Hot Reads: Gators officially on upset alert - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Hot Reads: Gators officially on upset alert

Will Muschamp has guided his team to an undefeated record, and the Gators are no longer a surprise. But there are weaknesses in the Gators' armor that could prove costly. (Source: UF Communications) Will Muschamp has guided his team to an undefeated record, and the Gators are no longer a surprise. But there are weaknesses in the Gators' armor that could prove costly. (Source: UF Communications)
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(RNN) – Before you get angry, Florida fans, please give us a chance to explain ourselves.

First of all, accept the fact that we really, really like your team. Plus we're basing our prediction of Florida's impending doom on reliable scientific research derived from space-age technology and the same algorithms that helped Google take over 65 percent of the world.

OK, that's not all true. Maybe none of it's true, especially since Google's world domination is somewhere in the 70 percent range.

But hey, play dissection and stat breakdowns have worked for years, and there's no reason to believe they will fail us now. Seriously, you will want to hear this.

Elsewhere in the football-worshiping part of the world, Alabama is still great, Kentucky is still terrible and if Tennessee fans weren't so proud they would cry themselves to sleep. We hear shooting hot water heaters is a great stress reliever as well. Just saying.

It's going to be a fun weekend, so let's make this thing do what it does.

Florida on Fast Track … To Disappointment

If you're looking for the story of the year in the 2012 NFL Lite season, the Gators have to make your short list.

You could squint your eyes and imagine the blue and orange turning to crimson and white, and that would pretty much sum up the type of game Florida plays. Apparently, Will Muschamp absorbed a lot from his old boss, Nick Saban.

If they beat Georgia (and that seems likely) there are only speed bumps the rest of the way on the road to the SEC Championship.

There are some major concerns about them, however.

First, you can count on Jeff Driskel going down in the backfield at least three times per game. Twenty-one sacks is a lot and a major reason a unit so talented is only 11th in the league in total offense. That could have something to do with the freakishly talented defensive lines the Gators have played, but still, that many hits add up.

Then there's penalties, and well, the picture gets even uglier. Only LSU and Texas A&M are worse, and those two have already taken a loss with more possibly coming.

There's also third-down conversions (We know you think this is tedious, but it's important and there's a lesson here, so pay attention). A 39 percent success rate is only acceptable if you lead the universe in first downs because that means your offense is explosive and you don't need all three downs to move the ball. But you've seen Florida play, and you know that offense is about as explosive as a neutered dog's love life. The Gators are near the bottom of the league in plays of 20 yards or more.

So here's what we've learned: Leaky O-line + mental errors + unreliable clutch ball movement = highly ranked team on upset alert. Obviously, no team is perfect (Even Alabama's team bus has a leaky front-left tire), but these mistakes are silent killers – they don't hit you until late and they can devastate you.

Florida is headed toward derailment at the hands of an underdog because internal problems will cost them.

Don't say you weren't warned.

SEC vs. SEC

You had better have a very good excuse for not watching Mississippi State and Alabama play on Saturday. If you're taking a trip to grandma's house, convince her something that happens in this game might be a question on Jeopardy!, and watching will give her the inside track once Alex Trebek gives the clue.

Grandma doesn't have cable? You have a couple of days to get her set up. (Wait a second. Everyone has cable. Granny's holding out on you, my friend.)

Alabama is, obviously, the best team in the country as well as an honorary member of the NFC South.

This is how scary Alabama is:

Its top-ranked defense could stop everything short of military tanks, but there is not a single player that ranks in the top 50 in the country in tackles. A.J. McCarron is the most efficient QB in the country and worthy of at least a little Heisman mention, but there aren't 10 people within shouting distance who could pick him out of a police lineup.

But we have managed to find one stat category that the Crimson Tide is getting killed in. They have gained three first downs by means of penalties, and opponents have gained six. The old college math tells us that Bama is getting beaten twice as badly in that department. Slackers.

The most interesting thing about this game is what the Bulldogs are going to do.

"They always play tough against us. They don't play OK against us; they play well," Nick Saban said. "They have a good defensive team, they have good players and they have a really good offensive team. They have really good balance and a good quarterback that can throw the ball. They are committed to running it, and do a good job of it. Their running back leads the league, I think, in rushing."

A good running game and balance on a team that is 7-0? Unfathomable. Did you hear that Auburn and LSU? It works. It actually works!

Want a passing game? Got that, too. Tyler Russell is ahead of Johnny Manziel, Jeff Driskel and Connor Shaw in QB efficiency.

Speaking of passing, McCarron and Russell will go head-to-head against two of the best corners in the business in the Bulldogs' Johnthan Banks and the Tide's Dee Milliner. That is assuming those guys see a ball thrown to their area of the field.

So with all due respect to Granny, you absolutely have to clear your schedule and make sure you watch this game. Don't worry. She's experienced enough to know it's nothing personal.

Please, Don't Threaux

In case you didn't know, Zach Mettenberger cannot throw the ball deep. Oh sure, it was windy Saturday, and his coach did a valiant job defending his quarterback and blaming penalties, this, that and the other.

But seriously, it was sickening to watch him launch the ball 20 yards down the field on first down drive after drive.

Echoing the earlier sentiments of What We Learned, we strongly urge Les Miles and offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa to stop pretending they have a quarterback or an overall offensive identity that allows them to chunk the ball at will.

A. You don't … B. It's not necessary (Really. Trust us. We know you don't have any reason to do so, but take a leap of faith) … C. You have these awesome things called running backs and lots of them. … D. You can't beat Alabama like that (And you really should know that by now).

Hot Reads said several weeks ago that Mettenberger would be fine, and the coaching would compensate for any deficiencies. We have been made liars thus far.

It's understandable that you want to throw the ball because the opponent will crowd the line, but why so far down the field? Mettenberger was awesome when he was throwing intermediate routes.

Miles literally took the ball out of his QB's hands in the middle of the third quarter and let Spencer Ware run the wildcat. On that drive - six runs, one pass. Yaaaay! You let your kicker attempt a 54-yarder with the wind whipping around the field. Nooooo!

This was a classic case of outthinking yourself – doing things out of your character because the opponents don't expect it. At least, that's the only justifiable explanation we can think of right now.

It was the same thing on defense. Instead of running stunts and spying on Johnny Manziel, LSU played the most vanilla scheme on the first two drives of the game, and the Aggies pretty much made the Tigers say, "Yes sir. May I please have some more?"

Not to mention, the Tigers' once-formidable offensive line is now held together by duct tape and prayers. Even grandma knows the best medicine for hurting or second-string blockers is a good, road-grading ground game.

This Week's Unique Stat

58-37-5: Here's something Mizzou football fans can pride themselves on, if nothing else this season. Columbia is accepted as the birthplace of the homecoming tradition, and the Tigers have a healthy winning percentage in those games. They play Kentucky this week and could very well drive that win total up to 58 against the one-win Wildcats. We think. Hope. Wildly guess?

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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