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Florida Favored by 29 over Tennessee in Revenge Game of the Year

The Swamp will be Rocking

9/19/09

Urban Meyer has had September 19th circled on his calendar ever since Lane Kiffin was announced as the new Tennessee Head Football Coach. Kiffin told the Volunteer fans to be ready to sing Rocky Top all night long after beating Florida this year. Most coaches wouldn’t dare make a statement like that, but Lane Kiffin isn’t most coaches. Kiffin didn’t stop there either. He went on to accuse Urban Meyer of recruiting violations. He told a group of boosters at a signing day brunch that Urban Meyer had called a recruit while he was on his official visit and that Meyer cheated and still didn’t win. Unfortunately for Kiffin that isn’t a recruiting violation and all it did was stir the pot even more.

Florida opened as a 28 point favorite at the first sportsbook to post lines, Bookmaker.com and the game has been bet up to -30.

Kiffin has easily become public enemy #1 in the SEC. With coaches like Nick Saban in the SEC that’s saying something. He has been cocky, arrogant, obnoxious, but I’ll give him one thing he has people talking about Tennessee football again, and without his personality this rivalry game this year would just be another game since Tennessee is in rebuilding mode. Florida is coming into the game off two dominant performances over Charleston Southern and Troy. I wouldn’t say that Florida is about to get the acid test with Tennessee coming to town, but it’s going to a tougher game then their first two have been. Obviously with the extra bulletin board material that Coach Kiffin has given Urban Meyer and his players, Florida will be more than ready.

Tennessee on the other hand has been streaky this season. In their first game Tennessee came out and looked very solid against a lesser opponent in Western Kentucky and it looked like Kiffin had his team going in the right direction; until UCLA came to town last Saturday. UCLA exposed Tennessee and QB Jonathan Crompton and were able to leave town with the victory and very well might have left town with Tennessee’s hopes of singing Rocky Top all night this Saturday night in Gainesville. Let’s take a look at how these two teams stack up against each other.

QUARTERBACKS

We all know everything there is to know about Tim Tebow. He is as good of a leader as there ever has been in college football and this Florida team goes as he goes. If Tennessee is going to have any chance in this game they will have to get to Tebow early and often and get him out of rhythm. Tennessee coaches and fans both had faith that Jonathan Crompton was the man for the job and could get it done at QB. He looked solid in their debut game against Western Kentucky, but once they played an above average team Crompton just didn’t look capable of leading this team. Maybe he just had a bad day and will rebound here, but that’s a big MAYBE. Advantage – Florida

RUNNING BACKS
With the Spread Offense that the Gators run they don’t use a traditional running back, but both Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have game breaking speed and if you give them a little daylight its lights out. Throw Brandon James and a healthy Emmanuel Moody into the mix and that’s a deadly combination. Tennessee did a great job of bringing in talent at the running back position in their recruiting class with David Oku and one of the top recruits in the nation last year, Bryce Brown. Bryce Brown will get his carries, but for Tennessee to have a chance Montario Hardesty will have to be the work horse and move the chains so that the Florida offense is on the sidelines as long as possible. I think Bryce Brown has a very bright future and if Montario Hardesty can stay healthy he will put up nice numbers, but Florida also has a ton of talented athletes at RB so I see the running back position being very even. Advantage – PUSH

RECEIVERS
WR/TE) With the losses of Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy to the NFL Florida is lacking the big name receiver that they have had in the past few years, but they are Florida so you know they will ALWAYS have playmakers at the receiver position. This year Senior WR Riley Cooper and Junior TE Aaron Hernandez have taken over leadership of this receiver crew. Aaron Hernandez is one of the best pass catching TE in college football this year and look for Tebow to use him early and often. A good TE is a QB’s best friend. Like with the running backs Kiffin also brought in some talented freshmen to help with the Volunteer’s passing attack. Nu’Keese Richardson is a blur and if he gets the ball with some room to run that will be all she wrote. Freshmen Marsalis Teague is the 2nd leading receiver on the team and is avergaing over 14 yards per catch, and then throw in leading receiver Quintin Hancock and you have a very capable group of receivers. Advantage – Florida

OFFENSIVE LINE
Florida has to replace both Left and Right Tackle, but any Offensive Line with the Pouncey’s anchoring it down is gonna be successful. Tebow and Florida’s stable of athletic running backs will have no problem running behind this Offensive Line. Offensive Line is one of Tennessee more obvious weaknesses. They lack the depth needed to handle an SEC schedule and really cannot afford any injuries. Their line is anchored by their two guards Vlad Richard and Jacques McClendon, but when you are having to play walk-ons on the offensive line that spells trouble. Advantage – Florida

DEFENSIVE LINE
Florida’s defensive line is anchored by the 6’6 290 pound pass rushing animal named Carlos Dunlap. In my opinion this is one of the matchups to watch. Carlos Dunlap and the Florida defensive line against the Volunteer offensive line. You better believe Carlos Dunlap and the rest of the Gator defensive line knows the weaknesses on the Volunteer offensive line and they plan and camping out in the Tennessee backfield all night long. Tennessee has a very solid and underrated defensive line. DT Dan Williams and DE’s Chris Walker and Gerald Williams are all poised for a breakout season and I expect this to be one of the better defensive lines in the SEC. While I really like Tennessee defensive line Florida just has too much talent with Carlos Dunlap and company. Advantage – Florida

LINEBACKERS
Linebacker Brandon Spikes is the Tim Tebow of the Florida Defense. He doesn’t get near the credit he deserves for being a leader on this team. In my opinion he is as important leadership wise for the Gators as Tim Tebow. When he is on the field the Gators play with a different swagger which makes them unstoppable. Tennessee’s other glaring weakness is their Linebacker core. Outside of Senior linebacker Rico McCoy this Volunteer linebacker crew lacks depth and experience. I expect TE Aaron Hernandez and Florida’s shifty RB’s to have a field day exposing Tennessee’s Linebackers all night long. Advantage – Florida

SECONDARY
As much as I love Florida’s Defensive Line and Linebacker’s in my opinion Florida’s secondary is the strength of the defense. Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins are the argueably the best 1-2 punch at Cornerback in the nation. Throw in safety Ahmad Black who hauled in 7 interceptions last year and this secondary is as good as a secondary as you can ask for. Tennessee Eric Berry is the definition of a STUD. Eric Berry can lay the wood but he also has great cover skills. If there was ever a year where a defensive player could make a case for the Heisman trophy I believe it would be this year with Eric Berry. As much as I would love to give Tennessee the edge, Eric Berry alone isn’t enough. The Florida secondary is just too talented. I’d put Florida’s secondary ahead of anyone’s in the country. Advantage – Florida


The Verdict – Florida returns every starter on defense from their national title defense, and Florida still has Tim Tebow. Those two things alone make Florida the favorite in every game they play. As amazing as Tim Tebow is it is the Florida defense that makes this Gator team what it is. They are fast, tough, and relentless. I just don’t see many teams being able to go score for score with Florida this year on that defense which makes an undefeated season very possible. Florida lost talented skill players to the NFL, but Florida always has talent ready to step up into the spotlight and I expect Florida to have just too much fire power for Tennessee. Not to mention throw in the fact that Lane Kiffin has given Florida enough bulletin board material for a lifetime to keep them motivated. I see Florida coming out and making a statement in their SEC opener and I also believe the Florida players want to win this one for their Coach Urban Meyer after all that has gone on this off-season. They are a solid play at a -29.

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