HB: What I Liked and Didn't Like

The game was still in doubt until midway through the third quarter but the Gators managed to pull away with a big 38-7 victory over Arkansas on the road. The Gators continued to make numerous miscues that caused the offense to stumble while the defense played a bend but don't break kind of game for three quarters. In the end there were lots of positives and negatives to discuss.

What I didn't like...

Third down conversion not good again...

The Gators finished 6-of-13 on third down conversions but only made three of their first 10. After going 1-of-11 last week in the loss to Ole Miss this is a statistic that will be scrutinized for the rest of the season.

The clearest underlying issues with the third down conversion rate are actually the two previous plays leading up to the third downs. Of the seven conversions that failed Florida had distances of 16 yards, 26 yards, 10 yards, and 17 yards along with three for one yard to convert. The Gators actually converted all three fourth down tries after missing on 3rd-and-1 three times.

The bottom line here is that no offense is going to be able to consistently convert on 3rd and 10+ yard situations and the Gators are no different.

Of the four third and long situations, the Gators were put into those positions by a negative six yard run by Brandon James on the first drive, by an eventual 1st and 35 situation (due to penalties) on the second drive, by a dropped pass by Riley Cooper on 2nd down before the third missed conversion, and on a sack on first down on the fourth missed conversion.

All four were breakdowns that cause significant down and distance issues on third down and most of the time are going to be hard to overcome.

Penalties on offense were way too many...

The Gators had a total of five penalties against Ole Miss and lost, they had 12 for 110 yards against Arkansas and ended up winning big. Still, the biggest culprit for drive stoppers on offense are penalties. The offensive line continues to be the biggest contributor to the penalty line on the box score with holding and false starts as their most common offenses. This needs to be fixed.

Injuries really taking it's toll...

The Gators now have three left guards that missed time in the game. Pre-season starter Jim Tartt didn't play and his replacement Marcus Gilbert didn't play in the game either. Carl Johnson came in and played admirably, but Ron Wilson was inserted in the game sometime early and had an injury and missed the rest of the game as well.

The running back position was left with only two true running backs,but they did well. Starter Kestahn Moore was mentioned to have a hamstring injury, but was listed on the game player stats sheet, and Emmanuel Moody also missed the game. The Gators did get 25 carries total from Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps, Brandon James, and Percy Harvin.

The Gators were also without two of their top four linebackers on the day with Dustin Doe and Ryan Stamper not participating.

These injuries should not be taken lightly and in my opinion play a big part in the break downs happening on the field on both sides of the ball.

Defense didn't have a great pass rush again...

They finished with four sacks on the day, but Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick had a lot of time for most of the day. Recently suspended sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis was inserted in the game in the third series, but he too did not seem to get much penetration. The sacks seemed to come from long down and distance situations when the secondary covered well.

I will say that the Gators seemed to blitz less in this game than they have in any of the four previous games and so the rush was not going to be as easy.

Defensive missed alignments?

I don't know what it was and when we look more into the replay maybe we can see something, but it appeared the defensive front was misaligned or something to that affect numerous times as some of the holes the Arkansas backs ran through were absolutely huge.

The Draw was especially nasty on the Gators and Arkansas running back Michael Smith should be given some credit for his play as he did run and see the field well.

Too many 10+ plays for Arkansas...

The Gators gave up 15 plays of 10 yards or more in the game. That is about double what you would want from your defense against a decent opponent. The good thing was they held Arkansas to only two explosive plays or 20+ yards.

The fact that three secondary players were three of the Gators top tacklers on the day (Major Wright-11, Joe Haden-11, and Ahmad Black-6) is not a good sign for your defense.

What I liked...

Spreading the ball around...

I haven't been one to harp on the fact that it has been a big dose of the Harvin and Tebow show so far early this season, but I will admit it was good to see so many ball carriers and receivers touch the ball in the game on Saturday. The Gators had three other people rush the ball outside of Tebow and Harvin and that is without Moody and Moore available for all or part of the game. In the end Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps, and Brandon James ran the ball 19 times for 210 yards on the day.

More receivers got in on the action as well as eight players caught receptions in the game. Harvin caught only three while his teammates caught 16 passes for 199 of the 236 yards on the day.

While I think it is a real positive to spread the wealth so to speak, I also don't see the issue of getting or keeping the ball in the hands of your best two offensive players.

Big chunks of yardage...

The offense had another great day with big plays. Last week the offense totaled 20 plays of 10+ yards on the day and followed that up with 18 plays of 10+ yards on the day. The offense has a goal of five explosive plays every game and actually had six on the day.

The lone caveat that remains true for these statistics in both of the last two games is that a large chunk of them have come in the last quarter. Against Arkansas seven of 18 - 10+ yard plays and four of six explosive plays all came in the fourth quarter.

Tebow looked sharper and threw faster...

There were times when I still think he held the ball too long, but for the most part Tim Tebow looked sharper on the day and really seemed to be throwing the ball with authority rather than hesitating on his throws.

He did throw his first interception on the season and that was a terrible pass, but he also looked very decisive in throws over the middle on several occasions. I really liked the post pattern touchdown to Percy Harvin after looking him off for three plays. There were a couple of other mid range passes where Tebow really looked sharp.

Secondary playing well...

Arkansas did have 208 yards passing on the day but most of that yardage came from underneath passes and crossing patterns that went for a lot of yards after the catch. Again we saw guys like cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Joe Haden play very well as well as safety Ahmad Black, who really continues to impress in my opinion. Major Wright led the team in tackles and had a good day, but did miss a couple of plays including getting called for a pass interference on an interception and he should have had another pass interference call.

It was a good day from the secondary who saw the ball thrown around 35 times on the day.

Only two explosive plays...

The defense was burned five times by Ole Miss on plays of 20 or more yards. On Saturday, they were able to keep those explosive plays to just two. As Coach Meyer and company have said on numerous occasions, the likelihood of a score on drives with explosive plays is much higher than those without them. The average nearly doubles when there are two explosive plays on one drive.

Special teams was pretty good...

Outside of a couple of kick off returns that allowed Arkansas to start at the 40 and 46 yard line, the special teams had another special day. Brandon James was his usual exceptional self returning kicks and got the Gators in great field position on one kick return that was actually a touchdown called back. He also recovered a fumble on a muffed punt, his second of the year. The Gators converted a fourth down when they faked a punt early in the contest. The field goal blocking unit got into the action as well when Ahmad Black blocked a field goal attempt.

Despite the two bad kick off coverages, Caleb Sturgis did punch two kicks out of the back of the end zone on the first two kicks, had another touch back, and Arkansas started two other drives on their 14 and 23 yard lines. All in all a good day for the kick off coverage unit.

We will get into more with the "After Further Review" segment, in a day or two.

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