The Gators outmatch Florida State almost all the way across the board in this big rivalry game on Saturday. Unfortunately for Florida, they seem to like to play down to the competition in almost every game this season. The Gators should have no problem getting excited for the game in Tallahassee. The Gators will win big if they can accomplish all of these five objectives.
Objective I: Neutralize the FSU linebackers.
Florida State is tenth in the nation in rush defense. A big reason for that is the play of their dynamic linebackers and the fact that they play so close to the line of scrimmage. Throwing the ball into open spaces will be the first deterrent to backing up the linebackers into pass coverage and opening up running lanes.
What this will also do is take away their main pass rush. The three starting Florida State linebackers have accounted for 13 of the 24 sacks for the entire defense. They love to blitz, but if you get them out of that mode, I think things will come easier in the pass and the run.
Objective II: Pressure or contain the quarterbacks.
Drew Weatherford will start for FSU on Saturday, but the Gators will likely see both him and Xavier Lee at quarterback. When Weatherford is in, the Noles have a guy that will sit back there and try to read the defense. He is not known for his great scrambling ability and will eat the ball if he has to. The Gators need to get good pressure when Weatherford is in.
When Xavier Lee is in, he tends to tuck and run if his first option is covered, although sometimes he will throw when his first option is covered to that receiver anyway. When he tucks, the Gators need to have the holes and the outside covered and don’t let him make many plays with his legs. If they let him outside too often he will often buy time to hit someone down field that can’t be covered for that long.
Objective III: Win the turnover and penalty battles.
The Gators are better at almost every unit on the field Saturday. If the Gators take care of the ball and don’t have penalties at very costly times, this game should be a runaway of sorts. With the road game and all, that hasn’t favored Florida to be careful, so this will be a good one to watch.
Objective IV: Keep Booker and Carr in check:
For my money Chris Davis is their best playmaker, but the two they count on the most are Lorenzo Booker and Greg Carr. Lorenzo Booker is probably the most over hyped back in America in a long time. He wanted 1200 yards on the season to win them the national title and he hasn’t crossed 500 yet with one game left. Of his 464 rushing yards, 195 or almost half came against Rice and Western Michigan. Where he is a threat is in the passing game where he has turned in big games receiving against Miami, Boston College and N.C. State.
One thing really going against him right now is he seems to be the only running back of consequence on the roster. When Antone Smith went down and out with an injured elbow, Booker was relied on exclusively and did o.k. against Western Michigan, but reports were he was dead tired.
The only thing to worry about Carr with is his height. I just have a hard time believing the FSU staff will be throwing that jump ball to Carr with the best free safety in college football roaming the secondary. Last year they got away with one deep pass to him and he made a great catch, but he was triple covered and Nelson is playing at a different level this year. When he isn’t trying to catch jump balls, Carr is useless in the offense.
Objective V: Attack the FSU secondary.
Florida State has athletic cornerbacks, but Tony Carter and Michael Ray Garvin are probably the shortest duo in the NCAA. Forget what their bios say, they are both under 5-8. Both are sophomores and both have one interception each. They are hardly world beaters against a seasoned and explosive wide receiver corps from Florida.
Myron Rolle is one player that spurned Florida to go to FSU, telling every school but FSU he wanted to be a brain surgeon. Of course that would have eliminated FSU. Instead he decided on Sports Science and is now the starting strong safety at FSU. Without an interception on the year, Rolle is third on the team in tackles. By attacking the secondary the Gators can make him play off of his strength, stopping the run. For all intents and purposes he is another linebacker on the field, which is probably where he is bound for eventually.
Roger Williams when healthy is a good free safety. He leads the Seminoles in interceptions with four and is also fourth on the team in tackles. The Gators would do better attacking elsewhere in the secondary.