FOOTBALL: Grading the Gators vs. UGA

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

The Florida Gators lost to the University of Georgia for the first time in seven years. The Gators dropped a 31 - 24 decision to the Bulldogs on Saturday in Jacksonville at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. After a week of turmoil the fact that Florida lost doesn't surprise anyone, what was a surprise, a pleasant one at that, was that Florida rallied from 24 - 7 to make a game of it. Somehow, when it looked as if Florida was going to be run out of the stadium, these Gators made a stand and were counted. Ultimately, execution is more important than emotion, on Saturday the Gators did not execute enough to win.


IMPRESSIVE: When faced with first and goal down 21 - 7 Florida got a turnover and rallied to 24 - 21, Florida could have easily folded at that point, Halftime adjustments, the physical nature of game, Ciatrick Fason

SOLID: Running backs, offensive line, receivers, Chris Leak

NEED WORK: Defense, d-line, linebackers, secondary, penalties, the trainers


DEFENSIVE LINE: The defensive line bolstered by the return of Ray McDonald at defensive tackle played much better against the run this week. Take away two rushes for a combined 47 yards and Florida only allowed 103 yards rushing on 36 carries and average of just 2.9 yards per carry. The Gators managed to hold Georgia to just 29 yards rushing in the 3rd quarter. Unfortunately, you have to count all the rushes. Given that fact and the fact that Florida could not get very much pressure in passing situation doomed the Gators. GRADE C

LINEBACKERS: When Channing Crowder went down with an ankle injury, things got bad. When Earl Everett had to leave the game with a concussion thing got worse. Replacements Brandon Silar (7 tackles) and Todd McCullough (6 tackles and a fumble recovery) played hard, but lack of experience and lack of speed are not something coaching can correct. With Crowder and Everett injured, Georgia used their tight end to full advantage in the first half. GRADE C

DEFENSIVE BACKS: The secondary had several solid plays, just not enough of them. Once again Florida had players in position they just couldn't convert the play. While safety Corey Bailey's coverage on Georgia's Fred Gibson 15-yard touchdown pass got a lot of attention. Georgia's 51-yard completion to start the drive was the real backbreaker. With momentum in Florida favor, the Georgia receiver was able to get behind two Florida defenders to make the catch. GRADE C

OFFENSIVE LINE: The good news is that Florida was able to rush for 211 yards. The bad news is that the offensive line also gave up 4 sacks and was called for several penalties. Granted the sacks were not always the fault of the line, but 2 holding calls, a personal foul, 2 illegal formations, and a false start all were called against Florida linemen. Concentration seemed lacking at times. GRADE C

RECEIVERS: O.J. Small led all Florida receivers with 6 catches for 57 yards. Andre Caldwell had 3 catches for 81 yards including a 57-yard touchdown. Reggie Lewis had 2 catches but one was for a 4 yard loss. No other Gator receiver had more than two catches. Jermalle Cornelius didn't have a catch, but did score on reverse from 21 yards out. Which makes you wonder where the likes of Dallas Baker and Chad Jackson were. Florida has to find a way to get the ball into its playmakers hands. GRADE B

RUNNING BACKS: Despite being Georgia's defensive key, Ciatrick Fason did his part. C-4 provided 174 all-purpose yards, 139 on the ground via 17 carries and another 35 yard on 5 receptions through the air. Florida did not miss a beat when backup running back DeShawn Wynn pulled a groin catching a 12-yard pass as reserve tailback Skyler Thornton was solid with 34 yards on 5 carries and added an 8-yard reception. Yes, fullback Billy Lasko caught a pass, this week it was for only 3 yards but it did produce a touchdown. GRADE A

QUARTERBACK: Under constant pressure most of the night; quarterback Chris Leak produced respectable stats, going 22 for 34 for 247 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. On a couple of occasions Leak could have thrown the ball away to avoid the sack, and on one scramble he appeared to slide well before he needed. While still confused at times, Leak seemed more confident in his reads this week. GRADE B-

KICKING/SPECIALTY: A mixed bag of results, punter Eric Wilbur 40 yards a punt on 6 attempts. Matt Leach made all his extra points made a 52-yard kick but missed a 39 yarder. Chad Jackson made a dubious decision to run out from 8-yards deep into the endzone. Tremaine McCollum replaced Jackson and average 22.5 yards a return. Coverage teams gave up a 32-yard punt return but were otherwise solid. GRADE C+

COACHING: Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora resisted the use of the infamous bubble screen, which had been effective against the Bulldogs in the past, until the second half. Too bad, because Georgia still hasn't figured out how to stop it. Fedora also brought the Emory & Henry formation out of mothballs in an effort to confuse the Dogs. Overall, the offensive scheme seemed balance. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was scrambling to compensate for the loss of his two main linebackers. In the first half Georgia exploited the Gators weakness at linebacker, completing 3 passes to the tight end 2 of which went for touchdowns. By halftime Strong had mad the adjustments and in doing so shut down the Georgia tight ends in the second half. Unfortunately, the adjustment required cheating the safeties up and Georgia was able to burn the Gators late. Head coach Ron Zook should be commended, this team could have folded after such a week of turmoil, but to Zook's credit the team played hard throughout the contest. GRADE Offense B, Defense B, Overall B

FANS: With many Gators fans unsure of what type of team would show up and Florida falling behind early many of the Florida faithful were fairly quiet for most of the first half. Once the Gators got it going in the second half so did the fans. GRADE C+


I hate losing to Georgia worse than any other team, but for some reason I wasn't very upset about the outcome, this disturbs me greatly. Once again the whole atmosphere surrounding the game reminded me why I love college football so much. If you have never been, you are missing what college football is all about. OVERALL GRADE: C

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

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