Mid-Season Report Card - Passing Offense

We continue our evaluation of the Florida Gator football team at mid-season with an assessment of the Florida passing game. The Gators are actually throwing for more yards this year (247) than last (236) on slightly fewer attempts (28.5 in '06, 25.3 this year).

Passing Offense (B)

The positives ----- Tim Tebow has eliminated any questions about his ability to throw the ball by completing 66 percent of his passes through the first six games. The sophomore has thrown a touchdown pass in each game and only one of the nation's best defenses has held him under 200 yards in any of the games (LSU, 158).

Percy Harvin is showing maturity as a receiver with 32 catches after grabbing just 34 passes all of last year. Harvin is averaging 16 yards a catch and is tied for second on the team with three touchdowns. Another guy who has stepped it up is Louis Murphy with 19 catches after just two last year. Six different Gators have caught touchdown passes and ten have receptions.

The negatives ----- Florida has not taken advantage of the unique abilities of Cornelius Ingram nearly enough. The 6-5 Ingram should be catching six passes a week, not three. "C.I." leads the Gators with four touchdown catches, but he should have 12-15 by the end of the year. Riley Cooper has shown big play ability but two of Tebow's three interceptions are directly attributable to mistakes he's made running routes.

Andre "Bubba" Caldwell has not been able to stay healthy and as a result has caught only five passes. His 24.2 yards per catch show just how much he's missed in the Florida passing game.

The Gators also struggle with Tebow's inexperience and his tendency to lock in on a hot receiver rather than moving the ball around. The Gator QB also needs to cut back on the number of times he throws short of the first down marker on third down passes.

Looking ahead ----- There are two keys to the second half of the seasons as far as I'm concerned. The first is Caldwell getting and staying healthy from here on in. If Caldwell is at full speed, joining Harvin and Murphy on the outside Florida is much tougher to defend. The second key is a commitment to getting the ball to Ingram much more frequently. Ingram is the toughest match up for opposing defenses and that advantage must be exploited. I would also like to see Florida challenge defenses deep with more frequency to help keep safeties honest.

Overall the Gator offense has the potential to be great but has not yet reached that level, thus grades of "B-plus" (rushing) and "B" (passing) for the unit. Getting some big plays in the running game would be a big step in the right direction as would a return to full speed for Caldwell. The Gators are averaging just 24 points in the last three games; look for them to average over 30 from here on in.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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