Defense ready for challenge


Florida's Brandon Spikes tackles Georgia's Knowshon Moreno during the first quarter in Jacksonville on Nov. 1.

Brian W. Kratzer/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 12:04 a.m.

Florida will face one of the most prolific offenses in college football history when it meets Oklahoma on Jan. 8 in the BCS title game.

In a season in which the Florida defense has risen to every challenge, this may be the biggest yet. The Sooners, behind Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford and a stout offensive line, have scored at least 60 points in five straight games and are averaging 54 points per game.

Since 1937, only one Division I team (Army in 1944, 56 ppg) has averaged more points.

"They haven't played against us," Florida sophomore cornerback Joe Haden said. "The way our team is looking at it is, they haven't put 60 points up on us. Nobody has put 60 points up on us. So we feel like if we come out and play to the top of our abilities, nobody should be able to score that many points."

Oklahoma's offense suffered a blow earlier this week when the school announced redshirt sophomore running back DeMarco Murray will undergo surgery on a ruptured hamstring tendon and miss the game. But the Sooners will still have fellow 1,000-yard rusher Chris Brown in the backfield.

"They have a lot of other great backs so that doesn't really mean much to us," Florida sophomore defensive lineman Justin Trattou said.

What concerns Florida coach Urban Meyer is the tempo of Oklahoma's offense, which is why there has been a heavy emphasis on conditioning this week in practice.

"We've been working on that, trying to get our conditioning up and just kind of get ready for it," Trattou said. "It will be a little bit different pace for us, but we're trying to get ready for it."

Oklahoma's offensive line is anchored by left guard Duke Robinson, a first-team All-American, and averages 310 pounds across the front five.

"We've gone against some really good offensive lines this year, especially our last game against Alabama," Trattou said. "It was a good test for us, and it will carry over into the title game."

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