How the Florida Gators will beat Hawai'i in Week 1

Michael OleszekAnalyst IAugust 26, 2008

Twelve months ago, this would have been a pretty decent game - Colt Brennan leading a WAC team into the Swamp, looking to crash the BCS party against the defending champs in their own backyard.

Fast-forward a year and this game boils down to nothing more than cannon fodder for the Gators to tune up their players before bigger games looming on the horizon. Facing a huge rebuilding task for Greg McMackin and the rest of the Warriors, this game could have had a little more edge to it if June Jones hadn't jumped the sinking ship, after his comments about Tim Tebow being a "system quarterback."

When the Gators are on Offense:

Take care of the football

If the Gators are going to make a national title run this season, they must take care of the football. Kestahn Moore and Emmanual Moody have both had issues holding onto the football. Urban Meyer has not hesitated in the past to pull players out for fumbling and shift the focus of the offense away from an offending player. Ball security will be key for Florida, who will feature an array of skill players who could potentially handle the ball - 13 to be exact, not including Tebow.

Preseason WAC defensive player of the year Solomon Elimimian will be waiting in his middle linebacker position to improve on his 10.9 tackles per game average form from 2007.

Keep the Pedal Pushed to the Floor

Too often last season during blowout wins, the offense looked lazy during mop-up time. The second and third string players need to make the most of their opportunities to improve during actual game reps. Don't coast by on natural ability, and keep the pressure on for four quarters. It will be a hot day in Gainesville against an overmatched opponent, but this will make the youngsters mentally tough for the rugged SEC schedule down the road.

Don't Believe the Hype

Hype? What hype? - Possible repeat Heisman winner, another Heisman candidate on the team, second team wide receivers good enough to start elsewhere, a collection of running backs never before seen under Urban Meyer. Yeah, there is plenty of hype to go around this year, as the offense is being touted as one of the best in school history. It will be hard, but don't buy into it. Play your game, and let the chips fall where they may.    

When the Gators are on Defense:

Make me a believer...

...And please do it quickly. As a fan, I would like to see another run at a title, but it is not even realistic if you play defense like last season. All of the talk the defense has been doing about building a wolfpack-like mentality, it better be on display right from the jump. Actual wolves do not take anything lightly and neither should the defense. The defense has plenty of raw talent to mix with the experience of Brandon Spikes. Shut our fanbase up and prove to the nation that the Gators can play defense.

Define limits

Hawai'i is going to throw the football. That much everyone knows. Hawai'i is not great at running the football, and they will have a harder time against the Gators. When it comes time for Hawai'i to pass, take away Hawai'i’s first two WR options and make the QB look for WR’s three, four, and five - and by that time the Gators Defense will have somebody in his face.

Three and Out

Last season, the Gators were horrible on defense, but absolutely atrocious on third down. This defense has to force teams into three and out situations more often. Doing so will get the defense off of the field, put the offense back on the field, and most importantly - get the ball in the hands of returner Brandon James.

Final Score prediction - Florida 63, Hawaii 17