HB: What I Liked and Didn't Like

This is when the job gets hard. The blame gets thrown everywhere and when you go to break down the numbers, they just don't point to some of the reasons people want to believe for the failures on Saturday. Ole Miss and Florida fought hard on Saturday and the close score was indicative of that. The Gators shot themselves in the foot numerous time and inevitably that was the reason for the loss.

As we will do for every game, I will take a look at the things that I thought the Gators did well and they didn't do well. This is a blind look, not having seen the replay, so forgive my naked eyes for things I may have missed. We will look into the game further by Monday and see what else we can gather from it. For now here is what I liked and didn't like from the Gators on Saturday.

What I liked...

Offense line protected and blocked well for the most part...


Some are going to think I am nuts, but I thought the protection was actually pretty good Saturday. Three sacks were allowed but I put only one of those on the protection itself. The offensive line was faced with a blitz of one kind or another all day and helped produce 443 yards and 30 points. Unlike Tennessee, the field position wasn't a gimme where the points were concerned.

I thought the offensive line played fairly well and only noticed a couple of mistakes allowing guys to come free. Ole Miss like the three previous teams did, blitzed a ton and I thought the offensive line picked up their guy 90 percent of the time or more. When they are sending more than you have blockers, the ball has to come out sooner.

Take away Tebow's rushes and sacks and the ground game gained 117 yards on 20 rushes, almost a six yard per carry average. The option has become a nice staple and on pitches to the backs the option totaled 50 yards on six carries.

Offense attacked what the defense gave them...

I also am not a fan of the criticism of the offensive play calling. Here are the facts from the game. The Gators had 20 plays of 10 yards or more on the day. That is a really high number for any game. They also had five plays of 20-plus yards, which is one of their goals coming into any game. Granted one of those plays ended in a fumble (Hernandez shovel pass), but the point is still made they had the plays called to do the damage.

Furthermore, there were four long passes that had receivers wide open that were either over thrown or dropped. That cannot happen in the SEC and expect to win. Tim Tebow and company usually hit more than half of those and really hit none today.

There were a lot of 10-plus yard plays in this game from the offense. The distribution of the big plays is a tad uneven, but there were eight plays of 10-plus yards in the first half, 12 in the second half. There were only two in the third quarter where the Gators turned the ball over twice and just didn't have the ball much in the quarter.

Four of their 20-plus yard plays came in the second quarter, so we aren't talking about whole sale changes in the game plan after a long dry spell in the game. The offense consistently attacked what the Ole Miss gave them.

The staff was faced with another team that was do or die blitzing and they attacked it the best way possible. They had a lot of man coverage all day and went after the defensive backs that were trying to cover Harvin, Hernandez, Murphy and company.

Have to go to your money play...

Count me as one that doesn't fault the coaching staff for running the fourth down play the way they did. It is a play that almost all of the time gets the yard needed, they did it several times in the game before that play, and you have your most reliable runner running with the football. In a tight game situation, those are all factors I would use in determining what play to run. They have also run jump passes and other plays from the formation, so it isn't like Ole Miss could only be prepared for one thing.

Maybe this shouldn't be in the "things I liked" section because the play didn't work, but all the heat over one play call is unjustified in my opinion given the success they have had and all the different things they have run out of it

Defense played tough until tired ...

Ole Miss had the ball on 14 possessions that mattered in the game. On eight of those they didn't get a first down and had three or less plays and out. While the Gators had 20 plays that totaled 10-plus yards, Ole Miss only had nine. Of course they had those nine plays in the six possessions where they actually got first downs or touchdowns.

Individual efforts on defense from a few...

Brandon Spikes was everywhere today. He forced the action more times than not and did force the interception by Major Wright on a hit as Jevan Snead was throwing the ball. Spikes continues to spend a lot of time right at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield making plays. He had 13 tackles on the day.

Janoris Jenkins also stood out. He broke up up one beautiful pass in the end zone and also was the beneficiary of a pass interference call on the wide receiver he was covering. I never saw Wondy Pierre-Louis on the field except for special teams. Janoris is playing that well.

Jermaine Cunningham also played great even though he didn't start. He finished second on the team in tackles with eight and also recorded a half sack.

A.J. Jones looked like he had his best game of the year. He seemed to always be around the ball.

The last individual I want to point out on defense was Carlos Dunlap. He made a few special plays including a half sack and a quarterback hurry. Dunlap just needs to put it together for an entire game.

The secondary had a great game going until they gave up the 86-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Take that away and Ole Miss finishes with 99 yards passing on the day.

Where were the penalties?

It is amazing in how many games the Gators win they have so many penalties and sometimes when they lose they hardly have any. The Gators had five penalties for only 35 yards on Saturday, I don't know if that shows lack of emotion or that they were more focused.

What I didn't Like...

Will the real Tim Tebow please stand up...

Everyone wants to look at Tim Tebow this year and say he has regressed. That isn't fair to the kid. He has not regressed, but he has tried to change his game. He is playing it a little closer to the vest, and maybe, that just isn't Tim Tebow. Maybe Tim Tebow needs to be on the run to make some plays.

The fact is Tim Tebow is just comfortable on the field. He doesn't get rattled, even in the face of oncoming pass rushers. He may be a victim of his own strength and toughness a little bit there, but his play this year has everything to do with trying to be a better pocket passer in my opinion. Two of the three sacks on Saturday were on him holding the ball and not getting rid of it in the face of an out-manned pass protection.

You have to give the defenses credit here as they understand what Tebow's strength and supposed weaknesses are. In the last three games, the defenses have taken the chance that Tebow will not beat them by standing back in the pocket and relying mainly on his arm to win the game. They have blitzed from every angle to corral him into not being able to run the ball and basically keep half of his dangerous ability from being utilized in the game.

I think the Tebow of last year would have been a little more perceptive of the blitz and would have taken off running anyway. He would probably gain less yards than he did last year by the way the defenses are playing him, but he still would be more of a running threat.

He also seems so hesitant in his passes this year and they just seem to come out of his hand so very slow. There are times when the ball should get to the receiver so much faster and it just drifts through the air only for the ball and defender to meet the receiver at the same time.

This hesitance also showed it's ugly head with the fumbled hand offs to Brandon James and Percy Harvin. I am not sure where the break down in communication was, but the backs certainly didn't think Tebow was giving them the ball and he certainly meant for them to take it.

One thing that I think could be done (good idea by Larry), is rolling Tim out. Get him outside of the pocket early and often in games so blitzes are much less effective. You basically move blocking lanes laterally and move the blitz target around. Rolling out will also allow Tebow to use his feet where he seems to be more effective. We see it work with the option where they move the running lanes laterally and the option has been pretty effective this year because of all the defense's focus on the interior of the line.

The fact is Tim Tebow is the perfect quarterback for this offensive system, but in my opinion (which is much less educated than the staff preparing him every week) there are things that can be done to utilize his skills better this year. There is no doubt that teams are changing things up, and making it more difficult. The staff just needs to use those changes...move him around and buy him time so that he can get to that open receiver. I think the right concepts in attacking the blitz are there, maybe just utilize more of his tools as he has so much tom offer.

Get more guys in the action...

Speaking of receivers, I do agree there need to be more getting in the mix. However, if Percy Harvin can run all day like he did and he is wide open like he was most of the day you have to get him the ball over and over. It is hard to judge from our vantage point whether the lack of hitting different receivers is from the play calling or from Tebow just looking in one or two directions but it certainly seems like he only sees Harvin, Hernandez, and Murphy most of the time.

At the end of the third quarter the defense was out there a little too much after two fumbles and a quick punt and there were a couple of big drives where the tackling was not good...including a 40-yard touchdown where the Ole Miss running back on a direct snap broke at least four tackles. I understand being tired because of being out there, but this is when a backup should have been in the game either before that series or during that one. The Gators have more depth at linebacker, they should use it more in my opinion.

Safety speed a concern?

I think we saw where that back end speed, or lack there of, can hurt at the safety position. Three plays of 36 yards or more is a lot in one game. I don't know if Major Wright just misjudged the 86-yard TD pass and under cut it, but he wasn't going to get over there for that pass. It was definitely a Cover-2 as Meyer said and so major has to have the whole deep right half of the secondary while the corners cover the underneath routes. You have to change it up sometimes, but they are so much better in man defense or in Cover-3 when two corners with more speed drop deep. With more speed at safety, the deep pass to set up Ole Miss' first touchdown probably doesn't happen either.

Make no mistake, I think Major Wright and Ahmad Black are great players, but there may be situations where they are just not the guys you want out there, at least at the same time.

Special Teams weren't so special...

Of course the blocked extra point turned out to be the biggest play of the game at the end. That should never happen, especially with one so important.

Back to the kick off coverage. It was a little mixed bag but overall not good again. The Gators kicked off six times. One for a touch back, which was nice to see. Another that was returned to the 21 yard line, which is fine. Then there were three returned beyond the 30-yard line including one to the 40 and one to the 50. Unbelievably none of those resulted in scores for Ole Miss, but they certainly "flipped" the field as Meyer likes to say.


Fightin Gators Top Stories