Scoring in a Big Way

ORLANDO, Fla. --- The Gators threw up 45 or more points in five of their last six games. But in the Florida's losses to Auburn and LSU, they only managed 17 and 24 points.

Head coach Urban Meyer looks at two things when evaluating the success of the Florida offense this season. First, it took a while for the Gators to get things going, especially under first year starting quarterback Tim Tebow. Second, it took some time for a defense that needed to replace nine starters to also get going.

What does a defense have to do with the Gator offense scoring points? It's quite simple – the more possessions the offense gets, the more points they score.

"There are some games that we left the field without very many opportunities to score," Meyer said. "I think when we got this thing going, and Tim was going and this offensive line was going, it was a hard offense to stop. You get a bunch more possessions, you're going to score a bunch more points."

The Gators had 10 possessions against both Auburn and LSU, but against South Carolina and Florida Atlantic, where the Gators scored 51 and 59 points, they had at least three more possessions. It wasn't until later in the season that the young defense began creating more possessions through turnovers and quick stops.

But the improving defense wasn't the only reason for Florida's increasing offensive production. The Gators also faced some early adversity on the offensive line like the loss of senior tackle Phil Trautwein. The front five also took time to gel together before playing its best football in the Gators' final games. And with Trautwein set to return next season, the line may be one of the best in the nation, making next year's offense even more potent.

"I think the offensive line will be the best offensive line that's been around here in a while," Meyer said. "I like the attitudes of them. They stay after for more work. Phil Trautwein is coming back. There is a little bit of an attitude upfront, which is really nice to have."

With most of the pieces of this year's offense returning for next year, the Gators could put up some special numbers next season. After all, Florida scored 45 or more points in eight games this season, and that came from an offense that was playing with a quarterback starting for the first time. Although Tebow won the Heisman, Meyer still sees room from improvement from his most prized pupil.

"He can continue to become a better passer," Meyer said. "Anytime it breaks down, he tucks that thing away. It makes him awful dangerous, but there are still times that he can deliver that ball. I think he can get a lot better."

Another year running the system for players like Tebow, Aaron Hernandez, Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin and others should help, too, but Meyer maintains his mantra that he's been repeating since he first stepped foot in Gainesville.

"All that defending the spread or west coast offense or whatever you want to call it doesn't mean anything," he said. "It's the personnel. Someday we'll figure that out. When I hear coaches talking about the spread, it's garbage. None of that matters. If they have really good players then they're hard to defend. If you have a good player going in the right direction then we have a chance to be successful. It has nothing to do with the style of offense. It's all player oriented."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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