Grading the Florida Gators vs. Arkansas game

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 Arkansas Razorbacks in The Swamp.

QUARTERBACK: B
It is tough to evaluate Tim Tebow week-in and week-out, because you feel tempted to grade him an A every time. In looking at Saturday’s game, you see Tebow led the Gators on a 14-play, 69-yard drive at the end of the fourth quarter that resulted in a 27-yard, game-winning field goal by Caleb Sturgis. You also see that he went 17-for-26 for 255 yards passing, one touchdown (the longest of his career) and added 69 more yards on the ground. But that would be looking over the two fumbles he had in the first half, the fact that it took him 27 carries to get those 69 yards and the six sacks he suffered – a handful of which he could have avoided by throwing the ball out of bounds when he was outside the pocket.

RUNNING BACKS: C-
For most of the game, the entire Florida rushing attack was averaging 1.2 yards per carry. For a unit that led the nation most of the year in rushing, that is simply unacceptable. Arkansas game-planned for the dive play, and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio kept calling it – so it is hard to put all the fault on the backs. Even so, 3.5 yards per carry on 19 attempts is just not acceptable. Jeff Demps saved the unit from complete failure with his run and touchdown in the fourth quarter.

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Gators special teams must stop Hogs’ Johnson

Offense and defense are the most publicized parts of any team, but it is special teams that often wins or loses close football games. Just ask Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer, who also coaches special teams and has been purposefully dominant in that area throughout his career. “It’s not interesting to people, but that’s how you win,” Meyer said in 2008 about special teams. “If you want to win, that’s how you do it.”

Unlike many of their opponents, the Gators put extra emphasis on the unit, utilizing many of their starters and best players on kick blocking, coverage and, of course, in the return game. Standouts over the past few years have included defensive lineman Jarvis Moss, cornerback Joe Haden and running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. “Special teams are high on [coach Meyer’s] priority list,” punter Chas Henry said. “Starters want to play on special teams.”

Sure they do; they get rewarded for it. “A lot of teams take special teams for granted. Here, it’s a privilege to play on the kickoff team or the punt return team,” said senior quarterback Tim Tebow, who was on the hands team as a true freshman. “[Meyer] rewards guys who do good on special teams. It’s not just overlooked like it is at some places. That’s why they play so hard. “

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TWO BITS: Meyer sought advice; East-West Shrine

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer sought the advice of his mentors and fellow coaches in making a decision regarding quarterback Tim Tebow. He spoke with current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, former Ohio State Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce and two current coaches whose names he kept private. “I learned a lot these past two weeks,” Meyer said.

2 » Tebow, middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, wide receiver Riley Cooper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL.

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Grading the No. 1 Florida Gators game at LSU

Each week following the conclusion of a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will grade the team position-by-position on how it performed in that match-up. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the LSU Tigers in Death Valley.

QUARTERBACK: A
Tim Tebow was asked to tone it down and be a game manager, something that is not necessarily in his nature. Nevertheless, knowing the significance of the injury he came back from and the wishes of the coaching and medical staff, he did exactly that. An inexplicable interception late was Tebow’s only flaw on the night, and the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback made good throws when they were called.

RUNNING BACKS: A
No huge game-breaking runs from the Gators attack Saturday, but that is not something you can expect against the Tigers. Running back Jeff Demps was a madman, gaining 86 tough yards on 16 carries while Emmanuel Moody took some of the power rushing load off Tebow with six carries for 42 yards of his own. Moody showed up when he was needed the most, and that is what counts.

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No. 1 Florida Gators take down No. 4 LSU Tigers 13-3 on the road in Death Valley

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow took the field for the No. 1 Florida Gators two weeks after suffering a concussion and wore down Southeastern Conference-rival No. 4 LSU Tigers 13-3 Saturday night in Baton Rouge, LA. While Tebow was able to start for the Gators, it was the Florida defense that stole the show in Death Valley, holding the Tigers to three points and only 162 total yards.

The largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history at 93,129 was no match for a passionate Florida team, which sacked LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson five times and compiled 327 total yards on offense. The Gators (5-0, 3-0) won their 15th straight game while snapping LSU’s (5-1, 3-1) 32-game winning streak at home during Saturday night games.

Florida ran the ball 48 times in the contest, with Tebow grabbing 38 yards on 17 carries and running back Jeff Demps leading the attack, touching the ball 16 times for 86 yards. RB Emmanuel Moody also contributed on the ground, earning 42 yards on six rushes. Through the air, Tebow completed 11 of 16 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown. He also through an inexplicable interception late in the game. Wide receiver Riley Cooper caught the sole touchdown of the game while tight end Aaron Hernandez led the receivers with six receptions for 70 yards.

On special teams, kicker Caleb Sturgis was shaky at best, missing a 25-yard field goal while also kicking a concerning extra point and 32-yarder that both ended up good. Kick returner Brandon James was held silent by punts directed out of bounds and one kickoff that went through the back of the end zone.

LSU’s offense never really got going with running back Charles Scott only touching the ball 13 times for 53 yards. Jefferson was pressured all night long as Florida collapsed the pocket and blitzed from all angles. Gators middle linebacker Brandon Spikes finished with 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the evening, and cornerback Joe Haden grabbed an interception at the end of the first half.

The Gators return to Gainesville, FL, next weekend for their homecoming game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 17 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Game time has not been set, though CBS plans to air it either at 3:30 p.m. or as its night game.

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FOUR BITS: Will Wildcat be used? USF uses UF in ad. Tigers ready for QB. Recruiting update.

1 » Prior to the season, one of the biggest stories was the Florida Gators potentially using cornerback Joe Haden at quarterback in a Wildcat-like formation. While UF’s ability and lack of fear to use the Wildcat with wide receiver Percy Harvin last season was well documented, I held (and hold) the opinion that Haden plays extensively enough on defense and special teams – that using him on offense as well would be overkill.

While talk about Haden’s role in the formation seems to have died down, usage of the Wildcat as a whole has not. Head coach Urban Meyer said Monday that tight end Aaron Hernandez, running back Jeff Demps and wide receiver Brandon James could all get direct snaps against No. 4 LSU Tigers. While an occasional direct snap may be called, I see this as more of a diversionary tactic to get LSU thinking about more than just “Tim Tebow or John Brantley” but rather “Tebow, Brantley or the Wildcat.”

2 » In an effort to gain prestige within the state of Florida, the USF Bulls have marketed themselves as one of the “Big 4″ along with the Florida Gators, Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles. This new billboard, located at I-275 near I-4 has, to his credit, drawn the ire of Bulls head coach Jim Leavitt. “I had nothing to do with (the billboard), I don’t know how it got up, and I don’t know who put it up,” Leavitt said Tuesday. “We have not won national championships, and we have not won conference championships. What gives us the right to sit there all of a sudden like we’ve won all these championships and done all this stuff?” Looks like the USF marketing department should have checked with Leavitt first.

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