Blue Robot

Outback Bowl Preview

Posted by Joe Chuba on 12/13 at 09:14 AM

Steve Jones previews Penn State’s Outback Bowl oppenent Florida

One day Urban Meyer was on a conference call telling all of us that he wants to rebuild Florida right and get back to the four basic principles he has for success and then 48 hours later he resigned.  It certainly adds an interesting twist to the game as one of the game’s top coaches has decided he needs to step away.  While Will Muschamp recruits for the future at Florida Meyer will coach for the present.  There are pros and cons to all of this.  The pro for Florida is that there is a motivation for the players to send Meyer out right.  The con is the rest of Florida staff needs to split time between preparing for Penn State and finding new employment for their future which they want to lock up as soon as possible. 
Once the pads collide, it just becomes a game and one both teams want badly.
Penn State has 59 freshmen and sophomores on this team.  Bowl practice will be critical to not only win the game but also to get a jump on 2011.  The first week in Florida is like another spring practice.  The second week is a regular game week and with the game on a Saturday it is a nice and natural game week set up.
Time has allowed some injuries to heal.  Linebacker Michael Mauti should be back at full go for practices and the game.  Same for Jack Crawford who played down the stretch but can now go more plays.  The Nittany Lions will need both of them because depth will be very important in this one. 
Florida produced 24 takeaways that turned into 101 points this season.  When you see these numbers you think right away that this team was at least 10-2.  Well then ended up 7-5 in part because of the turnovers they committed.  Florida was actually minus one in giveaway/takeaway.  They turned the ball over 25 times and seven of those turnovers were in the red zone.  The kicking game did not help.  Chas Henry won the Ray Guy award as the best punter in college football this season but when Caleb Sturgis went down with a back injury Henry had to perform double duty and the placekicking part was with mixed results.  Not only did Florida commit the seven red zone turnovers they also missed four field goals in the red zone this season.
Many at Florida pin a lot of the problems at the feet of the quarterbacks.  John Brantley threw nine touchdown passes but also tossed nine interceptions.  Trey Burton gives Florida a triple threat as a quarterback, wide receiver and runner.  Jordan Reed plays tight end and quarterback.  They will break the huddle with all three and you have to see which one is the quarterback.
Jeff Demps won the NCAA 100 meter sprint championship last June.  He brings that speed to the field as the team’s leading rusher.  Florida gets the ball into the hands of as many as ten players a game. 
On defense they were placed in tough spots all season because of the turnovers.  Strong safety Ahmad Black had a great season with a team leading 102 tackles including ten of them for losses.  He picked off a team leading three passes while grabbing two fumbles and forcing three others. 
It may be the final game for Urban Meyer and the final game of the 2010 season but it is also a very important one of the Nittany Lions to finish on an up note and set the tone for 2011. 


Game Notes
Penn State’s last trip to the Outback Bowl was in 2007, a 20-10 victory over Tennessee
The Nittany Lions are 3-0 in the Outback Bowl
This is the 37th bowl for Joe Paterno
He has a 24-11-1 record
This is Coach Paterno’s 2nd meeting against Florida
Penn State lost the 1998 Citrus Bowl to Florida 21-6
The Nittany Lions are 9-5 in bowl games vs. the SEC

{name} Author: Joe Chuba
Bio: Sports Producer for WPSU-TV

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