So what is the marquee match-up on tap at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party? Well it may be the flash and lightning that could be on display on the edges.
Joe Haden/Janoris Jenkins vs. AJ Green
5’11” 190 lbs vs. 6’5” 205 lbs
You don’t tug on Superman’s cape , Gators.
A lot of the time, all the talk leading up to a game like the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party can be shrugged off as coach speak or cliché. Most of the noise coming out of the camps involved is no more exhilarating or meaningful than yesterday’s newspaper. However, given the jabs exchanged between Mark “Evil” Richt and Urban “T is for timeout” Meyer over the last couple of years, one might expect a little rancor rattled bulletin board material making it’s way out of Gainesville and Athens this week. Usually the really passionate outbursts are more likely to be found on fan blogs or message boards, but the sounds swirling around the gauntlet that is the WLOCP this week are rather tasty indeed.
Make no mistake, the Gators are feeling themselves a bit leading into the game, even with their perceived struggles of late. Meyer said Florida "had the best Sunday practice we've ever had." He added: "Everyone knows exactly what this game is." That’s all fine and good, but the DAWGS are hardly cowering in the days leading up to the game.
Don’t take my word for it, the DAWGS said it.
“We know this game could change our season. This is our first step toward the rest of our season.”
I often refer to A.J. Green as Lethal Weapon 8 because he is silent but deadly from any distance. Green wasn't a part of the end zone celebration in the 2007 game, but the mild-mannered and soft spoken wide receiver is raging about the 2008 timeouts.
"That's motivation for me," he said. "That's a sign of disrespect. So I'm going to go out there and play my heart out."
LW8 remains bothered more by the outcome.
"The way they physically beat us, I feel like we have a statement to make."
Defensive end Justin Houston made a statement Tuesday when asked about Saint Timothy Tebow:
"He's like every other quarterback. I don't see anything special about him. He's a quarterback and he's a good quarterback, but nothing special."
Yep, that one’s got a little bite to it.
As for the DAWGS defensive heartbeat Rennie Curran, well he seems to be taking a very man-to-man attitude:
“That’s our main thing…..We all know how much he’s respected, the reputation he’s built for himself and Florida. If you want to stop Florida’s offense, you’ve got to stop it from the head, with their leader, and that’s Tebow. That’s our main thing. We’ve got to get that guy to flinch.”
I think Coach Richt is saying a lot in that he isn’t say too much. In the recap from his radio show on Monday night, the head DAWG is reported as saying
“This game is different in that it’s 50/50, and Richt wants the fan base to get excited and jacked up for this game, because excitement is coming.”
Last year, senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens could only watch as things unraveled on the DAWGS. That’s not the case this year and as for Tebow, well he had this to say:
“If I can get a nose-to-nose shot, it will be nasty. He’s a quarterback. He’ll try and run over the (defensive backs) and probably linebackers, but linemen? He ain’t going to do that to any defensive linemen.”
On a less heated but hopefully just as telling note, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez had some interesting things to say this week. I totally agree with his statements about attitude being the difference.
"I don't want to speak schematically, but people who have had success like when we beat them in 2007, it's really the style that you play, the mentality that you play, the attitude that you bring on every play that's going to be the difference. You've got to be physical. They are a very talented football team but we try not to make it about them. It's more about us and what we do."
Like I’ve said here before, football is not just a contact sport, it is a violent sport. The team that plays with a higher level of acute violence will most often be victorious. I hope Willie's statements are a harbinger of things to come.
In case you haven’t heard, I HATE Florida. Knowing that we GATA so often in the 70s and 80s only makes the losses of the 90s sting that much more, but it also makes the victories that much more glorious. That is why these DAWGS are dangerous. They have nothing to lose. They have no pressure on them. They have nothing to do but show up, play fast and free and GATA just like the DAWGS before them did on a regular basis back in the day. Don’t take my word for it, The Dawg-gone blog said it. But, I sure as Gainesville (HELL) agree with them.
And finally, didn’t I ask THIS question just a few days ago?
I am fully aware that there isn't much in the pregame notes or the stats that should lead me to believe that I should expect an upset this weekend, but it doesn't matter. I just have a really good feeling about how things are going based on the vibrations coming out of Athens and Gainesville this week. As irrational as it may seem, I believe. The DAWGS may win or they may lose, but I know that they are going to fight. The best part is, you don't have to take my word for it, the DAWGS said it.