GLENDALE, ARIZONA — What do Scott Chandler, Jeff Cumberland, and Jack
Simmons have in common with Tate Casey and Cornelius Ingram? Other than
playing tight end for their respective teams, not much, However, that
might change Monday night.
Chandler, Cumberland, and Simmons each led their respective teams in receiving when they played Ohio State. Iowa’s Scott Chandler was the All-Big 10 first team selection at tight end. He hauled in six passes for 87 yards against the Buckeyes.
Cumberland, a tight end for Illinois head coach Ron Zook caught four passes for 62 yards in Champaign. Meanwhile, Jack Simmons led all Minnesota receivers with five receptions for 48 yards. In the season finale’, Michigan tight ends Tyler Ecker and Mike Massey combined for three receptions for 49 yards and a score against the Buckeyes.
Florida tight ends Cornelius Ingram and Tate Casey have performed well in their roles this season. Ingram’s run after the catch against Tennessee and Casey’s reception of Tim Tebow’s double-pump jump pass against LSU are generally regarded as the highlights of the season from the tight end position. That was until Ingram hauled in a team high six passes for 71 yards in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
“I think that I might be the sleeeper out of all the receivers,” Ingram said. “Coach (Urban) Meyer, he pretty much told us throughout the whole week before the SEC Championship that Arkansas was a man-to-man team and there would definitely be an opportunity for everybody to get the ball. I just tried to make the most of my opportunity when it came.”
He did. Ingram established a career high with his performance against Arkansas. On the season, he has 26 receptions for 322 yards and a score. Teammate Tate Casey has a pair of touchdown receptions on only six catches for 58 yards. These two weapons have plenty of athleticism to make an impact should the Buckeyes opt to focus on the speedy Florida receivers.
“I’ve been telling people everywhere I go throughout the entire season that on any given Saturday any one of the receivers could have a big day because there is so much talent,” Ingram added. “A lot of people don’t really see it all the time because some guy might not get a ball here or might not get a ball there, but we see it everyday at practice Everybody we have is here for a reason and you definitely can tell. The good thing about it is that there is no jealousy or anything like that throughout the receiver position, because we know how much talent we have and we’re all about winning and having fun and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
The Ohio State linebackers and secondary have great speed and athleticism, despite little more than a season’s worth of experience. They will be among the most difficult tests the Gators have faced this season.
“I think they (Ohio State) match up pretty good with some of the corners that we’ve faced in the SEC,” Ingram stated. “No doubt about it. They’re very good and obviously they’ve been number one throughout the entire season. It’s pretty clear that it’s well deserved. You have to respect that. The thing about us is that we’re going to get out there and play football. It doesn’t really matter who were going up against We know what we have to do. The coaches have done a good job of preparing us. Going against some of the best corners in the SEC every week has prepared us for this. We just want to go out, have fun, and get a win.”
It will be interesting to see if the Gators can exploit the weaknesses Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan were able to capitalize upon. Who knows, maybe seven weeks of practice has allowed the Buckeyes to shore up coverage on the tight end. But, if it hasn’t- look out. Several of the Gators have proclaimed their team as ready.
“It’s ramped up a little just by mentioning national championship,” Ingram said. “Everybody’s blood flows a little more and a lot of people get a little bit more antsy. The great thing about it is that Coach (Urban) Meyer has coached in big games and he knows how to prepare. All of the assistant coaches are doing a great job with their positions. A lot of guys are having fun, but we’re just ready to play.”
“This is what guys come to Florida for, he added. “It doesn’t matter what sport it is, you’re going to compete for a national championship. The expectations are to be expected. Being here is more than we’ve experienced in the SEC Championship Game. You just look around at all of these media people. This is the big stage.”
Keep an eye on Cornelius Ingram and Tate Casey, if he is ready to play after hobbling on the sore ankle.