Other than a Gators victory, here's what we want to see Saturday. All of these are the wishes of a 23 year old who just happens to have a blog. So leave your suggestions or insults about my level of intelligence in the comments.
1. Stop Preston Parker.
After racing out to a 21-0 lead against Maryland last week, the Noles held on to win 21-16. But the most important thing to come out of the game was that Preston Parker is a legit threat as a running back. In the backfield in a traditional role, Parker averaged 6.7 ypc and ran for 133 yards and a TD. He is what FSU has lacked all year; a go-to man on offense. You have to assume he will get plenty of touches. If the Gators can shut him down, it puts the game on Drew Weatherford shoulders. That leads to...
2. Pressure Drew Weatherford.
This is a defense that made Brandon Cox look like Joe Montana and kept Andre Woodson in the Heisman race, so perhaps this is asking too much. But the Gators need to hit Weatherford and hit him hard. Tony Joiner playing like a high school kid and Wondy Pierre-Louis not being able to win in man coverage are not the reason why UF is 94th in passing defense. It's because Harvey and Cunningham cannot get to the quarterback. When UF is giving up yards in chunks, it's not on slants or curls. It is on crosses and other routes that need time to develop. If someone was in the QB's face, maybe Joiner wouldn't look like me in coverage. Weatherford is 63rd in passing efficiency, so you have to believe some pressure can slow him down.
3. Short drives.
Maybe this isn't as significant as I think it is, but the Gators have allowed 278 points this season. Of that, 156 points (or 56%) came in the second half. My guess is that this is when the defense breaks down due to inexperience and fatigue. Not only that, UF is 68th in allowing 3rd down conversions. The Gators have to shut teams down and get off the field. If they can do that, they can prevent second half points (hopefully) and get Cold Blooded Brandon James chances on punt returns. Also about those second half points, the Gators have been outscored 86-85 in the third quarter. The rest of the quarters are 121-55, 150-67, and 116-70.
4. Protect Tebow.
The Gators have only allowed 11 sacks all season and their offensive line, despite injuries, has really played well. But this is more than just keeping young Timothy upright in the pocket. FSU has already let it be known that they will do whatever they can to hit Tebow, and other than the Georgia game, he's never really seen that. He is going to get hit late and he's going to have guys aiming at his knees. As much as I want to see Tebow destroy people, Drew Miller and Eric Rutledge need to be Tebow's bodyguards. And I will gladly take any 15 yard penalty that involves either one of them hitting someone after the whistle. Who says we can't play dirty too? (Note: For as long as Tebow is at UF, this should be part of the offensive focus. Well, until we prove he is made of steel, Gatorade, and Holy Water.)
5. Percy Harvin is a difference maker.
All reports this week said that Percy will be back. If he's 100%, that's a bonus. I'm just looking for him to provide the spark that we know he has. That said, Bubba Caldwell is playing his final game in Gainesville and I'd love to see him burn FSU. Which leads to...
6. Bubba Caldwell; seven catches, 110 yards, two TDs.
I have a huge bias towards any Tampa guys, so it isn't a surprise that I'd like the kid from Jefferson High to have a huge day. As a freshman, I remember being worried that Caldwell wouldn't go to Florida because of Zook, but he ended up following his brother. After 19 catches as a freshman, he started as a sophomore and became one of Leak's favorite targets with 43 catches and three TDs. He was a kick returner until breaking his leg against Tennessee in 2005. Since then, it always seemed like he lost a step, but his stats suggest otherwise. Last season, he had 57 catches and six TDs, plus a rush and a pass TD. This season, injuries again slowed him, but his six catches against UK provided a spark in that game. Against South Carolina without Percy, his 11 catches, 148 yards, and TD was a sign he could take over a game. Of the seniors, Florida will miss Bubba and Miller the most.
There is also this from the Tampa Trib.
Seminoles LB Geno Hayes fired the first salvo Monday when he said Gators QB Tim Tebow "is going down." Tebow's teammate, WR Andre Caldwell, has returned fire. His target? The entire FSU defense.
"This is a bad time to be playing us," the Jefferson High grad said. "Like I tell my teammates, they don't want to be the opponent. We're going to give them [heck] whoever we face on defense this week. Florida State is going to be our victims this week."
YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KILL `EM BUBBA! NOOOOOOO MERCYYYYYYYY!
7. Florida embarrasses Florida State.
This seems obvious, but as we all know, rivalry games mean so much more than the final score. And against FSU, every win is just another chance to prove our superiority against "the second place school." (Or third, depending on how much credit you give to USF's medical program.) I want to beat Georgia and LSU, and destroy Tennessee. But I want to beat FSU so badly they regret having Division I-A football. I want to beat them so badly that every FSU fan who came to the game stops doing that awful chop in the second quarter. And every minute that the FSU band plays the chop song (you know, like after a three yard gain on first down), I want them to hear the students chanting U-F RE-JECTS! I know I'm over the top when it comes to this, but that's how I roll. I bring a ruckus.
There is something else. The beauty of college football, whether it is at Florida or Kansas or Delaware State, is that every game means something. Out of those games a few standout, good or bad, for some reason or another. Saturday's game, despite the 2005 game being my last as a student, will be another "Last Game" for me. Starting in December, I will be in Massachusetts, which is slightly further away from Gainesville than Tampa is. Plus, the nature of my position doesn't allow me to take a weekend to fly to Gainesville. So, it's very possible this is the last time I see the Gators live until 2009. (Oh God, that is horrible.) That includes seeing the best looking women in the nation and the best damn stadium in America. Which means, for good or bad, I'm going to remember Saturday's game. It may not be as significant as 73-57, 41-14, or 84-75. But it will still be big to me.