|Role reversal for Miami-Florida rematch in Swamp|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 04 September 2008 10:50|
Zook's vision was impeccable. He just didn't expect Miami to look so different, too.
But when the two programs meet Saturday night in Gainesville for the first time since Miami's 41-16 victory in 2002, they will be in reversed roles.
The No. 5 Gators (1-0) are the highly ranked program with a recent national championship, not to mention their Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and talented running backs and receivers all around him.
The Hurricanes (1-0), meanwhile, are a little more than a year removed from a coaching change, coming off a disappointing 5-7 season - their worst in 30 years - and trying to get back into the national spotlight.
``It's a whole different year,'' Florida linebacker Brandon Hicks said. ``Miami's going to come in here and we're going to show them what the Florida Gators look like.''
Florida looks much different than it did six years ago. Not only has Urban Meyer replaced Zook, but Florida has traded in all those bubble screens for the high-scoring spread offense and has playmakers everywhere.
There's Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and running backs Kestahn Moore, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. There's receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, linebacker Brandon Spikes, hard-hitting safety Major Wright and a slew of defensive linemen itching to rush the quarterback.
Florida even looks a little like Miami did in 2002, when quarterback Ken Dorsey needed three or four footballs to get everybody involved.
He had Andre Johnson, Roscoe Parrish and Kellen Winslow II running routes, Willis McGahee in the backfield and seven - yes, seven - future first-round NFL draft picks on defense. Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams, Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, Jerome McDougle and William Joseph all played key roles on that side of the ball.
e Spurrier took over the program and led it to greatness.
But not even Spurrier could have saved the Gators against Miami. They were too overmatched.
The Hurricanes ran for 306 yards (204 for McGahee) and finished with 508 total yards, easily overcoming three turnovers and 14 penalties for 134 yards.
They were just as good on defense, badgering Rex Grossman into two interceptions, no TD passes and just 19 completions in 45 attempts.
``We want to have the same kind of players they've got,'' Zook said after the game. ``And we will. We will do the recruiting job. We need to raise the talent level.''
Six years later, the Hurricanes are the ones talking about closing the gap.
``You want to get to that level,'' Miami coach Randy Shannon said. ``Florida's been one of the premier teams in the country for probably the last four or five years. You always want to get back to that level.
``We really need a game like this. This is a big-time game, big-time atmosphere, on the road. ... We need to know where we're at as a staff and as a football team at this point. Playing Florida is a great opportunity.''
The Hurricanes opened with a 52-7 victory against Charleston Southern, a Championship Subdivision school that was overmatched at every position. It was a nice confidence builder for the Miami, but did little to sway oddsmakers in Las Vegas.
Miami was a 21 1/2-point underdog against Florida, which thumped Hawaii 56-10 last week.
``There's a lot of emotions on this team right now,'' 'Canes left tackle Jason Fox said. ``On the outside, those who aren't involved with this organization, not a lot of people are giving us a chance right now and that kind of fires everybody up.''
The Gators have plenty of motivation, too, having lost the last six games in the series. Their last victory came in 1985, before most of the current players were even born.
``I know how good Miami's been over the years and how dominant they were,'' defensive lineman Duke Lemmens said. ``They have a long winning streak in the series, but we're hoping to change that and we're hoping to show them a little something about The Swamp.''