Ack's Insights

Florida enters its open week with a five game winning streak and a piece of the SEC East title. The Gators have won four of the five games away from the Swamp and are in position, with a win over FSU, to finish in the top ten and go to a New Year's Day Bowl.

The game in Columbia was as expected with South Carolina coming out charged up and establishing a running game by rushing the ball seven times on it's first series. The Gamecocks rushed the ball 27 times and held it for more than 18 minutes in the first half. Florida had seen this script before but was on it's way to break trailing by only two before South Carolina returned a punt for a touchdown for the first time since 1971.

Give UF credit, they came out and drove the ball down the field and got right back into the game in the second half. After sniffing out the fake punt gaffe by Lou Holtz they were able to hang on and win. Ciatrick Fason had a record performance rushing for the most yards by a Gator running back since 1992. The sophomore from Neptune Beach is known as C-4 has had some sterling performances in three of the five wins during the streak.

Thinking out loud
I think coaches should look at who gets the ball first to begin the second half when deciding whether or not to try to move and get points at the end of the first half. Saturday's debacle was similar to the Tennessee game in more ways than just giving up a touchdown to close out the half. Both times the Gators got big gains on first down fueling the anticipation to speed up and continue to go for it. Both times UF threw an incompletion on their second play from scrimmage causing the clock to stop without the opponent using a timeout. But the most important oversight by the coaches was that they were getting the ball first to begin the second half and based on field position alone should have dictated going to the break to make adjustments and score on the opening series of the second half. This time UF did come out and score to get back into the game while a more immature UF team went in the tank against the Volunteers.

I liked Ed Zaunbrecher's red-zone play calling much better. He called a quarterback draw off the draw trap fake to the back which was a nice wrinkle and he freed up tight end Ben Troupe on the double cross at the goal line (he would drop the pass). Kelvin Kight was also open on the play but Troupe became the secondary read. Even though Leak's numbers were not impressive by any means his no interception performance was. He used his feet to scramble and avoid any negative plays (except for the safety). Leak was shown a lot of mixed coverages and blitzes that confused him early. Zaunbrecher did a nice job of coming out with the running game and it totaled 234 yards despite the two fumbles in scoring areas.

Defensively if I have said it once I will say it again, this is an average defense when it does not come out jacked up and ready to play. USC took it to them in the first half but Strong countered with some creative blitzes to energize his troops in the second half. Keiwan Ratliff's interception late in the game gives him nine on the season. Ron Zook, a former secondary coach, believes nine is the magic number for All-American honors, which could be coming Ratliff's way at the end of the season. The Gators now trail only Nebraska and Washington State in the country with 20 interceptions. Considering they have dropped at least five in the past two weeks, that's impressive. Channing Crowder will be on some All-SEC teams with another 14-tackle performance. It marked his fourth consecutive double digit tackling performance. The last time he did not have double digit tackles he had seven versus LSU coming off knee surgery ten days before. The Gators were four for the last eight third down conversions after a slow start. Ciatrick Fason got some tough yards when it counted most. In the fourth quarter, protecting the lead, he carried eight of the last ten running plays for 61 yards for Florida. Unfortunately, he went out and Ran Carthon fumbled away another scoring opportunity. C-4 needs to look to bounce the ball in the red-zone out of the "Heavy Power I" formation that UF runs. He is trying to stick it up in there and move the pile but that's not his strength. It's his vision and he needs to use it next time in that situation.

Snippetts and Tidbits
Florida has now lost nine fumbles this season, after two by Carthon and Wynn. This was consecutive games with a fumble for Deshawn Wynn. He also fumbled going in to score against LSU and in the opener against San Jose St. Gator freshman have accounted for 31% of the Gator touchdowns this season with 13 of the 42. Florida has 21 rushing touchdowns this season with two games to go after only having 20 all last season. Chris Leak is completing 60% of his passes as a freshman while counterpart Chris Rix a junior is only completing 57% of his pass attempts. Florida has done a better job this season with half time adjustments outscoring their opponents 85-35 in the third quarter. The Gators have not been great at stopping teams on 4th down giving up 9/15 for 60%. An early key next week versus FSU will be strength versus strength. The Gator offensive line and running attack is averaging 4.3 yards per carry and Fason 7.5, while FSU's run defense gives up only 108 yards per game and 3.1 per carry.

Gator coaches will be out recruiting this week all over the country. The team will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before taking the weekend off.

Recruiting Snippet
Dawayne Grace out of Jacksonville Ed White will be visiting Iowa this weekend. He's very high on UF's list but Miami has turned up the heat in recent weeks to get into the mix.

Stat of the week: 19
It has been 19 years (1984) since a UF Freshman QB led the Gators to a victory over FSU. Kerwin Bell did it 27-17. Kyle Morris (1988), Donald Douglas (1989), Danny Wuerffel (1993) and Rex Grossman (2000) all played or started in the game versus FSU and lost as freshman.


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