Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WLOCP Q&A with College Football 365

LeakBrewerGator, the publisher of the Florida Gator blog College Football 365, has joined us again this year for a Q&A before the greatest event in all of college football...The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Catfish & Cornbread: Since Florida is undefeated and ranked No.1 in the country, is this team as good as the '08 or '06 National Title teams?

College Football 365: Right now, this team is nowhere near as good as those two teams. I think they definitely have the potential to be as good as the '06 team, but there are too many missing pieces for them to match last year's ball club.

Comparing this team to the '06 team, I would have to say that the offense is better. The rushing attack is infinitely better than Deshawn Wynn and Kestahn Moore of '06. I would even put the passing game on par with that season.I think Riley Cooper is a better overall receiver than Dallas Baker and Deonte Thompson has the capability of spreading the field even more than Bubba Caldwell did for that team. Defensively, the 2006 team was the best Florida ever had. The front 4 would be the starters on this year's team and only Brandon Spikes would crack the lineup at linebacker. Not to mention the secondary that year played out of their minds.

Compared to last year's team, the offense is no where near the same level as they were a year ago. Losing Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy to the draft, along with Carl Moore to injury really decimated our receiver corps. Our third receiver often times is 5 foot nothing Brandon James! Losing Percy was a big hit to our offense in general. The injury to true Freshman Andre DeBose before the season started really hurt our ability to fill the void Percy left. On the defensive side of the ball, we are just about as good this year as we were last year. The main thing that is literally hurting us is injuries. Defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh, Justin Trattou and Jaye Howard have all missed some time. All-Everything Brandon Spikes has been hurt, and Ahmad Black has been dinged up all season long.

C&C: I know that part of the reason Tim Tebow came back for his senior season was to try and go undefeated for the first time in Gator program history. In my opinion, Florida can lose a game as long as they win the rest and beat Alabama in the title game and they will still be a lock for the BCS Championship Game. How important is that elusive unblemished season and is the pressure getting to the players or coaches?

CFB 365: To the Florida players, going undefeated is extremely important. I honestly have no idea why its taking such a precedent over everything else this season. Having enjoyed three national titles with a one loss team, I don't see the big deal with going undefeated. As far as the pressure of going undefeated, I don't think that's weighing to heavily on any of the players or coaches minds. At least I hope not...

C&C: What's going on in Gainesville with the Gator offense? Is it the the loss of Coach Mullen to Mississippi State, the loss of Harvin and Murphy or just defenses catching up with the Meyer spread?

CFB 365: I think it's a combination of the first two mixed in with a new philosophy in Gainesville. Dan Mullen was a huge loss for this Gator team. Steve Addazio is proving that he may just be a little too conservative to overcome Mullen's departure. We can only run so many dive plays and screens. With all this talk of red zone difficulties, people tend to forget that we didn't even need the red zone at times last season. So may of our scores came from 35+ yards out. That's just not happening this season.

Losing Harvin and Murphy has hurt the Gators a great deal too. Our receiving corps is completely deplete. Add to that the injuries of Carl Moore and Andre DeBose and we have one of the thinnest receiver corps in the conference.

The philosophy change I mentioned seems to be a move from the balanced spread offense that Gator fans are used to seeing to a more run-oriented offense. It seems that Florida is basically running a wishbone, "3 yards and a cloud of dust" offense out of the spread formation. I don't know if I'm reading too much into this, but Urban Meyer, Steve Addazio, QB coach Scot Loeffler and TE coach Brian White all have ties to the Big Ten. That's a lot of offensive coaches coming from a run-oriented conference. Granted the personnel certainly has something to do with this, but it's just a theory.

C&C: Honestly, am I crazy to think Percy Harvin (not Tebow) is the best offensive player to come through the program since Meyer took the job?

CFB 365: This is something I've been saying since Percy and Tim's Freshman season. Before the year even started when everyone was already praising Tebow, I told anybody that would listen that Percy was a better recruit. I think it's showing that his dynamic ability to run and catch the ball really propelled this team last season. I wouldn't just limit the statement to the Meyer Era either. Percy is the best offensive player to wear the Orange and Blue in a very long time.

By the way, do you recall a player as great as Percy Harvin going so unnoticed during his college career? I was always about Tebow. I think a lot of people overlooked and still do overlook what Percy accomplished at UF.

Why do I keep hearing rumblings of some Gator fans looking forward to the post-Tebow era? He's going to go down as one of the best leaders and pure football players in college history. Tell me all the hype and media love isn't getting old even down in Florida.

CFB 365: As someone who was an avid Chris Leak backer during Tebow's Freshman season, even I can't fathom why some Gator "fans" are anxious to see him go. I don't know if people want to see the offense open up the passing game more under Brantley (Which it will) or if they truly are getting tired of the hype. I think Gator fans should just enjoy Tebow while he's here. He's definitely a unique player that will go down as one of the greatest.

As a side note, since I mentioned Chris Leak, this is something that we went through in 2006. People were anxious to get the long time starter out of here and bring in the up and coming back-up. I wonder if it's just a QB flopping mentality that the O'l Ball Coach ingrained into the Florida fan base?

C&C: I know Meyer promised Tebow would get a lot of looks this season under center instead of in the shotgun and that he was going to showcase him as a pure quarterback for the NFL scouts during his final year. Personally, I see him best served at the next level as a Dallas Clark type do everything football player. What position in the NFL do you see him 5 years from now?

CFB 365: I guess you could call me a Tebow Believer because I see him playing quarterback in the NFL 5 years from now. He won't be a starter though, He'll be more like a Pat White, Wildcat change of pace QB. I only say this because Tebow has said that he will be a QB at the next level. For someone as determined as he is, I'll take him for his word.

C&C: Last year we asked you about one of the Gators that we hold in very high regard...Brandon Spikes. Well, he made his presence known from the start in last years Cocktail Party, sending a message to Knowshon that he wasn't going to run wild like the '07 match up. I know he's been fighting a hamstring lately, what's his status for Saturday?

CFB 365: Spikes will play. The coaching staff hasn't released too many details on his status this week, but the fact that he was ready to play against Mississippi St. if needed tells me he's starting this week. We'll need the other linebackers to step up in case Spikes is still a little off. Perhaps Dustin Doe could stop celebrating or getting arrested long enough to repeat his performance from last year's Cocktail Party.

C&C: Staying on my favorite subject - Defense. Since we no longer come close to playing even middle of the road defense in Athens and with a program like Florida, Alabama, LSU and Georgia, the talent will most always be there...what separates the talent is elite defensive coaching. What does Coach Charlie Strong mean to the Gator program and as a fan base how appreciated is he?

CFB 365: I don't think I could express just how much Coach Strong means to this program. The fact that he's not a head coach somewhere actually makes me sick to my stomach. Strong is easily the most important coach on the staff outside of Urb.

One trip to Florida's campus or a conversation with a Florida fan will tell you all you need to know about how much Charlie Strong is appreciated. This has a lot to do with Strong's success as well as his stability. He is the longest tenured coach on Florida's staff. I remember during the 2006 National Championship celebration, Coach Meyer was introduced to a wild standing ovation that lasted for nearly two minutes. Then Urb went through and introduced all the assistant coaches. He saved Charlie for last, even though Greg Mattison got a lot of credit for that year's defense. Fans starting cheering before Urb could even say Charlie's name. When he finally was introduced it sounded like gameday in the Swamp. It was very loud, to say the least. I think Coach Strong's ovation lasted a good 7-8 minutes. I hope he knows he's appreciated.

Tomorrow we will link the questions that CFB 365 asked us and our responses.

See also: CFB 365's Coach Power Ranking.

See also: 2008 Q&A with CFB 365