Florida-FSU Preview: The Gators Should Thank the Seminoles for Their Success

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Florida-FSU Preview: The Gators Should Thank the Seminoles for Their Success
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It's rivalry week.  That means turkey, pies, family, and Thursday football that doesn't include teams like Nevada or UCF.  That means goofy cups and trophies that are often times more important than the previous 11 games' results combined. 

That means the Gators are one game away from completing a perfect season, becoming one of the few pre-season No. 1s to avoid the regular season letdown.

Fittingly, the team that stands in the way of perfection is a run-down Florida State squad who are trying to avoid their second .500 regular season in four years. 

A win here quiets Bowden detractors and opens the door for an eight-win season (not too shabby, all things considered). 

It seems like the Gators are ripe for the upset; they've gone 11 straight games "underperforming," the Noles are down their best player (QB Christian Ponder), and although the fairy tale ending to Bowden's career is an impossibility, a Zook-like win on the road against the Gators will send the Hall of Fame coach out on a high note. 

However, this will not be a happy holiday for the Noles.  The Gators are too strong, too fast, and too dedicated to let that happen, but the Gators shouldn't be ungrateful victors; after all the Noles are partially responsible for the Gators' current success.

 

Thanks for getting rid of Ron Zook

It's official;  Ron Zook is a terrible coach.  Gators fans, we were right.  He has managed one winning season in five at Illinois and has a 21-37 record overall.  His firing from Florida was neither premature, nor unwarranted.  What if he was still around?

The Seminoles are partly responsible for Zook's early termination.  He went 0-2 against them in his first two years and while his other losses were also factors in his firing, he could have saved his job for another year or two if he had beaten the Seminoles (his final game was a win against the Noles, but his fate had already been decided). 

Even though 2006 was a team full of Zook recruits, the championship probably doesn't happen without Tebow or Percy, players who Zook probably doesn't recruit.  He's fired in 2006, at the latest and then what? 

The Gators can't get Meyer, he's at Notre Dame with decent job security.  Greg Schiano and Gary Patterson are possibilities, but neither have made any indication that they are leaving their posts. 

Let's be honest with ourselves, Meyer was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  The Gators weren't on the verge of being back in the spotlight; Meyer dragged them back kicking and screaming. 

The reason the Gators have had so much success can only be traced back to Meyer and without the Noles, they might not have gotten him.

 

Thanks for passing up Jeff Demps

While you can point to many head-to-head recruiting battles that go one or the other, Demps is special.  Why?  He wanted to go to FSU and would have immediately committed, but they didn't give him a chance. 

He was a life long Seminoles fan and a four-star recruit, but the boneheads in Tallahassee thought he was too small to play football.

Demps went to Gainesville because Meyer said "Sure thing, fast guy!" instead of "Nope, underweight, undersized running back, I have no use for you."  Urban's gamble paid off too. 

Over the last two years, he has been Florida's most consistent running back not named Tim Tebow, racking up 1,200 yards at seven-plus yards per carry.  You think the Noles want a mulligan on that one?

 

Thanks for this transcript

Bowden acts like an 80 year old:

The link leads to a Tallahassee Democrat blog which covered Bowden's postgame conference following the Clemson game.  When your coach is fighting Alzheimer's and losing, it's time to look for a new coach.

I wonder if Les Miles suffers from something similar?

 

Thanks for letting me make a huge head-to-head breakdown (which I'm about to do)

Bowden said that the gap between the two teams is closing.  His players are almost as good as the Gators'. 

He also said that he wouldn't break it down position by position, but there are some Noles as good as the Gators. I want to break it down position by position, because I'm not sure if I believe him.

 

QB- Tim Tebow vs. Christian Ponder (injured)

I chose not to use EJ, because Ponder at least puts up a fight.  Disregard the last three years and just focused on this year and Ponder is better, statistically than Tim Tebow.  He's not better though and he doesn't compare.

Tebow might not be putting up big passing numbers, but he's not blowing games (Ponder did) and he can still run like a real running back (Ponder can't).  There's more to being the QB than passing and Tebow is the total package.  Advantage: Gators (Big time)


RB- Jeff Demps/Tebow vs. Jermaine Thomas

Thomas is good, but he's only had four quality games this season (since neither team had a huge RB, I chose 50 yds as the cutoff for a quality game). 

Tebow has had seven rushing performances of 50 or more yards (remember, sacks count against a QB's rushing yards, he'd likely have more without that stupid rule) and Demps has had six.

Thomas' biggest plus here is his higher ceiling.  He rushed for 186 against North Carolina, a number you're not going to see from the Gators, at least individually. 

However, Thomas can be shutdown, and ultimately is less effective than the Gators starting RB duo.  Advantage: Gators


WR- Riley Cooper/Deonte Thompson vs Burt Reed/Rod Owens

One that might go to the Noles!  Reed has more catches than Cooper (53 to 38), but Cooper can score TDs (7 to Reed's 0).  Overall, they cancel each other out. 

The clincher is Owens over Thompson.  Owens doesn't have big TD numbers, but he has numbers.  Thompson only has 245 yards on 15 receptions.  Owens has 53 receptions for 652 yards.  Advantage: Noles

 

TE- Aaron Hernandez vs Caz Piurowski

Piurowski wins the really tall award and the crazy name Heisman, but his on the field production can't come close to Hernandez's. Aaron is the No. 2 pass catcher on the Gators and Tebow's only consistent target.

Piurowski is the last receiving option whenever he's in on a passing situation.  Advantage: Gators


O-line

Gators give up more sacks, but get a whole lot more rushing yards.  Neither team is good in the redzone. Basically, I'm going with the unit that hasn't lost a game over the one that lost to USF. Advantage: Gators

D-line

Here's where it starts getting really ugly.  Cunningham and Dunlap have combined for 13 sacks.  The Noles' DEs, McNeil and White, have managed four.  The Gators' duo also lead the Noles 19 to 15 in tackles for loss and 62 to 53 for total tackles. Overall, the Gators' D-line has managed 15.5 sacks to the Noles' 6.5. Advantage: Gators

Linebackers

Spikes is the best player in this group, by far.  He alone is worth the advantage over the Noles' entire LB group.  AJ Jones and Ryan Stamper aren't exactly slouches either, with five INTs between them. 

The Gators ability to cover the pass from the linebacker position is part of the reason why they are one of the top defenses in the nation, something the Seminoles can't exactly claim.  Advantage: Gators

 

DBs

This is like comparing Michael Jordan to Greg Oden.  Am I going too far?  Maybe, but here's how I'd rank the two teams' defensive backs in order of ability if I were to make one team out of the two squads:

1. Joe Haden
2. Major Wright
3. Will Hill
4. Janoris Jenkins
5. Ahmad Black

Do I need to go on?  The top five DBs are all Gators.  Not one FSU DB would start at UF, and every Gators DB would start for the Noles.  The Gators DBs aren't just good, they're all great. 

Consider this: Last year, Black was second in the SEC in interceptions, a second team All-SEC selection, and an SI All-American honorable mention. He would have lost his job to Will Hill if Charlie Strong hadn't gone to the 3-3-5 as the base defensive set.

As for the others, Haden was a second team All-SEC selection (he'll be first team All-American this year) and JJ and Hill were SEC All-Freshman selections. 

Wright was the only one who didn't get recognition in 2008 (he made all-freshman in 2007 along with Haden).

Can the Seminoles even boast one DB who would make a fifth team All-ACC selection (still paying attention)?

Advantage: Gators

I guess Bobby was right, the Noles do have one group where the players compare to the Gators.  The Noles receivers would probably start over the Gators, but every other position is Gators all the way.  Now, as to how they matchup against the guy on the other side of the ball (Just kidding).

Ok, I'll do it quick. Tebow and the offense over the Noles' defense.  Spikes/Haden (can't decide who's better) and the defense over the Noles' offense.

Gators, when you're eating that leftover turkey sandwich and watching Tebow walk off of Florida Field for the last time (probably early in the fourth quarter), be thankful for the Seminoles, without them, you wouldn't be where you are.

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