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Sharing the mic with a Gator

December 4, 2009
We really haven’t done our guest spots justice this year, Joe Arkansas being the noted exception. However, for the Alabama and Florida slug-fest this Saturday in Atlanta, Joe called on a long time friend, former co-worker and Gator fan to help give the average Auburn fan some ammo. “Joe Gainesville” spends about 3 hours of airplane/airport time along with an hour or so drive to make pretty much every home game and some of the away games. I’d say that more than qualifies him as a subject matter expert.
The format is straight forward enough. Joe A supplies Joe G with questions. Joe G answers questions. Joe A then posts Q & A with an intro and a wrap-up. Hopefully those who go by their real names enjoy the finished product. Go Gators!
1. Obviously this week is focused on the SEC, but from a fan’s perspective, what exactly has this entire season meant to Florida? 
 
“This has been a season of highs and lows. I want to make sure I temper the meaning of lows though…because we had very high expectations this year. With all of our defensive starters coming back and the majority of our offense, the expectations were that we would run the table by blowing out opponents. Those expectations didn’t take into account the flu bug, injuries, the loss of great playmakers like Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, and the strength of competition in the SEC. Even with some of the low points, this season has been a very memorable one. I could list several reasons, but the one that currently stands out was during last week’s game against FSU. In the 3rd quarter, as Tebow was driving the offense for another score, flash bulbs started going off all over the stadium. It is hard to describe the spectacle I witnessed in a word other then “WOW”. When all is said and done this season, regardless of the outcome, Gator Nation will have just witnessed one of the best 4 year spans in the history of college football. WOW.”
 
2. Almost everyone in the nation knows Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, and in the non-Florida SEC schools there may be another player or two who registers, but who should we be watching for on Saturday in Atlanta? 
 
“There will be two great athletes squaring off against each in the SEC Championship, Julio Jones and Joe Haden. Jones is the great WR for Alabama that possesses the size, speed, and hands to make plays anywhere on the field. He is definitely a game changer. Haden is one of Florida’s best cover corners. I say “one of them” because Florida also has another great cornerback named Janoris Jenkins that might get some time covering Jones. Haden though will most likely be the main cornerback assigned to shut down Jones. I look for this to be a great matchup and 1 or 2 BIG plays by either player might make the difference in the game.”
 
3. Which match-ups against ‘Bama makes you lick your Gator chops? (or jaws, or maybe I should have researched the anatomy of alligators better?)
 
“I like Florida’s defensive line against the young Alabama offensive line. With Alabama having 3 new starters on the offensive line, 4 if you count their tight end, it was only a matter of time until someone overwhelmed them. I think Auburn did a fantastic job last week of loading the box with 8 and sometimes 9 guys. Alabama’s offensive line is young, has lots of potential, and they can definitely block you one on one, but throw a few extra guys in the box and their youth and inexperience shines brightly. I really like our defensive line and linebackers in this matchup.”
 
4. Which match-ups are you *concerned* with? I use this term loosely since both teams are fairly equally stacked. 
 
“Alabama has a great defense. Will our offensive line be able to get the draw play going by moving Terrance Cody? Will our wide receivers be able to get their hands on Alabama’s corners for some downfield blocks? If they can, then we should be able to move the ball effectively, but they are not the number 1 or 2 rated defense for nothing. It could be a long day for us.”
 
5. Were you surprised at all that an Auburn defense with the depth of a fully drained kiddie pool shut down Alabama’s running game and sent Mark Ingram packing? And, do you think the Florida coaches and players watched the tape and thought, “yeah, we can do the same thing.” This is an Auburn blog after all, so we have to get a plug in somewhere…. 
 
“As I mentioned previously, I thought Auburn did a great job of loading the box and shutting down the run. They did everything they could to make Alabama throw the ball and the plan almost worked to perfection. Was I surprised? Sure…but at the same time this was a perfect storm. You had a ball control team that had been steam rolling opponents by running the ball very well with the threat of a dangerous downfield passing game. So teams were respecting the run and the pass equally. Auburn stepped up and challenged the status quo and said try to run the ball on us. We will give you a few big passes, but your not going to run on us and was minutes away from being successful. Florida is smart enough to know that Nick Saben is going to work on that issue this week. I think you will see a few defensive packages that will load the box, but look for Florida to come up with their own game plan to handle Alabama’s offense.”
 
6. So, let’s just get right to it: What are some of your predictions? Final score included?
 
“I am picking Florida to win in a close game, 27 – 24. I feel that both coaches are going to use a ball control offense, smothering defense, and play field position with special teams. Look for Joe Haden or Janoris Jenkins to intercept a ball late in the game that will ultimately seal the win for the Gators.”
 
7. Losing Tebow next year is likely going to create a sucking noise similar to a sonic boom. However, given the way Meyer & Co., have recruited, what do you expect looking ahead? 
 
“Tim Tebow is a once in a lifetime player. His mixture of skills and abilities from running, to passing, leadership, and unselfishness is second to none. He will definitely be missed, but Urban Meyer has done a terrific recruiting job the last few years, and we have many backups that would be starters on any other team in the country. John Brantley is going to be the next great quarterback at Florida. He throws a beautiful ball. He is clearly not the bull dozer that Tebow is, but you are going to see the offense shift towards Brantley’s abilities much like it was when Chris Leak was playing quarterback for the Gators. I expect the Gators to continue to perform at a high level next year, albeit with a much different looking team.”
And that ladies and gentlemen is the breakdown from Joe Gainesville. As for Joe Auburn’s thoughts…..
I’m going with Florida as well. I like the blueprint Auburn gave the world on running a hurry-up offense and exploiting big play opportunties as well as the challenge to Greg McElroy on the other side of the ball. In Auburn’s case, McElroy won the game on the final drive, but Florida quite honestly has better talent at the corners and deep. All in all, this game has way too much hype around it and the media has been building this #1 vs. #2 match since what, October? It will very likely be a boring, defensive struggle for much of the game. Points go up in the second half as both teams get comfortable with their new schemes.

Alabama 20, Florida 27

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