2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 7 - Florida at Auburn
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Oct. 15 at Auburn 17 … Florida 6
CFN Analysis: The Tigers might have won, they might not be doing it pretty, but they've got five wins by being just a little bit better when they have to be. The defense made the most of a miserable quarterback situation at Florida, but Auburn also had the ground game that wasn't there for the Gators. Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb had to work for it, but they did just enough to help Auburn beat Florida 155 to 66 on the ground. Oh yeah, the quarterback situation. Barrett Trotter just isn't getting the job done, completing 2-of-8 passes for 33 yards and a score, and while Clint Moseley wasn't bad, it might be time to sink-or-swim with Kiehl Frazier. The super-frosh completed his only pass for no yards, but he ran eight times for 41 yards. Unfortunately, at LSU is no place to play a true freshman, but Trotter isn't proving to be a better option. The hope has to be for the defense to do just enough to get by, but the pass rush still isn't there.
Is John Brantley really that meaningful for the Gator offense? Apparently so. Auburn didn't care a lick what the Florida quarterbacks were trying to do, all it cared about was stopping the run. Chris Rainey did what he could with 33 yards on 16 carries, but he didn't get any help. Jeff Driskel is a terrific prospect, and he did a decent job completing 9-of-18 passes for 75 yards, but the offense just didn't move. The Gators get two weeks off to lick their wounds from the last three brutal losses, and then come the big games against Georgia, Vanderbilt, and at South Carolina. There's still time to win the East, but the coaching staff needs to use the next two weeks to figure out how to get the offense to stop turning the ball over, how to get everyone to stop putting the ball on the ground, and how to get the running game going again. There's no consistency, and that has to come with or without Brantley.
(AP) AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn Tigers made use of two things that can redeem a struggling offense: big special teams plays and a backup quarterback.
Onterio McCalebb opened the fourth quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run, Ikeem Means recovered a muffed punt late and No. 24 Auburn beat Florida 17-6 in a defensive game that saw seven players take snaps at quarterback. The Tigers also owned the special teams play.
"The kicking game was off the charts," Tigers coach Gene Chizik said. "I really feel it was the difference in the ball game."
Two schools that have combined to win three of the last five national titles with creative attacks, turned to backup QBs in the second half in search of some offensive life.
The Tigers (5-2, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) got a spark from No. 2 quarterback Clint Moseley but also received plenty of help from Florida (4-3, 2-3), which committed three turnovers with two on muffed punts.
The Gators would have had the ball near midfield with about 3 minutes left but Robert Clark had the ball squirt through his arms after calling a fair catch. Cody Parkey then put the game away with a 42-yard field goal with 35 seconds left.
Parkey, who had two earlier misses, nailed the final attempt after getting pushed back 5 yards by a false start penalty. The last five meetings between the teams have gone down to the final minute, with Auburn winning four of them.
Chizik pumped his fists in the air going off the field well after game's end, pointing with both hands toward the "AU" on the back of his jacket as he went.
"We have fought and clawed and scratched our way to five wins, and that's how we're going to do it," he said. "It was just the right people making plays at the right time, and I think that's what won the ball game."
Chizik had plenty to celebrate for a team coming off a lopsided defeat at Arkansas. The Tigers showed periodic signs -- again -- that they could still exceed expectations after losing most of their key players from last year's national title team.
A quarterback change might be in the offing, too. Barrett Trotter went 2-of-8 passing, though he also had a 25-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Benton late in the first quarter.
Moseley then took over in the second half. He wound up having the strongest night of the four primary quarterbacks, going 4 of 7 for 90 yards and a couple of big gainers in his first real chance.
"That's just something I had to tell myself," he said. "If you didn't think it's going to come, why would I just prepare for nothing? I had to convince myself, 'It's going to come. It's going to come.' At first, I didn't handle it very well. I finally calmed down."
With quarterback John Brantley and tailback Jeff Demps out with ankle injuries, the Gators had to rely on two freshman passers.
Florida started Jacoby Brissett for the second straight game, but he also was replaced in the second half. He and Jeff Driskel, two of the top-rated quarterback prospects in this year's class, both completed half of their passes but for mostly short gains.
Driskel was 9 of 18 for 75 yards. Brissett, whose first attempt was intercepted downfield, completed 5 of 10 passes for 45 yards, and both were sacked twice.
Chris Rainey also lost a mishandled punt.
"Turnovers kill us," said Gators coach Will Muschamp, a former Auburn defensive coordinator. "These three turnovers lead to 10 points and really cost you the football game."
The Tigers, whose defense ranked at the bottom of the SEC, turned up the heat with blitzes and heavy pressure on the two youngsters, and held Rainey to 33 yards on 16 rushes.
They had also stopped Florida on a fourth-down attempt from their 16 with just under 10 minutes to play.
It was another blow for a Florida team that was coming off losses to No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama by a combined 79-21. The Gators also lost three straight to SEC West teams last season.
"We don't even look back at last year," Florida linebacker Jonathan Bostic.
Auburn outgained Florida 278-194 in total yards. Mike Dyer ran 23 times for a workmanlike 73 yards and Wildcat QB Kiehl Frazier gained 43.
The Tigers finally stretched the lead to 14-6 with McCalebb's touchdown run on the opening play of the fourth quarter on a zone read by Frazier.
Moseley got Auburn into that position with passes of 15 and 23 yards to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.
Then Driskel took Florida to Auburn's 16 with help from two 15-yard personal foul calls.
Muschamp opted to go for it on fourth-and-4 but Driskel overthrew Deonte Thompson. Muschamp said kicker Caleb Sturgis, who had made two field goals, had hurt his leg and was unavailable for a third.
After the Tigers went three-and-out, Florida lined up to go for another fourth down near midfield but had to punt after a false start. David Lerner buried the Tigers at the 3 with 5:31 left.
All they could do was burn a couple of minutes off the clock with three straight runs up the gut by Mike Dyer, but Clark's miscue on the ensuing punt -- another high, arching boot by Steven Clark -- gave Auburn's offense a chance to put it away.
"Those things were in the clouds," Chizik said.
Florida (4-2) at Auburn (4-2) Oct. 15, 7:00, ESPN/ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Auburn might have lost to Arkansas this week, but the program came up with a huge win when the NCAA didn't find any evidence of wrongdoing regarding all the various allegations swirling around the program. Now it's time to get back to figuring out how to quickly reload to get back to that national title level, and while the Tigers have been a big inconsistent, they haven't been that bad.
Auburn is going through the growing pains of reloading, while Florida continues to try to get back on track with a young team, a new coaching staff, and problems with injuries and a quarterback situation that turned ugly in a hurry.
Auburn is a year behind Florida in the process. The Gators came up with an epic recruiting class a few years ago, and then Auburn loaded up with a phenomenal haul of its own that needs time to mature. Along the way, both teams are good enough to out-athletic most mediocre teams, but they're having problems against the elite. Florida couldn't do anything against Alabama and LSU over the last few weeks, but that's Alabama and LSU. Auburn came up with a tremendous win over South Carolina – ugly, but tremendous – and then couldn't keep up with Arkansas. Both teams are good, both teams are loaded with speed and athleticism, and both are looking to go on a roll over the second half of the season to set the tone for a big 2012.
Auburn has it tough, though, with LSU and Alabama still to play, along with a trip to Georgia, and while this isn't looking like a true SEC title contender, everything is still there for the taking. It's a reach, but this is a gravy year; whatever the Tigers can do after last season is a bonus.
Florida still has the SEC title there for the taking, too, with Georgia and South Carolina still to play, but there's a chance the wheels come completely off without better quarterback play over the next few weeks. After playing Bama and LSU, though, everyone else will look like they're going in slow motion.
Why Florida Might Win: The Gators might be able to pull this off by going to old-school Florida, or at least relatively-recent Florida, and start spreading it up. They tried to throw a wrench into the system early on against LSU by running quarterback Trey Burton out of the spread, and it didn't work. With John Brantley and Jeff Driskel hurt, the Gator coaching staff had to do something.
There was no chance of running the spread well against LSU and a brick wall of a defensive front. Auburn's front seven has been soft, having major problems with Utah State's spread to start the season and giving up 333 yards on the ground to Mississippi State a week later. The Tigers are allowing 202 rushing yards per game, and, basically, the Oregon offense that was stopped cold in the national championship would go ballistic against this defense. Florida has the speed and the wheels to crank out yards in chunks if it's able to get Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps in space and going. Demps is fighting through a shoulder problem, but Rainey has the wheels to crank out yards in chunks.
Why Auburn Might Win: Go ahead, Florida, throw the ball. Auburn dares you.
With Brantley and Driskel out still hurting, there won't be any deep shots down the field. Sure, the Gators will try to push it long once or twice just to show that it's trying, but that'll only be for show. Auburn can sell out and try to stop the run and the short to midrange throws, and if the Gator running game isn't working, the Gator offense won't be working.
Florida's offense has been a problem, but over the last few weeks the run defense has been just as much of an issue. The defensive line that's full of four and five star talents, and has depth and NFL skill across the board, was eaten alive by Alabama for 226 yards and four scores and LSU for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Auburn's offensive line isn't playing nearly as well as the LSU and Alabama lines, but it's been getting better. It pushed around the South Carolina line on the way to a huge day for star running back Michael Dyer. Auburn isn't going to get fancy. It'll line up and slam away with the running game as long as it works, and after the last two weeks, it should work just fine.
What To Watch Out For: Jacoby Brissett, get back out there. Jeff Driskel is still in the mix for the starting job and is practicing this week, but his ankle is still a problem. John Brantley is still out with an ankle injury and the Gator coaching staff is scrambling. Whichever quarterback is under center will get to try throwing a few more deep balls. Brissett has a great arm, and while he's mobile, he's not a pure runner. He's a great fit for the Charlie Weis offense, eventually, and he has to show off his skills a bit to loosen up the Tiger D. Don't be shocked if Burton gets under center to run a little bit of spread here and there to mix things up.
Auburn will go with Barrett Trotter … for now. Last week he was yanked for star recruit Kiehl Frazier, who promptly completed 2-of-4 passes for 18 yards with two interceptions against the Arkansas defense, but ran for 54 yards and a score. Trotter was awful against the Hogs, completing 6-of-19 passes for 81 yards, but he hasn't been all that bad outside of his interception problems. Trotter has thrown six picks in the last five games and has struggled with his accuracy against the better teams. He's not getting a whole bunch of time to work.
What Will Happen: Welcome to the Michael Dyer show. He was supposed to be able to run wild on the bad Arkansas defense, and he did, taking off for 112 yards and a touchdown on just 21 carries, but he'll need to do even more against the Gators. Florida's running game will be explosive, but the quarterback play will sputter just enough to give Auburn a few key turnovers to convert. Auburn already won in a lot of ways this week, and on Saturday, it'll do it on the field.
CFN Prediction: Auburn 26 … Florida 23
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