Trench Warfare

Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy might be the stars heading into the SEC Championship Game, but it is the five men in front of them who will determine the outcome.

Florida's line, for the first time all season, seems to be functioning well. With Carl Johnson inside with the Pounceys, the Gators have the girth to deal with Terrence Cody. Freshman Xavier Nixon is serviceable at left tackle, but in UF's last game against a real defense (South Carolina), the Gators still allowed three sacks. The line has to keep Tebow upright. While part of the responsibility lies with Tebow to get the ball away and not roll out into a sack, the Gator line has to withstand a 3-4 Bama defense that has the ability to never duplicate the same look. Florida is 80th in sacks allowed, which is unbelievable when you realize they are 3rd in yards per rushing attempt (5.6). But this is also a credit to Florida having multiple backs who stay fresher than Bama's Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.

Bama's line gets to face a Gator defense short handed without Carlos Dunlap. Florida will not lose because of this, but it will contribute if the dream dies on Saturday. Replacements Justin Trattou and Jaye Howard are good players, but not as good as Dunlap. The Gators also used Dunlap in zone blitzes and it will be interesting to see if they try that with Trattou. Bama will also have to deal with a rotation of Gator linemen, which the Gators did not have last season. They outweigh the Gator front by about 20 pounds per man, but have only two linemen who faced the Gators last season; tackle Drew Davis and guard Mike Johnson. Yet, the line has held up, only allowing 14 sacks this season and gaining 5.1 yards per carry.

If one of these lines fails, that team will lose. It does not matter that Tebow has the will to win or that McElroy is a star in the making. They need their guys to block.

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