Gators preparing for experienced giant-killer App State

Gators preparing for experienced giant-killer App State

Published Nov. 18, 2010 9:09 a.m. ET

Florida Gators Football Sideline Reporter

Florida takes on FCS opponent Appalachian State Saturday on senior day. The Mountaineers are ranked N. 2 in the country in the FCS standings and will prove to be a dangerous foe. The Gators are looking to snap a three game home losing streak, which is its longest since 1986. The Gator seniors are 23 strong and have a BCS titles to go with Conference championships in 2006 and 2008.

Florida is playing for pride and a possible New Year's Day Bowl, but will they be ready for an experienced giant-killer? The Mountaineers beat Michigan in 2007 to cement themselves in history, completing the biggest upset in college football history.

The Gator offense has faced much criticism this week for last week's performance. Florida has gotten away from its core philosophy which is to run the football to set up the pass. The Gators have been the conference's best rushing team since Urban Meyer's arrival and this year they are just 10th in the conference. I look for UF to establish the ground game against a smallish (274lbs) defensive line with Appalachian State.

Florida must get better production on first down. They have been in third and long 49 percent of the time this season. Appalachian State gives up 144 yds per game on the ground which is only 51st nationally at the FCS level. Look for Steve Addazio to get the ball to the running backs early and often.

Florida's Achilles heel on defense has been third down. The past four years the Gators have been dominant, but this year they are trending in the wrong direction. South Carolina converted 50 percent of its third down plays mostly because it had the down and distance in its favor.

The Gators are also not getting pressure on the quarterback. With only 20 sacks this season the defense ranks 57th in the country. The good news is that Florida is still 11th nationally in total defense but it