Despite all that, I think the most impressive thing about Saturday's rout of overmatched Middle Tennessee was the Gators energy and focus. It was as if they were saying, "you guys may not believe the " in all kinds of weather" phrase in "We are the Boys", but we do". Sure, Middle had a bit of success offensively, we all anticipated that. The Gator defensive front kept turning up the pressure, DeShaun Wynn ran like a man determined to never lose his playing time again and Chris Leak threw maybe two bad passes all day.
No, Florida didn't prove much as a football team Saturday afternoon. But they reinforced the notion that TEAM is the most significant word for this group of players and coaches. With five games to go, including two against top ten teams they will need that camaraderie down the stretch.
FIVE BEST THINGS WE SAW
- Kyle Jackson hitting the field. Two months ago in this space, I mentioned Brandon Siler and Kyle Jackson as my choices as Florida's two best freshmen. So it was good to see the Jacksonville product out there. He was tremendous, always around the ball and should get significant playing time the rest of the way.
- Steven Harris on the rush. # 93 was a load all day as the Florida D-line continues to improve what was an awful pass rush the first four games. Ten sacks in two games against anyone is an impressive total.
- Chad Jackson grabs attention. Whether it is on a punt return, short pass or bomb, Jackson makes you stop what you are doing when the ball is near him. His one-handed catch and spin move doesn't match Ike Hilliard's stop-on-a-time move, but it was pretty amazing.
- Earl Everett makes great drop. Yeah, I know he had 12 tackles and all that, but to me the important sign of progress in the sophomore was his deep drop and deflection of a pass in the first half. Teams looking at this video won't be pleased to see Florida making strides to take away the middle of the field.
- Brandon Siler is "The Natural". Technically, Channing Crowder was a true freshman last year, but in reality he was a second year guy with the benefit of spring practice. Siler, a TRUE true freshman has the look of a very special talent with a great feel for the game.
FIVE THINGS THAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Not enough Dickey. Not an anatomical reference, but Gavin Dickey should have gotten more playing time. Best opportunity came with 2:22 to go in the third and Florida up 45-16. Leak led a pretty lengthy drive, and Middle answered with the same, by the time Dickey gets in it's already past the mid-point of the fourth quarter.
- Defensive over-pursuit. This is probably a good problem to have, but several times DT and LB got too excited and ran themselves out of position. Not a big deal, but then again, there's not much to criticize in this performance
- Still vulnerable to double moves. Middle ran a nice out and up move on the Florida secondary for their long TD pass. These are the kinds of breakdowns that Georgia will be looking to exploit.
- Brief look at Estopinan. He was out there for the first time since opening day, but he was not out there long. Would have liked to see more him as well as some of the other corners who have yet to see the field.
- Tennessee won. Had nothing to do with the game, but it was one of the things that happened Saturday that I didn't like.
FSU WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE
I admit it. I was caught up in the Virginia hype and thought the Cavaliers had great chance to win in Tallahassee. I was (am?) a fool. FSU's vaunted offensive line showed its teeth for the first time all season and the defensive line trashed whatever you call the five guys Virginia lined up opposite them.
I thought FSU was in deep trouble with Wyatt Sexton at QB. That was based on some no longer reliable sources and ugly scrimmage stats. It turns out Sexton's low risk style has allowed his more talented mates to step forward and seems to have created a challenge for the FSU defense to become a dominant unit. The team that beat Virginia can play with anyone in the country, and beat most. UF winning in Tally will be as tough as ever.
HEISMAN FIELD THINS
You can scratch Purdue hot shot QB Kyle Orton from any sensible Heisman list. While his TD/int ratio is still impressive, his colossal mistakes against Wisconsin put him way on the outside looking in. Strangely enough you could make a case that the top four candidates for the award reside at two schools, Oklahoma (Jason White and Adrian Peterson) and Southern Cal (Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart). Of course it is only mid-season, but I would bet one of the USC tandem will get it…
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