Grading the Gators

The Gators left it all on the field Saturday night against the top-ranked team in the land, only to see a ten-point lead evaporate with the go ahead touchdown coming with 69 seconds left in the game. Some of the numbers are staggering when you look at them and that is what we are going to do.

First, the Gators finish the game 6-of-9 on third down conversions while LSU was 8-of-17. Florida averaged 4.9 per rush, while LSU finished at 4.8. The Gators averaged 13.2 per pass completion while LSU was at 10.3. The Gators were a perfect 3-of-3 in the red zone and LSU ended 4-of-5. The average gain per play for the Gators was 5.4 and LSU finished at 4.9.

Les Miles played the role of Tommy Tuberville and the river boat gambler as he went for it five times on fourth down and made it all five times, including a 4th-and-10 fake field goal. The most telling stat out of them all was the time of possession; Florida had the ball for 8:04 in the entire second half. For the game, LSU held the ball for 36 minutes and the Gators ended with 24. The Gators could only muster 58 plays on offense as LSU runs 80 plays for the game.

If any of the six "chances" that LSU took fails, Florida walks out of Baton Rouge with a win. It is easy to look back on them now and say what a great move by Miles, but I do not think any of them except the fake field goal were good decisions. LSU was very fortunate to get out alive, and everyone that watched the game knows it.

The Gators played better than LSU for all but 69 seconds of the game. 57 freshman and sophomores made that trip last night and a lot of the young guys played great. When Maurkice Pouncey was matched up on Glen Dorsey, he dominated. The Gators put the rest of the Southeastern Conference on notice last night.

Tim Tebow does nothing short of amazing every time he takes the field. LSU was the team that you could not run on, pass on or even score on and the Gators made it look easy for three quarters. The Gators were moving the ball very easily until Kestahn Moore has the costly fumble. I hated to see it because Moore at the time had 12 carries for 79 yards on the ground and added 21 receiving yards and a touchdown. Remember this was a defense that was allowing only 29 yards rushing per game. The Gator offensive line played great for most of the night. They played faster, stronger and more physical than at anytime under Coach Urban Meyer's short career at Florida.

It is clear that Andre Caldwell is not 100 percent by any means, catching only one ball for 10 yards.

Defensively, the Gators left it all on the field and made the stops that they needed to make in a normal game. The Gators did not make the stops on fourth down conversions. If they make any of those stops, the game is over. It was a sign of things to come on the defensive side of the ball. Jermaine Cunningham posted 17 tackles; in contrast, the top leading tackler for LSU was Craig Steltz who ended with 16 tackles from his safety spot. Cunningham plays defensive end! Major Wright and Brandon Spikes end the day with 11 tackles and Joe Haden played his best game as a Gator with 10 tackles.

For those keeping track that is a couple of freshman and a sophomore. The Gators grew up and gained the kind of experience needed to be a more complete team in the near future. They were so close on so many different occasions. Florida could have, and should have, won the game, but were not able to make any of a number of plays throughout the game and the fourth quarter to preserve the win. I will go out on a limb right now and say that Florida will run the table and with a Tennessee loss down the road will get the rematch against LSU in the Georgia Dome.

Offense --- B+
The numbers were not staggering, but when you factor in whom, where and time of the game, I thought the Gators looked very sharp and dictated the LSU defense time and time again. The only problem was the time of possession in the second half.

Defense --- B-
They played well enough to win and held the No. 1 team in the nation to their lowest point total on the year in their building. The defense did make the stops, six times in fact, but it just so happened that Les Miles decided to go for it on all six occasions, and if the Gators make any of those stops they win the game going away. Seven of those points were on the offense last night after the Tim Tebow interception.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Jason Higdon


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