CLINE: Where have the Running Backs Gone?

Kestahn Moore began the season with strong efforts in Florida's first two games and is averging five yards per carry in SEC play. For some reason, offensive coordinator Dan Mullen has apparently almost forgotten he or any other tailback exists in favor of repeatedly hammering Tim Tebow directly up the middle.

One week after Urban Meyer admitted Tim Tebow had likely been used too often in carrying the ball 27 times against Ole Miss, he again wound up being Florida's primary weapon of choice on the ground. For the game, Tebow had 19 carries to Moore's three. All but nine of Florida's run attempts were Tebow carries.

The third and final time Moore was given the ball was on an option play toward the sideline in a 2nd-and-16 situation on Florida's final drive in the fourth quarter. That's the type of run Moore's typically least effective executing. According to Urban Meyer, the play was a checkoff at the line of scrimmage because the Tigers were in a defense Florida thought the speed option would be successful against.


All those carries are helping Tim Tebow continue to wreak havoc on Florida's rushing records for quarterbacks. His fourth quarter touchdown was his eighth of the season, which matched the all-time single season record Gator quarterbacks.


It had been a long time since Florida fans had to wait until the third quarter to see points put on the scoreboard. The Gators had last been shut out in the first half against South Carolina November 14, 1992.

That game Florida trailed 3-0 at the half before rallying for a 14-9 win. This time the Gators trailed by 14 at the break and were able to overcome the deficit but never succeeded in taking the lead.


While word had been that Andre Caldwell was running well in practice, it was a pleasant surprise for Gator fans to see him out on the field. As recently as Thursday, indications had been that he would be held back for the LSU game as a precautionary measure.

Caldwell came out early before the game and tested his knee in a sprinting footrace against Percy Harvin, the first indication he might be playing after all. While Caldwell was back in uniform, his time was very limited and confined to a couple of unsuccessful attempts at deep balls.


One week after penalties and kicking game issues were a major problem for Florida against Ole Miss, they repeatedly cost the Gators again in critical situations. A Jamar Hornsby running into the punter penalty on 4th-and-1 turned what was a three-and-out Auburn opening series into an 86-yard drive, leading to a Kodi Burns touchdown run.

A second quarter Joey Iijas 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Auburn's Sen'Derrick Marks, preserving a 7-0 Auburn lead and setting up another touchdown drive.

Later, with Florida urgently needing to score before the half, freshman guard Maurkice Pouncey foolishly picked up a late hit penalty. That turned a 2nd-and-7 situation in field goal range into a 2nd-and-22 near midfield. Florida was unable to overcome the penalty, losing possession on a Louis Murphy fumble as he fought for the possible last yard on a fourth down conversion try.

Freshman punter Chas Henry failed to get up to the line of scrimmage as part of the setup for a fake punt. That led to a not enough men on the line penalty which nullified a Jarred Fayson run for a first down. Florida then punted the ball away.

The most critical special teams error of all may have been Henry's shanked 25-yard punt late in the game, which set up Auburn with great field position at their 39 to begin the drive for Wes Byrum's game winning 43-yard field goal.


One change Gator fans had waited for in the secondary finally happened as Kyle Jackson did not get the start at free safety. He was replaced by freshman Major Wright.

There's another major personnel issue to address as soon as Florida can get cornerback Marikhe Anderson healthy and back on the field. Sophomore Wondy Pierre-Louis, in the starting lineup due to Anderson's injury, struggled a great deal against the Tigers as they clearly looked to target him. On the opening drive he was almost always eight yards or more away from his man in coverage. At one point, his man went in motion and he appeared to have no idea where he was supposed to go in the defense.

Teammate Joe Haden tried to be diplomatic about the situation after the game, saying "Auburn seemed to be trying to attack the field side. I don't think they were trying to pick on Wondy."


Next week's college polls will experience as big a shakeup as any single edition in a long time. Florida was one of seven top-25 teams to lose to an unranked opponent.

Four of those upset victims were ranked in the top ten in this week's edition. Couple those with No. 5 West Virginia's Friday night loss to USF and half the top ten will fall in the rankings.

To emphasize just how topsy turvy the world of college football has become, it is likely Kentucky will be a top ten team this week, and USF may have a chance as well.

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