Florida vs. Auburn is a little more than 48 hours away. Also: I shouldn't have left you. Thanks to FlaGators for covering for me while I was ill/busy.
Florida's defense hasn't been great of late, but the Auburn offense sorely misses Cam Newton: The Tigers are averaging just 5.5 yards per play in 2011, on par with such great offenses as N.C. State and Colorado. (Also: LSU. Let's ignore that part.)
But that should mean that Florida's offense has a chance to outperform the Tigers' offense, and do damage against the susceptible Auburn defense. As I see it, there are four basic blueprints Charlie Weis and the Gators could follow on Saturday.
Air it out, or "Deep to Andre Debose!"
The one thing that has worked for the Gators in the last two weeks? Throwing deep to Andre Debose. And though we don't know whether Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett will be under center on Saturday, we know that they both have very good arms. Beyond that, though, Auburn's pass defense has been ripped repeatedly in 2011, letting opposing quarterbacks (including those from Florida Atlantic and the dearly departed Stephen Garcia) complete 64.1 percent of their passes and allowing nine touchdowns through the air. There's a weakness for Weis and his charges to exploit in the passing game, should they want to take a few chances.
Run to win, or "Run, Rainey, Run"
I think it's safe to assume that Chris Rainey will be the starting running back on Saturday, and that Jeff Demps will probably try to play. If they do, Florida can do what it has done with both players, sending them on sweeps and off tackle and hoping for big, game-breaking plays. Auburn's defense has more speed than the Tennessee and Kentucky defenses that the Gators outclassed earlier this year, but the Tigers have given up 100 plays of 10 or more yards, third-most nationally. And Rainey and Demps (and perhaps Mike Gillislee) can get loose against almost anyone.
Power running, or "Feed Gillislee"
All of the talk about Gillislee earning his reps this week? Weis could make good on it by letting Florida's best between-the-tackles runner do a fair bit of running between the tackles. Gillislee's career high for carries is the 11 he had against UAB earlier this year, but he's always been better when given more carries, only notching under 50 rushing yards in the five games he's been given nine or more carries. And Gillislee's had six or more carries nine times, producing under 30 yards just once in those chances. There's a lot of noise in those numbers, given Gillislee's usual deployment in garbage time, but he's at least been effective in the chances he's had. Giving him more chances is worth the risk.
Play it safe, or "Rollouts and Jordan Reed"
Protecting Driskel and Brissett will be easier if the playbook is tailored to their superior mobility. Driskel's probably a better scrambler, while Brissett's slightly more elusive in the pocket. Either way, letting them throw on the run to a big body like Jordan Reed would make a lot of sense, as would keeping the routes Florida's receivers run short and tight. If Florida can avoid turnovers, it should be in good shape, and mitigating the chances of an interception by simplifying the responsibilities Driskel/Brissett will have is a good way to do that.
Do you think these plans make sense? Would you pick one of these four, or a hybrid?
For more on Auburn, head to Track 'Em Tigers.