Arkansas 2013 Opponent Preview Week 6: Florida Gators

Andy Lyons

Trap Game for Florida? Winnable Game for the Hogs? Either way it means reason to hope for Arkansas fans heading into Florida this week. Here's what you can expect.

2012 season 11-2 (7-1) Sugar Bowl

After a big dip in the 2011 season, Florida was back to winning ways in 2012.

A loss to Georgia in the regular season was the only thing that kept Florida from playing in Atlanta for an SEC championship. For those of you who have been arguing for a college football playoff, you can ask Florida fans about how one loss can end in a national championship, and a BCS bowl loss to Louisville, cuz they've been through both.

2013 Season 3-1 (2-0)

Florida has certainly bounced around the rankings in the 2013 season. After a convincing win over Kentucky last week, the Gators have managed to halt their slide.

After starting the season ranked #10, Florida dropped in the rankings due to a poor performance against Toledo. The big question from that game, "Why can't Florida score more than 24 on Toldeo?"

Florida dropped to #12, but then lost to Miami. The big question from that game, "Why did Florida turn the ball over 5 times?"

After that loss, the Gators slid to #19 didn't look dominating against Tennessee and lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, so they slid to #20. But they did move up to #18 after a dominant win against Kentucky (24-7, but I guess Kentucky is better than Toledo.)

Offense

Matt Jones and Mack Brown are the story for the 2013 Gators. No, not the former Arkansas Quarterback nor the embattled Texas Coach. They're running backs, and their performances have been up and down this season, but their running attack has been the best part of an offense that has frankly underperformed.

Tyler Murphy has taken over the starting role in Driskel's place, and hasn't been torching defenses with his arm in his two games. If he continues to get run support like Matt Jones gave him during last weeks game against Kentucky, he won't need to. The Arkansas defense has been making opposing quarterbacks, running backs, and opposing offensive coordinators look very good at times this season, and the Hog defense has looked dominant at other times.

It will be very interesting to see how things play out this week with so many questions for these two teams.

Defense

Best defense in the SEC. In recent history, that's been Alabama. Will Muschamp is a former defensive coordinator and comes from the Saban coaching tree, so it's no surprise that he's kept Florida in the top 10 defensively each year he's been there.

Florida hasn't allowed anyone to rush for more than 59 yards all season. Obviously, Arkansas is all about the running game. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams have been the two headed beast for the Hogs this season, but didn't fare well against Rutgers, which has been the best defense they've faced up to this point.

Florida lost one of their best defensive players for the season in defensive tackle Dominique Easley due to an injury suffered in practice recently. During the next game against Kentucky however, the Florida defense still broke through for 5 sacks and looked dominant against an overmatched Kentucky squad. Nose tackle Damien Jacobs has called out the Arkansas Offensive line this week as being dirty and playing a little past the whistle. With the shuffling on the offensive line last week keeping Brandon Allen squeaky clean it's definitely going to be a battle in the trenches.

Special Teams

Florida hasn't given up any touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns, but hasn't scored any themselves. They did give up a touchdown last week to Kentucky on a fake field goal. With the propensity the Arkansas coaching staff has displayed for trick plays this season, I wouldn't be surprised to see Arkansas attempt to pull a fast one.

Kyle Christy handles punting. An All-SEC punter a season ago, Christy has fallen on hard times. He has Florida currently ranked 13th in the SEC in punting average and it didn't help that he dropped a snap during the Tennessee game. Will Muschamp has threatened to take the redshirt off of backup punter Johnny Townsend.

Austin Hardin is the freshman kicker that has the unenviable job of replacing Caleb Sturgis. He's only made 4 out of 7 field goals, but he's been perfect on extra points. Sturgis has been texting him advice though, so maybe that will help him out.

Fans and Traditions

Albert and Alberta the Gator are the male and female Gator mascots. Get it? Albert the Alligator. It's a better name than Chomp or any other Alligator type nickname. It's often shortened to Al, and if you're at the game on Saturday, you will get a chance to hear the Florida Pride of the Sunshine Band play one of my favorite Paul Simon songs "You Can Call me Al" The piccolos (tiny flutes) have a solo during this song, and if you go to a basketball tournament game, you will see the one lone piccolo having to carry this song on their own.

Pride of the Sunshine Marching Band spells out Gator, and it's in cursive, and they do it in like 40 seconds instead of drawing it out like Ohio State University. They also form the State of Florida on the field, but I prefer West Virginia's state modeling.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium aka The Swamp. Ben Hill Griffin made a lot of money on Citrus, I'm guessing that's orange and grapefruits. Naturally he gave a lot of money to Florida, and there you have it, stadium named after him. How did they start calling it the swamp? Steve Spurrier started it all.

". . . a swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous. Only Gators get out alive."

I'd make fun of it, but we're the Razorbacks because of something Hugo Bezdek said like 80 years ago when he was coaching against Spurrier.

Two Bits, Four Bits, 6 Bits, A Dollar. All for the Gators, Stand up and Holler! Mr. Two Bits real name is George Edmondson, but he retired in 2008. Muschamp has been bringing "celebrities" to do the cheer, so expect to keep hearing it.

Gator Chomp is this thing they do with their hands, and they play the jaws theme even though they're Gators. It's weird. Arkansas fans are used to being called Tiger Bait by LSU fans, but get this, Hogs are also good Gator Bait apparently.

The worst Tradition in Gainesville is Razorback losses. In fact, the Hogs haven't beaten Florida in the last 8 tries. I've been hearing that's huge motivation for the Hogs who will see even less of the Gators with SEC expansion, and need to make their presence felt now. Every fan can name a game where the refs cost the game for their team, but Arkansas fans can easily single out the 2009 contest. If you recall, in the 4th quarter, a late hit was called on Malcolm Sheppard that got the referee crew suspended. Let's hope that Karma is on the side of the Hogs this week and the 8 game streak is broken.

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