They say that, “timing is everything” and while many of the Florida Gators faithful have already moved on from this past weekends game against the Missouri Tigers to contemplating life with Treon Harris at quarterback, this article most go on. And it will go on with a positive, sanguine tone, because your Florida Gators just won their sixth game of the season against the toughest defense they will play all year on their Homecoming to a team that has wiped the floor with Florida the past two seasons.
Once again, the Gators defense looked like the best in the country. Once again, Kelvin Taylor looked even more mature and more comfortable in the backfield. Once again, punter Johnny Townsend flipped the field when it was needed most. And once again, the Florida Gators have found another way to win a ball game.
The only example of the Florida Gators that I can think to compare them to is the parable of the “Tortoise and the Hare” – Florida, of course, is the tortoise. They are slow, methodical, and do a good job of consistently moving the ball forward. While their offense only scored 14 points on offense, they did a good job of controlling the game and limited Missouri’s opportunities on offense.
- Florida is still doing a great job, compared especially to the last four years, of getting first downs or touchdowns. They currently sit at 33.25% of plays going for a first down or touchdown, which is much higher than their 28.18% last year. That is the most important number that any offense can have and they sit 56 places higher than last season.
- I say this entire paragraph begrudgingly: While I have bemoaned the Gators slow pace on offense, where they average 28:56 seconds per play, it worked out for the Gators as they had the ball for almost 38 minutes on offense with 77 total plays that averaged 4.4 yards per play. Their 23 first downs, allowed Florida to keep the game manageable even though they weren’t putting points on the board.
- However, even though Jim McElwain said that this was a part of the plan, Florida cannot continue to play like this. Unless they can get out to a quick lead, like they have been, a 28:56 second per play count is too slow. Now before you attack me, the reason I say that is because Florida’s slow pace is not because they always look purposefully slow, a lot of times it looks like they are struggling to put the players in the right spots or read the defense. Is Florida comfortable moving the ball on a 15-20 second time clock? I don’t know because we have barely seen it. We can say that they are trying to eat of clock every game, but I don’t see it. Feel free to disagree, but watch each second of each pre-snap.
- A huge improvement that I am seeing over last season is Florida’s touchdown-interception ratio. Last season, Florida did not throw a lot of touchdowns and in the mean time, threw a lot of interceptions and had a lowly ranking 89th in the country at 1.29 TD:INT ratio. However, this season (yes, I know, Treon Harris is the quarterback now), the Gators sit ranked 20th with a 4.0 TD:INT ratio.
- I am a bit worried because of the quarterback change if Florida will look to the run game more because I still am struggling to see week over week improvement except in Kelvin Taylor’s patience – I think it lies in the offensive line. The Gators are averaging about a half-a-yard less per carry than last year, which is ranked 102nd in the country at 3.75 yards per rush attempt and only average 138.67 yards rushing per game, almost fifty less than last season. Unless Florida really relies on Treon Harris to make the same throws and run the same ball game with him at the helm, Florida’s run offense will have to improve.
Did you know that the Gators defense has not let up a touchdown on the road this season? They have allowed two home teams to kick four field goals. That’s it. That is incredible, no matter how bad each respective offense is.
- The Gators continue their incredibly high number of opposing plays that end in a turnover, sack, or tackle for loss at 20.55%. According to some advanced statistics, this statistic correlates to winning percentage at 22%, which is one of the highest percentages of all statistics. If Florida can maintain this number, they should be able to keep most teams below 17 points per game.
- Further, Florida is limiting opponents to touchdowns or first downs on only 24.75% of plays – a statistic that has gone down to its lowest points since the first week of the season and a number than is lower than last years stellar defense.
- How good is this Florida defense? They rank top-20 in 21 of 37 categories and rank top-40 in 30 of those same 37 categories. They are consistent, they are good, and they are complete.
- One huge area worth note is that the Gators are still sacking quarterbacks once out of every ten times that the opposing quarterback drops back for a pass attempt. After losing their top pass rusher to the NFL, Florida is averaging more sacks per drop back than last season.
- If you take strength of schedule into account, the Gators are ranked the number four defense in the country.
- In my opinion the four best Gators on defense: Jon Bullard, Jarrad Davis, Alex McCalister, and Marcus Maye in regard to total overall play.
Looking Forward to Week Seven
The Gators now bowl eligible with a new quarterback will try to avenge a tough loss last season where they seemingly had the game won until an endzone drop by Tevin Westbrook.
The Tigers have a un-balanced offense that ranks amongst the best in the country in rushing, but is ranked 123rd in pass attempts per game, 122nd in pass completions per game, 117th in passing touchdowns per game, 123 in passing yards per game, and 122nd in passing first downs per game. Needless to say, their offense lies solely on running back Leonard Fournette.
Let’s look at a few interesting match-ups:
- The LSU Tigers rank third in the country in rushing yards per game with 346.4, while rushing for 15.2 first downs per game and 3.6 rushing touchdowns per game. Comparatively, the Gators rank 12th in rushing yards allowed per game at 99.17, only allow 6.5 rushing first downs, and 0.5 rushing first downs. While Florida has not faced a running back like Fournette, they have not faced a defense like Florida’s.
- Florida is ranked 113th in the country in time (seconds) per play and LSU ranks 122nd. Will this game end with less than 110 total plays? It could happen.
- How will Treon Harris move into his role as new starting quarterback? Well, LSU is allowing 18.6 pass completions, 9.4 first downs allowed, and 1.7 passing touchdowns per game – all ranked below 50th in the country.
- Will Florida be able to run on LSU? LSU is ranked 27th in the country in only allowing 3.36 yards per rush, while Florida is only rushing 3.75 yards per rush.
Since the suspension of Will Grier on Monday morning, Vegas books have closed betting on the game. They will likely re-open with a new line and return all placed bets by Wednesday.
LSU is likely the second best defense Florida will play and LSU is the best defense than LSU will play, so will it be a battle of whom can make the opposing defense make one big mistake? Likely, yes. And whom do I like in that case? Surprisingly, Florida. While some may call me a homer, I think if Florida can contain Fournette in a way that forces LSU to have to throw the ball to move, I think Florida can force him to make a mistake that will be costly, in a game that I don’t think will have too many mistakes. I think Treon Harris has enough experience and Jim McElwain only requires quarterbacks to be managers of the game and not Heisman Trophy contenders. I may be in minority here, but I think Florida wins on an LSU mistake.
Prediction: Florida 23 | LSU 17