This is How You Learn

The last time the Florida Gators played Miami they let a huge lead get away from them, allowing 28 unanswered points in the Orange Bowl on the way to a 38-33 loss. After the game then Gator coach Ron Zook offered up the bizarre assessment that the Gators learned more from that game than they would have if they had won it.

Us usual, the Zooker was wrong.

Urban Meyer's team did an awful lot wrong Saturday night in front of a record crowd of 90,833 in The Swamp. But the best way to learn from mistakes like the many committed this night is pretty darn clear. You get past them in time to win the game! Once that's been accomplished you can go back to the film room, the class room and the practice field and work on long term corrections, but first you win the game.

Florida stepped on itself a ton in this one, and while the Gators never trailed, they weren't comfortable until quite late in the contest. In fact, it took an arguable replay overrule to set up Florida's key touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Until then, Florida was hanging to a six-point advantage and when you are doing that you are one play from disaster.

Still nothing was certain at that point with a 16-3 lead and still more than 13 minutes to play. That's when the Gators put their mistakes behind them and took over the contest. The Gator defense got a stop, but Miami's punter Matt Bosher pinned them back at the 5-yard line. A turnover here could give Miami a great chance to mount a rally.

After Louis Murphy let one get through his hands Aaron Hernandez tried to juke Miami defenders in the open field, turning an almost certain first down into third-and-2. Three plays later the Gators had sealed the deal. Two passes and a penalty quickly moved the ball to the Miami 19, and when Tebow connected with Murphy in the corner of the end zone Florida had indeed learned while doing.

Plenty of Work Ahead

That the Gators got their first win over Miami since the Reagan Administration is no small feat. Yes, this is a young Miami team, but it has a ton of talent and they played their tails off and made the Gators earn it. The Gators now address the primary areas of concern in the two week lead up to the SEC opener at Tennessee.

  • The Gators need to get their offensive line playing at a much higher level. This is two straight weeks Tebow has spent way too much time running for his life. To their credit, the "Big Uglies" were much better own the stretch.

  • Florida's interior defense must be better against the run. It seems picky to jump on them after allowing just three points, but like the early part of the Hawaii game they allowed too many third down runs early in the game.

  • The offense must force the issue on getting the ball spread around. This was pretty much all Tebow all the time. What happened to Moody? Why does Moore get two or three carries?

  • Dumb penalties must stop. A late hit on an offensive lineman is never acceptable. Nor is an illegal formation penalty negating a touchdown. It's not that hard to play by the rules. It's tougher to accept when seniors are prime offenders.

    Still the Gators look like a real contender, at least in the SEC and perhaps beyond. They can and should get better, and they need to before they head to Rocky Top.

    Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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