With Urban Meyer scouring the country stealing recruits and hiring new coaches and Buckeye Nation turning its eyes toward the 2012 season, it is easy to forget that we’ve still got a bowl to play. No, the Gator Bowl doesn’t provide the BCS glitz that Buckeye fans have become accustomed to over the years but it does provide the chance to notch a winning season and rinse out lingering BCS Championship frustrations.
Like the Buckeyes, the Gators are coming off a rough year and facing the possibility of their first losing season since the late ’70s. Florida coach Will Muchamp is struggling to rebuild a program somewhat decimated after the loss of their all-star quarterback. A win in the Gator Bowl would provide a much needed momentum boost as they head into the 2012 season.
Florida offensive coordinator and former Notre Dame flop Charlie “insert joke here” Weis has left to start a five
step year program at Kansas. Running back coach Brian White will be stepping in to call the plays. Weis has given the Gators nothing to brag about in the way of offensive play calling during the past season and White knows that this is his audition for the full-time position. It will be interesting to see if he takes an aggressive approach or settles back into a conservative, Jim Bollman style offense.
Florida quarterback Johnny Brantley has tried his hardest to fill the giant shoes left by his predecessor and he’s had his moments. He’s also been susceptible to fairly significant downfalls. As a senior, Mushamp has tagged Brantley as the starting quarterback but that doesn’t mean we may not see freshmen backups Jacoby Brissette or Jeff Driskell take a few snaps.
A healthy Buckeye defense, a defense like we saw in the first three quarters of the Nebraska game or against Wisconsin, should be able to give Brantley trouble and control the Gator offense. Shake him up, limit Florida’s ability to adjust and in turn, keep them off the field and the Buckeyes should be in for a good day.
Although the Gator defense is ranked 9th in the country, they are 40th against the rush and have given up their share of big plays. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are starting to find their own rhythm when it comes to big yards. It may well be that the home run play could be the clincher for the Buckeyes — either in the air or on the ground. Against Michigan, we saw the potential of the Braxton Miller/DeVier Posey connection. We’ve also seen Miller’s speed in an open field and his ability to salvage a broken play. Add a hungry Boom Herron looking to end his career on a high note and the Buckeyes could find the combination they need.
How about it Buckeye fans (and any passing Gator fans). With both teams looking to the future, will there be enough excitement there to mentally get up for this game? If they do, what will it take to end this season on a high note.