Grading the Florida Gators vs. Georgia game

By Adam Silverstein
November 4, 2010

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Georgia Bulldogs at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, which took place at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: B+
Was redshirt junior John Brantley spectacular on Saturday? Certainly not. His 16-of-25 performance for 193 yards and an interception proves that. However, if you combine his offensive contributions with his willingness to share the starting quarterback role, ability to operate in Florida’s no-huddle offense and the output of freshman Trey Burton (2-of-2 for 26 yards, 17 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns), you have a top-notch performance from this unit. Throw out Brantley’s interception as a miscue from sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines and you have a mistake-free showing that also included a perfect clutch pass to redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson and his second longest throw of the year – a 40-yard dart. With an increased ability to see the field, healthy backfield and more streamlined offense, Brantley should only improve as the season continues – something to keep an eye on week-to-week.

RUNNING BACKS: B+
Head coach Urban Meyer noted leading up to the Georgia game that Florida must have explosive home run plays in its running game in order to succeed with their plan to win from an offensive perspective. That was achieved Saturday, though the biggest play came on a 51-yard option keeper by Burton. Junior running back Jeff Demps (at around 90 percent health) and redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey (running the ball due to depth issues) got all the work in the backfield with Rainey getting the majority of the carries (16 to Demps’ nine). For not having played in five weeks and practicing the entire offseason mostly at WR, Rainey had a more than respectable performance averaging 5.2 yards per carry and totaling 89 on the game. Demps ran the ball for 38 yards (4.2 average). The duo certainly exceeded expectations but was certainly not stellar comparative to what the unit has done in the past.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Georgia game after the jump…

WIDE RECEIVERS: B+
He may have only notched two catches, but redshirt junior Deonte Thompson had one of his best games in the orange and blue. In addition to a fantastic reception to save a drive at set-up Florida’s second touchdown, Thompson’s edge-blocking was much improved even if he did get flagged for a phantom holding call on that same drive. Sophomore Omarius Hines and redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. combined for seven receptions for 96 yards and were the only Gators receivers (aside from Thompson and Rainey) to catch passes; redshirt senior Carl Moore was held catchless once again. Though the yardage may not be there, what the receivers have accomplished from a blocking standpoint earns them a high grade in our book with points deducted for Hines clearly giving up on a route which led to Brantley’s interception.

TIGHT ENDS: I
Incomplete.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A-
Say what you will about the false start penalties, Florida’s offensive front also played one of its best games of the season. In addition to opening up solid running lanes for Demps, Rainey and Burton, the line provided good protection at times for Brantley. Perhaps most importantly, it was able to keep up in the no-huddle offense without getting winded. When multiple offensive linemen tell you after the game that the opposing front seven were trying to catch their breath but they themselves were well-conditioned, that is impressive. Aside from the false starts, which should be corrected in time, the line has to provide Brantley with a bit more protection as three sacks, even against some good pass rushers, are three too many.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B-
Evaluating the defensive line can be done by reviewing its two core goals – pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run. Florida got some pressure on QB Aaron Murray, which is one of the reasons why he threw three interceptions and got sacked twice by non-defensive linemen. However, even rotating in some of the younger players, the line has been unable to get penetration for most of the season and that trend continued. Senior defensive end Justin Trattou grabbed eight tackles (seven solo, one for a loss), but the rest of the line was basically or completely silent. In the running game, the Gators held Washaun Ealey to 3.4 yards per carry on 11 rushes but gave up good yardage to Caleb King, who ran for 69 yards on only 12 carries (5.3 average).

LINEBACKERS: B+
Though he may not have filled up the stat sheets, the way redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins played against Georgia was simply impressive. In addition to a great pass breakup and fumble recovery, Jenkins was all over the field with four tackles (one solo) and good coverage. He continues to get better game-by-game and is clearly becoming that needed presence recently represented by names like Brandon Spikes and Brandon Siler. Redshirt senior A.J. Jones and freshman Ronald Powell (who is filling in for depth purposes) also had nice games, as did sophomore Jon Bostic. Jenkins’ performance was too much to overlook – even though we did when listing our poll choices for most valuable player of the game.

SECONDARY: B+
It’s hard to criticize a unit like the secondary when junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins picks off the very first pass of the game (putting his team in amazing field position), senior safety Ahmad Black leads the team in tackles (12 total, 10 solo) and forces a fumble, and junior S Will Hill intercepts two balls (including a near game-winner in overtime) and doesn’t get credit for a third which ended a two-point conversion effort. However, the play of redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown, lack of depth behind him, Hill’s coverage mistake and the inability of the secondary to get Georgia off the field (especially on third down) almost spelled doom for Florida. For as many mistakes as Murray made, he still completed 18 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns including a long of 63 yards. And in a game where, big-play wise, you could not ask for more, there were plenty of miscues and things to improve on. Hill and Black’s outstanding performances give them a break here, but this unit cannot expect a more experienced player like South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia to make nearly as many mistakes. Just the fact that the secondary gave up 100-yard receiving games to two separate pass catchers should have this grade lowered more than it has been.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Chas Henry. The senior punter/kicker deserves as much credit as he can possibly be given even though he missed a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter and had been shaky filling in for junior Caleb Sturgis prior to Saturday. His game-winning 37-yard field goal, clutch 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and six punts for 281 yards (46.8 average, long 61, two inside the 20) were enough alone to give this unit an “A.” Combine that with solid blocking for Rainey in the return game (six kickoffs run back for 148 yards with a long of 45) and the stage was set for a dominant special teams performance. Then, with the game on the line, the coverage unit allowed the Bulldogs’ Brandon Boykin to run back a kickoff 51 yards just seconds after the Gators went up 31-24. Can’t imagine Meyer was happy about that – and neither were we. However, sometimes exceptions can be made, and when a guy like Henry comes along and saves the game like he did, well, we’re going to be soft not going to dock what is mostly his grade.

COACHING: A / C+
Normally it is easy for us to group the entire coaching staff together, but when a clear disparity is noticed between the performance of the offense and defense, a separation has to be made. When it comes to preparation, playcalling and inventiveness, Meyer, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni (who was credited with helping install the no-huddle) get an easy “A.” However, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater are obviously struggling a bit with the defense. Sure, the unit is young and lost perhaps its three best players from a year ago, but it has clearly been unable to stop its opposition for the last four games. Florida’s defense was worked against Alabama, beat by LSU, manhandled by Mississippi State (running that many consecutive times without being stopped is unacceptable) and nearly exposed by Georgia. Murray’s forced miscues (three interceptions, fumble, pick on a two-point conversion) were all nice to see – turnovers is one area that was lacking over the last few contests – but the defense continues to give up the big play and not get teams off the field when it counts.

OVERALL: B+
Considering half of the grades given out were of this variety, we felt it was an appropriate evaluation of the overall game. There is a difference between the quality and excitement a game provides and how the players performed in said contest. Saturday’s version of Florida-Georgia had it all – big plays, turnovers, top-notch performances, “wow” moments, “I can’t believe that just happened” moments, failed performances, miscues and mistakes. The Gators did a lot of things right on Saturday plenty was done wrong as well. Grades seem to be softer when a team wins – and that is probably what happened in this case – but if you look at the improvement in performance comparative to two weeks ago, it was certainly vastly above average.

14 Comments

  1. Timmy T says:

    Seems like a fair assessment to me Adam. I loved seeing the offense shake things up with the up-tempo, and the O-line looked much better as a unit. Hopefully, the defense can clean up some mistakes and play a full game of that nasty defense we are used to. GO GATORS!

  2. Joe says:

    I think you need to give Meyer some kudos under special teams. He has seen that Chas really struggles from the right hash (because of his hook) and just before the game winning kick we ran a play that put the ball on the left hash. Great job putting Chas in the best postion to make a play.

    • I don’t think he needs any special recognition for that – coaches are supposed to know and do those things. Happens in most potential game-winning field goal situations.

  3. ziggy says:

    I think he needs recognition for implementing something to make the defense have to guess what the offense is doing a lot more with the innovative rotation of QB’s. Coupled with the hurry-up offensive attack, I believe this will be a winning combination for a while.

  4. Aligator says:

    I think the fact that our offense actually started to attack the defense, with tempo and speed says a lot. I think this is why you run the spread and for whatever reason, we have been plodding along trying to figure things out. Hey, if we need to run three qb’s, six rb’s, ten receivers and let them all rotate all over the place then o be it. I do not see Brantley flourishing in this type of offense anyways and he does not have the command and ability to make it at the next level. He is good, but not that good for what we need to do.

  5. Aligator says:

    Uh, he should have known a long time ago to put him on that hash every time as most of his misses have come from that hash.

  6. gator347 says:

    Adam:

    You maybe a little too generous. We had trouble with their Blitz. we could not stop the run, and we still don’t throw deep enough.

    The play calling also got too conservative in the second half. – kinda “Zookish”

  7. gator347 says:

    Adam:

    I said a little too generous. The D line is more like a C. Addazio was a C. The line could not pick up the blitz and second half play calling was lame. And we still don’t want to throw Deep.

    • You’re entitled to your opinion, but I didn’t give Addazio an individual grade. And the D line played better than you might think if you re-watch the game. Good pressure at times, just couldn’t break through.

  8. G8trpls says:

    Jordan Reed could use a few more snaps at QB …UGA couldn’t stop him

  9. HardToKillGtr says:

    Adam-You said you were working on post about the Gator football coaches a while
    back.

    Did you finish it? If so, will you publish it?

  10. Jesse C says:

    OFFENSE
    After this game I definitely feel more optimistic about the offense. It is not where it needs to be but I think we are going in the right direction. It feels a little gimicky but it didn’t make us as predictable and if we expand on it (i.e. allow Burton and Reed to throw more) which Urban said will definitely happen this week, I think it might save Addazio’s job for now. Regarding the play of the OL… I don’t know if anything happened from the 1st to 2nd quarters but the OL improved dramatically and that really opened things up for us. If they are able to clean up the motion penalties and block that way the rest of the year, we should rack up a bunch of yards.

    DEFENSE
    The TO’s were nice but I don’t want to have to depend on them to win. Our offense can’t win too many shootouts like Auburn and Oregon. When your safety leads the team it tackles, that is not a good sign. Overall, the defense is inconsistent. The secondary makes big plays and gives up big plays. The LB’s are decent in pass coverage but don’t hit the hole on obvious running plays. We haven’t had a decent pass rush since 2006. I love our DE’s but they are two white boys from NJ and CA. The defense needs an attitude adjustment… they need to be a mean bunch of hungry, nasty maulers who want nothing more than to attack, attack, attack… hit the guy with the ball and pound all others into submission. (see Spikes, Lawrence Wright, Kearse, Crowder, Todd Johnson). Right now, teams aren’t even afraid to go over the middle.

Top