Final Sitrep will run in the mornings on gamedays. Florida plays Toledo this Saturday at 12:21 p.m. Eastern; the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Bernard Reedy's big mouth
One of the things you really want to do when coming into a game against a big favorite is lay in wait and give no indication that you think that big favorite will allow you a chance to win the game. Toledo wide receiver Bernard Reedy did not do that this week.
Instead, he said things that were ready for printouts in lockers and texts to players.
"Since I've been watching film on them, I see that, you know, late in the game, you know, they like to -- they still don't go hard as they do in the first and second quarter. So I feel like if we just keep the pressure on them the whole game, we could eventually wear them down. I mean they have depth, but they don't have a whole lot of experience on their team."
Florida outscored opponents by a 128-32 margin in the fourth quarter in 2012, so, uh, yeah. Reedy's point about experience works a little better: Florida will be starting a slew of players for the first time on Saturday, especially on defense — the only returning regular starters from 2012 are Dominique Easley, Marcus Roberson, and Jaylen Watkins, though Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jonathan Bullard saw plenty of action as reserves in their freshman seasons — but the suggestion that Florida lacks experience, when most of this team was part of an 11-1 regular season and a Sugar Bowl flop in 2012, seems strange to me.
Reedy may be Toledo's finest player, and possesses the skills to put points on the board on offense and in the return game. But Reedy saying these things has undoubtedly gotten back to Florida, and predicting that a lighter, quicker MAC team (Toledo has seven players listed over 300 pounds) is going to lean on one of the burlier SEC squads (Florida's got 16 such players, though a handful will be out for Saturday) late in a game played under a blazing noontime Florida sun just doesn't make a lot of sense on its face. If Reedy's right, he's a modern Joe Namath; if he's wrong, he's one of untold scores of players to predict victory with certainty only to lose ignominiously.
Bet on the latter.
Florida missing many players, five starters
Between injuries suffered during fall practice, five suspensions reported yesterday (four of which were confirmed by Florida on Saturday morning), and Antonio Morrison's one-game suspension for two summer arrests, Florida is significantly less deep than it was at the beginning of August.
The Gators should be down five starters at kickoff — running back Matt Jones is still recovering from a viral infection; right guard Jon Halapio is recovering from a pectoral injury; right tackle Chaz Green is out for the year with a torn labrum; Morrison and cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy are both suspended — and with torn ACLs sidelining both Andre Debose and Matt Rolin and suspensions keeping Latroy Pittman, Quinteze Williams, Darious Cummings, and Jay-nard Bostwick off the field, Florida's got between 70 and 75 healthy recruited scholarship players, depending on the accounting.
Florida had 72 healthy scholarship players in 2011, and struggled with its lack of depth for that entire season, but is, by all accounts, a deeper and more mature team than that first Will Muschamp unit was, and Florida's offense is well-tuned to grind out close games if necessary after spending 2012 doing it. But it can't be forgotten that Florida is at significantly less than full strength today.
Still, bet on Toledo
Since news began leaking of 5 additional suspensions for Florida vs. Toledo, the betting line and dropped all the way from -23.5...to -23.5.— OnlyGators.com (@onlygators) August 31, 2013
Florida's 2012 team would have covered a 23.5-point spread just twice, in a shutout win over Kentucky and a turnover-aided 44-11 win over South Carolina. Covering that sort of spread essentially requires a team to hold its opponent to 10 points or less or to score 40-plus points, and with Florida's recent struggles to score tons of points, bettors taking Florida would really be relying on the Gators' defense shutting down Toledo.
I don't think Toledo's going to have an easy day of it against a bigger, stronger defense than the Rockets saw at any point in 2012, but I do think Matt Campbell's outfit can be expected to score 14-20 points, and that would almost assure Toledo of covering in this game.