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UF Keys to Victory

ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published September 6, 2003

UF wins if it ...

CONTAINS MIAMI'S RUSHING GAME: More than 300 of Miami's 508 yards in this game last season came from the running game as Willis McGahee became a household name. Such a performance by Frank Gore will mean another big-time loss. The Gators' missed assignments on gap-control defense created big holes for McGahee. They say this time, the key is simple: stay with your man, don't overpursue, tackle.

AVOIDS THE DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS SYNDROME: It has been 16 years since Florida played Miami in the Orange Bowl and the Gators had 33 players make their college debut last week. They need to shake the jitters quickly. If quarterbacks Ingle Martin, Chris Leak and the young defensive front can't handle the hostile environment, it could be a long night.

PROTECTS THE QUARTERBACK: Florida will play two, maybe three quarterbacks and none will make a difference if its offensive line can't handle the lightning quick, experienced defensive front of the Hurricanes. The quarterbacks are rookies, the linemen are not. Among its weakest links early last season, Florida's offensive line has improved and put together a solid performance last week. The real test comes tonight.

PLAYS WELL ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Florida's Achilles' heel last season, the special teams showed significant improvement last week. The unit needs even more improvement tonight. The Hurricanes scored on a punt return last week. UF kicker Matt Leach was perfect on field goals and extra points and needs to have another solid outing. Punt and kickoff coverage will be crucial for the Gators.

ESTABLISHES THE RUN: To help take pressure off their quarterbacks, the Gators need to run the ball. Florida seeks a more balanced offense and rushed for 167 yards against San Jose State. The Gators have depth with Ran Carthon, DeShawn Wynn and Ciatrick Fason, and if they can stay fresh and be productive it will open the passing game for Florida's quarterbacks.

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