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November 19, 2011

Five on the Spot

Though winning should all but be a given for Florida against a program such as Furman, these five Gators are on the spot on Saturday afternoon in the Swamp.

* Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel - The Florida-Furman game should be out of reach relatively early and if the coaching staff is smart, they will play Brissett and/or Driskel as much as possible on Saturday.

There are of course two reasons for this - to get either/both some extra in-game experience before 2012 rolls around while simultaneously resting John Brantley as much as possible.

Brissett, who has beaten out Driskel for the No. 2 role this year and may be slightly ahead in the competition for the starting gig next season, should have a great opportunity to start proving he is the man for the job.

Driskel may also be able to step in and upstage Brissett if the two get somewhat equal field time during the contest. It is just as big of a chance for him to show that he is the one who deserves to start under center next September.

As will be noted later in this column, the Gators have a responsibility to win the game and become bowl eligible, but they also have to do whatever they can to give themselves the best shot at a signature win next week against Florida State.

A healthy and slightly more mobile Brantley could do a lot to that end and if that results in some extra field time for two young players that need it - even better.

* Cody Riggs - With cornerback Marcus Roberson sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury, Riggs will step in and likely take the vast majority of snaps as a starting cornerback.

He flashed as a freshman in 2010 but has been relatively silent this year with no turnovers and just one pass breakup on the season.

Riggs must take advantage of his opportunity to start against a lackluster opponent and use it to help build his confidence for next week's game.

The talent disparity between Furman and FSU is certainly vast, but an extra week as a starter should pay dividends for a young player still trying to learn the position.

* Ronald Powell - This season has been a slow one for Powell, something that neither he nor the coaching staff could have expected.

He does have a team-high four sacks this year to go along with six tackles for loss, but he has yet to prove that he can dominate from the Buck linebacker position, something that an athletic and dynamic player is supposed to do in that role.

In other words, Powell has had his moments, but his inconsistency has been a problem all season long.

Saturday in a game against an opponent like Furman, Powell should have every opportunity to shine and prove that he can be a dominant player at that position.

If not this week...when?

* Will Muschamp - Last week I put Muschamp on the spot saying that he needed a signature victory in his first year at the helm and that losing to all five ranked opponents his team has faced was not acceptable and "will not be accepted as an excuse by many fans."

Well, the Gators lost, and Muschamp will remain right here. (Spoiler alert: He'll probably be here again next week, too.)

Florida's season was obviously lost weeks ago. Muschamp has been put in the unenviable position of trying to salvage it and - even if he doesn't want to admit that it is a motivating factor - start building a foundation for 2012 and beyond.

That should begin Saturday with him ensuring Brissett and/or Driskel see plenty of field time and that UF's players get as much rest as possible for a big-time showdown with Florida State one week from now.

The best way to get the fan base off your back? Make them forget about losing to Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia AND South Carolina all in one season with a revenge victory against FSU.


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