Armchair QB: Grading The Gators vs. LSU

Payback! Part Deux. Last year LSU handed the Gators a 21 – 17 loss despite
committing five turnovers, this year LSU committed five turnovers again and
Florida made them pay, scoring 16 points off those turnovers on their way to
a 23 – 10 victory. The victory by the Gators stopped a two game winning
streak by LSU and setup next week’s crucial game against Auburn.


IMPRESSIVE: Tim Tebow, Reggie Nelson, Ryan Smith, Tony Joiner, Brandon Siler, Earl Everett, Marcus Thomas, Riley Cooper and Wondy Pierre-Louis

SOLID: Reggie Lewis, Brian Crum, the defensive line, the offensive line

NEED WORK: Running backs, penalties, and field goals


DEFENSIVE LINE: Marcus Thomas marked his return from suspension by leading all Gator tacklers with 8 tackles and anchored a defensive line that more than held their own against the Bengal Tigers. Thomas’ enthusiastic play also resulted in two offside penalties. With Thomas clogging the middle, Florida was able to limit LSU to just 90 yards on the ground. Derrick Harvey had the Gators only sack, as the defensive line seemed to place an emphasis on keeping LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell contained within the pocket. GRADE B+

LINEBACKERS: The linebacking corps of Brandon Siler, Earl Everett and Brian Crum had collectively one of their best days. Siler had a huge fumble recovery to stop an LSU drive on the Florida half-yard line and the linebackers with 7 tackles. Crum, 4 tackles, made a nice defensive play to breakup a pass. Everett, who seemed to make a key stop every time the Gators needed a one, recorded 5 tackles. GRADE A

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Ryan Smith had 2 interceptions and Tony Joiner had another as the Gator secondary traded completions for no big plays. Despite allowing LSU to complete 24 passes for 228 yards, the Gator secondary was content to keep the Bengal Tigers from hitting the big play by limiting LSU to just over nine yards a completion and allowed just one touchdown. The secondary rarely missed a tackle as yards after a catch were at a minimum. Reggie Nelson’s monster hit on the LSU receiver in the fourth quarter dislodged the ball, which resulted in Smith ‘s second interception. The stats may not show it but these guys had an excellent game. GRADE A

OFFENSIVE LINE: Despite the false start penalties the offensive line played pretty darn good against what is considered to be one of the best front seven in the country. Florida was able to gain just 97 yards on the ground, but was able to limit the Bengal Tigers to just one sack. Ronnie Wilson returned from injury to provide some quality minutes at guard in a reserve role. This group will continue to improve as the season wears on. GRADE B

RECEIVERS: Almost every receiver who played any significant minutes contributed to the Gators win. Junior tight-end Tate Casey and sophomore receiver Louis Murphy each had a touchdown catch. For Murphy it was not only his first career touchdown, it was his first career reception period. Starters Andre Caldwell, Dallas Baker and Jermalle Cornelius combined for 12 catches and 124 yards. Caldwell, Percy Harvin, and Jarred Fayson contributed another 25 yards on 4 carries. GRADE A

RUNNING BACKS: With DeShawn Wynn on the sidelines due to injury, Kestahn Moore got the start. Moore was the only running back to carry for the Gators; unfortunately Moore could gain only 36 yards on 10 carries. Not much to report from the running backs. GRADE C

QUARTERBACK: Tim Tebow only played 15 snaps on Saturday and 6 of those were during garbage time. What, Tebow did with those other 9 snaps was just short of amazing, one rushing touchdown and two passing touchdowns, as Tebow accounted for all three Florida touchdowns. Tebow finished with 9 carries for 35 yards, and was perfect throwing the ball two times for 36 yards and two scores. While Tebow did all the scoring, starter Chris Leak was steady if not spectacular, throwing 26 passes completing 17 for 155 yards with one interception. GRADE A

KICKING/SPECIALTY: Florida missed another field goal attempt, the Gators haven’t made a field goal all season going 0 for 4, and had a punt blocked, but those were the only miscues on an otherwise superlative performance. Lutrell Alford got things started with a fumble recovery on a muffed punt that setup Florida’s first score. Riley Cooper made a huge hit that caused a fumble, which resulted in a safety to open the second half. Reggie Nelson blocked another punt. Wondy Pierre-Louis made great open field tackle on a 54 yard punt by Eric Wilbur, who average 51 yards on 4 punts, three of which were downed inside the 20, to pin LSU on its’ own 9 yard line late in the game. GRADE A-

COACHING: Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen’s offense game plan appeared to be simple enough, with his leading rusher injured, get the ball to his playmakers on the outside in one on one situations and let them work their magic to get the ball into situations where Tebow’s unique skills could be put to use. Mullen’s use of quarterbacks Leak and Tebow based on field position, down and distance was excellent, with play action passing by Tebow working to perfection. Last year, co-defensive coordinators Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong had a defensive plan that produced 5 turnovers, five sacks, while giving up just 361 yards of total offense by LSU. A feast or famine defense, which feature heavy blitzing and a lot of man to man coverages, LSU scored 21 points, this year, Strong and Mattison got four turnovers, just one sack, but allowed only 10 points using a zone defense, keep the receiver in front of you and make a sure tackle approach. Coach Meyer still needs to find answers for the field goal unit, but every other phase was rock solid. GRADE Offense A, Defense A, Special Teams A-

FANS: Now that is what I am talking about. The SWAMP hasn’t rocked like that in several seasons! GRADE A+


I said in my UT article if Tebow every dropped back to pass he would catch the defense flatfooted, I was right. Tebow’s got some hang time, I understand head basketball coach Billy Donovan will be working with Tebow on his jump shot. Speaking of jump shots, did Tebow’s first career touchdown pass got higher or farther? Louis Murphy can now join Jermalle Cornelius in the MRC, Maytag Repairman Club. What can you say about Reggie Nelson that hasn’t already been said, the guy is amazing. Riley Cooper and Wondy Louis-Louis are really fast guys and they can’t even start, makes you wonder about the talent level on this team. This season could turn into something special, but the Gators need to stay focused on one game at a time. Next up Auburn, here kitty-kitty, CHOMP! OVERALL GRADE: A

Randy Platt

The Armchair Quarterback

Later GATORS, after while the rest!