You ready for Florida's Saturday showdown against Tennessee in The Swamp yet? Here are five questions that we'll be looking for answers for on Saturday.
Can Florida's corners man up Tennessee's receivers?
Make no mistake: This is the most important part of the strength vs. strength match-up between Tennessee's offense and Florida's defense that will likely decide the game. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick (DAY-rick, in case you need to say it like a four-letter word on Saturday) Rogers have size and skills that should be challenging for Marcus Roberson, Cody Riggs, Moses Jenkins, and ... really, whichever of the quick and undersized cornerbacks Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn can throw at them. If Florida comes out in man coverage and largely succeeds, it frees up a fair few blitzing possibilities; if Florida gets burned, then the Gators have to decide whether to gamble for sacks or switch to zones that could leave holes in coverage.
Will Florida's offense control the clock?
I don't think the old piece of wisdom about Florida-Tennessee — whichever team runs more wins — is going to hold true on Saturday, mostly because I'm 90% sure that Florida will rush for more yardage. The Gators are 17th nationally in rush offense, averaging 5.65 yards per carry; Tennessee is 93rd, and last in the SEC, at 3.14 yards per carry. More important: Whether Florida will be able to replicate success on the ground against Tennessee's burlier defense, and whether Charlie Weis will try to use that running game to cut the number of possessions and shorten the contest.
Will Tennessee's fumble luck play into Florida's hands?
The Vols have fumbled eight times in two games, but lost just two of those fumbles. As Football Outsiders often notes, fumble recovery is essentially luck; if Florida punches a couple out, will the Gators be able to pounce on them?
Will Florida's pass rush be in full working order?
Sharrif Floyd will play for the Gators on Saturday, which gives a defensive line that Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has a healthy respect for its full complement of parts. But those highly-rated recruits haven't turned into terrors on the field quite yet, recording just two sacks in two games in 2011. The Gators will need pressure — and sacks, ideally — to prevent Tyler Bray from vivisecting them on Saturday.
Can John Brantley avoid mistakes?
Brantley, in my estimation, has made two truly bad throws this year: An interception into triple coverage on a timing route against Florida Atlantic, and a miserable screen pass well over the intended receiver's head against UAB. If that's the sort of awful we're getting from Brantley at his worst, then I think Florida's offense should be good to very good. But Brantley hasn't seen a defense that can swiftly shut passing lanes and take away the flats yet, and Tennessee might be able to do both. Will he still be effective if the old reliable checkdowns disappear?
What'd I miss?
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