Some people I’ve talked to were stunned by the whipping Michigan put on Florida on Tuesday in the Capital One Bowl. I was not.
Late last week when Urban Meyer compared Michigan’s offense to Georgia’s, I had a real strong feeling the Gators were not going to be able to stop the Wolverines, and that’s exactly the way it played out.
Michigan has an offensive top three as good as any in the country ” quarterback Chad Henne, tailback Mike Hart and wide receiver Marion Manningham. With a month to break down UF’s young defense on tape, the Wolverines came up with an almost infallible game plan for shredding the Gators.
This was a Florida defense that seemed to be righting itself toward the end of the season, with some of the young players starting to come on and make a significant contribution. The performance against FSU was viewed as a breakthrough by some, but the bottom line is FSU’s offense has had problems scoring most of the season.
The defense we saw Tuesday is the same one that couldn’t stop Georgia or LSU or South Carolina or just about everybody else on the schedule.
I have a feeling this will be a much different looking defense in 2008 as Urban Meyer and his assistants start breaking down the personnel and what went wrong this season. Meyer hinted the defense will be coached differently in some ways. That does not mean changes are coming on the coaching staff (they’re not), it just means UF will try to take a different approach to certain aspects and come up with a better plan to help the players succeed.
There’s no question the line will be better, even if Derrick Harvey leaves for the NFL, which I’m pretty certain he will do. UF has some talented young kids waiting for their shot (including John Brown, Carlos Dunlap, Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens) and they’ll be bigger, stronger and more mature in 2008.
As for the secondary, it remains a huge question mark to me. If Joe Haden is the best cornerback UF has, that is not a good sign. It’s nothing against Haden, but he didn’t start playing defensive back until he arrived at UF this past spring. Jacques Rickerson, Wondy Pierre-Louis and Markihe Anderson did some good things at times, but I question their ability to cover and break on the ball. And I really wonder about the speed of Rickerson and Anderson, especially Rickerson.
The cornerback positions will be the biggest concern heading into the spring ” and most likely all the way into next season.
One thing is for certain: the expectations will not be off the charts like they would have been had the Gators won in Orlando. Actually, that may be a good thing as this young team tries to move forward.