ARMCHAIR QB: Grading the Gators vs. Bulldogs

For the fourteenth time in the last sixteen years, the Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 14 - 10 on a near picture perfect day at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL. The Gators got two touchdowns from its struggling offense on its' first two possessions and the defense made those 14 points hold up by limiting the Bulldog offense which was without starting quarterback D J Shockley.

The Florida coaching staff made several changes in the offense over the last two weeks, most notably the use of a tight end and a fullback, which seemed to confuse the Georgia defense early in the game. The victory keeps alive Florida's slim hopes of a spot in the SEC Championship game.


IMPRESSIVE: That offensive coordinator Dan Mullen and head coach Urban Meyer would be willing to alter the offense as significantly as was done during the last two weeks.

SOLID: The defense, Chris Leak, the offensive line, running backs, receivers and the special teams

NEED WORK: Penalties, Auburn's War Eagle cheer


DEFENSIVE LINE: Bolstered by the return of defensive end Ray McDonald and the steady play of Jeremy Mincey the defensive line battled the Georgia offensive line to pretty much a draw for the game. Despite not recording a sack and giving up nearly 180 yards on the ground, the defensive line made just enough plays when it counted most, including 4 tackles for losses, none bigger than Mincey's 4th quarter tackle which help to force a long field goal attempt which bounced off the upright no good. GRADE C+

LINEBACKERS: While no one stood out, linebackers Brandon Siler, Earl Everett, Todd McCullough, and backup Brian Crum did enough to hold up their end of the defense. Using a defense seemingly designed to feed the Bulldog running backs to the linebackers and keep the Georgia running backs from getting outside on the run Florida's linebacking corps missed on very few assignments. GRADE B

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Reggie Nelson got his first career start as a Gator, starting at safety. Nelson paid immediate dividends with an outstanding open field tackle in the first quarter and an interception in the second quarter. With Georgia using its' backup quarterback Florida used safety Jarvis Herring in run support. Herring respond with a team high seven tackles while looking more like a linebacker than a defensive back. Meanwhile the rest of the secondary limited Georgia to just 109 yards through the air and just one touchdown on a throwback pass to the quarterback who was supposed to be covered by a linebacker. GRADE B

OFFENSIVE LINE: Florida's beleaguered offensive line got some help in this game in the form of a tight end and a fullback to help block in passing situations. The result was a just a single sack given up in the game and that occurred the one time Florida went with a no back, five receiver set. Meanwhile the offensive line was able to get enough movement along the line of scrimmage to produce 153 yards on the ground running mainly between the tackles. GRADE C+

RECEIVERS: Dallas Baker was his way to a big day before suffering an injury that limited his effectiveness in the second half. Baker had 5 catches, all in the first half, for 49 yards to lead all Florida receivers. Baker's highlight play was a 20 yard reception that help setup Florida's second touchdown. Florida also used tight end Tate Casey extensively for the first time this season. Casey responded with 3 catches for 21 yards and a touchdown. Chad Jackson also had 3 catches for 21 yards. GRADE B

RUNNING BACKS: DeShawn Wynn was the thunder and Marcus Manson was the lighting as Florida relied on its' running game to first get then protect a lead. Wynn ground out 109 yards on a career high 19 carries. Wynn's second quarter fumble was the only blemish on an otherwise solid performance that saw Wynn's power running between the tackles keep the Bulldogs packed inside. Manson meanwhile provided the outside threat. Manson added 49 yards on 9 carries, including a 22 yard carry that help Florida burn up valuable clock time and protect the lead late in the fourth quarter. Billy Latsko got extensive playing time at fullback, despite not touching the ball for the entire game; Latsko's play at fullback was instrumental in helping the Gators to victory. GRADE A-

QUARTERBACK: Despite throwing for only 108 yards, Chris Leak was almost flawless in his execution as Leak completed 75% of his passes throwing for one score, no interceptions and added another score on a three-yard run to start the scoring. Leak look much more relaxed and confident thanks to the beefed up pass protection and quicker routes which help Leak find his rhythm. Once Florida got the lead, Leak wasn't asked to pass much, attempting only six passes in the second half after throwing 8 times on the Gators first two possessions. Leak attempted only 20 passes for the game. GRADE A

KICKING/SPECIALTY: Kicking and special teams continued their strong play against the Bulldogs. Highlighted by a fake punt for 20 yards and a first down and the emergence of punt returner Vernell Brown who had 3 returns for 59 yards including a 29-yard return to get Florida's 2nd possession off to a solid start at the Georgia 41 yard line. Despite averaging just 37 yards, Eric Wilbur had 4 of his 6 punts downed inside the Bulldog 20 yard line. GRADE A+

COACHING: Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen's offense has struggled in game leading up to the Georgia game. With no game last week Mullen and company had two weeks to find adjustments to help the offense. The solutions included using a tight end and a fullback to help shore up pass protection and shorter pass routes to allow Chris Leak to get rid of the ball quicker. The result, Florida scored on its' first two possessions, including an 80 yard 13 play drive to open the game. Once the Gators got the lead, Mullen pulled in the reins and played field position football. Defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison could use their blitz package much because Georgia couldn't or wouldn't throw the ball, so instead they employed a slanting defensive line designed to funnel the Bulldog rushers inside, avoid the big play and keep the clock running. A kind of bend but don't break defensive scheme which caused the Bulldogs to drive the length of the field. Head coach Urban Meyers gets kudos for being willing to adjust his offense to better take advantage of his personnel. GRADE Offense A, Defense B, Head Coaching A+

FANS: Unsure of what the Gators would do, the Florida Faithful arrived at the game just hoping that Florida would be competitive. Once, Florida scored on its' first possession, the faithful smelled blood and rocked the house. GRADE A

FINAL THOUGHTS Coach Meyer might work out after all. Any coach willing to admit his mistakes and make adjustments in such a public manner can't be all bad. I really like beating Georgia, more so than any other Gator opponent, especially when the game means so much to Georgia. This game meant a lot to Georgia, the win means a lot to me. Now, does anybody know how that Auburn War Eagle cheer goes?


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

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