It's a tough task to analyze Florida’s upcoming 2009 season without coming to the same conclusion as everyone else: Florida should dominate everyone en route to at least a National Championship game appearance.
The Gators are more loaded than John Daly at a NASCAR race, and will more than likely fulfill their destiny as one of the greatest teams of our generation. With a favorable schedule, Florida has an easier path to travel than in years past, which is highlighted by a slate of weak, out-of-conference games.
The four non-SEC teams that will challenge Florida are much like a group of teens found in any horror movie. They may put up a fight, but just when you think they have overcome the killer, a spear is driven through their back and you are out of popcorn.
Charleston Southern: 9/5/09—The Early Blond Sacrifice
Sweet little Charleston Southern finds itself home alone in a cabin by the lake, while their boyfriend just drove to town to get some beer. There is nowhere to hide; this one is over before the first whistle.
Charleston Southern is not even a top tier Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team, picked near the bottom of the Big South Conference. The lone bright spot is potential All-FCS defensive back Phillip Ashley. Gator quarterback Tim Tebow may have to be aware of Ashley roaming the secondary, but he won’t change the game plan. While on offense, CSU will have to contend with linebacker Brandon Spikes, who looks and plays like the Predator.
The Bucs should truly rejoice if they come out of this one with all their limbs intact.
Troy: 9/12/09—The Irrational Tough Guy
In every horror movie, there is a brawny jock or an over-zealous boyfriend who thinks he can take on the bad guy. This character charges head first into battle, and may actually inflict some damage, but ultimately winds up on the wrong end of a chainsaw.
Troy has a frenzied attack on offense, scoring 32.8 points and racking up 414 total yards per game a year ago. Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, quarterbacl Levi Brown, will spearhead the offense and have a dynamic arsenal. Under-sized yet speedy DuJuan Harris strikes from the backfield and dependable Jerrell Jernigan, who caught 77 passes last year, will line up outside.
The Trojans also hit heavy on defense with NFL prospect Boris Lee manning the middle linebacker spot. Defense was a strength for Troy last year when they led the conference in nearly every defensive category. However, the Sun Belt is Camp Anawana and the SEC is more like Camp Crystal Lake.
The Trojans have talent and tenacity to make you jump in your seat early, but in the end they will meet their doom.
Florida 59-13 .
Florida International: 11/21/09—The Persistent Dork
Midway to three-quarters through the movie, there will be a handful of victims left.
One of them is sure to be a comic-relief goofball who has maintained a low profile and somehow stayed alive. The Panthers will certainly provide some humor when they visit the Swamp.
Florida International ranked 107th in the nation last year at running the football, averaging just under 100 yards a game. If they can’t run against the Gators, good luck trying to throw against perhaps the best secondary the University Florida has ever fielded. Lockdown corners Janoris Jenkins and Joe Haden will ensure that FIU doesn’t meet its average of 212 passing yards a game and head-hunting safety Major Wright should make anyone think twice about coming over the middle.
Florida International may show up late in the season, but they have no better chances of winning than early casualty Charleston Southern. Scratch this team off the list of heroes, but this flick wont end here.
Florida 62- 0.
Florida State: 11/28/09—The Victorious Hunk...Maybe
Like any good slasher film, this whole story climaxes in a final showdown.
Both parties have been bruised and battered, but find themselves face-to-face and only one can come out alive. The scene we’ve all been waiting for is finally here!
Florida State will certainly give the Gators the best contest of all the non-conference foes.
The O-Line returns all five starters from last year, so Florida’s vaunted front seven will have their hands full. FSU returns surprise quarterback Christian Ponder at the helm, but it will be a challenge to find any other recognizable names on offense. Bert Reed dazzles, but the rest of the wide receiver corps had to deal with a horror story of their own, as many players found themselves on trial and/or off the team during the summer. They must improve on a passing attack that ranked 82nd in the nation last year.
The Seminoles' defense is always a strength, and Coordinator Mickey Andrews will have them ready to slaughter Tebow. Look out for sophomore Nigel Bradham to carry the torch of bone-crushing linebackers at FSU.
This will be a better game than it has been in recent memory, and with a rivalry of this magnitude, anything goes.
So will FSU come out with a nail-biting, last-second, in-the-nick-of-time improbable victory? I hate to ruin the ending, but remember this isn’t the movies, and everything does not follow a script.