In the game formerly known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,
the Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 21 – 7. The Gators built a
21 – 0 lead early in the 3rd quarter, then hung on for dear life as the
Bulldogs scored 14 points off two Gator turnovers.
With the Gators nursing a lead of seven points with eight minutes to go in the game, Florida’s defense was able to stop Georgia and the Florida offense kept the ball away from the Bulldogs while running out the clock. The victory marked the 15th win over Georgia in the last 17 years and put the Gators two victories away from their first SEC East division crown since 2001.
IMPRESSIVE: The defense, Andre Caldwell
SOLID: The receivers, the running backs
NEED WORK: Penalties along the offensive line, ball security, halftime adjustments, field goal kicking
DEFENSIVE LINE: Defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss did most of the damage along the defensive line as Gators held the Bulldogs to just 64 yards on the ground. Moss had 5 tackles including a sack and forced a fumble. Harvey meanwhile had 3 tackles including a sack, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble, which Ray McDonald scooped up and ramble 9 yards with for a touchdown. Florida was able to control the line of scrimmage for most of the night and was able to pressure Georgia quarterback Mathew Stafford into several key mistakes. GRADE A-
LINEBACKERS: The dynamic duo of Brandon Siler and Earl Everett had another strong game on Saturday. Everett led all Gator tacklers with 9 including 2 tackles for losses and a sack. Siler finished with 6 tackles including 2 tackles for losses and a sack. While Everett and Siler were effective on the blitz, they did allow the Georgia tight end to get open on several occasions, fortunately the Georgia tight end can’t catch. GRADE A-
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Reggie Lewis and Ryan Smith both registered interception as the Gators limited the Bulldogs to just 151 yards passing. The secondary also contributed to Georgia only completing 13 passes on 33 attempts. Reggie Nelson led the secondary in tackles with 7 and also recovered a fumble. The only real problem seemed to be the tight end, who consistently got open over the middle. GRADE A-
OFFENSIVE LINE: Despite rushing for 156 yards on the ground and allowing zero sacks, the offensive line seemed to struggle most of the night. The Gators used rollouts to help keep the sacks down, but when dropping back in the pocket Florida quarterback took a bit of a beating and was forced several times to throw the ball away in an attempt to avoid the sack. Florida choose not to attempt much running inside the tackles, but rather used their receivers to rush around the flanks, so how good the Gators’ run blocking is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate were the penalties, as the offensive line committed 4 all of which effected drives. GRADE C-
RECEIVERS: Andre Caldwell had one of the best games of his career. Caldwell accounted for 116 yards of all-purpose yardage. The fleet receiver caught 8 passes for 88 yards and a score, while contributing another 28 yards and one score on 5 carries. Dallas Baker had two catches, while Jermalle Cornelius, Tate Casey, Cornelius Ingram, and Billy Latsko each had one reception. Florida had several other opportunities for receptions, but the Gator receivers seemed to have a case of the drops as several players dropped what seemed to be a sure reception. The Florida receivers also picked up 4 penalties. GRADE C
RUNNING BACKS: DeShawn Wynn didn’t get his first carry until midway through the third quarter and finished with 8 carries for 36 yards. 5 of those carries came on Florida’s last drive as they were trying to run out the clock. Receiver Percy Harvin did a decent job imitating a running back as he led all running backs with 8 carries for 37 yards. Kestahn Moore only had one carry for seven yards and that one carry ended in a fumble. Basically, the running backs weren’t given much of a chance. GRADE I
QUARTERBACK: Chris Leak completed 14 of 28 passes for 163 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and one fumble. Leak suffered from the drops by his receivers and a couple vicious hits from the Bulldogs. The question is, why couldn’t or wouldn’t Leak throw downfield? Take away Leak’s 40-yard touchdown strike to Caldwell and a 27-yard completion to Baker and Leak averaged just 8 yards for his other 12 completions. Tim Tebow suffered his first turnover when he fumbled deep in Gator territory to setup a Bulldog score. Tebow had a nice 20-yard run on the quarterback keeper to setup Florida’s first touchdown and finished the game with 6 carries for 36 yards. GRADE C
KICKING/SPECIALTY: On the bright side Florida allowed virtually nothing in the return game, while return specialist Brandon James had 99 yards on 4 punts, 3 kickoff returns, and had a 66-yard punt return called back because of a penalty. Punter Eric Wilbur averaged over 45 yards on 6 punts including a 59-yard beauty in the second quarter. On the dark side was the penalty, which called back the punt return and the fact that Chris Hetland is now 1 for 7 in the field goal attempts after missing two more tries on Saturday. GRADE C
COACHING: Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen’s offense seems to be struggling particularly in the second half. Racking up just 113 yards in total offense and zero points in the second half. The questions stem not so much from what Florida did as what it didn’t do. It didn’t run between the tackles or give the ball to DeShawn Wynn until midway through the fourth quarter, it didn’t throw downfield, and it didn’t let Tim Tebow throw at all. Defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison each deserve a game ball because without the defensive performance the Gators probably would have lost the game. Take away the two Georgia scores setup by Florida turnovers, a 52-yard and a 14-yard drive and Bulldogs had just 149 yards of offense to go along with the five turnovers and 4 sacks the defense produced. Special Teams coach Urban Meyer continues to struggle with finding a reliable field goal kicker. GRADE Offense C, Defense A, Special Teams C
FANS: Let me put it this way, most of the Florida faithful old enough to remember the 70’s and 80’s spent most of the third and fourth quarter biting their nails. GRADE B
What has happened to the Gators’ killer instinct? After the last two games it seems that Florida is playing not to lose rather than to win and this ain’t good. I realize there is only one football and we have a lot of playmakers, but are we trying to hard to get them their touches. Don’t get me wrong, a win over Georgia anytime is a good thing and I am thankful. Next up is Vanderbilt and the Gators have struggled at times in Nashville, we need to play better than we have the last two weeks or things could turn ugly. OVERALL GRADE: C+
The Armchair Quarterback
Later GATORS, after while the rest!