A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts and links to SB Nation game pages.
The Gators have essentially paid two hapless snack cakes to be their preseason, beating the Charleston Southern Buccanneers 62-3 in their opener and the Troy Trojans 56-6 last week. A quick look at the drive charts:
Well. Even the drive chart program doesn't know who Charleston Southern is and simply defaults to the NCAA FCS logo. Apart from that, the only things to note here are (1) Florida's defense only caused one turnover; and (2) that sixth TD by the Gators was a Brandon James kickoff return for six. Yeah. He's back, and he's doing it again.
All right, on to the chart for last week's thrashing of the team Brian likes to refer to as the Troy Trojans Men of Troy (We're from Troy!) (or something like that):
Hey, at least Troy has its own logo. And look at how Florida started: (1) punt; (2) a zero-yard drive and a punt; (3) [never mind]; (4) fumble; and (5) fumble. Of course, they then got things rolling, but they also missed a field goal and fumbled again later in the game. In all, they fumbled six times and lost three of them. The field goal they missed was "from 39." I'm not sure whether that "39" was the line of scrimmage, the spot of the kick, or the distance of the attempt. Anyone know? In any event, it appears that the fumbles are the basis for Spencer's scouting report of the Gators on last night's podcast: force turnovers and throw less than twenty times. Still, they only punted three times and scored eight TDs, so you know, you could say they're "effective" offensively.
Now on to the national rankings, with the caveat that the Gators have only played an FCS team and a team so obscure that we feel compelled to mention their name twice if we mention it at all:
|Rushing Offense||3||330.00||Air Force||367.50||2||Auburn||345.50|
|Passing Offense||13||313.50||Texas Tech||456.50||2||Arkansas||447.00|
|Rushing Defense||38||84.00||Arizona St.||-5.00||6||Alabama||32.50|
|Pass Efficiency Defense||9||77.65||Arizona St.||22.64||3||Kentucky||57.56|
|Total Defense||22||231.00||Arizona St.||37.00||7||Tennessee||134.50|
|Net Punting||33||38.80||Baylor||46.00||5||Mississippi St.||45.38|
|Punt Returns||91||3.40||Louisiana Tech||85.00||8||Alabama||19.43|
|Turnover Margin||T-42||.50||Arizona St.||5.00||6||Kentucky||2.00|
|Pass Defense||29||147.00||Arizona St.||42.00||8||Tennessee||75.00|
|Tackles For Loss||T-53||6.00||Oklahoma||13.50||7||Alabama||10.00|
|Sacks Allowed||26||1.00||Georgia Tech||.00||5||Auburn||.00|
Offense. The Gators are No. 1 in the nation in total and scoring offense, gaining 643.5 yards of offense and scoring 59 points per game. Their rushing offense appears to be slightly better than their passing offense, for whatever that's worth at this point.
Defense. I'm a little bit surprised at their defense considering their opponents. They rank only 22nd in total defense despite (1) returning all 11 starters from a national championship team, and (2) the opposition. However, that they are fifth in the nation in scoring defense -- allowing no touchdowns so far and only 4.5 points per game -- suggests a sort of bend-but-don't-break defensive philosophy, but having not seen the games myself, I don't know whether this is really the case. Can anyone confirm?
So far, they do not appear to be spending much time in the opponent's backfield, ranking only 67th in sacks and 53rd in tackles for loss. Perhaps they've been sandbagging on defense, but perhaps that's good news for Vol fans.
Special teams. Do not be fooled by that ranking of 91st in punt returns. Instead, see that No. 2 in kickoff returns. That's Brandon James, and he can do it with punts just as easily as he can with kickoffs.
Players to watch for
Running backs. Florida has three running backs together averaging about 218 yards on the ground. Two of these guys -- Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey -- are quark backs who are nationally ranked, and Emmanuel Moody is the bruiser.
Special teams. Brandon James. Enough about him.
After looking at these numbers and taking an eyes-partially-shielded glance at Tennessee's numbers, I'm feeling just a bit better about Saturday. Not that we'll win, mind you, but that a blowout isn't necessarily a foregone conclusion. Sure, Tennessee's offense isn't great, but Florida's defense, at least so far, does not appear to be as dominating as I thought it would be. And as potent as the Gators' offense is, our defense has been fine so far. All of this is of course subject to the major caveat that the numbers from only two games don't yet define the teams, but it's something.