Florida vs. Florida State: 5 Ways Gators Will Expose Overrated Seminoles
By the end of Saturday night, there will be no doubt that the Florida Gators are the best team in the Sunshine State.
Despite their No. 4 ranking in the BCS, the Gators don't have a whole lot of national supporters on their side as they head to Tallahassee to take on the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles.
For the first time in 12 years, these two in-state rivals will face off as top-10 teams, but with a ferocious defense and one of the country's best running backs, the Gators have the firepower to take down the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Let's take a look at five ways the Gators will expose the overrated Seminoles on Saturday.
Dominate FSU's Offensive Line
Thanks to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive line coach Bryant Young, the Gators defensive line has transformed from a unit full of potential to one of the country's most productive groups.
Led by future first-round pick Sharrif Floyd at defensive tackle, UF's front four features a mix of both experienced veterans and budding freshman stars.
Floyd—who goes 6'3", 303 pounds—has excelled after moving back to his natural position at defensive tackle, racking up 40 total tackles, including a team-leading 10.0 for loss.
Fellow junior Dominique Easley started slowly after working his way back from a torn ACL suffered against FSU last season, but has picked up his play of late and leads the team with 4.0 sacks.
Along with steady veterans Omar Hunter and Lerentee McCray and sensational freshmen Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jonathan Bullard, the Gators can attack FSU's offensive line in a multitude of ways.
With such a deep group of diverse talents, expect Quinn to dial up a ton of pressure with his defensive line.
Commit to Running the Ball
Florida State ranks No. 1 in rushing yards allowed, but that doesn't mean it's the best run defense in the country.
Considering Clemson is the only ranked team that the Seminoles have faced in 2012, those numbers are skewed.
While the Gators have surrendered roughly 300 more rushing yards than the Seminoles, the Gators have been tasked with stopping terrific running teams like LSU, Georgia and South Carolina.
FSU certainly has a talented defense, but it hasn't faced the likes of Mike Gillislee and the Florida rushing attack this year.
The Gators' senior tailback finally got things going last week—albeit against Jacksonville State—but you can bet offensive coordinator Brent Pease will be committed to putting the ball in the hands of his best playmaker against the Seminoles.
With a healthy offensive line, expect the Gators to stick to running the ball to set up the passing game as they prove why they're one of the better running teams in the nation.
Stop the Run
No Florida defender has played more meaningful snaps in his career than senior Jon Bostic.
The Gators' middle linebacker has steadily improved from a run-stuffer to an every-down playmaker, and his development as a senior has been a key in the Gators' ascension as one of the nation's premier defenses.
With the 6'1", 246-pounder manning the middle, Florida has held opponents to a paltry 95.2 rushing yards per game.
The Seminoles do feature a two-headed monster in Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr., but besides Maryland, FSU hasn't faced a rush defense ranked in the top 45.
Between the tough-as-nails Bostic and the speedy Jelani Jenkins, Florida has the talent at linebacker to combat Freeman and Wilder.
Man Up in the Secondary
Most teams would love to have a No. 1 corner.
The Gators happen to have three.
In Jaylen Watkins, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida boasts three starting-caliber corners who can fill multiple roles for one of college football's deepest secondaries.
Watkins, whose younger brother Sammy stars at wide receiver for Clemson, has taken a big leap forward as a junior and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
However, the talented third-year man isn't even the most improved player at his position on his team—that honor goes to Purifoy.
The Gators' best playmaker has wreaked havoc on both defense and special teams, recording 45 tackles, two forced fumbles, five passes broken up and two blocked kicks.
His blocked punt against Louisiana-Lafayette proved to be the difference maker in Florida's 27-20 victory over the Ragin' Cajuns.
Although Florida State has a multitude of receiving weapons, the Gators have more than enough talent at the cornerback position to match up and beat the Seminoles wideouts.
Attack EJ Manuel
Seminoles fans better pray EJ Manuel doesn't play against the Gators like he did last year.
In what amounted to a ferocious defensive struggle, Manuel did just that.
FSU's starting quarterback completed just six passes for 65 yards against UF in a 20-7 win, but he looked anything like a future NFL starter.
The Gators sacked Manuel four times in last year's matchup, and this year's defense is light years better than the 2011 group.
Dan Quinn needs to unleash the hounds up front, send Jelani Jenkins and Neiron Ball on the attack and surprise Manuel with occasional safety blitzes in order to shake up the redshirt senior's confidence.
If the Gators can get in Manuel's head and force a turnover or two early, they'll expose the Seminoles as one of the most overrated teams in the country.