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September 18, 2005

UF vs. UT -- Game in Review

First -- Thoughts on the Gators:
Nice win. But, so much for Urban Meyer's high flying circus of an offense. You take away the spectacular play call on the reverse for the long TD in the first quarter, and what do you have:

1. UF can't run the ball a lick. They averaged 1.8 yards rushing per carry. Even if you take out the sacks, they still only averaged 3.3 yards per carry.

2. UF needed about 9 or 10 third down conversions on passes just to score THREE FIELD GOALS.

Kudos to Chris Leak for making those plays on 3rd down during that soul killer 17 play drive. But honestly, if you have to convert that many 3rd Downs just to move the ball in order to only score field goals, then your offense isn't the high flyer that people were lead to believe.

Meyer's scheme for running the ball, which looked so nice vs Mountain West and non-Top 20 BCS conference foes, looked gimicky vs a faster and more physical SEC defense. They will struggle to run the ball unless they make massive changes. It was also interesting to see Leak sacked 5 times.

[Photo: Meyer. Neither pointing or staring.]

All of that said -- This is the type of game that gets players to fully buy into a new coach's system. The Gators will only improve from here.

Thoughts on the Vols:
Randy Sanders remains a horrific offensive coordinator. Going into the game, the matchup that everyone talked about was the UT running game vs. the UF undersized DL. UT ran the ball down the Gators' throats to start the game. Then UF's best Defensive linemen, Ray McDonald, went down with a knee injury. Rather than continue to run directly at the now even more undersized and even thinner UF defense, the Vols decide to throw.

And throw. And throw. And throw some more.

[Photo: Vols waste another timeout]

Gerald Riggs finished the game with 17 carries for 86 yards. When you've got an ELITE veteran tailback averaging 5.1 yards per carry, what the hell are you doing throwing the ball with a shaky young QB? Why is he only getting 17 carries?

As for the Vol defense. As I said earlier, Kudos to Leak for making plays on 3rd and long during the 17 play 11+ minute drive in the 2nd half. However, at some point doesn't John Chavis, defensive coordinator for the Vols, have to stand up and apologize for allowing that many 3rd down conversions to a team that can't run the ball at all?

The Vols went away from their strength -- running the ball. When they realized that they could in fact still run it, they were down by 2 scores and had to throw it. Kudos to Meyer for the 11 minute drive. That took an enormous leap of faith in Leaks ability to make plays on 3rd down. But WHY wasn't UT blitzing more often on 3rd down when they had so much success with it earlier?

[Photo: It would be unfair to dogpile on the punter for his audible. That's coaching. You have to tell your punter "Look, we are too deep in our own territory for you to audible here."]

The Vols are a team with major question marks from a coaching standpoint, and their QB situation isn't in the Top 5 in the league. If Brodie is still healthy when Bama gets them in Tuscaloosa, the Vols could lose 3-4 SEC games this year. Bama, UGA and LSU are all very much in doubt.

The Gators are a team on the rise. In spite, of their so called offensive guru's inability to run the ball. It will be extremely interesting to see their matchup with the Cajuns, Tide and Dawgs, but they are very much the heavy favorite to win the SEC in my mind.


Anonymous said...

UF a "heavy favorite" to win the SEC? With games at LSU, at Bama and vs UGA in Jax? McDonald and Caldwell will be very difficult to replace.

As for the schedule, the Gators are fortunate in one regard. They get LSU after a week off and the week after LSU plays UT. For that reason only, I give them a chance to win at Baton Rouge.

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