Florida vs. Alabama. In The Swamp. At 8 p.m. this Saturday. You should probably get excited. Here are five Gators that we hope will shine on Saturday.
LB Jon Bostic
For Florida to have its best chance at victory this Saturday, the Gators defense is going to need to slow or shut down Alabama's running game. Bostic's their best bet in that respect: he leads Florida with 26 tackles in 2011, and has made 18 of those in UF's last two games. He's not as fast as Jelani Jenkins, but Bostic has managed to be in the right place at the right time, time and again. As long as Florida's defensive line isn't bullied by Alabama's offensive line, he should be able to do so on Saturday.
RB Chris Rainey
Alabama's defense is a little too good to count on the sorts of holes Jeff Demps needs to be truly successful; we could see Demps break free for a 20-yard gain or two, but the chances of a long Demps touchdown are minute. Rainey, on the other hand, can create his own space, and is a threat as both a runner and a receiver. There's also the outside chance that Rainey could be a factor in the return game.
Brantley's got to do one thing above all others: Avoid turnovers. Florida committed four against Alabama last year, and while Brantley was only responsible for three of them (two interceptions and a fumble), his pick-six gave Alabama seven points, his other interception set the Tide up for a two-play TD drive, and his fumble scuttled a Gators drive at the 'Bama 1. None of those came with the Gators within 10 points, to be fair, but there's a chance Saturday's showdown will be a single-digit affair throughout; that just makes ball security that much more important.
SS Matt Elam
Elam has shown a nose for the ball in the last three weeks, producing a turnover in each of the Gators' last three games. In a game that should be dominated by defense and might come down to field position, a turnover could swing the outcome, and no Gator is better equipped to make one happen than Elam. (And maybe he'll hit someone and knock that person over instead of himself! Who knows? Dream big!)
WR/TE Omarius Hines
Brantley needs a weapon who can make things happen vertically, and he could use one who could stretch the field to the sidelines and open up the flats. Theoretically, that player is Hines, who has enough size to match up with anyone in Alabama's secondary, and enough speed to surprise. That theory hasn't exactly been proven true on the field, though, and we've had two years in which it could have been.
Who else are you hoping for a big game from?
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