HB: What I Liked and Didn't Like

Every week as we try to share our opinions on the Gators' game, I plan on doing something I have done in year's past. Talk about a myriad of things the Gators did well and not so well. Of course all of this is my opinion, but we will try and stay focused on what the Gators did or need to do to get better. Here is what I thought about the Florida-Tennessee game.

The throttling in Knoxville has to make Phil Fulmer's tooshy a little warmer tonight than maybe it was last week when the Vols steamrolled through UAB. The fact that UCLA lost again badly doesn't help his case or that of his team being a significant figure at all in college football this season.

Gator linebacker Brandon Spikes was called on the carpet this week for bringing up the very words of a Tennessee player last season when that player told a Florida special teams player late in the game, 'I am tapping out'. Meaning that the Tennessee player wasn't going to go hard on the next play so there was no need to for the Gator player to play hard on that play. One has to wonder if the Vols ever started back up again since that play last year.

What I liked...

Offensive efficiency

I know people are going to harp on the offense, but honestly this was again one of the more efficient offenses in the land this weekend. They shot themselves in the foot a couple of times with penalties, but the fact is they punted only once and failed on a fourth down conversion late in the game when it would have been absurd to kick a 'gimme' field goal to win it.

The Gators went 45 yards for a touchdown, 0 yards and a field goal on a short field, 74 yards and a field goal from their own three, punt, 48 yards and a touchdown, 50 yards and a field goal, and then failed on the last fourth down conversion, when the game was out of hand at the time. I will get into the why's of them not finishing drives with touchdowns in the "What I didn't like" section.

What was even more impressive is that this offense was pretty efficient without using the full play book. Urban Meyer and company jumped all over Tennessee 17-0, and he knew Tennessee didn't have the horses to make a strong push from that point, so the staff really played it safe from the first quarter on. In hind sight, he could not have been more right to do so. When the score got to be 20-0 it was time to milk the clock.

The offense was a very nice 8-of-13 on third down conversions in the game.

Offensive line play...

There were still a couple of penalties, but the running backs had holes and they just looked like they were moving people out there in the trenches. A large part of this probably had to do with the return of senior Jim Tartt as the starting left guard, but this was a different offensive line than we have seen for the first two games.

Use of the running backs

Florida had three running backs touch the ball in the game and they finished with 24 carries and 123 yards (5.1 yards per carry). Emmanuel Moody, Chris Rainey, and Percy Harvin (yes, he is a running back, look it up on the official roster) ran well and found holes that weren't there earlier in the season.

Moody looked exceptional and ran with authority and agility when given the chance. He was inserted into the game early and proved he deserves to be a threat in the Gator offense.

Chris Rainey showed flashes of brilliance in the game capped off by a nice 19-yard run late in the game. He has a very quick first step and gets through creases very quickly.

Percy showed that he is the man again today and Florida has to continue to find ways to get him the ball. The option to Harvin is a huge weapon and gets around the edge faster than I have ever seen anyone do so.

Stopping the run...

Everyone knew coming in that maybe the one single key to this game for the Gators would be whether they could stop the Tennessee running game. They did pretty well.

While Florida's running backs amassed 123 yards on 24 carries (5.1 avg.), Tennessee was held pretty much in check with 20 carries for 56 yards (2.8 yards per carry). Arian Foster, Monterio Hardesty, and Lennon Creer would all liked to have a better day. Florida also forced two fumbles one on a hand off to Foster and the other on a short pass to Hardesty. Stan Drayton must coach that up.

Front seven holding it down...

One of the stats I like to see at the end of the game is total tackles and more specifically how the front seven did making tackles. When the running game is held to such a low total, usually the front seven was all over the place tackling the man with the ball. That was the case on Saturday in Knoxville.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes led the team in tackles with 10, next was cornerback Joe Haden with eight, safety Major Wright with eight, linebacker A.J. Jones with eight, linebacker Ryan Stamper with five, and defensive end Carlos Dunlap with five. Haden and Wright are of course players in the secondary but both are asked to play close to the line of scrimmage a lot and so again you would want them to make tackles.

Pass defense was a force...

Although Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton was not harassed enough on the day, the Florida pass defense played very well over all. Freshman Janoris Jenkins had an interception in the end zone right before the half that was a huge play in the game.

Seven other players had pass break ups. Cornerbacks Markihe Anderson and Joe Haden. Safety Ahmad Black, linebackers A.J. Jones and John Jones, as well as defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap.

Florida is really flying around to the ball right now when the ball is in the air and it is shown with turnovers and broken up passes in every game.

Janoris Jenkins continues to impress...

Wondy Pierre-Louis needs to watch out because freshman Janoris Jenkins is ready to start in the SEC right now. Jenkins had two huge plays that resulted in turnovers in the game and continues to play the tough, physical game that the staff wanted from their cornerbacks. He has to be pushing Pierre-Louis who has had a few issues with coverage. Make no mistake about it, Wondy is playing better than he ever did a year ago, but Jenkins is really playing at a high level of football right now.

UF Special Teams are mostly special...

It is hard to say enough about Brandon James. The little guy is just dynamite on the field returning kicks. He scored a touchdown of course today and he set up another short field for the Gators when he returned the ball 14 yards to the Tennessee 47-yard line on another punt return.

Florida is now 4-4 on field goals this season thanks to Jonathan Phillips perfect 3-3 on the day. Urban Meyer has decided not to rely on his talented true freshman Caleb Sturgis to get points this year and so far that plan has worked beautifully with the senior Phillips.

What I didn't like...

In a 30-6 win against a major rival on the road it is hard to find too many things wrong, but I came up with a few that will get in the crawl of the head coach this week.

Drive killing penalties...

The first field goal was on a short field after a fumble recovery but the staff is responsible for a penalty in that drive which gets them out of regular down and distance plays in the play book. The team was called for a sideline infraction which started the series at 1st-and-15. That is all on the coaching staff. The second call was an offsides call on the offensive line and even though it was a bad call by the referees, the penalty was what kept them from getting a first down and continuing the drive.

Those two penalties may have put the game out of reach in the middle of the second quarter and allowed some key back ups to get in the game earlier.

Not much pressure on the quarterback...

The defense played well and to take anything away from them for as hard as they played isn't what I want to do here. The fact is, Tennessee pass protected well on the day and Crompton was not touched much in the game. There were a few times when he felt the heat, but I am guessing the fear of the running game and maybe Tennessee maximum protected a lot, slowed down the defensive line from getting a big push. There were no sacks on the day, although Crompton was forced to scramble a bit.

Not so special kick off coverage...

It continues to be a mystery why the Gators kickoff coverage is not better. Caleb Sturgis can pound the ball into the cheap seats on kickoffs, but the staff wants him to kick it to the goal line or close. He does that pretty well but the Vols still returned the ball to the 28, 21, 26, 39, 43, 37, and 27 yard lines.

If you add up all the yards over 20 in that sequence, the Gators gave up an extra 81 yards on the day due to not kicking it out of the back of the end zone. That is basically a touchdown drive, which Tennessee had one of. Give me the ball on the 20 every time and get a big donut on the scoreboard.

In a nutshell it was a game dominated by Florida in almost every aspect. The Gators started hot and kept the fire going and they looked like the much more talented and prepared team on the field. Tennessee had no answers and looked limp coming into a game they were supposedly fired up over because they were called quitters. I can't imagine they went full speed at the end of this one either.


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