort and good gameplan to produce yards on the ground. If the Gators can get a run game going, they'll be in good shape. I think they will be able to against FSU as they will keep changing things up and hopefully get the Noles defensive front guessing.

    Q: What do you see as the keys to the game from Florida's perspective?

    A: The keys to the game are: Getting pressure on the Noles QB, not letting the FG game beat them, and achieving a sort of offensive balance that allows big plays to happen downfield.

    Q: What is your prediction for the game?

    A: I think this game will be close, as it is a heated rivalry and FSU will be more than ready to knock Florida out of any kind of NC hope.

    Gators win, but close. 21-17.

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