Capital One storylines
Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.
You've got to have Hart
Michigan is a different team when senior tailback Mike Hart is healthy, and that's what he is after missing three of Michigan's last five games with an ankle injury. Had Hart not been injured this season, he might have been the Heisman winner instead of Tim Tebow. He was the first running back in the country to reach 1,000 yards rushing this season and was on his way to a monster year before getting hurt. Still, he rushed for 1,232 yards and 12 touchdowns and has a chance to end his Michigan career with a big game against what has been a shaky UF defense.
Keeping an eye on Manningham
Hart isn't the only big-time playmaker the Gators will have to try and slow down today. Junior wide receiver Mario Manningham is a speedster and game-breaker and the player the Wolverines turn to in clutch situations. He's caught 67 passes for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns and is averaging 16.4 yards per reception. UF's young corners and young safety (true freshman Major Wright) will be facing one of their toughest tests of the season.
Running with Percy
Wide receiver Percy Harvin pretty much took over the tailback position (and the running game) in the victory over Florida State in November. He gave UF a breakaway threat at the position and rushed for 157 yards on a career-high 17 carries. Harvin sprained his ankle last Wednesday, but he's expected to be fine for today's game. His playmaking ability in the backfield has a tendency to keep opposing defenses off balance, something the Wolverines will have to contend with today.
Looking for some playmakers
As good as he has been lately running the ball, the Gators may need to line Harvin up more at wide receiver in this game because some playmakers are missing. Riley Cooper is out with a broken finger and Jarred Fayson is no longer on the team and transferring to Illinois. That leaves UF a little shy at the wide receiver positions. A guy who might have a chance to show what he can do is redshirt freshman Justin Williams, who has been making strides in practice, according to the coaches.
Protecting the franchise
Tebow has downplayed his broken right hand this week, saying it is pretty much healed and he'll be full-go for today's game. Still, there is some pain and a big hit on the hand could do some damage. Tebow has shown he's a tough guy, but the coaches might cut down on his planned running plays just to be safe. Since he's probably going to be spending more time in the pocket, Tebow will need consistent protection from an offensive front that has given up only 12 sacks this season.
Today's game questions
1. Will Tim Tebow show any symptoms of a Heisman hangover?
2. Have the Wolverines found a way to slow down the spread offense after early season failures against Appalachian State and Oregon?
3. Will UF's defense build on the strong performance against FSU or take a step backward?
4. Can the Gators limit Michigan running back Mike Hart to less than 100 yards rushing?
5. Will Aaron Hernandez add a playmaking dimension to the fullback position?
Check back after the game for Andreu's Answers and more analysis
Comments are currently unavailable on this article