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October 15, 2011
Five on the Spot
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MORE FLORIDA FOOTBALL: Speak Up: Former Florida football players talk about the team | Five keys to Victory | Opponent Breakdown: Auburn | Quinn: Run defense, lack of takeaways hard to swallow
If Florida is to rebound from a two-game losing streak, these five Gator players are on the spot to perform this Saturday night.
* Jacoby Brissett - He avoided being put "on the spot" one week ago because the overriding expectation was that Jeff Driskel would wind up starting in Death Valley. Instead it was Brissett who took his first collegiate snaps in one of the toughest playing environments in the country and did relatively well all things considering.
The difference this week is that Driskel was actually healthy in practice and Brissett still won the job, putting pressure on his shoulders to prove that the coaching staff made the right decision.
Brissett made a handful of nice plays last Saturday - his 65-yard touchdown pass to Andre Debose the primary highlight - but he also had some miscues, things that can be corrected with experience.
Auburn's defense is nothing like LSU's and Jordan-Hare, while an intense environment, is not Tiger Stadium. Brissett will have his share of struggles on Saturday but noticeable improvement is what the coaching staff and Florida fans want to see.
[BUY GATOR GEAR: YOUR ONLINE SOURCE FOR FLORIDA GATOR TEAM APPAREL]
* Mike Gillislee - Head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis both praised Gillislee this week for his work ethic and his production on the field as of late. Because of those qualities, Gillislee got more work in practice and is expected to have an expanded role on Saturday.
Gators fans have been clamoring to see Gillislee get the rock when Florida wants to run the ball between the tackles and that should be exactly what happens against the Tigers.
The player himself has remained humble, saying this week that he knew his time would come sooner than later. That time has arrived and so has he - on the spot this week.
If Gillislee succeeds in his expanded role, defenses will not be able to key in on Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps as much, which could potentially increase their production considering it has stalled the last two weeks against Alabama and LSU.
* Ronald Powell - Football is a game of "what have you done for me lately," and the only answer Powell has for that question at this time is, "not much."
After forcing two interceptions against Tennessee due to the pressure he put on the quarterback, his contributions have been few and far between.
As the starting Buck linebacker, Powell is supposed to be one of the most versatile and effective members on the defense. Instead, he is eighth on the team in tackles (14) and sixth in tackles for loss (2) though he has registered two sacks this year.
[ALLEY EXTRA: WILL POWELL PLAY?]
Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are both expecting more from Powell, who only played a half against LSU due to what was called a neck injury but some are speculating was a benching.
* Caleb Sturgis - One of the best-performing Gators this season, Sturgis is 13-for-14 on field goal attempts and perfect after touchdowns with 19 extra points. He is Florida's leading scorer with 58 points this year and is tied for the national lead with 13 field goals made.
So why exactly is he on the spot?
Each of the last four games in the UF-AU series have been decided in the final minute and Auburn has won three of those four contests.
The Tigers are also 9-0 in games decided by four points or less (5-0 in SEC action) under head coach Gene Chizik.
This could very well be another extremely close game between the Gators and Tigers. If it is, Sturgis might be tested in a pressure situation for the first time this season.
Auburn's Wes Bynum had a knack for putting up a dagger when it counted against Florida. Now that he has graduated, Sturgis may have the opportunity to distinguish himself in that very manner or the other side.