FOOTBALL: Grading The Gators vs. UT

It is Monday Morning and the Armchair Quarterback grades the Gators on their performance vs. University of Tennessee.

The University of Florida lost 30 - 28 to the University of Tennessee on Saturday in Knoxville TN. Last year I wrote that the game was a game of could've, should've and would've. Compared to this year though, last year was nothing. Florida could've won had they made several key plays. Florida should've won when the Vols kicker, perfect on his extra point attempts in his career at UT, pushed his fourth attempt of night wide to leave Florida with a 28 - 27 lead with just under 3 and a half minutes to play in the game. Florida probably would've still won except for some dubious officiating. One thing is for sure, nothing comes easy for head coach Ron Zook and this team.


The offense in general, QB Chris Leak and Ciatrick Fason in particular, with a special mention of Offensive Coordinator Larry Fedora

Special teams, Kickoff specialist Matt Piotrowicz

NEED WORK: Defense, particularly tackling


DEFENSIVE LINE: The best way to describe the defensive lines play is to acknowledge that the Vols were able to rack up almost half their 171 yards of rushing on their second possession. An 80-yard, 12 play grinder, which resulted in a Vol touchdown. All 12 plays were rushing plays. Florida managed to limit Tennessee's rushing yardage the rest of the night, but the defensive line clearly appeared to be out-manned at the line of scrimmage. Florida was unable to mount any effective pass rush throughout the evening. GRADE C+

LINEBACKERS: Crowder once again led all tacklers for the Gators with 10 tackles, Earl Everett had 7 tackles, forced a fumble and a sack, and Travis Harris added another 3 tackles. Everett could have had a monster game if not for the fact the he had several missed tackles. Everett also appeared confused on Tennessee's second scoring play when he was hung between rushing the quarterback or dropping into coverage. Everett did neither and the Vols were able to score. GRADE C

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Florida's relatively young secondary pretty much took it on the chin, allowing two true freshman quarterbacks to complete 19 passes on 30 attempts for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Granted they didn't get much help from the pass rush and after Tennessee's second possession were called upon to help support the run. But to allow UT to convert a fourth and nine and allow 21-yard completion to help setup the Vol's winning field goal during crunch time is cause for real concern. On a more positive note Terrence Holmes had his first career interception and the pass interference call on Jarvis Herring in the fourth quarter was questionable. GRADE C-

OFFENSIVE LINE: Just as UT's offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage so did Florida's offensive line. Florida churned out 135 yards on the ground while allowing just two sacks. Florida's offensive line showed its versatility with effective inside blocking while still being able to get outside on screens and sweeps. Randy Hand's holding call in the second quarter was another one of several dubious calls by the officials. GRADE A

RECEIVERS: Does O.J. Small have glue on his hands? Small didn't miss anything thrown his way while running over the middle. Small caught a touchdown, made several drive sustaining third down catches in heavy traffic and finished the night with a team high 8 receptions for 76-yards. Jermalle Cornelius, Andre Caldwell, and Dallas Baker were solid in support adding another 7 catches for 88-yards and a touchdown catch by Cornelius. Caldwell could have had a touchdown but was knockout at the half-foot line. Cornelius had another touchdown catch ruled incomplete. Chad Jackson only had one catch but it went for 81-yards and a score. Then was unable to come up with a catch that seemed destine for Caldwell at the back of the endzone. Baker will have to answer for his retaliatory punch of the UT defensive back, which was devastating for the Gators. GRADE First 65 offensive plays B, last offensive play F

RUNNING BACKS: Ciatrick Fason had an outstanding came carrying the ball 15 time for 81-yards and adding another 41-yards on 5 receptions. Fason ran hard all night and proved once again why he has been named the starter. Reliable backup DeShawn Wynn added another 59-yards on 15 attempts with one touchdown. In a play that could have possibly changed the outcome, Wynn let a perfect Chris Leak pass drop between his hands that was surely a touchdown. GRADE A-

QUARTERBACK: Chris Leak showed all those Tennessee fans what they are missing. Leak was sensational throwing 22 completions on 31 attempts for 288-yards 3 touchdowns and just one interception. Leak made all the throws from the flip to the running back on the swing pass, the deep out, or the laser over the middle. Leak even under threw a streaking Florida receiver in the first quarter which resulted in his interception, then in the fourth quarter completed an 81-yard touchdown pass to Chad Jackson on the same play. Proving that he is quite capable of learning from his mistakes. GRADE A

KICKING/SPECIALTY: Kickoff coverage didn't have much to do but run 65-yard sprints because kickoff specialist Matt Piotrowicz had 4 of his 5 kickoffs result in touchbacks. Punter Eric Wilbur was stellar with four punts for a 44.8-yard average resulting in only 2 returns. Punt coverage limited those 2 returns to a paltry 11-yards. Andre Caldwell's brain freeze of stepping out of bounce at the three yard line was negated when the Gators drove 97-yards for a score. Matt Leach made all his extra points, but his miss of an extra point length field goal could have made a difference in the final score. GRADE B

COACHING: Larry Fedora appears to be settling in as offensive coordinator. The Gators offense appeared to have the UT on it's heals. Florida's second scoring drive was a thing of beauty. Using an assortment of running plays, swing passes and even the "bubble screen", Florida drove 97-yards in 16 plays to tie the score in the second period. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was able to slow down Tennessee's vaunted after it's first scoring drive but his defense could not stop the Vols. Allowing for Tennessee to drive 80-yards not once, not twice, but four times is not championship defense. We'll not even discuss the defense that allowed the Volunteers to engineer their game winning drive. Needless to say the defense needs to improve and improve in a hurry. GRADE Defense D, Offense A

FANS: When you are outnumbered 9 to 1, there is not much you can do. But those Gators that made the trip made sure that the Vols knew they were there. GRADE B+


Damn, this one hurt. Florida had more emotional ups, downs, twists, and turns, than a roller coaster at Busch Gardens. Why doesn't Zook show more emotion or work the refs more on game day? I am beginning to worry about Charlie Strong as defensive coordinator, his defense gives up way to many third down conversions (6 of 12) and how can you allow the offense to convert a fourth and nine late in the game. Dallas Baker made a terrible mistake but Florida shouldn't have been in that position, they had plenty of other opportunities. Two out of three is bad when the one missing thing is the defense. As a suggestion, how about a bootleg or a sweep when running out the clock late in the game. OVERALL GRADE: C

Randy Platt
The Armchair Quarterback
Later GATORS, after while the rest!

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