Only two days away from our match up with the Florida Gators and I already can't wait. Mimintampa from Alligator Army took some time to answer some important questions about the Penn State vs. Florida game.
Temple thought they hit the lottery with the hiring of Gator's offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, but it looks like Gator fans would have sold Addazio for a pack of Slim Jims, citing him as the second worst coach in school history, behind only the legendary Ron Zook.
Let's get into it.
QBsneak12: How surprising was the second Urban Meyer retirement? Was there a sense in Gator Nation that this was going to happen?
Alligator Army: People were surprised, but a lot of people were relieved. Many Gator fans thought Meyer's heart was not into it, and Will Muschamp at least offers a new start. Plus, it means no more Steve Addazio, Florida's very hated former offensive coordinator.
QBsneak12: A lot has been made of the Florida underclassmen saying they were going to transfer after Meyer announced his retirement. What is the issue with the underclassmen? Is it just a case of being young and immature, or is the media making a big deal out of nothing?
AA: The only player to openly discuss transferring has been QB John Brantley, who has been completely misused by Addazio and Meyer. Earlier this season, it was rumored that two defensive freshmen wanted to transfer, but it appears as if that was nothing serious.
QBsneak12: Will Muschamp has never been a head coach, but was a highly respected coordinator and coach in waiting (which obviously means absolutely nothing at this point) at Texas. The last time Florida hired a coordinator without any head coaching experience it was Ron Zook. Are you worried history will repeat itself or do you think things will be different the second time around?
AA: I do worry about it but for the admittedly stupid reason of that I thought Muschamp was trying to sell himself in his introductory press conference. Zook had similar traits because he lacked the confidence and leadership to be a head coach. However, Muschamp comes to Florida with a much more significant resume than Zook had. I think Muschamp will be successful at UF, but it will depend on who he surrounds himself with. Remember, including Addazio at Temple, four former Meyer assistants at UF became college head coaches and another is the Ravens' defensive coordinator.
QBsneak12: From an outsiders perspective, it seemed like John Brantley was not a good fit in Florida's Spread-Option offense. In your opinion, what was Brantley's biggest issue and what can Penn State expect to see on January 1st?
AA: Physically, Brantley cannot run the option (he doesn't have the body or legs for it). Florida only stopped running it when he broke his ribs on an option play against Alabama. Brantley's biggest issue is that his confidence is shot. Expect to see a lot of Trey Burton and Jordan Reed as Brantley moves closer towards transferring.
QBsneak12: To continue with Brantley, Urban Meyer won his first national title with a pocket passer at QB (Chris leak) and a gimmick runner/super athlete as a gadget play QB (Tim Tebow). It appears Florida has two players (Brantley and Trey Burton) that fit those descriptions. yet Florida has struggled this season. Why hasn't the dual QB (and in some cases three QB) system worked this year?
AA: Brantley isn't a tenth the QB Leak was (Leak is UF's all-time leader in attempts, completions and yardage), Burton plays three positions and doesn't do any of them particularly well (tight end, fullback, quarterback) and Reed is just a big, athletic dude. Burton is a bright guy, but he cannot make up for awful play calling and Addazio's uncanny ability to remove a player as soon as they get hot. Coaching gets a big part of the blame, since they should have never considered Burton or Reed this season. But Florida does not have a solid quarterback, either.
QBsneak12: Trey Burton seems to be a smaller version of the GOAT, Tim Tebow. Will Florida unleash Burton on a Penn State run defense that has struggled to stop anything that was carrying a football or do you think they will try and air it out with Brantley?
AA: Unless Addazio decides to air it out, Burton and Brantley will not throw. I think if they liked Burton as a QB, he'd have more than five pass attempts. Brantley could throw, but I think you will see a lot of Jordan Reed instead.
QBsneak12: What does Florida do defensively that will cause Penn State trouble?
AA: Passing the ball, UF can lock up a few guys with Janoris Jenkins and Ahmad Black, who should each be first-round draft picks. Black has been the team MVP with his ability to get to the line and tackle after our undersized line and young backers have been blown up. Penn State should run the ball without mercy. The Gators will bend in the first half, but break in the second half if they stay out on the field too long.
QBsneak12: Florida beat out Penn State for Jelani Jenkins...how is that working out so far?
AA: Jenkins was UF's second leading tackler, had two sacks, a pick and fumble recovery. Not bad for a kid's first full season in the SEC.
QBsneak12: If Penn State has any chance to win, they will need to...
AA: Run the ball and stop Florida's run.
The SEC has a reputation for being the fastest conference in the country while the rest of the world still assumes the Big Ten still only has teams that run the Power I (over half of the Big Ten teams run some form of a spread offense). Barring a report of last season's Capital One Bowl (Mud Bowl), fans from both squads should get to see some pretty fast players on the field. With that said, what can we expect to see out of uber-speedsters Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps? And part two, have you seen our pocket rocket, WR Devon Smith in action?
I have not seen the pocket rocket. However, unless the Big Ten has a kid who runs a sub-10 100-meters, you do not have anyone that can match Demps. At one point, Demps had the fastest 100-meters in world for the 2010 season (10.11; Demps ran 9.96 in the NCAAs).
That said, the speed difference isn't in the backs and receivers. It is the linemen and tight ends. Luckily for Penn State, Florida does not use their tight end, Omarius Hines. Florida's defensive line is quick, but thin, so you can blow them off the ball.
QBsneak12: What are you three keys to the game?
Can Penn State run the ball effectively?
Who does UF use at quarterback and does that player throw the ball around?
Will Florida finally use Andre Debose (11 offensive touches, no touchdowns; 19 kick returns, 2 touchdowns)?
QBsneak12: How do you see things playing out?
AA: An awful game worthy of Urban Meyer's lame duck season; 16-10 Florida.
If any Penn State fans are coming to Tampa for the game, welcome. See you out for drinks in South Tampa for New Year's.
Thanks again to Alligator Army. Penn State could use this game against Florida as a building block for the 2011 season, with or without JoePa. Penn State needs Matt McGloin or Robert Bolden to have big games and the Penn State defensive line needs to get consistent pressure on the quarterbacks - something they haven't done all season.
On the bright side, anything will be better than the Mud Bowl from last season.