Florida Gators: Dustin Hopkins

Tagging the Gators: K Caleb Sturgis

December, 26, 2012
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at K Caleb Sturgis.

K Caleb Sturgis
Redshirt senior
23-for-27 field goals; 32-for-33 PATs; 101 points

[+] EnlargeCaleb Sturgis
Rob Foldy/Icon SMIPlace-kicker Caleb Sturgis' 69 career field goals are a University of Florida record.
Role in 2012: Sturgis had the best season of his career and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top kicker.

The good: Sturgis’ 23 field goals tied Bobby Raymond’s single-season record and his 69 career field goals are a school record. He already holds the school record with eight field goals of 50 or more yards. He affected the way offensive coordinator Brent Pease called plays because once the Gators got to the 35-yard line they were in Sturgis’ range, so Pease would get a little more conservative to make sure they didn’t lose an almost sure chance for three points.

The bad: What can you find wrong with the greatest kicker in school history? He probably worked out too much early in his career, which was a factor in the back injury that cost him the final nine games of the 2010 season. He has backed off a bit and works out enough to maintain his strength and flexibility.

Crystal ball: Sturgis is Mel Kiper, Jr.’s, second-ranked kicker behind Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins. He’ll be drafted and should have a long career in the NFL. He’s very accurate (79.3 percent in his career and 85 percent his final two seasons) and his strong leg will allow him to be effective in bad weather. If he lands with a dome team he could become a consistent long-range weapon the way he was at Florida.
No. 4 Florida (10-1) at No. 10 Florida State (10-1)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.

Gators to watch

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel, Mike Gillislee
Kevin Liles/US PRESSWIREMike Gillislee is nearing the 1,000-yard mark on the season.
RB Mike Gillislee: The senior needs just 36 yards to become the first Florida player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. He’ll certainly get his chance. The Gators are going to try and pound the football, similar to the way they did against LSU. The running game might not gain much early, but the hope is that the OL eventually wears down FSU’s DL and Gillislee will have more success in the fourth quarter. Gillislee hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards against an FBS school since he had 146 against LSU on Oct. 6. He had a career-high 34 carries in that game and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t get at least 25 against FSU.

NT Omar Hunter: FSU is averaging about 100 yards more per game rushing this season than during 2011 and the Noles have run for at least 237 yards in two of their last three games (they had minus-15 vs. Virginia Tech). Stopping the running game starts with stopping up the middle of the line, and that’s Hunter’s job. The fifth-year senior is having his best season (36 tackles) and is a big part of the Gators’ success against the rush (95.2 yards per game, sixth nationally).

CB Marcus Roberson: Roberson has a tough job on Saturday because FSU’s top three receivers are a handful. They’re big, physical players -- especially Rodney Smith (6-foot-6, 219 pounds) and Kelvin Benjamin (6-5, 242) -- and Roberson is not exactly the most physical corner. UF plays almost exclusively man coverage so he’ll match up with each of them and the Gators need him to keep them from making big plays down the field. Plus, he’ll likely return punts again this week. He did a good job last week of running up and making a fair catch in traffic to save the Gators yardage. He needs to do that against the Noles.

(Read full post)

Breaking down UF-FSU matchups 

November, 19, 2012
GatorNation's Michael DiRocco and NoleNation's David Hale break down Saturday's Florida-Florida State game in Tallahassee, Fla.:

UF offense vs. FSU defense

Florida: The Gators have really struggled to move the ball during the second half of the season, especially through the air. Teams are stacking the box and concentrating on stopping RB Mike Gillislee (964 yards, 8 TDs). The pass protection has been inconsistent and the receivers, other than TE Jordan Reed, have trouble separating. UF isn’t able to mount more than one or two sustained drives against good defenses.

Florida State: The numbers speak volumes for Florida State's defense, which ranks among the nation's best for the second straight season. It starts with defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, the most prolific pass-rush duo in the country. But from the powerful interior line to a strong secondary, there are few weaknesses. The Seminoles rank first nationally in total defense, fifth in scoring defense, first against the run and fifth against the pass.


McElwain discusses new Florida football
SEC Network's Greg McElory and Booger McFarland sit down to discuss the future of Florida football with head coach Jim McElwain.