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ULTIMATE PREVIEW: A healthy Harvin and Tartt should make all the difference

GAINESVILLE -- There is a dry-erase board outside the Tennessee locker room this week reminding the team that its next opponent thinks the Volunteers are a bunch of quitters.

SpikesResponding to a question about last season's game against Tennessee, UF middle linebacker Brandon Spikes [PICTURED] told reporters earlier this week that Tennessee "quit" during last season's 59-20 Florida win at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. As if this rivalry game wasn't big enough already, Spikes' controversial recollection of events has touched a nerve in Knoxville, Tenn., just in time for the Gators' trip to Neyland Stadium.

The Vols have latched onto Spikes' statements this week, drawing motivation from Spikes' claims -- one being that Tennessee players aren't as tough as Florida players.

Beat_tennessee"It was probably (said) to provoke and get a rise out of us,” Tennessee running back Arian Foster told reporters earlier this week. "It's complete disrespect."

While Tennessee is using Spikes' statements to get fired up for Saturday's game, Florida is doing the same in Gainesville with its own motivational bulletin board [PICTURED, EXCLUSIVE PHOTO ONLY ON GATOR CLAUSE]. Tennessee is a permanent fixture of the Gators' bulletin board, located in the back of Florida's locker room. Florida's support staff has been adding articles and quotes from Tennessee players to the board since the preseason.

PERCY IS BACK
While bulletin boards and dry-erase boards are fun to write about, all that nonsense (false Percyharvin_tenn2motivation) will only last about five minutes once the game begins. One of the most important storylines of this game is the full return of Florida receiver Percy Harvin, who had offseason surgery to his right heel.

Harvin [PICTURED] sat out the Gators' season opener against Hawaii and only touched the ball six times against Miami. The junior expects to be more involved this Saturday. In 2006, a freshman Harvin was only involved in a few plays before injuring his ankle against the Vols.

"All I can remember is the stadium shaking," Harvin said. "That was my first road game, my biggest game coming into that season. I can just remember the crowd and it shaking and not being able to hear Tebow call the plays in."

TEBOW LOVES NEYLAND STADIUM
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow told reporters earlier this week that Tennessee's Neyland Stadium is one of his favorite away venues in college football. (LSU's Tigers Stadium is the other.)

Tebow721890"I love playing at The Swamp but it is better playing on the road for me," Tebow said. "When you are playing at Neyland Stadium or at LSU or those stadiums that gets your blood going and that gets you excited and ready to play. For me, it is exciting and I enjoy it. The two probably loudest and most hostile are probably Tennessee and LSU."

Tebow [PICTURED] was a back-up quarterback to former Gator Chris Leak in 2006 but still had an impact in the Gators' win against Tennessee. It was the first road game of his career. Tebow, then a freshman, rushed for a two-yard gain on fourth down-and-one during the Gators' game-winning drive.

Harvin still remembers the look in Tebow eyes when UF coach Urban Meyer asked the freshman quarterback if he was ready to make the play.

"Coach came to Tebow on the sidelines," Harvin said. "Tebow kept telling [Meyer] to give him the ball and Coach said, 'If I put you in you better get this.' Tebow looked at him with this crazy look and he went in there and got it."

THE RUNNING GAME
Tebow will certainly get his carries on Saturday but Florida's offensive coaches will first try and involve the Gators' traditional running backs. That was a problem against Miami. Tebow led the Gators with 55 yards rushing. Harvin had five carries for 27 yards and three Florida running backs -- Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps and Kestahn Moore -- combined for seven yards on nine carries.

TRENDS IN THIS SERIES
The team with the most rushing yards has won 16 of the last 18 meetings between these two teams. Like Miami on Sept.6, Tennessee will focus on establishing the running game on Saturday and dominate time of possession. Tennessee senior Arian Foster is one of the best backs in the SEC and Tennessee's chances of winning the game will increase dramatically if Foster logs over 25 carries and grinds down the clock.

SPOTLIGHT ON SOPHOMORE STRONG SAFETIES
One key to Florida stopping Foster will be the play of Florida strong safety Ahmad Black, a sophomore. Florida has held Tennessee to 66, minus-11 and 37 yards rushing in each of the last Fbc_ten_eric_berry_102707_164w three contests. Florida coach Urban Meyer, who has never lost to Tennessee while at Florida (3-0), says there is no secret to stopping Tennessee's running game -- just overload the box. Black will be the extra man in the box when Tennessee runs the ball.

While Foster will help with run support, Tennessee's strong safety, sophomore Eric Berry, will help shut down Tebow and Florida's lethal passing attack. Berry [PICTURED] has two interceptions already this season and picked off Tebow last season and returned it for a long touchdown.

WILL STAN DRAYTON HAVE AN IMPACT?
To remind everyone, Stan Drayton is the running backs coach who left Florida for Tennessee during the offseason. This is a big week for Drayton, who expressed his displeasure with Florida's running game shortly after being hired by Tennessee. Drayton is familiar with Florida's personnel, something that worries Meyer.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?
This is the first conference game for both teams. While a loss won't kill either teams' hopes for an SEC East title, starting the SEC schedule with a win is very important.

Also at stake is Tennessee's all-time lead in this series. Tennessee leads the series 19-18. The rivalry started in 1916 and Florida has always trailed the Vols.

FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY FOR FLORIDA
Crompton 5. Score first. Catching up will be a lot harder for Tennessee.
4. Limit Tennessee RB Arian Fosters' carries early. If Foster gets into a rhythm, keeping Tebow and Company off the field, the Gators could be in for a slugfest.
3. Tight end Aaron Hernandez will be open. Get him the ball.
2. Keep Tebow healthy. Tennessee will be looking to knock the Heisman Trophy winner out of the game.
1. Force Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton to win the game. Crompton [PICTURED] is inexperienced. He couldn't beat UCLA and had trouble at times with UAB's secondary last week.

FLORIDA INJURY REPORT
PROBABLE
WR Carl Moore (hip pointer)
OG Jim Tartt (shoulder)
WLB Dustin Doe (groin)
QUESTIONABLE
TE Tate Casey (arm)
QB Cameron Newton (ankle)
OUT
OL Maurice Hurt (neck)
DT John Brown (hand)
DT Torrey Davis (disciplinary)
DT Brandon Antwine (back)
TE Cornelius Ingram (ACL)
LB Brendan Beal (ACL)
SS Dorian Munroe (ACL)
OL Jim Barrie (ACL)

TENNESSEE INJURY REPORT
PROBABLE
QB Jonathan Crompton (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE
S Daryl Vereen (knee)
OUT
RB David Holbert (knee)
TE Jeff Cottam (leg)
DT Chase Nelson (knee)
P  Britton Colquitt (suspended)

SERIES BREAKDOWN
Florida has won three in a row and five of its last seven games at Neyland Stadium.

BY THE NUMBERS
5: The number of times Tennessee has lost to a ranked opponent at home in the last nine games against teams in the AP Top 25.
3: The number of interceptions Vols' QB Jonathan Crompton has thrown in his first two starts.
75: The number of times Tennessee has rushed and passed in the Vols' first two games. A pretty balanced offense.

RECRUITING
This game isn't nearly as important to recruiting as Florida's games against Miami or Florida State but Tennessee and Florida will still be battling for some of the same high school players. Tennessee has seven Floridians on its roster, including two starters, free safety Demetrice Morley (Miami) and kicker Daniel Lincoln (Ocala).

PREDICTION
Florida is a 7 1/2-point favorite, according to online sports betting websites. This seems like a pretty low number considering Tennessee lost to UCLA and struggling to put away UAB. With UF starters Percy Harvin and Jim Tartt back in the line-up, I expect Florida to cover the point spread and beat Tennessee 30-21.

-jo-

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Great work Jo. Thorough. What will the Jo haters find to dislike about this post?
I too raised my eyebrows when I saw the line at 7. UF could have given 38-1/2 points to UT last year and they still would have covered the spread. Maybe the new clock rules will make it harder to see scores up in the 40's-50's but I still see Uf covering comfortably.

It just seems to me that UF hasn't shown all of it's sets and plays. Am I wrong here Jo? I"d like to hear your opinion on that.

I like your comments about forcing Crompton to win the game. This assumes of course, that they will shut down Foster. Stopping UT's running game has been easy for UF recently.

Good work you...evil person.

That's the whole game right there, whether or not Florida can limit Foster. Florida has stuffed Tennessee's ground game the last three years and won every time.

Also, Tennessee isn't good enough to allow turnovers or errors in its special teams. Just look what happened last week against Miami. The 'Canes punter shanked a punt on Miami's first drive, giving Florida the ball near the Miami red zone. That game was over after Florida scored early.

In 2007, Brandon James broke the game open against Tennessee with a long kick return.

In 2006, former UF safety Reggie Nelson picked off Tennessee's first and last passes of the game.

-jo-

30-21? Tenn. lost to UCLA who then lost 59-0 to BYU. I know it's at Tenn but they are bad.

Prediction: FL 48 Tenn 10

I wouldn't get to hyped on Harvin, that guy has been hurt since 10th grade.

38 points at Neyland? Let me check the record book ...

-jo-

Thanks for your expert pick and analysis TXCane. I dont think we have ever scored even close to 48 points in Knoxville in recent history. You know like how Miami played hard against us because it was a rivalry game...same thing with Tenn. I know its hard to understand since UM really doesnt have many rivalies other than FSU and UF.

It's unlikely Tennessee will lose by 38 points to Florida on Saturday. How unlikely? Since Tennessee began playing football in 1891, the team has only lost by more than 38 points at home twice. (This according to Tennessee's records book.)

In 1893, Kentucky A&M stomped a bloody hole in Tennessee 56-0 in Knoxville.

In 1905, Vanderbilt beat the dog out of Tennessee in Knoxville 45-0. (But that was back when Vandy clobbered Tennessee every year. Between 1901 and 1909, Vanderbilt shut out Tennessee six times. Ahh, the good ole' days.)

-jo-

Someone needs to tell Percy that his QB in his first visit to Neyland's name was "Chris Leak". Did we all forget who won us a Nation Championship already?

It's hard to have a rival when you have only been in the ACC a few years. To bad Florida & Miami don't play every year. Miami lost, but I really enjoyed the game.

Goody - I know it's at Tenn. but they haven't impressed me for a while, and after that UCLA game and UAB game it proves to me that they are a bad team. I think Florida will end up having one of the best D's this year and will shut down Tenn O.

Now, I can't see anyone beating USC.

FYI: Canes: 27 A&M 10

Gumby,

Percy meant he couldn't hear Tebow calling in the plays from the sideline. As in, Tebow was the back-up quarterback, calling in plays from the sideline to the starting offense.

-jo-

TXCane,

I don't see anyone beating USC ... until the BCS National Championship at Dolphin Stadium.

-jo-

Until the BCS game? Who you picking in the BCS game?

I like Colorado's offense, it's more of a pro style spread, similar to New England. Colorado's 5ft 6in two star running back Rodney Stewart looks much better than the 5 star Darrell Scott, goes to show you not to believe the hype from Rivals, Scout and ESPN.

TXCane, agreed on playing every year...the schools need to get it done. My philosophy is that if you are worried that losing an out-of-conference game will affect your chances at a BCS title, you probably weren't good enough to win the title to begin with.

As far as the game, I think Crompton's ankle is bad news for Tenn. Dunlap and Cunningham should be very active. Harvin is going to have a break out game, and I would like to see Deonte have one as well...he is on the verge. I would love to get Moody in their as well. If this team is going to make it to the next level, we need a back we can count on for the tough yards, not just the home runs from Rainey and Demps. I see our D getting at least 2 picks. Special teams should have a nice game again too. I think they are still without their punter, so look out for another block or big return.

UF - 31 UT - 10

TXCane,

Good call on Rodney Stewart of Colorado. If you look around the country, the little guy is having a big year. (One side effect of the spread offense. Actually working on a story about this right now.)

Jay,

You're right. Britton Colquitt (Tennessee's bad-boy punter) is serving a five-game suspension.

-jo-

This bye week is also a big factor for us. We had one extra week of preparation. Granted UT was playing UAB so I am sure they werent really focused. But, they were coming off a tough loss as well, and that takes a lot out of a team. In terms of momentum and confidence, they aren't in the best position right now. UF, on the other hand, faced two good teams and won both.

Then again, this is our first away game. Neyland stadium is not exactly the place you want to start on the road. I think the first half will be fairly close, but I am hoping for a big second half. This is a huge game, if we are going to be a Championship team we need to step up.

4 the occasional Cane fan who wants to play the Gators every year...join the SEC, and then you can stop dodging the Gators and their brethren.

"UF, on the other hand, faced two good teams and won both." - Jay

Umm.....I must have missed something...did you say "two good teams?"

I'll go with average and below average. We know which team gets which description.

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GatorTime,

Dumb comment.

Florida cancel the series because of their tough SEC schedule. All we were saying is to keep the series alive and play every year.

That's a pretty big blow to the Tenn. special teams to have their starting punter out of the game. I HIGHLY doubt that Tenn. will even dare kick it to the most dangerous return man in the nation. I think that Urban should intimidate the new punter and just go after each and every single punt. Guaranteed that he shanks at least 1, if he is able to get it off of course.

Read an article on James the other day and he said the only time he calls for a fair catch is when they are going for the block. I would rather see him average 30+ yards on returns.

Nothing dumb about it. Join the SEC....stop whining, and start winning.

you guys don't get it. you really don't understand this game and the importance of looking beyond scores.

i am gator alum but i think vols will win for several reasons:
1. Florida's play-calling continues to be awful. Same as every-year under Meyer. I could give example after example of this. But suffice it to say that Tebow running the ball more than any running back is just plain stupid. And, if Tebow is doing that on his own then read my point #2.
2. Florida's coaching leadership over the players is pathetic. How can a player, Spikes, trash Tennessee (about not being as tough as FLA and "giving up" last year in GVLE) two weeks after Meyer muzzled Murphy? There is no excuse for this. Rest assured, Tenn will play 60 minutes and be looking to show Spikes how tough they are by knocking his arse on the ground. Expect some shots from TN running backs right at Spikes. What an idiot.
Tebow should not be taking off on his own "ad-lib" unless he "knows" he can score or gain big yardage, and even then he shouldn't do this more than 1-2 times in a game. If he gets one hit that takes him out for the year, what next? Cam (often injured) Newton or Brantley and his 2 plays that he ran in during the Hawaii game?
3. Tenn running game and running backs are great. Foster, Hardesty and Creer(speed guy like rainey). There is no way that our defense (average defense) will be able to stop Tenn running game like in the last 3 years. It just won't happen.
4. Average defense. Florida seems to be playing a little better defense, but hawaii was moving the ball at will at times and the qb threw way off target, not b/c of pressure or great coverage.
5. Tenn secondary is excellent so Tebow will probably throw an Int or 2.

davey = canesrule 9 'ships (canesrule tosses 9 salads)

nice try BUTT PLUG. You got tooled by "Canes" Get your own schtick you sniveling wimp.

Well at least davey has confidence is his alma mater! Maybe Florida shouldn't even bother making the trip then, huh?

Davey smells like corndogs.

IS the pic of the 'bulletin board' allowed for public consumption? Wonder why no one else had posted a pic before this one.

Probably because no one else has a picture of it.

-jo-

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