Prospect Preview: Florida vs Auburn

NEPD Staff Writer: Stephen Sheehan

After getting stomped by Alabama and LSU, Florida fell from the rankings this past week. The Gators started the season hot, running the ball at will while stuffing the run on defense.

However, that came against the likes of Florida Atlantic, Alabama-Birmingham, Tennessee and Kentucky, not exactly the same level as Auburn.

Unlike in years past, Florida doesn’t boast a ton of draftable prospects, although there are several young players that will soon be on the NFL Draft radar.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and safety Matt Elam all should emerge as SEC stars.

The Gators’ most important, versatile and valuable player on offense – Chris Rainey – is one of the few upperclassman who has a chance to make it at the next level. Despite size limitations, Rainey has terrific speed and elite agility. Facing one of the worst rush defenses in the country (103rd), Rainey should be able to find holes and exploit a weak Auburn team.

Rainey’s counterpart, Jeff Demps, has been limited throughout the season by an ankle injury. If he does play, the fastest man in college football will also be a big threat on the ground.

Defensively, the Gators’ lineup is filled with sophomores and freshmen, but senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard is a guy with some position versatility. The 6-foot-3, 303-pounder has a good first step and is usually around the ball. He’s posted 15 tackles over the past two games, although much of that was due to the fact Alabama and LSU ran all over the Gators.

A year after winning the national championship, Auburn has clearly taken a step back without its studs – Cam Newton and Nick Fairley.

Quarterback Barrett Trotter has posted decent numbers, but has already thrown six interceptions.

The strength of the Auburn offense lies in its backfield where sophomore Michael Dyer is one of the top backs in a loaded SEC field.

Dyer isn’t as big as South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, but he is compact and quick. He’s already scored eight touchdowns and is a workhorse (41 carries against South Carolina).

Junior Onterio McCalebb is a speedster who plays an important role in the offense. He averages about 10 carries a game and is a good receiver.

This game should be a showcase of what the SEC is all about: speed. Look for both teams to put their playmakers in positions to do just that.

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