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Florida Gators: Four Burning Questions in the SEC Championship Game

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 28:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators attempts a pass during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IDecember 3, 2009

The Florida Gators are going for a second straight SEC Championship and a third in four years. But to get that title and a spot in the BCS Championship Game, the Gators have four big questions to answer before they can beat Alabama for a second straight year.



1. How Does Florida Gain A Mental Edge?


Florida won this game last year. They ruined Alabama's perfect season and shot at their first national title since 1992. And we know how seriously Alabama takes national championships— they got 12 of them.

You know Nick Saban has his team focused and out for revenge. Most of the season they have been out of the limelight with much of the focus on the No. 1 ranked Gators' quest for a repeat and Tim Tebow's final season.

I think Tebow has to be at an all-time best from a leadership standpoint on Saturday.



2. Can Brandon James Finally Break Out?

James was a serious threat for Florida last year anytime the opponent kicked the ball.

This season, he is averaging just seven yards per punt return with no touchdowns. He has taken one kick return to the house, but that came in the first game against Charleston Southern.

If the St. Augustine native who was thought to be small for FBS can give the Gators a score, it would be a huge lift for an offense that has struggled at times.

 

3. Can The Florida Receivers Strike Fear Down The Field?

This has been the knock on the Gators offense all year that they can't stretch the field vertically. I think this is a bit of a misnomer since Florida has 21 pass plays over 25 yards on the season.

I think Alabama is going to bring pressure on Tebow and not let the down-field routes develop. I also think the Tide will stack the line and make Tebow beat them with his arm down the field.

The key for Florida will be in pass protection allowing Tebow, who is very accurate with time, to find guys like Aaron Hernandez and Riley Cooper down the field. If a guy like Deonte Thompson can step up then that would be big for Urban Meyer's offense.

4. What Is The Impact Of Not Having Carlos Dunlap?

You didn't think I was going to leave out the 290-pound future first rounder who won't be in uniform on game day, did you? Dunlap leads the team in sacks and is second in tackles for loss this season.

In last year's game, Florida was able to tilt their blitzes away from Dunlap knowing he could beat his man one-on-one. That won't be the case this year unless Justin Trattou and William Green play out of their minds.

But I also wonder what the impact is on the team's preparation. Was this just one guy not focused on this game, or are their others?

Alabama: 4 Questions For The SEC Championship

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