Grading the Gators

The Florida Gators (5-2, 3-2 SEC) now control their destiny in the SEC East. If the Gators win out against Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina they will be back in the Georgia Dome on December 1 for the SEC Championship game. Coming into Lexington, you knew it would be an offensive game and that is exactly what we saw.

Offense: A+

Superman, I mean Tim Tebow accounted for five touchdowns on the day, including a career-high four through the air and added another on the ground. Tebow now has 10 rushing touchdowns on the year and has scored at least one rushing touchdown in eight straight games. The sophomore signal caller ended the day with 16 completions for 254 yards passing and another 78 yards on the ground. For the first time all year, Tebow seemed to be banged up a bit with a sore right shoulder.

I would still like to see Kesthan Moore get more carries to lighten the load but the fact remains when the game is on the line, Mullen and company will call Tebow's number.

Andre Caldwell ended the day with six catches for 73 yards and one touchdown. I mentioned earlier in the year that Caldwell is the key to the Gator's offense and he did nothing to change my mind. Percy Harvin had two catches for 50 yards and added another 49 yards on the ground on only six carries. It was nice to see Louis Murphy get the opportunity on the long ball and he did not disappoint. On the day, that was the best call by Coach Dan Mullen. If you get a chance to watch it again, watch the left guard actually pull on the play to help lure not only the linebackers but also the split second hesitation to the safety that allowed Murphy to get the step.

The Gators ended with 21 first downs, 171 yards net rushing, 256 net passing yards and were an impressive 7 of 11 on third down conversions. Florida was five for five in red zone scoring opportunities.

Defense: C

Anytime you give up 37 total points it would seem the opposing team had their way with you. And while that may be true, the Gators held Kentucky to 10 points in the first half, allowing the Gators take an 11-point lead at the break. Andre Woodson finished the day with 415 yards on 35-of-50 passing with five touchdowns. The Gator defense allowed Kentucky to run 85 total plays, 23 more than what the Gators offense ran. Florida did have some bright spots as once again true freshman Joe Haden was tops on the team in tackles with 13, 10 of which were solo. Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe and Tony Joiner ended with 9 tackles each. The defensive end rotation of Derrick Harvey, Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Trattou combined for 5 sacks on the day and as a team the Gators dropped Woodson a total of six times. Alarming Stat of the Week: Kentucky was 12-of-21 on third down conversions and 4-of-5 on fourth downs. Florida must do a better job on third and fourth down conversions.

Special Teams: B+

Brandon James once again proves he is one of the most dangerous kick return specialists in the nation. James had another 60-plus yard return in the first half and another in the second half to start the final drive. The Gators had three punts for a total of 137 yards or average of 45.7 with a net average of 41.0 Florida was 6-of-6 on point after tries and 1-of-1 on field goals.

Overall: B+

This year more than any other has shown that anytime you go on the road and get it a win it is a good win. The Gators are back where they belong, controlling their own destiny in the SEC East. I still would like to see more of the load from the ground game go to the running backs and not the starting quarterback, but Tebow is the best player and when the Gators need a play, he will be called upon. If you are a Georgia fan, I think you are telling yourself that the Gators can be had defensively with draws and screens. The only problem is that Georgia does not have the talent on the offensive side of the ball that the Kentucky Wildcats have. The plays that worked for Kentucky worked because of the personnel they had on the field. I would expect to see the Gators make a strong commitment to the ground game this week. I stated after the LSU loss that the Gators would run the table and they did nothing on Saturday that would change my mind.

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


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