Each week, former Gator football player and now sports talk radio host Brady Ackerman will answer your questions about the Florida Gators. Whether it’s this week’s game or the game just played, no question is too hot for Brady to handle.
Brady: What are your thoughts on Florida’s big win against Alabama?
I thought it was a tough hard nosed win for Urban Meyer and his team. Alabama brought the fight in the first quarter with their front seven and handled UF’s offensive line. But, as the game went along Florida used the run and its line blocking to take control of the game and the tempo. I felt like the Gators could run on Bama and that was the case on Saturday. UF outgained Bama on the ground and now the Gators are off to a 1-0 start on their four-game murderer’s row stretch. I really thought DeShawn Wynn was headed to a 100 yard game in the third quarter before his injury. He had a quick 18 yards early in the third quarter. Give the UF defense credit for turning over Alabama’s young quarterback and give Florida’s Dan Mullen credit for creating two drives of 95 yards and 80 yards for touchdowns.
Brady: Are you concerned with the Gators slow starts this season?
UF has scored just 13 points in the first quarter this season versus SEC opponents. The flip side to that is they have come from behind in all three games and they overcame 10 point deficits in Knoxville and against Alabama. This team is tougher than a season ago. A year ago they might have given up when faced with such adversity. I think UF will need to start fast this week against LSU but as long as the Gator defense is ready everything will be fine. This staff has shown maturity with the half time adjustments and in-game adjustments during SEC games this year. Florida did hold the ball for eight minutes against Alabama on Saturday in the first quarter and basically gave the Tide their only touchdown.
Ack: What were the keys to victory?
Chris Leak’s run ignited the Gator crowd and the offense, but the key play of the game was Reggie Lewis’ pass break up in the end zone to save a touchdown. That was perfect technique and a tremendous effort by Lewis. I go back to three areas that we pointed out in our preview column. First field position: the Gators started on average at their 46 in the third quarter while Bama started on it’s own 15. Secondly, the defensive pressure was a factor which caused three turnovers and produced three sacks. Thirdly, the Gators outrushed the Tide with the combination of Tim Tebow, Wynn and Chris Leak. These keys will remain the same through this brutal stretch of games.
Brady: Your thoughts on the Wynn injury and do you think Percy Harvin will be back this week?
The Wynn injury is a killer but he is listed as questionable (as of Monday morning) which means he could come back this week. Against teams in this conference you want to be close to 100 percent or they will flat out neutralize you. I like what I have seen out of Kestahn Moore this season. He is attacking the hole quicker than he did a season ago. Harvin would be an additional 75 yards a game in total offense if he was healthy. I think he is the best freshman in the country. Harvin has a high ankle sprain or a grade three sprain. It happens when you roll your ankle inside as opposed to the traditional ankle sprain which is when you roll your ankle outwards. The ligaments at the top of the ankle are the most damaged and it is hard to gauge when he will be back. They could use is speed and playmaking this week against the number one defense in the country in LSU.
Brady: Who were some of your players of the game?
Billy Latsko is the key to the running game and he is so solid. He had a great block on Leak’s long run and on Tebow’s first down run. Jarvis Moss had a very good all around game with 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 1 quarterback hurry. Ryan Smith and Reggie Nelson played well as did Drew Miller on the offensive line.
Brady: What about our passing game, it seemed Bama held it in check pretty good?
Alabama has very good corners and while they won many battles on Saturday, UF finally won the war. Dallas Baker did not dominate in man coverage but did make a great touchdown catch. Leak was efficient and did not waste plays throwing the football. Chris Leak made one bad throw all day but after that near interception he was sharp. Dan Mullen also moved Leak around in the pocket very well to give him throwing lanes. Back to your question, give Bama credit they have a very good secondary. UF really needs another threat on the inside to open up things on the outside.
Ack: Any early thoughts on LSU?
LSU comes in with the number one defense in the country giving up less than 200 yards per game. The tigers have a physical secondary and they play a bunch of talented defensive lineman. The Tigers have struggled at establishing a running game and only averaged 2.8 yards per carry against Mississippi State. They have four wins versus inferior opponents and one loss against a quality opponent (Auburn). Jamarcus Russell is throwing the ball very well and is coming off a nearly perfect performance. The match-up to watch is UF’s secondary vs. the receivers Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Craig Davis.
Check out College Kickoff this weekend on Sun Sports at 7 p.m. Friday. Go to http://www.sunsportstv.com for more information. Also you can catch my radio show on ESPN Radio Gainesville and Ocala Monday-Friday 7-10 a.m. (http://www.floridasporstalk.com).