On Monday Florida Gator Head Coach Urban Meyer will grade his “Plan to Win” based on five main categories. The basic premise is if the Gators win or grade out well in all five categories they should also be victorious on the scoreboard. Here are my grades for those same five categories of the “Plan to Win” for the Central Florida game.
DEFENSE (A): UCF had seven drives in a row of three plays or less. Through three quarters the defense gave up 57 total yards and that included 46 on the first drive that should have been three and out if not for a silly penalty. Even with the second and third unit players in the game late, they maintained a shutout. Nine tackles for loss, two sacks, and a safety. The only thing they didn’t do was force turnovers, but Central Florida was being very careful with the ball.
TURNOVERS (F): I have to give the Gators a bad grade here. Four turnovers to none will not cut it against better competition. One caveat is three turnovers were by true freshmen, Tebow and Harvin.
RED ZONE OFFENSE (A): The Gators were four for five on the night when getting to the red zone (25 yard line) and scoring. The lone misfire was Leak’s interception on a good call from the defense dropping a nose guard into coverage where he tipped the ball up. On the season the Gators are eight out of nine for all touchdowns in the red zone.
SPECIAL TEAMS (C-): Kick coverage was pretty good but not spectacular like last season. Eric Wilbur was not consistent with his punting but did average 42 yards. The Gators had two bad extra points and now three for the season. Protecting the punt returner and allowing him at least a step happened only when UCF was punting from the back of the end zone. One bright spot was Brandon James with a nice kick return. With the way the defense is playing, the Gators aren’t going to have many return chances this season.
TIME OF POSSESSION (A): The Gators had the ball four minutes and 40 seconds longer than UCF. That is a minor miracle considering how many quick scoring drives the Gators had.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Percy Harvin may already be the most dazzling player on the team, but Chris Leak is probably playing better than any quarterback in the country this year. He is seeing the field easily and his awareness is exceptional. I loved the bobbled snap where he didn’t think twice about scooping it up and getting outside to throw to his intended receiver DeShawn Wynn. Leak has made great strides in this offense in just year two.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: It could be Marcus Thomas as he provided a huge lift up front, but I am going to go with last week’s team MVP Tony Joiner. He is disruptive force from his strong safety position and that isn’t something normally said about a safety. He had two tackles for loss including a safety. He can break passes up as a defensive back or force his will at the line of scrimmage like a linebacker. He and Reggie Nelson allow the defensive staff to really freelance a lot. It should be a really special year on defense.