Gator Pregame: Auburn

Pregame Jaws

Florida is 19-8 since 1980 in the fifth game of the season. In 1982, Florida lost 31-28 at Vanderbilt, the last time the Commodores have beaten the Gators. 1986 and 1987 brought back-to-back losses to LSU. In 1993 Terry Bowden picked up an unexpected win for Auburn. In 1999, we lost by a point at home to Alabama, and 2000 had a loss at Mississippi State. In 2004, we had a heartbreaking loss to LSU, and 2005 had that horrible, horrible loss at Alabama. For what it’s worth, Florida has won 7 of the last 10 against Auburn, going back to 1994.

Urban Meyer Fanfare

Urban Meyer is 5-1 in the fifth game of the year. At Bowling Green, he beat Kent State 24 – 7 in 2001 and Central Michigan 45 – 35 in 2002. At Utah, he beat Oregon 17 – 13 in 2003 and New Mexico 28 – 7 in 2004. At Florida, he lost to Alabama 31 – 3 in 2005 and beat LSU 23 – 10 in 2006. Urban Meyer has also never lost to the same team two years in a row.

Orange and Blue

Florida fans should all be wearing orange and blue to the game tomorrow. There was a movement among some students of doing a white out for the game, which is stupid because white is not one of our colors. Yes, Auburn wears orange and blue too, but they wear darker shades of each. No one should be wearing white since it’s a night game so there’s no heat issues, but look for a lot of white in the student section among those dumb enough to think it’s a good idea.

Men of Florida

I am looking for the linebackers to bounce back this game after an uneven game in Mississippi. Brandon Spikes had a lot of tackles, but he also had a bad personal foul penalty. I hardly noticed that Dustin Doe was even there. Spikes and Doe will need to step up and be noticed in this game to ensure that Florida gets the revenge it desires.

Chimes/Alma Mater

Wilber Marshall becomes the fifth member of the Florida Ring of Honor, a very exclusive club that is unlikely to be added to again for a while. He graduated before I entered the world, so I never got to see him play, but everyone who has seen him play calls him the best linebacker ever to play at UF. His game against Sean Salisbury’s USC Trojans is the stuff of legends. Pat Dooley argued that Marshall should have been in last year, and Marshall was upset about it at the time, but presumably all’s forgiven now.

Boys March

Tim Tebow did his fair share of marching down the field last week, racking up a McFadden-like 166 yards on the ground. Everyone on earth has said at some point this week that 28 carries is probably too many for a quarterback. Urban said it concerned him too, so I would look to see Kestahn Moore and Jarred Fayson get a lot more carries out of the backfield this week. I doubt we’ll see too many designed QB runs. If Florida was to lose Tebow to injury the week before the LSU game, it’d be devastating.

Gators Spell Out

G: Gambler

Tommy Tuberville likes to cultivate an image of himself as a “riverboat gambler,” even though he’s one of the most conservative coaches out there. Still, he sometimes does really risky plays at times if he thinks he can steal momentum away from Florida and silence the crowd.

A: Apathy

There has been a real feeling of ambivalence towards this game among the fan base for most of the week. Everyone seems ready to head out to Baton Rouge and play LSU, and few of those who have noticed that we play the Auburn Tigers this week seem to be sure we’re going to beat them like we beat Tennessee. If Florida struggles in this game, there will be plenty of fans reaching for the panic button.

T: Torched

The Gator secondary has looked very shaky, and it let the weak Ole Miss passing game put up some big numbers. Auburn will look to exploit a lot of the same weaknesses we saw last week, so hopefully the pass rush will step up and help the defensive backfield out some. There’s no reason why Auburn should throw for 300+ yards like Ole Miss did last week.

O: Offense

Florida has a great offense. It’s been said that Auburn’s offense is worse than vanilla, it’s flavorless yogurt. While Florida will try to air it out and gain yards in bunches, Auburn will be trying to control the ball by running because Brandon Cox can no longer be trusted, and Auburn hasn’t had top-shelf offensive talent since Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Jason Campbell left.

R: Running Game

Auburn’s passing attack has been anemic for most of the year, and they’ve had a QB controversy despite having a 5th-year senior as a starter. That’s pretty remarkable. Brad Lester, who torched Florida last year on the ground, is out with academic issues, so that bodes well for Florida’s surprisingly stout running defense. Kestahn Moore is playing better and better as the year goes on. I think Florida has a distinct advantage on the ground, and since Auburn has no passing game, Florida should be able to win this one.

S: Special Teams

Special teams can be one of Florida’s biggest advantages. The kick coverage has been spotty at times, but Brandon James is a certified playmaker and Joey Ijjas has been perfect so far. Ijjas has been nursing a quad injury this week, but he should be ready to go. If Florida can shore up the kick coverage, this will be a solid advantage for Florida in nearly every game.

Suwannee

Florida is hoping to build momentum with the game that will help it sweep into Louisiana and come out with a win. No doubt, beating Auburn is the focus of the players and coaches since they feel like they have a score to settle from last year. Still, you have to know that LSU will be in the backs of everyone’s minds this weekend.

Tunnels

By all accounts, Florida has the better team. Florida has the revenge factor. Auburn is playing for its season in a sense because they need to regain some momentum and avoid starting SEC play 0-2. Plus, some think ol’ Tommy Tuberville is coaching for his job after losing two home games in a row. Even still, Florida should win this one. It’s never comfortable with Auburn, but the Gators should still come out on top.

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