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Who owns the edge? Gators vs. Hurricanes

The Gators are three-point favorites heading into Saturday's showdown with the Hurricanes. It's going to be a crazy and emotional atmosphere for the fans, who know this is probably the last time the teams will meet in the regular season.

So who owns the edge coming into the game? I'll break it down for you.

WHEN THE HURRICANES RUN THE BALL
> As dazzling and explosive as sophomore Duke Johnson has been since he arrived (he put up a career-high 186 yards last week against FAU), he's yet to have to shoulder a load bigger than 19 carries in a game and he has yet to deliver against top-end opponents. Last year against Miami's three ranked opponents (Notre Dame, Kansas State and Florida State) Johnson combined for 68 yards on 23 attempts (2.96 per carry) without a touchdown. Johnson said he trained all off-season, got bigger and stronger for a game like Saturday's. Florida returns only three starters from last season's top five scoring and run defense, but still has 15 players back from its two-deep at the end of the 2012 season. The Gators, whose longest run allowed all of 2012 was 25 yards, held Toledo to only 50 yards total on the ground in the opener. Florida held seven teams under 100 yards rushing last season and are 17-2 under coach Will Muschamp when they out gain their opponents on the ground, but 2-6 when they lose the rushing battle. This is a huge test for Johnson and Miami's formidable offensive line. Edge: Even.

WHEN THE HURRICANES PASS THE BALL
> As hot as Canes quarterback Stephen Morris finished last season, he really didn't put up great performances against Miami's toughest foes, throwing for only 639 combined yards, one touchdown and one interception against UM's ranked opponents in 2012. He was also sacked nine times combined in those three games compared to seven the rest of the season. Florida's pass defense ranked second nationally in efficiency in 2012, allowing a mere 5.63 yards per passing attempt (fourth best). Creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a big key to Florida's defensive success. They racked up 30 sacks last year and forced 13 fumbles. They also picked off 20 passes (7th nationally). Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (St. Thomas Aquinas) finished third in the SEC with 14 pass breakups a year ago. He'll be blanketing Miami's 2012 leading receiver Phillip Dorsett, his former high school teammate at St. Thomas Aquinas, a lot in one-on-one coverage. Whoever wins the battle probably leads their team to victory. Edge: Even.

WHEN THE GATORS RUN THE BALL
> Florida improved to 13-0 under Muschamp last week when rushing for 150 yards or more. When the Gators don't run for 150 yards, they are 6-8 under Muschamp. Key to the game, anyone? Good starts (Gators are 4-7 when they are tied or trail at the half under Muschamp) and time of possession are also important for Florida's success. Playmaking sophomore tailback Matt Jones (6-2, 226) returns from a viral infection this week to start, but his backups did a fine job against Toledo last week as Mack Brown (5-11, 215), Valdez Showers (5-11, 190), Mark Herndon (5-9, 198) and freshman Kelvin Taylor (5-10, 214) combined for 218 of Florida's 262 rushing yards. Although UF's offensive line returns 89 career starts, right guard Jon Halapio (6-3, 320, 33 career starts) won't play against the Hurricanes as he is still recovering from injury. That's good news considering UM had one of the worst run defenses in the country last year (217.92 yards per game). The Canes are supposed to be bigger, stronger, deeper and better up front. They held FAU to only 3.1 yards a carry last week. But this is the real measuring stick game to see if this defense is physically ready for a heavyweight fight. Edge: Gators

WHEN THE GATORS PASS THE BALL
> Florida ranked 114th in passing last season, producing a mere 27 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Quarterback Jeff Driskel, UF's second leading rusher in 2012, completed a career-high 77.3 percent of his passes in the opening win over Toledo. But he only threw for 153 yards. That's efficient, not dangerous. That means the Hurricanes, led by Denzel Perryman, Anthony Chickillo and Jimmy Gaines can zero in on stopping the run and the short passing game. UM's five sacks last week were also an encouraging sign, though defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofro said only one of those sacks came as the result of a pressure from fewer than five pass rushers. He would like to be able to do it with four man fronts so he doesn't put extra strain on his secondary. Edge: Hurricanes.

SPECIAL TEAMS
> Florida punter Kyle Chirsty, a finalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2012, averaged 45.8 yards a kick last season. Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin went 1-for-2 on field goal attempts in his debut last week against Toledo (he missed from 39 yards) as he attempts to replace Caleb Sturgis, the Dolphins new kicker. Roberson had four punt returns for 72 yards against Toledo, tied for the eighth best average in the nation. Florida has blocked 12 kicks during Muschamp's 27-game tenure as coach, including four field goals last year. Duke Johnson, one of the nation's premier kick and punt returners last season, didn't handle any special teams work in the opener against FAU. Will he this week? We'll see. Dorsett, Dallas Crawford and Stacy Coley handled all returns vs. FAU. UM probably has the advantage in the kicking game. Punter Pat O'Donnell, a transfer from Cincinnati, has a strong track record (44.8 average vs. FAU) and new kicker Matt Goudis drilled both of his field goal attempts last week. Edge: Even.

COACHING
> UM coach Al Golden and his counterpart Muschamp took over two entirely different programs at the same time in Dec. 2010. Golden has had to deal with an NCAA investigation and rebuilding a program that was on a downward trend; Muschamp inherited an 8-4 program that simply needed a little retooling and still had momentum from 2006 and 2008 national championships. That being said, Florida has the track record it shows up more often in big games and in crunch time. The Gators beat seven bowl-eligible teams against the nation’s toughest schedule according to NCAA in 2012 and was 7-2 against bowl teams last season. UM went 0-3 in games against ranked opponents a year ago and 4-3 overall against schools who were bowl-eligible (not including a loss to North Carolina). When it comes to the fourth quarter, the Gators have the better track record. UM was outscored 113-102 in the fourth quarter last year. The Gators won the fourth quarter 128-32 in 2012. If the Canes win Saturday, they need to hold up four fingers and then prove they mean it. Edge: Florida.

Comments

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We catch the ball on the both sides of the ball we win by 10.

Keep a close eye on the SEC officials tomorrow (I understand they are calling the game.) Keep an eye on Roberson, the UF cornerback, who grabs and holds as much as any corner you'll ever see. If he's allowed to do his thing, it'll be a tough day for UM's pass offense.

Rboud,

I thought SEC officials called the 2008 game in Gainesville and ACC official would be calling tomorrow's game. Not positive, but thought many questioned Hernandez being given credit for a questionable pass completion at a critical part of the game that changed the momentum, which had people pointing to the friendly SEC officiating.

I'm so glad it's obvious we should win this game tomorrow. Al has no room for error tomorrow at noon. We are in better shape, guys are experienced, we have the better staff according to some of these fruitcakes. Nothing less then a win is acceptable.

go canes goddammit fux the gators!!

Defense wins games and championships.

Miami not only does NOT have a defense, but its DC running his insane NO "defense" actually helps other teams so that Miami will continue to have a 50-50 season as they have for the last 11 years.

You will know who is going to win the game, perhaps as early as the first quarter if moron d'o has a three down defensive linemen set, LBs five yards off the LOS, zone pass NO coverage. He makes me wonder if goldie and d'o owe a debt to the las vegas bookmakers and mafia or something like Bobby Riggs allowing Billie Jean to beat him.

D'o intentionally sets up the Cane defense to fail.
And goldie is too stupid to realize it. Blitzes? Four down linemen on the Cane defense with their hands on the ground, where are the LBs, how far away from the LOS, zone????? or man to man, facemask to facemask pass coverage?

d'o and goldie refuse to study great teams of the Cane past, refuse to ask for help in their incomprehension about football defense, stumble along like morons for the last few years, refuse to look at Alabama or Myer's coaching at Ohio State, just come see, come saa. Who gives a crap. Exactly like piss poor managers of corporations across the country and in the congressional house of no representation.

with the heat whoever is best "2 deep" will prevail.

You guys are retarded. Coming out of H.S Chick was ranked a top 5 DE and won mvp at the Under Armour All American game. The Gators and FSU wanted him bad. He will be playing on Sundays for alot of years. His stats last year are Not mind Boggling because he had no help inside and saw constant double teams. Chick will be very good this year.

PalmBeachLiving,

Agree 100%...Chick has a motor that is always running at full RPM's and is a winner. He has a fantastic pedigree and will be an All American at the "U" before he embarks on a successful NFL career.

Go Canes!

Chickillo is a great DE.

But moron d'o runs a three down linemen NO defense againt the run, NO def. pass rush because offenses have 5 linemen blocking and a fullback blocker. That means 6 offensive blockers against 3, tres, three Miami defensive linemen.

d'o's and golden's MORON 3, tres, three down linemen sitting in the middle of the line, NO defense would make an NFL all pro def. lineman look mediocre against 6 big blockers, especially with NO help from Cane LBs who d'o and golden force to set up 5 yards from the LOS thereby giving NO help to stop a run or participate in a pass rush.

goldie and d'o must think it looks good on paper. Why doesn't it work in reality?? Oh gee. Freakin morons.

Cane players should just run 4 big defensive linemen out onto the field, tell the slowest, worst DB tackler to get off the field, tell the other DBs to play man to man, in the shirts of the offensive receivers - but don't touch them, move the Cane LBs up to within 3 yards of the LOS.

Then, you would see some QBs getting sacked and runs inside and outside being stopped.

I am amazed that no one with a brain is in charge of the Cane team and that no one can tell d'o or goldie about good defense.

Stfu 72. U know nothing!

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