Grading the Offense

With the Gators at the midway point, we decided this would be an ideal time to let you see the Gators mid-season report card. Rather than grade on a curve professors Redman and Vettel will offer their evaluations of each Gator unit after the Gators aced their midterm exam against LSU.

Offensive Line:

Bob: (B)
I have been adamant about not slamming the offensive line play as I am maybe one of very few that think they have played pretty well. They have been physical in every game and been productive to the tune of the third best offense in the nation's best defensive conference. They are only .04 yards per play behind league leading Georgia and I think a large part of that is credit to the offensive line. When you take into account that Tim Tebow has changed his style of play early this season and he is not getting a lot of stuff on his own, I believe the offensive line has done very well.

There is one area of concern that seems to be righting itself. Over the first 4.5 games there were way too many penalties and missed assignments given up by a group that was turning a lot of experience. In the last game and a half that has subsided, but they lose one grade for early miscues and finish with a strong B.

Larry: (B-) Bob, you are right that the offensive line has gotten much undue criticism, but they certainly have not played as well as I thought they would. That is until a superb performance against LSU. The absence of Jim Tartt has really hurt them physically, emotionally and depthually. I know that's not a word, but what the hell. Marcus Gilbert looked out of place at guard, but Carl Johnson has been a revelation. I'd like to see more knocking people off the ball in short yardage situations.

Quarterback:

Larry: (B-)
Tim Tebow has done a good job of running this offense, especially late in games, but the Gators have struggled offensively in the first half three different times. His passing numbers are very good, but I can't shake the image of the wide open receivers that are being missed on deep balls. If that hadn't happened this team is unbeaten, he has a half dozen more TD throws and he has a chance to retain the Heisman. He also seems much more tentative running with the ball, but that changed in the big game with LSU. Tim deserves a straight B, but the unit loses half a point for the failure to get meaningful playing time for either Brantley or Newton.

Bob: (B-) I will "reluctantly" have to agree with you on this one. I will add that I believe Tebow hasn't been as focused in every game like he was in the LSU game. If he approaches the rest of the season like that game, this will be a great season for the Florida Gators. What is amazing is that last year he would be given an A for the same period of time, but he has set the standard for himself and so he must bare the burden of that standard. Timmy just hasn't been Timmy most of the year, but the cape seemed to go on against LSU.

Running Backs:

Bob: (B-)
Some may say this is a harsh grade, but this one would have been much lower if done just after the Ole Miss game. The issue at the running back spot minus Percy Harvin has been consistency and in the two games that were close going into the fourth quarter, Miami and Ole Miss, the trio of Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps, and Kestahn Moore had a nine carries for seven yards against Miami and nine carries for 36 yards against Ole Miss.

Of course a continuation of the last two games and the running back position would probably grade out as good as any unit on the squad. Once we see consistent play out of them, the faith from the coaching staff goes up, they will get more carries, and the overall grade goes up. They get a B- where to weeks ago we were looking at a possible D grade.

Larry: (B+) Bob I would say your grade is harsh; it's just flat out wrong. Demps and Rainey are combining for 99 yards a game on just eleven carries. Add in Moody, Moore and James you have 127 yards a game, 7.5 per carry and eight touchdowns. And that's not giving the unit any credit for Percy Harvin's 190 yards and 2 TD. The runners have done their job when given the chance to do so. Shoot they won the Arkansas game.

Receivers:

Larry: (C+)
Florida has been plagued by way too many dropped passes for this unit to get a better grade. Only Harvin and Deonte Thompson appear to be better players than they were a year ago. Aaron Hernandez has a lot of talent, but needs to stop trying to juke people and start running over and through them. Riley Cooper should average more than 10.7 per catch with his speed. They would have a better grade if Tebow hadn't missed some big play chances, but that's show biz. For their speed and talent they have been above average in the first half because of their blocking, but that's about it.

Bob: (B-) We are close on this one, but chalk up a few better thrown deep balls by the quarterback and this receiving group would be on a path to a great season. While I agree on Cooper's average per catch, he has become an asset as an outlet in the flat and I can see that short passing game to him develop into a surprise shot or two down field although there have been a few come his way that were overthrown.

I am glad you mentioned the blocking because they have been a huge part of the success in all the long runs and some of the deep passes that have gone for touchdowns.

To me the drops are the killer for this group. They can't be responsible for over throws and the like, but they have to catch the ball when thrown to them and that is why they get the grade I passed on to them.

Overall, we agree the offense has performed well, but not great. We'd be surprised if the final grades are not higher than the midterms.


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