Fanblogs.com asked us to answer some questions about Thursday's game. Here' are our responses.
1. Are you concerned about the distractions surrounding your team? (NFL draft talk, coaching rumors/changes, SEC/Big XII talk.)
The draft talk and coaching changes are not a big deal. WR Percy Harvin and LB Brandon Spikes should go to the NFL. On the opposite end, the talk of how Tim Tebow will not be a quarterback in the NFL fuels him. Florida benefits in all cases because the players are inspired. As for offensive coordinator Dan Mullen leaving for Mississippi State, it won't be an issue. Urban Meyer is a details guy and he won't allow something like that to affect the play calling. Plus, Meyer has done this before when he left Utah. That season, the Utes destroyed Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl. The trash talk concerns me though. Anytime college kids get over excited about something, they can lose focus. That won't happen to Tebow, but could to everyone else.
2. How do you stack up on defense against that offense and the weapons they will throw at you?
Something that has been underreported is how young Florida's defense is. This was a down year for the SEC, despite a 5-2 bowl record, so we don't know how good the kids really are. Florida's defensive backs are all freshmen (CB Janoris Jenkins, S Will Hill) or sophomores (CB Joe Haden, S's Ahmad Black and Major Wright). How will they hold up against a redshirt sophomore QB in Sam Bradford and senior WR Juaquin Iglesias? Outside of Iglesias, the rest of their receiving corps is experienced as well.
On the lines, Florida is facing a challenge similar to their win against Alabama. In that game, the Gators' front four of sophomores and juniors stood up enough against the best offensive line in America. Since Florida has faced this challenge once, they should be able to do it again. However, UF had one sack and it was in the fourth quarter. If they get that level of pressure against Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner will pick the Gators apart.
3. What three keys equal another National Championship?
Do not turn the ball over; Florida cannot put the ball down and give Oklahoma more chances. UF was second nationally in turnover margin. Oklahoma was first.
Control the line of scrimmage; Florida has to give Tebow time to throw the ball deep and they have to get in Bradford's face. Oklahoma is third in sacks allowed, with less than one per game. What happens when the Sooners' line fails? They only score 35 points. Against TCU and Texas, who recorded 4 and 3 sacks, OU only got to 35. That might not be enough against UF.
Stay focused; Twice this season the Gators have lost focus. The first time was when they allowed 17 points and had two turnovers in the third quarter against Ole Miss. The second time was the third quarter of the Alabama game when they allowed 10 points, blowing a 17-10 halftime lead. That cannot happen with Oklahoma. Florida has to play a perfect game.
4. What trends have you seen in your conferences bowl games & how do they translate in this game?
The personality of the Gators is not what you would expect. Yes, they have the SEC speed, but they play as if they were a Big Ten ‘smash mouth' team. Meyer has talked a lot about how the spread is really a power offense and this season has shown it. Florida runs often up the middle, using an underrated offensive line to bust holes for the backs. The defensive line is lacking physically, but backed up by linebackers like Spikes (who plays middle but can come off the edge) and Ryan Stamper who can get forward and plug the gaps.