Grading The Gators vs. UM

The 2007 Florida Gators took their first road trip on Saturday to face the University Mississippi in Oxford, MS. Somehow Florida managed to survive with a 30 – 24 victory despite a less than stellar performance. The Gators committed enough penalties for two football games, suffered enough breakdowns to remind everyone just how young the team really is, and generally played like a team that couldn’t get out of its own way.


IMPRESSIVE: Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Derrick Harvey, Jermaine Cunningham

SOLID: Defensive line, running backs, special teams, offensive line, linebackers, receivers

NEED WORK: Penalties, Penalties, Penalties, tackling and coverage from our secondary.


DEFENSIVE LINE: The defensive line had a solid day, holding Mississippi’s running backs to under 100 yards rushing and recording 2 sacks.  Defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Jermaine Cunningham had big days with each recording a sack. The Gators even managed a little bit better pressure up the middle. Might explain the sacks? GRADE B+

LINEBACKERS: Against the run, Florida’s linebackers played pretty well sometimes, filling the gaps and flying to the outside when needed.  Other times, however, the linebackers’ inexperience showed. When in pass coverage they appeared slow to react to the play action pass.  Better tackling wouldn’t hurt either. GRADE C

DEFENSIVE BACKS: When Florida’s secondary could keep Mississippi’s receivers in front of them they at least could miss the tackle.  It was that kind of day.  Both of Florida’s inexperienced cornerbacks, freshman Joe Hayden and sophomore Woody Pierre-Louis got the experience of getting beat for a big play.  Hopefully, it was a learning experience. GRADE C-

OFFENSIVE LINE: The offensive line would have had an outstanding day; the Gators rushed for

236 yards and had no sacks, except for all the penalties.  Wonder what it would have been like had the offensive line not had the false starts and holding calls.  When they weren’t being flagged the offensive line was dominant. GRADE B-

RECEIVERS: Percy Harvin all but lapped the field recording 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.  Florida’s other receivers had 9 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown combined.  Harvin’s touchdown to start the second quarter once again showed why Harvin is so explosive.  Taking a bubble screen, Harvin raced 19 yards for the score leaving several Mississippi defenders wondering, “Where did he go?” Louis Murphy turned a 15-yard hook pattern into a 37-yard touchdown with a nifty one-hand-on-the-ground-for-balance-180-degree spin move—one that would have made Harvin proud.  Can we explain the drops away by blaming it on the first road game? GRADE B

RUNNING BACKS: Kestahn Moore averaged a little over 5.5 yards a carry on 11 attempts and added a couple of receptions for 18 yards.  Moore ran hard and looked pretty quick hitting the hole, doing most of his damage running between the tackles.  Brandon James saw action as the outside threat carrying twice for

21 yards.  When called upon Moore delivered. GRADE A

QUARTERBACK: Put simply, Tim Tebow was THE reason the Florida Gators won on Saturday, end of argument and end of discussion.  427 yards of total offense, 166 running, 261 passing, 2 rushing touchdowns, 2 passing touchdowns and no interceptions are reasons to write one’s name in the history books.  Tebow’s leadership when protecting a lead in the fourth quarter and the head coach’s decision to put the game in the hands of his star quarterback are why Tebow will live in the memory of Gator fans forever. GRADE A

KICKING/SPECIALTY: After Brandon James returned the opening kickoff 55 yards, Mississippi paid the highest compliment an opposing team can pay to a kick returner—they refused to kick to him again.  Punter Chas Henry did okay on his first trip to hostile territory with two 50-yard punts and two 30-yard punts for a 40-yard average.  Coverage teams were adequate, but a missed field goal and a missed extra point were disturbing. GRADE B

COACHING: Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen tried to spread the ball around, but when the young players dropped passes and the penalties started mounting, Mullen became a two trick pony.  Mullen’s reliance on Tebow and Harvin was the reason why Florida won the game, but he must be careful not to overuse Tebow and Harvin.  Defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison continued to use a bend but don’t break defensive scheme to help protect the young secondary by playing a lot of zone.  For most of three quarters the plan was working pretty good as the Gators had allowed just three field goals before the secondary broke-down.  Special teams were solid, but didn’t get many opportunities for a big play after the opening kickoff.  Giving up 127 yards on 14 penalties should be a concern; it could cost us a game. GRADE Offense B-, Defense C, Special Teams B-

FANS: Didn’t make the away game, so …… GRADE I


If Percy Harvin is explosive, then Tim Tebow is determination.  Back in the day Florida ran the wishbone offense, yet Tebow’s 166-yards rushing is the most by a quarterback ever. Go figure!  If not for the penalties, this game could have been a blowout.  The game pretty much went according to Hoyle, sluggish start with a 2nd half rally, until late in the 3rd quarter when the defense faltered.  Speaking of the defense, it has issues and those issues aren’t likely to go away this season.  There is going to be at least one game maybe more this year where the offense will simply have to outscore the opposition.  Strange things happen whenever the Gators go to Mississippi, at least on this trip, the Gators survived with a win.  Now how about a little payback for Auburn! OVERALL GRADE C+