Here are five Gators that we hope will shine on Saturday when Florida takes on Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.
DT Dominique Easley
The dancing demon has been Florida's most consistent defensive lineman in 2011, despite failing to record a sack so far this year. He had a career-high nine tackles against LSU, too, so he comes in hot, and Auburn's allowed 13 sacks on the season, so the time is right for Easley to use his tremendous burst to record his first sack of 2011 against the Tigers.
RB Mike Gillislee
Florida's least disappointing offensive player (seriously, is there anyone who doesn't like Mike Gillislee right now?) is likely to get only Chris Rainey's table scraps against the Tigers. But with Jeff Demps likely to be limited at best and the Gators unlikely to be in a hole like they were against Alabama and LSU, those scraps might be bigger than ever for Gilly (we're okay with Gilly?). He's got all the tools to be a very good lead running back in a rotation, and he may well earn more playing time by starring against Auburn.
S Matt Elam
Remember when the Gators were forcing turnovers? Yeah, uh, not since early in the third quarter against Kentucky. No Florida player appears more committed to forcing fumbles and gambling for interceptions than Elam, though, and he won't have the same sorts of physical deficiencies he had against Alabama and LSU when he matches up against Auburn's slightly smaller offense. Michael Dyer, though, might be a problem.
LB Michael Taylor
There's a rumor going around that Ronald Powell will be benched for the beginning of the Auburn game, because of performance rather than any other issues. William Green would slide into his buck position. But that means that the rest of the linebacking corps might need some speed to cover for the deficit a Powell-to-Green transition would generate, and that would be a perfect situation for the fleet, aggressive Taylor to step in and do more than he already has in his stellar relief of Jelani Jenkins. Neither Jenkins nor Taylor has prototypical size, but Taylor's been the better tackler this year, and he might be the better player right now.
WR/KR Andre Debose
He'll be in this list until he stops making big plays, and he'll have that WR/KR distinction until he's returning kicks full-time like he ought to be. This stat is both fun and completely insane: Debose averaged 27.95 yards per kickoff return in 2010, and he's averaging just less than that per catch (27.38 yards) in 2011. That's easier to do on just nine catches, and Debose's two touchdowns have been the definition of bombs, but it's still proof that targeting Debose can produce big plays — and, remember, he did so against a great Alabama secondary and a "not as good as advertised" LSU defense that held Florida to 213 yards. Whether Charlie Weis trusts Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett enough to try Debose against a significantly less imposing Auburn unit remains to be seen.
Who else are you hoping for a big game from?
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