A Nice Crutch to Have

In Urban Meyer's post-game press conference, he criticized himself for using Tim Tebow a little too much in the fourth quarter during the Gators' road win against Ole Miss. Tebow may be a crutch, but that's a nice crutch to have in a coach's back pocket.

While rushing 27 times for 166 yards, Tim Tebow shattered every quarterback rushing statistic in the UF record book. The Gator human highlight reel also threw for 261 yards, completing 20-of-34 passes. But what best exemplified what Tebow means to the Gators was his fourth quarter performance. Tebow carried 12 times for 71 yards in the final quarter and helped preserve the Gator win after the Rebels cut a 21 point third quarter lead to only three points.

"He doesn't surprise me," Urban Meyer said. "He did that last year. It's my job as a head coach to be cautious. Job number one is to win the game, but also protect your players. He's his worst own enemy. He's in my grill saying, ‘let me win the game.'"

"Sometimes I get pretty motivated on the sidelines during a game and get pretty fired up," Tebow said. "We'll talk and I'll give him suggestions from time to time."

In the fourth quarter, Tebow picked up four first downs with his legs and completed a pass to Percy Harvin to pick up another. Tebow's personal stats were great, but the true stat that showed why the Gators won Saturday's game was the time of possession. Florida held the ball for 11:03, keeping their vulnerable defense on the sidelines. But then again, all that ball control was Tebow's doing.

"I wasn't really thinking about how many carries I had," Tebow said. "I was just trying to get the first downs and manage the offense. It never really crosses your mind when you're in a game."

Florida's ability to hold onto the lead in the fourth quarter wasn't all Tebow's doing, and even the starting quarterback knows that. The offensive line has battled through injuries and the loss of two starters, but continues to play well in the trenches.

"Our mindset was we were going to go out there and get it, led by Jim Tartt and Drew Miller and those guys," Tebow said. "We knew we could win the game and everyone got down and dirty and focused. We were determined to get it."

Just four games in, Tebow has had a lot of firsts. He had his first win as a starter, his first SEC win as a starter, and now he has his first SEC road win as a starter. Tebow may be a crutch for Meyer, but Saturday proved one thing. The Gators will go as far as Tebow will carry them.

"We're just trying to get out of there with a victory," Tebow said. "That was a four quarter fight. It was down to the last minute."

Early on, it didn't look like it was much going to be much of a fight. The Gator offense started slow, but after two three-and-outs, Tebow woke up and locked in on Harvin. The Rebels had taken away the deep ball, so it took some time for the sophomore quarterback to adjust.

"They came out and did some different things," Tebow said. "Some things we were not necessarily expecting them to do like drop a lot of people into coverage. In the passing game you have to be really crisp. At some points we were and at some points we weren't."

The Gators put together a 10-play drive where Tebow hit Harvin six times. The longest play of the drive went for 19 yards, but most of the yardage came after the catch. Tebow and the Gators attacked with bubble screens and short crossing routes.

"They weren't giving us much down the field," Tebow said. "They were making us check it down. They made us stay patient with the run game. In a defense like that, you just have to stay patient with the run game and keep getting first downs. We just tried to throw some screens to Percy, and Kestahn [Moore] made some nice runs."

Tebow managed the short passing game well, but struggled on Saturday with medium- to long-range passes. With two monster SEC tests ahead – Auburn and at LSU – he'll have to find that touch that he showed in the first three weeks of the season.

"To get a road win in the first start on the road is big," Tebow said. "I still have a lot to learn and a lot to get better at, but you can do that with a much better positive attitude after a win."

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