Grading the Florida vs. Florida Intl. game

By Adam Silverstein
November 23, 2009

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will grade the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Florida International Golden Panthers on Saturday afternoon in The Swamp.

QUARTERBACKS: A+
While his 17-of-25 completion numbers do leave something to be desired, it is tough to dock any points from senior Tim Tebow for his performance on Saturday. Piling up 102 yards on the ground including a career-long 55-yard touchdown run as well as 215 yards and two more touchdowns through the air, Tebow was his old self. Then again, he was playing against FIU. More impressive on Saturday was redshirt sophomore back-up John Brantley, who went 9-for-13 for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Tebow and Brantley combined to spread the ball around to nine receivers, seven of whom had more than one catch on the day.

RUNNING BACKS: B
Redshirt junior transfer Emmanuel Moody sat out the game, though his classmate Christopher Scott got to see action late in the game. Sophomore Jeff Demps and redshirt sophmore Chris Rainey started. Even so, there were only 22 carries dished out between the three, with Demps getting nine for 46 yards (5.1 average), Rainey taking four for 30 yards and a touchdown (7.5 average) and Scott running nine for 26 yards (2.9 average). Rainey, however, added 61 yards and a touchdown in the receiving game. Nothing too impressive or surprising overall against a porous FIU defense.

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

WIDE RECEIVERS: A-
Probably the best day for the Florida pass catchers this season, nine Gators caught balls from Tebow and Brantley, eight of whom are listed as receivers. Redshirt sophomore Deonte Thompson led the way with both five receptions and 66 yards, while redshirt freshman Omarius Hines proved he can hold his own with four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Others contributors included seniors Riley Cooper (48 yards, TD) and David Nelson (45 yards), redshirt freshman Frankie Hammond, Jr. (38 yards, TD) and redshirt junior Justin Williams (16 yards, TD).

TIGHT ENDS: F
“F” is for failure, and junior tight end Aaron Hernandez failed in head coach Urban Meyer‘s eyes. Hernandez did something get a cage in Meyer’s doghouse, and I believe he did not even step foot on the field until the second quarter. There is no other grade to give someone who barely played and had no impact on the game whatsoever.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A-
Neither Tebow nor Brantley was a victim of a sack, freshman left tackle Xavier Nixon looked solid and the line as a whole played quite well. Redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson (ankle) and junior center Maurkice Pouncey (leg) were both dinged up in the game but are expected to be ready for the Florida State Seminoles.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A-
Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard led the way for the Florida defense with seven tackles while the entire line held FIU’s rushing game to 53 total yards on 30 attempts. Howard shared a sack with redshirt junior DT Lawrence Marsh as the line paved the way for three total sacks on Golden Panthers’ QB Paul McCall who finished 9-of-21 on the day.

LINEBACKERS: A
Another dominating performance for the linebackers began with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior Brandon Spikes on the first series of the game. Spikes added five tackles, while fellow seniors Dustin Doe (five tackles, sack) and Ryan Stamper (three tackles, sack) both had good games as well. Redshirt junior A.J. Jones went down with an MCL injury, but junior Brandon Hicks filled in admirably and will for the foreseeable future.

SECONDARY: A-
You may not have seen the secondary much on Saturday, but they were there doing their job by limiting McCall to an under-50 percent completion percentage. To be fair and balanced, though, FIU receivers did beat coverage a few times. On these instances, McCall was either pressured to throw the ball away or simply overthrew the route. Good performance by this unit, but nothing too spectacular one way or another.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D
Junior punter Chas Henry did not step on the field Saturday. Normally, his presence alone would have been enough to save this unit from OGGOA grading hell – not this time. Sophomore kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 53-yard field goal (his only attempt) and redshirt senior Jonathan Phillips had an extra point blocked (also his only attempt). That marks four consecutive missed field goals for Sturgis, three of which were from beyond 50 yards. While you cannot expect a kicker to nail every 50+ yarder, Sturgis had Gators fans expecting as much from his prior performances. He now has fans expecting the worst and must have a Chris Hetland-like renewal to get back in Meyer’s good graces. Senior kick returner Brandon James continued to be lackluster in his duties, earning a total of 25 yards on four punts and 53 yards on two kickoffs… vs. FIU.

COACHING: A
The team was prepared, the ball was spread around, the reserves got plenty of time on the field and injured players were rested. There is not much more you can ask for from the coaches. One has to assume plenty of time was spent game planning for FSU this week, meaning the staff used their time wisely.

OVERALL: B+
The Gators won the game, covered the spread and scored 62 points while only allowing three. Nevertheless, the performance was not perfect and left much to be desired on a few fronts. When evaluating a team of Florida’s caliber against a lesser opponent, you have to grade on a scale. The Gators did exactly what they needed to do – win and move on to the Seminoles.

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