Grading the Gators: Week Two

The offense still managed to make the grade this week after a second half letdown against Troy, but the defense has some work to do.

Quarterback: A

It is hard for me to imagine what else Tim Tebow could have accomplished in these first two games. Against Troy, Tebow finished the game 18-of-25 through the air for 236 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, he finished with 17 carries for 108 yards and two more touchdowns, bringing his total for the day to five. He has shown poise for as young as he is and is a natural born leader. Tebow has a look of a third year starter not a kid getting ready to make his third career start. He has now shown the rest of the world what most of us knew all ready, his ability to make all the throws, not only that but to make them to a variety of wide receivers. The most impressive thing that Tebow has shown is his patience. On more than a few occasions the Gator signal caller has stepped up in the pocket to find wide-open running lanes but instead of tucking it and running he waits until he finds the open man.

Running Back: B

If I had to grade solely on the running back spot (and I am), I would give the backs a very solid B. They were not spectacular but very steady in my opinion with most of the work coming from Kestahn Moore who ended the day with 15 carries for 79 yards (or just over five yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Moore has shown a very good burst when he hits the line and looks very decisive. He does many of the little things that Coach Meyer asks of his players and looks like a different player than years past. Brandon James had two carries for 10 yards, and Chevon Walker ended the day with two carries as well for 2.5 yards per carry. Moore is not going to break one for 75, but what he will do is be very steady and throw in some valuable blocks when the opportunity comes. Now if we were going to grade the ground game all together then I would go with A. Anytime your offense can average over 5.5 yards per carry with 49 carries and end the day with 264 yards then you are doing something right.

Wide Receivers: B+

The 18 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns are hard to argue with, especially when one of your weapons has a career day like Cornelius Ingram with seven catches for 105 yards and one touchdown (only his second career touchdown). Louis Murphy has carried over his strong start by adding six catches for 78 yards which makes nine on the year. Murphy is the best blocking skill positioned player on the entire team and it shows. Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson and Andre Caldwell combined for only five catches for 53 yards but two of them went for touchdowns. Caldwell did have the drop on the third series that might have gone for a third touchdown plus a fumble, but I am grading on the unit's overall performance and not on an individual performance. There were a few drops and a turnover by this unit, which is why they do not hit the A mark this week but look for them to come out focused as ever as it is now Tennessee week.

Offensive Line: A

The line from left to right, Watkins-Tartt-Miller-Pouncey-Medder, this unit comes off the ball very aggressively at times and seems to be playing well together after only two games. Pouncey is playing like a veteran and not a true freshman. He had a great block that cleared the way for Tim Tebow on the Gators second touchdown of the day. What I like the most about this group is they also have a mean streak in them that you love to see in the guys up front. This group is very athletic and does a great job of getting down field and continuing with their blocks. The offensive line has done a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage and when your line does that you will have a high success rate of scoring touchdowns. Florida scored touchdowns the first seven times they touched the ball on Saturday. I am very anxious to see this group perform Saturday against Tennessee for four quarters.

Defense: C-

Anytime you give up over 30 points in a single game you are not getting the job done, plain and simple. It is a bit unfair to judge the defense without considering the facts of the game or the opponent. Troy gave defending western conference champion Arkansas all they could handle last week and played very tough last year against Florida State and Georgia Tech from the Atlantic Coast Conference. What does that mean, not that much other than the fact that Florida was playing a quality opponent and not some cupcake. Is that an excuse, no but after the Gators stormed to a 49 point edge in the first half, it was obvious the team was about to lose focus on the task at hand. On Troy's touchdown drive Markhie Anderson and Jermaine Cunningham both had a chance to make the play on the Omar Haugabook, but failed to do so as he rumbled 32 yards for the touchdown. When the game was on the line, the defense allowed only seven points. But the defense had a letdown when the outcome of the game had been long decided. Early in the second quarter facing a fourth-and-4 at the Florida 37, the defense answered the challenge as Brandon Spikes crashed down with pressure up the middle and Cunningham was able to crash down off the edge and cause a huge loss and fumble on the play. Clint McMillan made a great play stripping the ball away.

Guys that stood out:

The heart and soul of this team will be defined by the play of its linebackers, Brandon Spikes and Dustin Doe. Early on, Doe was playing like a heat-seeking missile throwing his body around with no regard for his own health. Spikes and Doe each end the day with nine tackles apiece. They combined for three tackles for loss and clearly seem to be the emotional leaders on the field at all times. Torrey Davis was not in on many tackles but he makes his presence felt in the middle and is a load for the interior of the offensive line to handle one-on-one. Derrick Harvey made a nice play batting a ball down and Justin Trattou had an incredible tip and interception. The Gator ends are very physical, fast, athletic and overall tough to deal with for opposing tackles.

Special Teams: A

The Gators got off to a great start on special teams early on with a blocked punt by sophomore Roderick Blackett then a partial block by Carlos Dunlap. The Gators had three punt returns for 59 yards or just under 20 yards per return. That number was even higher on kick returns where the Gators had five returns for a whopping 185 yards or 37 yards per return. Brandon James is a spark plug and a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. He runs with no fear and seems to always make the first one or two guys miss. In the first half, the Gators average starting drive was inside Troy territory. Like the defense in the second half, the special teams lost a bit of its focus as well but again that is more of a result of having so much youth versus bad plays.

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