Three Keys to the Mississippi State/Florida Game

Brad LockeContributor IOctober 24, 2009

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 17: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators fumbles before passing in the first quarter against the University of Arkansas Razorbacks October 17, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

1. Pressure Tebow

Arkansas sacked Florida quarterback Tim Tebow six times last week, and he was flushed out of the pocket or hit several other times. The question is, can MSU bring any pressure? The Bulldogs have made just 10 sacks this season, tied for 10th in the SEC.

Left end Pernell McPhee, who leads MSU with 2.5 sacks and six tackles-for-loss, will be Tebow’s biggest concern. Arkansas’ front four spent a lot of time in the Florida backfield, and MSU will need with the same thing since its linebackers have guys like running back Chris Rainey and tight end Aaron Hernandez to worry about.

2. Beat your man

Florida plays man-to-man defense on receivers and plays it well. Ahmad Black, Janoris Jenkins and Major Wright pace a secondary that ranks first in the SEC and second in the country in pass defense (133.3 ypg).

Doing this allows Florida to send more players after the quarterback, so MSU’s receivers need to shake their defenders so QB Tyson Lee doesn’t spend the game on his seat. The Gators’ 16 sacks rank second in the SEC and 12 of those sacks have come over the last three games                                                             against Kentucky, LSU, and Arkansas.

3. Spread it around

It’s no secret that senior tailback Anthony Dixon is going to be asked to do a lot—he’s rushed for 696 yards at 5.2 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. But coach Dan Mullen likes to spread the wealth and that’s a must today. Five players have more than 100 yards receiving for State this season, while six have more than 20 rushes.