Despite spotting the University of Alabama a 10 – 0 lead in the second
quarter, the Florida Gators came back to extract a little payback from the
Crimson Tide with a 28 – 13 victory Saturday afternoon at the SWAMP.
Florida got off to a slow start before going on a 95 yard touchdown drive at
the end of the second quarter cutting the lead to 10 – 7.
In the fourth quarter the Gators used a couple of turnovers to break open a close game. The Gators once again showed a toughness and resiliency in winning the game not seen in a Gator team in quite some time.
IMPRESSIVE: The Gators ability to make adjustments and battle back to win the game, the receivers
SOLID: Just about every other unit had more good plays than bad.
NEED WORK: Just about every unit still needs to improve, how to start the game like they finish the game, ball security and of course penalties.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Sophomore Javier Estopinan got his first career start and help the defensive line keep the Alabama running game somewhat in check, holding the Tide to just 83 yards rushing. Missed tackles kept that number from being much lower. On the pass rush the Gators defensive line was able to keep decent pressure on Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, sacking him 3 times, none bigger than Derrick Harvey’s 12 yard sack that knocked the Tide out of field goal range to end the first half. GRADE B
LINEBACKERS: The linebackers got plenty of work on Saturday. Earl Everett led the charge with 7 tackles, with Brian Crum, 5 tackles, and Brandon Siler, 4 tackles, not far behind. Florida’s linebackers had a hard time keeping up with Alabama’s receivers, primarily the running backs and tight end, in pass coverage, which made them susceptible to the draw play against the run. The speed of the linebackers helped keep the Tide from having much success on the outside. GRADE C+
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Despite giving up 240 yards passing to Alabama, the Gators were able to force three interceptions, two by Junior transfer Ryan Smith and one by Reggie Nelson, which Nelson returned 70 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter which pretty much sealed the victory for Florida. Tony Joiner was Mister Everywhere leading all Gator tacklers with 10. Alabama was able to do most of its damage in the first half allowing just 68 yards passing in the second half. GRADE C+
OFFENSIVE LINE: The offensive line struggled early against an Alabama defensive front that featured 3 down lineman and three linebackers, resulting in several false starts and missed assignments, not the least of which was a botched snap that Alabama returned 50-yards for a touchdown. But starting with the 95-yard touchdown drive the offensive line found a groove and began playing on the Tide’s side of the line of scrimmage. Florida allowed just one sack, while grinding out 137 yards on the ground. GRADE C+
RECEIVERS: Florida’s most experienced receivers, Dallas Baker, Jermalle Cornelius, and Andre Caldwell were the only receivers to catch passes on Saturday. Andre Caldwell used a nice little move to score a touchdown, which put Florida in the lead in the third quarter. Baker went over the top of the defender to tip the ball to himself for a touchdown to extend the lead in the fourth quarter. Cornelius made two catches, both of which he had to almost completely turn around to catch, which were help setup Florida scoring opportunities. All the Florida receivers continue to impress with their downfield blocking. GRADE A
RUNNING BACKS: DeShawn Wynn looked as if he was about to get the Florida ground game going and push for his third consecutive 100 yard game, when his longest run of the game, 15 yards, ended his day with a twisted knee. Wynn totaled 50 yards on 12 carries before being injured. Backup Kestahn Moore couldn’t get much going with only 5 carries in relief of Wynn. Wynn, Moore, and fullback Billy Lasko each caught a pass to add another 43 yards to the passing attack. GRADE C+
QUARTERBACK: This may comes as a shock to some folks, but Chris Leak had more rushing yards that Tim Tebow. In fact Leak was the second leading rusher behind DeShawn Wynn. Leak had a career long rush of 45 yards to help setup Florida ’s first score, a two-yard run by Tebow, and finished with 31 yards on 6 carries. Leak started off slowly and at times looked confused, before finishing strong to end the day with 174 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions on 14 of 20 throwing the ball. Tebow scored a touchdown and carried the ball 9 times for 28 yards. Tebow also completed his only pass for 23 yards. GRADE A-
KICKING/SPECIALTY: Florida still hasn’t made a field goal, Chris Hetland missed his only chance, but Hetland did make all his extra point attempts this week. Punter Eric Wilbur didn’t have much of an average, but two of his punts were downed inside the twenty. Coverage teams were solid, long snapper James Smith had a fine open field tackle on one punt. Kick returner Brandon James had a nice 30-yard return in the second half. GRADE B
COACHING: Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen took a few series before figuring out Alabama’s funky defense alignment, once he did Florida’s offense began to move the ball. Mullen found the Tide’s weakness on the weak side of the formation. Mullen used counter plays, quarterback draws and runs, along with passes to the running backs to outnumber the Tide defenders on the weak side and get the Gator offense going. Meanwhile, defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison opted for a bend but don’t break defensive scheme. Florida played a lot of zone in an effort keep the Tide receivers in front of them and away from the big play. Special teams looked improved over the last couple of games, but still can’t make a field goal, but are getting better at extra points. GRADE Offense B, Defense B, Special Teams B
FANS: Once the Gator faithful got to their seats, the fans continued to be a little late in arriving to the stadium, they were deafening. Once the game ended most of the faithful stayed around to enjoy the victory. GRADE B+
Paging Alabama player #3, your athletic supporter has been returned to lost and found. Upon further review, there is insufficient video evidence to overturn Caldwell’s touchdown, THANK YOU football gods. Dallas Baker’s touchdown catch would have made Randy Moss blush. Reggie Nelson will be teaching Interception Returns, How to run after the pick, beginning next week. We need to find a way get out of the gate faster, especial in the next couple of weeks. OVERALL GRADE B
The Armchair Quarterback
Later GATORS, after while the rest!