Breaking Down the Offense…
It seems unfathomable, but the best pure athlete on the team nay be Chris Leak. As the season has gone by and he has become more comfortable, one thing very noticeable is his ability and constant willingness to get yards on the ground. He has pretty good running skills for a drop back passer and he has good strength. He won the team iron Gator award in the off-season. With that in mind, it was really nice if not scary, to see him tuck the ball and score the touchdown at the end of the second half. He ran outside when all the receivers were covered and then at about the three yard line, he made a bee line for the end zone not allowing anyone to stop his progression across the scoring line. Previously he had continued out of bounds, but his team needed the momentum and the points and he did what he needed to. This is something I always see of Leak. He may not make the best read on every play, but he seems to sincerely give maximum effort on every play. He was exceptionally crisp on his passing for the game. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards, one interception, and two touchdowns. I counted three drops and two passes out of bounds (thrown away or just out) and the interception was the receivers fault because of a bad pattern. That makes one errant throw on the day. He is also just starting to get some timing down on some of the routes with . His one down play was the fumble in the end zone for a touch down. That was all on Leak. He had time to do something with the ball on a blitz and should have thrown it. He had three open short receivers on the play.
Ciatrick Fason continues to show why he should be the focal point of the offense. As well as Leak and the receivers have played, Fason continues to make plays out of nothing and bigger plays out of normal ones. He catches the ball well, he blocks. He has become the best college back in the SEC. It is as if he gravitates towards the part of the field that there are less defenders. He really sees the entire field once through the hole and heads to the least occupied. He can run smooth or "herky jerky". He has an explosive first step and stutter step. He certainly showed all of this against Vandy. He did fumble and has a couple now. Hopefully that isn't a trend. Skyler Thornton didn't play a lot, and wasn't able to produce like he did versus Georgia. Billy Latsko has seen his time diminish with the emergence of Tate Casey at tight end. The standard set for this offense is usually without a fullback.
The receivers are "getting better and better". Bubba Caldwell's improved confidence is as noticeable as anything else out there. He did run a slightly wrong route on the interception, but he is now catching the ball over the middle and making yardage after the catch. This is something Gator fans were afraid they would never see from the previous number one ranked receiver recruit in the country. Caldwell in the last two games has really been aggressive and not tentative after the catch. He will try to run around or through defenders, whichever is the best at the time. I think it started with the catch that should have been a touch down versus Tennessee. OJ Small was credited with a fumble that wasn't in the Vandy game. He remains a solid "possession" receiver and go to guy for Leak. Dallas Baker would have had a career day if two long receptions weren't taken away from him for penalties. He also ran a wrong route that almost caused another interception. The receiving corps is deep now. They don't have fatigue as a reason to miss assignments or run a wrong route. The guys that want to get and stay on the field, better continue to run their correct routes and block down field. Speaking of blocking, this group of receivers has been a major reason for Fason's success this year. They do a very good job of blocking down the field.
The tight end may have to start getting it's own paragraph in the "After Further Review" if the position keeps producing even minimally. Unfortunately Tate Casey seems the only one capable of making the big play in the group. Still, his catch in the end zone was very "Troupe-esque". He really can run and is very aggressive. When he adds another 30 pounds or so he will be a solid player at the line of scrimmage. His physical play helps him some but against bigger defensive linemen, he can't do a lot.
The offensive line continues to play well and they should have against Vanderbilt. The penalties are still a thorn in the side and are now starting to be a real nuisance. Who would have thought that Mike Degory would lead the team in personal fouls on the season. Actually, after reviewing the film, this penalty was more bogus than the one called I the Georgia game. Lance Butler got his one illegal procedure penalty that he has to account for every game. I'm just kidding Mr. B. Still, the offensive line plays the game like it is having fun out there. They play like they just love knocking the guy in front of them around. They are an absolutely fun group to watch play the game.
The Florida offense leads the SEC in four categories (pass offense, total offense, first downs and third down conversions) and features the top rusher in the SEC, the top passer, the player with highest total offense and all purpose yards and the receiver with most catches per game.
Florida is one of only three schools to have a rusher ranked in the top-15 nationally in yards per game as well as a quarterback ranked in the top 15 nationally in pass efficiency. The other two are Cal (J.J. Arrington and Aaron Rodgers) and Oklahoma (Jason White and Adrian Peterson)
UF was perfect in the red zone against Vanderbilt (4-of-4), the sixth game this year UF has been perfect inside the 20-yard line. Other than when the half ran out against MTSU, the Gators haven't missed an opportunity going back to the Kentucky game (20 of 21).
UF is averaging 195 yards rushing per game during the last three games (585 yards).
Breaking Down the Defense…
This line was eleased from the UF Sports Information Department after the game:
Florida played the Vanderbilt game without four scholarship linebackers.
That should be enough to scare Gator fans with any SEC competition. Watching the defense, it was frenetic at times. With good reason. Two days before the game, Cory Bailey was moved from his safety position to the Sam linebacker spot when Todd McCullough was hurt in practice. About the same time, the worry was going out that Earl Everett may not be able to play, so Alvin Butler started getting more reps in practice. On top of that, the Gators were playing a running team and a team with mobile quarterbacks. Two Achilles heals for the defense all season. The linebackers played admirably but were noticeably out of sync. They did have a bulk of the tackles, but missed their fair share. Against a scheme team, this was to be expected anyway. Throw in all of the other obstacles I thought they played admirably.
The defensive line had one of its better pressure days. The ends were bringing heat against the worst offensive line in the conference, but they also gave up containment a few times to the outside. Stephen Harris needs to see the fields more. He seems to be physical and fast to the ball. I saw at least two pass break ups for Jeremy Mincey and he has shown a keen sense of doing that this year. The tackles can play as good as any, but they just need to stay inside the lines of the defensive call. One thing that I keep noticing is that they lose gap control when they try an make a move on the offensive lineman towards the wrong gap. They need to work on different moves to both sides, so that when they have a gap they are in charge of, they stay in that gap but use the right move to free themselves from the lineman. I've said before it is as if thy want to make every play, I think it is more along the lines that they try to free themselves up, when sometimes it is more important to keep gap integrity.
Kyle Jackson will play a lot in the future. He isn't sound on the defensive scheme as much as others may be, but the kid just makes plays or is n the verge of doing it. H played a good if not great game an came close to having two interceptions. Oh how this season may have been different if he was able to play more early in the year. I don't think Jarvis Herring had one of his better days. He has had a solid season so far. But seemed like he was a little late in man coverage a few times on drags across th middle. I am not sure if this was a different responsibility due to the move of Bailey to linebacker, but he sure seemed a step behind. Reynaldo Hill played well and was solid in run support. Dee Webb remained aggressive but was thrown aside by the quarterback on one particular scramble. Vandy did most of their damage in the air on crossing routes.
Alvin Butler became only the second freshman walk-on to start a game at linebacker for UF in school history. Walk-on Pat Moorer also started as a freshman at linebacker in 1986.
It still is a matter of execution for these guys. This was a tricky offense and with the problems at linebacker, there were going to be mix-ups. They were apparent pre-snap sometimes as players were scrambling to be on the right side of the formation. That aside, when the guys stay in the framework of the defense, it is just a matter of making the tackle. We still have too many guys not doing what is being called.
Breaking Down Special Teams …
Due to the turnovers there were less special teams play than there would have been. But…
Matt Leach connected on two field goals of 48 and 49 yards. He seems to have gotten over the hump this year.
Wilbur never punted.
The Gators averaged 22 yards per kickoff return.
The Gators held Vandy to 15.5 yards per kick off return.
Matt Leach has made his last six field goals from 40-yards or more. Overall he has made eight of his last nine from any distance
Florida leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally in kick return coverage, allowing just 15.3 yards per return.