Chris Leak was focused from the start. The constant jumping up and down on the field in between plays, while used to stretch his leg muscles, was also a sign that he was ready and up for the challenge of the game. He hit short and long. He ran well with the ball much to the chagrin of a lot of Gator faithful in the stands. He improved on the option as the game went by. He ran a quarterback keeper near the goal line that was a slight block away from scoring. He ran a perfect bootleg and short toss to Billy Latsko to score a touchdown. He hit Caldwell in stride in a deep Cover 4 pass with only a three man rush and eight in coverage for a touchdown. If I had one complaint on his overall play, it is that he should have thrown the ball away a few more times instead of taking sacks. Three of them were on first downs and only one of those were the Gaors able to recover and make a first down. The fourth was on third down and we had to punt. He has done a great job of throwing the ball away this year, and did a few times on Saturday. He still had a chance or two to do it again and decided to challenge UGA's defensive speed, a bad mistake. If you include the bubble screen to Cornelius for the touchdown, Leak completed passes to eleven different players.
Ciatrick Fason was absolutely terrific in this game. What did he not show out on the field? His 17 rushes and 139 yards and 8.2 yards per carry average were masterful as he willed himself to excess yardage after contact on many occasions. DeShawn Wynn only had two carries before going out with an injury. Skyler Thornton substituted brilliantly and seemed to find the creases and avoid a lot of contact himself. Skyler certainly showed his speed and acceleration in his limited playing time. His 6.2 yards per carry average helped the Gators rush for a 6.0 yards per carry average on the day.
With Gavin Dickey in the mix and the inclusion of the bubble screen as a pass, the wide receivers and tight ends had seven different players catch the ball on Saturday. Huge plays from Cornelius and Caldwell followed by great effort from the rest of the group helped the Gators reach 458 yards of total offense. Caldwell and Cornelius absolutely showcased their jets in their two touchdowns. Had the ball been thrown slightly shorter to Casey, he may still be running. If I had to pick on one thing, it was the fact that Chad Jackson only got the ball once. Still, there were a number of big plays from the other guys.
The offensive line run blocked as well as I have seen all year. They moved the Georgia line backwards when the Gators needed to run the ball. Late in the game, the Georgia defense was helpless with anything the Gators would throw at them as they were worn out. The stamina and athleticism of the offensive line certainly showed in this game. The sacks were mostly coverage sacks and a great play or two from David Pollack. There were a few times where pass protection broke down and Leak had to scramble, but it was good for the most part. The main fault with the offensive line, is its continuous rash of penalties. A few holding calls and off sides or illegal procedures were devastating in the game. Still, David Pollack certainly is gifted with "Michael Jordan" rules sometimes. He gets a lot of calls for him simply because he is the senior all-American.
The offensive play calling was great. The Gators dug themselves holes numerous times with penalties and bogged down, but that was a great defense they shredded for 458 yards.
The bubble screen scored again, although not exactly how it is drawn up. Jemalle Cornelius' reverse on the bubble screen showed what kind of blazing speed he has. He reminded me of Jacquez Green on the play.
The offense had eight series when it did not score a touchdown. On five of those series, the Gators were forced to punt or kick a field goal due to a sacks or penalties on the last three downs of the drive.
The Gators only had two "three and outs" the entire game.
The direct snap, reverse throw to the quarterback was very close to working. The slightly overthrown ball from Bubba Caldwell to Chris Leak was actually put in for the LSU game and they were one series away from having it set up to run against the Tigers.
The Gators forced the Bulldog defense into four time outs during the game. Three of them were due to personnel changes and the Bulldogs had 10 players on the field at the time. The other one was due to the Dogs being worn out after two long drives.
Breaking Down the Defense…
The train wreck that was the first half of defense was not helped by the early departure of Channing Crowder and Earl Everett. The Gators were gashed and slashed throughout the first half as the Dogs did about what they wanted.
The defensive ends crashed hard and gave up containment, forcing a linebacker one on one with the running back. The safeties played too deep in coverage and allowed the middle square ins and slants to come free. The tackles kept trying to make plays instead of playing their assignments, often times allowing gaps to be totally unmanned. The linebackers, were there any left? They were falling for the play action and therefore slow to recover in pass coverage. It was a mess.
Then the second half came and it looked like the Gators showed adjustments we haven't seen in the big games yet this year. They stifled the Bulldog offense for all but two series in the second half. UGA had a total of 56 yards in the third quarter, including only 7 yards rushing. Had it not been for two big breakdowns in coverage in the next to last series, the Gators would have actually dominated the Dogs in the second half on offense and defense. The long pass to Reggie Brown after David Greene scrambled out of the pocket was a mental lapse by Kyle Jackson as he broke the cardinal rule of safeties. He has to be the deepest man on the field, period. He gave that up when the play looked to be collapsing in the pocket. The second was of course the touchdown to Fred Gibson. This has been chronicled enough on here, so I don't need to go into it.
These Gators fought through great adversity with everything going on in the week, plus Crowder, Everett, and Holmes out of the game to play an inspired defensive game in the second half.
Brandon Siler continues to show why he will be a great player for the Gators. He led the team in tackles after Crowder went down and was key in the Gators playing great defense in the second half of the game.
Reynaldo Hill keeps getting blamed for playing off too much on the Fred Gibson touch down. He may have been a tad deep, but in the coverage called, he is supposed to force the receiver inside and the safety is supposed to make that play. If the ball is thrown in the flat, it becomes his responsibility.
My guess is that the DTs settled down and started playing assignment football in the second half.
Wilbur punted fine on the day but showed a real lack of judgment with the personal foul.
Leach missed another field goal and I am sure he is disappointed in himself for that. I can't explain his inconsistency this year.
We allowed one long punt return that resulted in a field goal. It seems inconsequential now, but it may have mattered if we held the Dogs out of the end zone on their last touchdown.
Kickoff coverage remains a strong point.
I don't think the onsides kick was a bad call at the time. There is more of a chance to get the ball if we onside kick than regular kick. At that stage in the game, you try and force the opponent to a three and out anyway. If they get two first downs they win. We needed the ball, not field position.