Urban Meyer said that one reason he thought that the Gators struggled against Miami’s pass rush was that “the younger team was wearing blue” on Saturday. He also said Miami has some of the best players in the country on defense, something he’s been repeating since before the game.
He should know well about that second point well since he’s been recruiting against Miami for several years now. That first one probably deserves a fact check, so here goes.
The depth charts I’m using are from Rivals, so they should be more up to date than the offseason preview magazines. They are here: Miami, Florida. For some reason, they got the classes (freshman, sophomore, etc) wrong for some guys, so I used the teams’ official sites to correct those mistakes.
Miami starts two seniors, a junior, and a sophomore on the defensive line. The second unit there consists of a senior, a sophomore, and two freshmen. So on the two deep, Miami has four upperclassmen and four underclassmen.
At linebacker, which was the key for Miami, the Hurricanes start a senior and two juniors. The second unit consists of a senior and two freshmen. That is four upperclassmen and two underclassmen on the two deep.
In the secondary, which had to cover receivers well enough to buy the pass rush time, Miami starts two seniors, a junior, and a sophomore. The second unit is made up of three seniors and a freshman. That means there are six upperclassmen and two freshmen on the two deep.
Overall Miami starts five seniors, four juniors, and two freshmen on defense. The second unit has six seniors, two sophomores, and five freshmen.
On the offensive line, Florida starts three seniors and two sophomores. The second unit has four sophomores and a freshman. However since senior OG Jim Tartt was out injured, UF had two seniors and three sophomores on the line starting Saturday. If everyone’s healthy though, Florida has three upperclassmen and seven underclassmen on the two deep.
At quarterback, Florida has a junior starting and a sophomore as the backup. At running back, Florida has a senior starting and a freshman as the backup. At receiver, Florida has a senior and two juniors starting with two juniors (one a JuCo transfer in his first year at UF) and a freshman at backup. At tight end, Florida has a sophomore starting and a senior as backup.
So at the skill positions, Florida starts two seniors, three juniors, and a sophomore. The second unit has one senior, two juniors, a sophomore, and two freshmen.
Overall Florida starts five seniors, three juniors, and three sophomores on offense. The second unit has one senior, two juniors, five sophomores, and three freshmen.
As we can see, the teams are comparable in experience, though Florida’s backups are a bit younger than Miami’s backups. The front lines are about even though, so was Meyer just making things up?
Probably not. Urban was talking specifically talking about the Gators’ pass protection issues when speaking of experience. His full quote was:
“The thing that happened offensive line-wise is you leave that game thinking we got knocked back and that’s not the case at all. I keep hearing about this young team (Miami). The younger team was wearing blue and those are some of the best players in America.”
In that case, let’s focus on that offensive line. Florida’s starting offensive line plus tight end consisted of two seniors and four sophomores.
Miami started two seniors, a junior, and a sophomore on the defensive line. The guys blitzing from behind consisted mostly of two seniors and a junior. That means six upperclassmen and only one underclassman making up Miami’s 4-3 scheme.
So, Meyer was right. Florida’s protection was a good bit younger than Miami’s pressure. That makes me feel better about the way the game went, though not about the future game with LSU. Jim Tartt, get well soon buddy.
I have one final note on overall seniority of the teams, and not just on Florida’s offense versus Miami’s defense. It’s from the Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley, who put things a little more succinctly than I did:
“Miami started 13 seniors and juniors Saturday night. Florida started 12 sophomores. Florida is the only team in the SEC with no senior starters on defense. Miami started four seniors on defense and eight of its 22 starters were seniors.
“The truth is that Florida is a younger team than Miami.”