Monday, January 08, 2007

Gator Day

Pardon the crazy colors on the blog. I had to change them for today, since this is Gator Day. My kids and I are all donned in Gator gear. I am planning on leaving work early so I can be home in time for the kickoff of tonight's Championship Game.

This will be the third time for Florida in a BCS Championship Game. I remember the other two times quite well. Actually this year is similar in many ways to their first title game against Nebraska in 1996. That game was also in Tempe, AZ and the Gators were playing a heavily favored midwest team with a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback ("Touchdown" Tommie Frazier.) Let's just hope that's where the similarities end and that this year has more in common with 1997, when the Gators won the BCS Championship in the Sugar Bowl by crushing Florida State.

So how can the Gators beat the heavily favored Ohio State Buckeyes? Well, first I'm hoping for a little help from Ohio State. I'm hoping they will be overconfident and play conservatively. They have a great running game and Jim Tressel has been known to lean on that running game heavily against teams that he thinks his team "should" beat. I'm hoping that he employs that strategy against Florida, because Florida can stop the run. Just ask Arkansas.

I'd love to see Chris Leak get a chance to really do what he does best -- throw the ball all over the place. However, Chris has not had his best games against tough defenses. The Ohio State - Michigan game showed that you can run against Ohio State if you have speed. So I expect to see a lot of Deshawn Wynn and lots of running plays or screens to the wide receivers. Ohio State will be paranoid about Percy Harvin, so don't be surprised if Bubba Caldwell has some opportunities on reverses and screens. Harvin is going to get the ball, though. It doesn't matter that Ohio State may be the first team this year to gameplan specifically for him. I expect to see some kind of trick play involving him catching the ball deep. Maybe from Tim Tebow?

Florida hasn't blown out too many teams this year, and they're not going to start with Ohio State. If Ohio State plays conservatively, I think the game will stay close and that Florida has the advantage in such a game. I'm most worried about Ohio State coming out like they did against Michigan, spreading the field and throwing the ball a lot. Florida's strategy against that kind of offense this year has been to say "you may make some big plays against us, but we'll force some negative ones too." I think they would play the same way against Ohio State, I'm just not sure if they could cause enough negative plays to negate the big plays that Ohio State is capable of. I'm also worried that Ohio State could actually run the ball in that scenario.

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