Florida's first two games of the season were against a lower level FBS team (Bowling Green) and a team starting a freshman at quarterback for the first time (Texas A&M). Saturday's trip to Tennessee will be much different with Tyler Bray and a stable of talented receivers waiting.
Bray, a junior who is on various watch lists for national awards, has thrown for 643 yards and six touchdowns in two games, completing 45 of 61 throws.
Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn talked about the importance of "50-50 balls.'' Most of the Gators' defensive backs are small and could have major issues getting those passes that bounce loose in the secondary with the taller Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson able to out-jump them.
"Both of them are real physical guys, accomplished players,'' Quinn said.
With Bray so experienced (26 of 48 for 288 yards and three TDs against Florida last fall) and his top two receivers so big, Quinn is hoping that Florida can put together a strong pass rush to "get him off the spot.''
Challenging Bray to make the right reads will be vital, meaning the Gators have to move potential rushers around more and attack from different spots.
"That's certainly an important part of our game plan this week,'' Quinn said of the pass rush.
It can also help if Florida is able to quickly shut down the run game — making UT more predictable.
"Huge deal,'' Quinn said. "Once a team is successfully able to do both that opens up all sorts of problems for the defense.''
CONFIDENCE IN POWELL: Ronald Powell was the nation's top recruit two years ago but will miss the season after trying to rehab a knee injury suffered in the offseason. Quinn, however, is confident his playing days at UF are far from over.
"No doubt in my mind he will be back and stronger than ever,'' Quinn vowed.
David Jones, Florida Today
Seminoles line will face bigger test
The early returns have been good, but Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher knows his young offensive line will get its first major opportunity to prove itself Saturday against Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons are not only the first FBS opponent the Seminoles have faced, but they present unique challenges because of the 3-4 alignment they operate from and the schemes they employ.
"It's definitely a different scheme," Fisher said. "Not as many people play it, so (there are) some little nuances that you really have to understand. And they do a really nice job with it."
So far in 2012, the the Seminoles' starting front five – LT Cameron Erving, LG Josue Matias, C Bryan Stork, RG Tre' Jackson and RT Menelik Watson — have been impressive.
They have allowed zero sacks, and FSU has had only three offensive plays end with tackles behind the line of scrimmage. But at the same time, the Seminoles' linemen have enjoyed huge advantages in size and athleticism against the likes of Savannah State and Murray State.
That won't necessarily be the case against Wake Forest. While the Demon Deacons don't boast any 300-pounders along the defensive front, starting DEs Hasan Hazime and Kris Redding are listed at 6-5, 270 pounds and 6-4, 265, respectively.
"I think they'll be tested a lot heavier this week against Wake Forest and the multiple looks that they'll give us," FSU quarterback EJ Manuel said of his blockers. "But they practice against one of the best D-lines in the country. So if they can give me time in the pocket at practices, they can do the same on Saturday."
In last year's game, a 35-30 upset victory by Wake Forest, the Seminoles struggled mightily to keep up with All-ACC noseguard Nikita Whitlock. The 5-11, 260-pounder led the Deacons with seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Whitlock has been hampered recently with a sprained ankle, but Fisher said the Seminoles are preparing to see him.
"He sets the tone inside," Fisher said. "You've got to always know where he's at and what he's doing. The guy is one heck of a football player. He's got a motor that doesn't stop."
Whether or not Whitlock is in the lineup, Fisher said the Seminoles' biggest concern will be recognizing all of the stunts and blitzes the Deacons will throw at them.
Ira Schoffel, Tallahassee Democrat
Defensive tackles remain focus for Miami
The challenge continues for the Miami defensive tackles.
They'll have some extra help this week with Luther Robinson returning from a one-game suspension, but the issues through two games were simple.
"There are a lot of reasons why we haven't made the plays we haven't made," coach Al Golden said. "One is strength and get off the block and make the play. I've been saying it for a month now. Those inside guys have to get off blocks and be more disruptive. That's a challenge."
Golden liked what he saw from freshman Earl Moore when he got a crack at the Kansas State line in the 52-13 loss Saturday.
"We need to keep developing them," Golden said. "But I know they're capable."
Robinson is back in the rotation for playing time, Golden said, after missing last week's game with a disciplinary issue.