Ack's Insights

In this week's edition of Ack's Insights I breakdown the Gators through eight games on offense, defense and special teams.

Florida won a big game this past weekend by dominating for three quarters and hanging on for their second consecutive road victory. Florida took control of this game in the first by accomplishing two things. Offensively they handled the Razorback blitz in the first half with a nice combination of screens to several different receivers. Defensively the Gators corralled Matt Jones and the Hog attack on third down and winning the field position battle with good special teams. The Gators sit at 5-3 and 3-2 in the conference with a bye week forthcoming. They will practice Tuesday and Wednesday this week and then have the weekend off before getting ready for Georgia. Coaches have begun to break down Georgia film and will also spend time recruiting this weekend. UF has regained the most important ingredient for this season that it has not seen since the third quarter of the Miami game, it's confidence.

Snippets…
Arkansas came in as the second best team in the SEC on third down %. They finished 5-16. Ben Troupe had another big first half with five catches and much like Miami does with Kellen Winslow, he was moved around a bunch. For the first time this season Troupe lined up in trips and caught a quick screen. Florida's recent success has also coincided with players stepping up and making plays. Keiwan Ratliff's three interceptions tied a school record and gives the Gators and SEC best 23 turnovers caused. It also netted Ratliff the SEC defensive player of the week. The word is that Ratliff has increased his football IQ under defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and has used film study to his advantage. UF is third in the SEC behind Georgia and Ole Miss in turnover margin. Ciatrick Fason has brought the big play to the running game for the first time in over a decade. He is a deadly runner when lined up behind center because he has tremendous peripheral vision. One criticism I have is the backs need to get tougher and finish a game. Not having Carthon or Fason and an injured Wynn cost UF the opportunity to run out the clock. The open week should help all the Gators heal the up and get ready for Georgia.

Offensively Speaking…
For those who like to compare this year with a freshman QB vs last year with a veteran QB… Through eight games the Gators are averaging an SEC third best 33 points per game. Last season (all 13 games) Florida averaged 25.8 points per game. This season Gator receivers are averaging 13 yards plus per catch. Last season, with playmaker Taylor Jacobs, 11 yards plus. The Gators have 16 touchdowns rushing and 13 passing. The running game is averaging 4.1 yds per carry compared to 3.8 last season and the per game average is up 10 yards. Finally Leak is completing 61% of his passes compared to 54% by last season's QB Rex Grossman.

What can they improve on? Time of possession has been better the last two weeks but UF must maintain that pace vs remaining schedule. Florida's offense is last in the SEC in time of possession at 27:32 per game. The Gators only relinquished one sack versus Arkansas. Georgia with David Pollack and FSU will be tough matchups. The redzone offense has struggled for several reasons. First, the running game inside the red area has been subpar. UF has received many penalties within the opponents 20 yard line and also has lost their series due to downs twice, interceptions twice and fumbles twice. But maybe one big reason is the fact that go to guy in the preseason, Dallas Baker, has been non existent. His height would give UF a great chance in one on one coverage.

Defensively Speaking…
Statistics are for assistant coaches and losers. OK, and for internet writers and radio hosts. Total yards are not where Charlie Strong would like but he is getting turnovers at a high rate. UF's 3rd down defense has improved all season long and now sits at 33% which is 5th in the conference. The numbers that count most are points against and UF's defense is 4th in the SEC at 18 ppg. Where Florida may give up yards and number their pass defense efficiency is third best in the conference. They have 14 interceptions and have given up only six TD passes in right games. UF has 15 sacks this season after having only 20 last year.

What to improve on? First cut down on big plays that eat up chunks of yardage between the 20's. This will help if UF can limit its last four opponents to 3.5yds per carry as opposed to 4.0 the first 8 games. Secondly this unit must find a way to bow its back inside the redzone. 13 touchdowns in 18 trips is too high. Focus on forcing field goals and turnovers. Finally turn the wick up on pressure and get more sacks. Last game only one, but prior to that Bobby McCray had eight in four games.

Overall…
The Gators numbers are up in punt returns 13.1 to 10.2 and kick returns 23.8-18.2. The punting average is up from 36.1 to 44.5. The turnover margin is at +7, which is third in the SEC. Field Goals are 12-16 already after being a shaky 9-15 all last season. Finally, UF has increased it's second half scoring this season. Last season 57 points in 13 games in the third quarter. This year the Gators already have 54 .In the 4th quarter last season 64 points total in 13 games and through 8 games this season the Gators have 77.

Quick thoughts…
I like the way UF matches up with Georgia scheme wise. However, the Dogs have the nations second best defense. When is the last time UF had a team win two straight games against "I" formation physical running teams because they were more physical. This team is not soft. Carthon will play but Fason gives UF it's best chance against the Dogs. For the first time in two years the Gator offensive line and receivers had a complete game blocking down the field in the screen package. Having coached this in an offense before (Hal Mumme's) it is something some take forever to learn and others can't ever do. UF has coached it well and finally guys are selling out for the blocks down the field. For Florida to fix it's 4th quarter offense it will have to do one of two things, continue to attack run/pass from the shotgun or get in the two tight end formation and run the ball with zone plays. With David Kenner out and redshirting the other spot may fall on Sylvester McGrew. Teams are stacking the box and blitzing so UF must smash mouth and try to spring one out for a back breaker or continue to spread teams and trust Leak not to make any mistakes.

Stat of the Week…
Eric Wilbur as a true freshman is second in the SEC in punting at 44.5 yds per punt.


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