HB: What I Liked and Didn't Like

Well, it is hard to win a game buy 30 points against a big nationally ranked rival and come away with something not to like, but of course there is always something. That said, this UF/LSU game was about as good as it gets when it comes to game planning and execution and the positives are far more demonstrative than any negatives from the game. Here is my non-replay point of view.

What I liked....

The offense came out firing...

The Florida offense in the first three games of the season was somewhat vanilla and did not start gang busters and keep it up through the first quarter. In game four against Ole Miss, they tried to open it up a bit and some miscues cost them and they kept shooting themselves in the foot.

Against LSU Saturday night, the Gators started on the first series and continued through the first quarter hitting continuous mid sized to big plays to take a commanding lead. The Gators had 13 total plays in the game of 10-plus yards and more than half (7) came in an explosive first quarter. Granted the Gators getting three series in a quarter is a rarity, but when your defense dishes out two three-and-outs and an a two-play turnover drive, the offense will get ore opportunities. Thy certainly took advantage of that.

Great OL play...

I have been a big proponent of the offensive line play this year and think they have gotten a raw deal in the minds of the fans and media with their play so far this season. On Saturday night the Gators left little doubt who was controlling the line of scrimmage when the Gators had the ball. It started strong when the Gators ran hard but had no huge runs in the first half and still averaged 4.9 yards per carry for the half. Despite three sacks on the night, the Gators still wound up with 265 yards rushing and a 6.5 yard average per rush. Outstanding work by the guys up front opening up holes.

They also pass protected well against a front that some thought was the best pass rushing front in America. Three sacks were given up but in such an aggressive game against a big time defense, the offensive line was one of the two biggest stories on the night in my opinion. I also thought the staff helped the line out with some calls with max protection or at least another player or two to help out.

Offensive line splits...

Urban Meyer said they actually used a couple of them last year against LSU, but the 4-5 foot splits on the offensive line were a thing of beauty when they worked. Hats off to the staff for not abandoning the idea when it didn't work the first time or two, because when it did work it was really effective.

According to Meyer, it literally separated the defensive interior linemen a little more so they couldn't pinch in on their gaps creating bigger holes at the line. Quick handoffs to the backs saw them slithering through the holes that according to Jeffrey Demps "were already there to see".

The staff even used it later to run play action, which was hit or miss, but certainly had to help confuse the defense as to what was coming or not. It was fine ingenuity whether they used it before or not. It certainly worked on Demps' long TD run.

Awesome blocking down field after catch or during long runs...

This came not only from the wide receivers, backs, and tight ends, but the linemen got in the mix as well. Florida spends a lot of time on blocking down field and it showed Saturday night. The LSU folks were playing like they have never seen a block down field before.

This honestly isn't anything new, but we saw it a lot against Arkansas and against LSU and it paid off in big runs for touchdowns.

Unreal front seven play...

Take away the last play o the game, a completely meaningless 18-yard run by Charles Scott to end the game, and Scott finished with 11 carries and 19 yards. This was after averaging more than six yards and more than 100 a game for the first four games. Until that play they held LSU to 62 total rushing yards.

The running game was non-existent until they used the jet sweep with Trindon Holiday. The front seven didn't actually bully the LSU offensive line, but what they did was stick their nose in there and not allow anything to penetrate. More important than anything they played their assignments and the linebackers were absolutely great at filling the right gaps and making the plays in the backfield when need be.

Lawrence Marsh was everywhere up front...

If there was a guy that was most dominant it was Lawrence Marsh. The redshirt sophomore has had a strong season so far and seemed to be everywhere the ball was when it started to cross the line of scrimmage Saturday. Marsh may be one of the five best surprises of the year for this talented team.

Torrey Davis for one play...

Not sure how many noticed it, but Torrey Davis was about to eat Charles Scott for lunch on the play he fumbled. I totally believe he saw Davis break the line of scrimmage basically untouched and about to make him a memory on the football field. The ball popped out before Davis could ever get there, so not even sure if there was contact made.

The strange thing was, I think that may have been Davis' only play of the night.

Brandon Spikes, the all-American

What can be said of his season. He now leads the team in tackles and interceptions (tied with two others) and is second in tackles for loss. When Spikes plays well the defense plays well and that has happened more often than not all year.

He is actually a pretty good pass defender and last year had quite a few passes broken up. His two interceptions were beauties and no one brings it to the line of scrimmage like Spikes. He is evidently one of the best pass rushers because when teams are in a must pass situation and long down and distance situations, he becomes an outside pass rusher.

Janoris Jenkins, a freshman dynamo...

He may be the best cornerback in the SEC. I haven't seen enough of the national guys yet to form an educated opinion on them, but Jenkins is so impressive as a freshman, I can't think of anyone to compare him too. He is so physical, it defies the belief that a freshman cannot come in and play that way.

He is plenty athletic, but his physical play really takes receivers out of their game and is probably the mold by which Vance Bedford wants to recruit for the future.

Saturday night, he had a sack, led the team in tackles and pass breakups, and was a hitting machine when someone did catch the ball or was about to catch the ball. His past offensive skill evidently allows him to shed blocks and get to the ball carrier as he did that at least three times Saturday night while either he or the ball carrier and blokcer were moving at full speed.

Jonathan Phillips keeps it going...

Three for three on the night and knock on wood, perfect for the season. Meyer's confidence in Phillips has to be growing with every game, especially in big games like Saturday. The time may come when he may be asked to step up and make a kick to win a game, and that wasn't going to happen as long as a couple of weeks or so.

Will Hill playing hard...

He was great on special teams. He flies to the ball and had two tackles during the game that were key in pinning LSU deep. I know these types of things go a long way in creating trust from the coaching staff about having him on the field.

Low number of penalties...

They had a personal foul and an unsportsmanlike like penalty, but the Gators only had six penalties for 53 yards on the night. Penalties have been key in putting the Gators in bad down and distance situations all year. The offense was hardly in those situations at all thanks to not many off sides and delays and other silly penalties that have set them back in previous games.

The Swamp was rockin'...

I can usually tell at a night game when the cameras are really flashing at kickoff. This is one of those games where thousands of cameras went off as the opening kickoff took place and The Swamp never looked back afterwards. There was one slight lull in the middle, but otherwise, Ben Hill Griffin lived up to it's reputation as a place where nobody should want to play.

What I didn't like...

Kick coverage off and on, not consistent...

Of the nine times the Gators kicked off from their own 30-yard line, only three times did LSU start inside their own 30-yard line. There were a couple of nice coverages on the night, but starting beyond the 35-yard line four times is not something they are probably proud of. One caveat is that LSU does have a great kick returning team.

Bad-"after further review"...

I was sitting next to an ex-SEC official and his jaw dropped when the kick out of bounds was not overturned. The rule was applied correctly on the field when the referee saw the player catch it with his foot out of bounds. The rule book stipulates as much. The problem was Keiland Williams caught the ball and his left foot came down in bounds before his right foot landed out of bounds. It should have been a catch in-bounds and then stepped out. The replay guy certainly blew that call.

Play action pass call when up by 27 late???

I am really never one to question a single play in a game, most of you know that. In this case, I really thought the play action pass with a 27-point lead in the fourth quarter was very ill-advised. There are some that will love the go for the throat mentality that has supposedly been missing from this staff this year, at least according to those same folks. However, with a great defensive line on the other side and a four score lead, I was screaming to put back up John Brantley in on the series and mainly run the ball or get him a few short passes under his belt again.

Instead, they drop Tebow back and he gets blindsided by the best pass rusher from LSU. Tebow fumbles and after LSU recovers and gets going, they score again. Now the game is only a three score game and Tebow has to stay in there.

Burn the clock a bit, get your back up some reps, and punt if you have to. Save Tebow for the next game.

Here I go complaining about trying to run up the score.


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