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10 Questions: Does Florida have enough firepower for FSU?

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Can the University of Florida find enough offensive sizzle to get past FSU?

The Gators’ offense is stuck in a ditch, isn’t it? Twenty against FAU. Twenty-four against South Carolina. Nine against Vandy. It’s a testament to the Florida defense that it is a once-beaten team. Florida hasn’t scored more than 28 since the Ole Miss game.

Florida’s offense has looked, frankly, like a boxer on the ropes for a month. FSU has too many playmakers for that to continue.

It all has changed the betting odds of the game. Florida opened as a 3-point favorite but is now a 2-point underdog.

Florida will try to change that against the Seminoles, but Florida is pretty good on defense, too. This is Treon Harris’ game. If the Gators are going to stay in the national playoff race, it’ll be up to him.

Can Central Florida get enough energy from its rivalry against USF to make this a game?

Expect the Knights to play with maximum effort. Rivalries can do wonderful things for a team.

The question, at 0-11, is if UCF has enough weapons to hang with a USF team that has reached its stride. The Bulls still have a shot at the AAC East title (a win coupled with a Temple loss) and not many teams run as relentlessly as the Bulls do.

Emotion will keep UCF in the game for a while. But USF simply has more weapons this year than UCF, which ranks 114th on defense.

It isn’t a rivalry game, but does the University of Miami have enough defense to stop Pitt?

The Panthers opened the question in last week’s 45-34 victory of Louisville, scoring 42 first-half points and rushing for 244 yards against a defense that had ranked No. 11 in the country. But Miami’s defense played well for a change in last week’s victory over Georgia Tech, hardly resembling the unit that gave up 59 to North Carolina and 58 to Clemson.

Still, the Hurricanes are only 81st in the nation on defense. With UM, the question is always on defense. And on focus.

Who’s better? FSU’s Jalen Ramsey or Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves?

It’s a beauty contest. Both are solid cover guys who are capable of the big play. I saw one NFL mock draft this week (Walterfootball.com) that says that Hargreaves will be the fourth player taken and Ramsey the sixth. Another (CBSsports.com) has Ramsey fourth and Hargreaves 11th.

How would you rate the top running backs of the state?

For a while, it was as if the tailbacks had run off to another state. But this year, there was plenty of talent to be had.

Dalvin Cook, without question, is the most dynamic back in the state with 1,475 yards. Follow him with USF’s Marlon Mack (1,171), then Florida’s Kelvin Taylor (841), then Miami’s Joe Yearby (840). It’s a pretty good list.

After playing the University of Florida in a tough game, does FAU have enough firepower to beat Old Dominion?

If not, it says more about the University of Florida’s struggles than it does FAU. The Owls have had a couple of good games this year (Miami, FIU), but they’ve failed to make key plays in too many games.

Against the Monarchs, they should be a dominating defense and a capable offense. It will be enough to make FAU wish it could simply start again.

How are things going with the Miami coaching search?

The speculation, at least, is finally headed to where it should have been all along. Instead of reaching to the past with Butch Davis or Greg Schiano, the Hurricanes need to find a guy who is young, who knows the program, and who knows Miami athletes.

To an outsider, that just seems to be Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal.

Does Randy Shannon make any sense at UCF?

Actually, he does. Remember, Shannon was the guy who warned the program about rogue booster Nevin Shapiro. He would give UCF some direction. Those who were saying that UCF is a better job than Miami were saying it for effect – who can get the better recruit? – but the Knights job isn’t bad. The right coach can turn it around quickly.

Shannon would be able to recruit some in South Florida. He’d certainly have a better defense than this year’s.

Besides its offensive woes, do the Gators have any other concerns going into this week?

Yes. The Gators’ defensive line is beaten up. Alex McAlister is out and Jon Bullard is “likely out.” That’s going to be tough even for a deep defense.

Still, Florida is the sixth-best defense in the country and the Gators’ best shot.

Should USF buy a fruit basket for the guy who gave them a vote in this week’s AP Poll?

Maybe. But it starts with one for coach Willie Taggart. Being tied for 40th probably wouldn’t mean a lot to Florida or FSU, but USF has been in some awfully dark places. If I’m USF, I’m getting a copy of that guy’s ballot and putting it in a frame.

Who knows? If things break just right for the Bulls, maybe they can get another vote next week.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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