Everyone I’ve talked to on campus just about thinks that Florida is going to win. No one wants to predict a blowout or anything, or even say 100% that the Gators will win so they don’t jinx the game, but everyone is confident that Florida will will.
Everyone also cites Tim Tebow and especially Percy Harvin as reasons why too. I’m amazed that Chris Leak is not the number one reason, but everyone always focuses on what’s new. That’s fine, but Tebow will not play much this game. Harvin probably will not be featured as much either, since it’s his first big road game and it’s seldom smart to bank on freshmen on the road.
The offense will revolve around Leak and the the three big receivers – Baker, Caldwell, and Cornelius. I also think that Coach Meyer is comfortable enough with DeShawn Wynn that Meyer will use Wynn to pound the ball and wear out UT’s defense some. Tennessee DT Justin Harrell says he’s going to play despite rupturing his biceps, but how effective can he be with that injury? That should help out Wynn, and the absence of Inky Johnson will help the receivers.
Defensively, UF is going to need the pass rush as much as ever. Though it looked pretty good in the first two games, Florida’s secondary really is not that good. Erik Ainge will probably get almost whatever he wants as long as he’s upright, and that does worry me. Reggie Nelson will be the most important Gator on the field on either side of the ball. Still, the line will be good enough to stop Tennessee’s rushing game, and with UT forced to pass all game Florida will have more chances at interceptions.
This will still come down to Florida’s offense though. It is a chance to put to rest a lot of the concerns that The Urban Meyer Offense™ will work in the SEC. Watching the LSU – Auburn game reminds me of just how fast SEC defenses are. The game has no score in the second quarter, and it’s not bad offense like the FSU – Miami game, but great defense. The difference is easy to tell, and it’s evident today.
On paper, this is a high-scoring shootout with both teams scoring in the 30s. In reality it will probably end up in the teens or 20s because it’s Florida-Tennessee. UF has enough veterans who have played in Knoxville that they won’t be intimidated. They have practiced the silent count for two straight weeks now, so that should not be an issue either. They must avoid the slow starts that have plagued the Gators in recent road games, and the careless turnovers from the past two weeks. I think that they can, obviously, but wouldn’t be surprised if they continue.
On paper, this game is a 41-38 shootout. I’ll go with a 24-21 Florida win.