Gator Pregame: Ole Miss

Pregame Jaws

Florida is 22-5 in the fourth game of the season since 1980. The Gators had a rough go of it in the ‘80s, losing to LSU 24-7 in 1980, at Mississippi State 28-7 in 1981, LSU again 24-13 in 1982, and at Mississippi State again 16-10 in 1986. The final loss was to Tennessee 24-10 in 2003.

Florida had generally played an SEC West team in the fourth game, especially LSU and Mississippi State, but in 1996 the Gators began scheduling Kentucky right after Tennessee. Perhaps they wanted to have a soft landing and avoid any post-UT letdowns. This year is the first year since 1995 that Florida has someone other than Kentucky scheduled after Tennessee.

Urban Meyer Fanfare

Urban Meyer is 5-1 in the fourth game of the year. He lost to Marshall 37-31 and defeated Ohio 72-21 while at Bowling Green in 2001 and 2002; he defeated Colorado State 28-21 and Air Force 49-35 in 2003 and 2004 while at Utah; and he has defeated Kentucky twice while at Florida by scores of 49-28 and 26-7 in 2005 and 2006.

Orange and Blue

After a really nice orange and blue effect in the Swamp last week, Florida now goes on the road to Oxford, Mississippi where it’s all red and blue everywhere. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is where Ole Miss plays, and with a capacity of 60,850 it’s one of the smaller stadiums in the conference. Florida has had trouble in the past getting awake and ready for games here, leading to struggles and even losses, so Urban Meyer is going to make a point of getting everyone to bed early tonight and up and ready to go on Saturday morning.

The blue really did make a difference. The students went all out and it made this nice effect.

Men of Florida

Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin were the Men of Florida last week, combining early and often to torch the Vols and deliver their worst loss since Tennessee lost 44-0 to Georgia and Herschel Walker to open the 1981 season. These two will need to be instrumental in getting the offensive machine awake and rolling because as I said above, that can be difficult to do at 11:30 am local time in Oxford after getting up early and busing up for 45 minutes from Tupelo where the team stays in Mississippi.

Chimes/Alma Mater

In the middle of pregame, the Florida band always chimes the hour then plays the Alma Mater. Now, for years the band had played the Westminster chimes (think doorbell chime in a fancy house), but a few years back they decided to switch to playing Century Tower’s chimes which makes a lot more sense. Apparently, as recently as 2005 some people were still complaining that the band had switched and wanted it to go back to the Westminster chimes. If you needed any further proof that people are resistant to change…

Boys March

Tebow and Harvin will likely lead the march up and down the field again, and Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron had some interesting comparisons. He was an assistant at USC before being hired at Ole Miss, which is relevant because he compared Harvin to Reggie Bush. People on the Internet have been doing that since he first came here, but it’s high praise from someone who actually coached Bush. He also compared Tebow to Donovan McNabb in his prime with the way he runs and throws the deep ball.

Gators Spell Out

G: Genius

There have been a lot of theories lately about different kinds of intelligence, and if there really is an intelligence for physical activity, then Florida has a team full of geniuses. Of course, the coaching staff if highly gifted as well. Chuck Heater especially has done an amazing job with the young secondary, which is not surprising give then job he’s done since he got here. This is a very special group of Gators we have, and they’re going to be even more incredible next year.

A: Attack, Attack, Attack

There is no reason for Florida to try to do anything cutesy on offense or putter around trying to do fancy things that just stall out drives. The offense needs to attack all areas of the field and be merciless when it finds a weakness. A lot of people are feeling a letdown coming after the big Tennessee win, and with Florida’s struggles in the state of Mississippi in recent years combined with the youth of the team, that’s a legit concern. Hence: attack, attack, attack on offense, get into a rhythm, and put the game away early. Ole Miss is 104 in total defense right now so there’s no excuse for not lighting up the scoreboard.

T: Tackling

After some shaky tackling in the first two games, the Florida defense shored itself up and made tackles the first time a lot more often against Tennessee. Joe Haden especially stood out for making good open field tackles. Ole Miss only has one real offensive threat, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, so there shouldn’t be too many Rebels getting free in space. Florida’s defenders just need to stay at home and not overpursue, and if the tackling is where it was last week, Ole Miss will struggle to get the 17 points it scored against Vandy last week.

O: Orgeron

Ed Orgeron is the fiery head coach of the Rebels, famous around the Internet for his deep voice and southern Louisiana accent. He has been struggling to turn the Rebels program around after Ole Miss decided to fire David Cutcliffe despite him having only one losing record. Orgeron has had some recruiting success, and managed to convince prized QB Jevan Snead to transfer last year from Texas after he couldn’t beat out Colt McCoy. Some wonder whether he will even get to coach Snead next year, what with his generally poor records, but firing Orgeron would probably be unfair to him, the players, the program, and everyone on the Internet who likes to parody him.

R: Respect

Everyone talks about respect in sports, and how they don’t get any, and so on and so forth. Well, Florida had better respect this game because it’s not easy to get up for a 12:30 Eastern Time kick against a bad team on the road in a stadium that’s not intimidating at all. Rex Grossman didn’t respect it in 2002, tried to play the game while fighting a hangover, and he went 19-44 and threw some crippling interceptions to aid Ole Miss in winning. We won’t have to worry about Tim Tebow having a hangover, and Ole Miss doesn’t have Eli Manning or David Cutcliffe anymore, but still, Orgeron’s a crazy son of a gun, and I don’t put anything past him.

Things just haven’t been the same at Ole Miss since Eli left to become the all-pro quarterback with San Diego we all knew he’d be.

S: Seth Adams

After the Brent Schaeffer debacle last year, Ed Orgeron opened up the QB competition and Seth Adams won it. A former walk-on, Adams has been solid but unspectacular in completing 59.1% of his passes for 660 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs. Adams was knocked out of last week’s game against Vanderbilt with a sprained shoulder, and some reports earlier this week pointed to Schaeffer being the starter. With Florida likely keying on stopping BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the Rebels’ running attack, Adams will need a big game if Ole Miss is going to challenge for the win.

Suwannee

The offense against Tennessee had an amazing flow to it last week, especially the first touchdown drive where Florida went 65 yards in just three plays. It’s very refreshing after the sputtering and inconsistencies from last year’s offense. It should continue to flow smoothly this week against a punchless Ole Miss defense.

Tunnels

Ole Miss has nowhere near the talent or coaching that Florida has. The Rebels have significant weaknesses on both sides of the ball and were handled with comfort by Vanderbilt last week. There is no reason this game should be close, regardless of where it’s played. Florida should continue rolling along, putting up PlayStation numbers on the Vaught-Hemingway scoreboard. This one’s about as fair as a fight between Mario and a goomba.

A before-and-after shot of what Florida will do to Ole Miss. Note that the 100 points that Mario earned may not be that far off from what we see tomorrow.

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