Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can These gators GO?

Sure, Rep. Brown gradulated them and assured us they could go!....but that was way back in March when some established playmakers' shadows were still on campus.

Now...different team. Different story.

My confidence in winning in Jax this year goes beyond AJs God-given talent. Florida's offense isn't anemic, but it's at least sickly by Corch's standards.

Back in the spring, Hale posed a question to Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando-Sentinel in his ongoing series Two-a-Days. The idea was to take a look at the other SEC teams in their spring preparations. The question I found the most interesting in the Florida piece pertained to replacing the NFL bound Percy Harvin. As you remember, by then Tim Tebow had long been anointed as teh awesomest. But Harvin's prowess at eating yards and creating TDs was evident well before the BCS Championship.

Harvin was a special hybrid offensive position all on his own. Part receiver part tailback, he was a player defenses had to acknowledge and account for every down.

Here's a recap of that portion of the Q&A:

Tim Tebow is obviously the engine behind the Florida offense, but having watched the National Championship game, it was clear how much of an impact Percy Harvin had. From what you've seen this spring, who might step up and take over some of the key playmaking duties Harvin handled so well the past few years?
That's probably a four-man race between running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey - two world class sprinters but both under 5'9" - wide receiver Deonte Thompson and incoming freshman playmaker Andre Debose, who was recruited with Harvin in mind. He's a five star talent but is still an enigma. Expect Demps to play the running back/receiver role of Harvin more after catching 14 passes to accompany 605 rushing yards in 2008.

Fast forward to this season and Tim Tebow, not surprisingly, IS the Florida Gator offense. The jorted QB has always been the engine, at least since his sophomore year. But there have always been other components to provide alternative gears. Tebow has more than twice the number of carries (121) than the next reptilian rusher (Demps with 58).

Here's a breakdown of the offensive production coming outta the swamp this season:

Att Yds Avg TDs Rec Yds Avg TDs
Jeff Demps 58 457 7.9 5 4 24 6.0 0
Chris Rainey 53 368 6.9 3 1 14 14.0 0
Emmanuel Moody 32 269 8.4 0 3 29 9.7 0
Mike Gillislee 17 88 5.2 1 1 6 6.0 1
Brandon James 15 80 5.3 0 7 93 13.3 1
Aaron Hernandez 1 16 16.0 0 33 392 11.9 2
Deonte Thompson 1 -2 -2.0 0 6 146 24.3 3
Riley Cooper 1 14 14.0 0 27 396 14.7 3

Now let's throw in King Jort's rushing stats from this season:

Att Yds Avg TDs
Tim Tebow 121 466 3.9 6

Tebow's current rushing stats average out to about 17 rushes per game. Last season he averaged 12.5 rushes per game at a 3.8 ypc clip. Not too big a difference...??

When you factor in that Harvin averaged 5 carries a game last season and nearly a first down for each carry, the offensive struggles the defending champs are facing this season become a little easier to understand. Throw in the departure of Louis Murphy and his 17.2 yards per catch and it's obvious that Meyer has struggled to replace those two playmakers.

Att Yds Avg TDs Rec Yds Avg TDs
Harvin '08 70 659 9.4 10 40 644 16.1 7
Murphy '08 2 7 3.5 0 38 655 17.2 7

The gator QB has grown increasingly frustrated at the lack of dominance, especially in the red zone. But Corch has certainly tried to reload his offense.

In fact, Meyer landed one of the nation's greatest playmakers on Signing day in February. Andre Debose was specifically recruited as Harvin 2.0. What seemed like a pulled hamstring slowed the freshman down in August, but later it was determined that the injury was more severe than first believed. Debose had season ending surgery back in September.

Brandon James remains a lethal threat on kick returns, but not a dominating presence within Meyer's offense. His numbers put him in Carlton Thomas territory. James and Tebow even got their wires crossed in the Arkansas game which led to a potentially devastating turnover. The short of it is that I'm at a loss as to why James doesn't factor more into Meyer's offense; except for the possible explanation that there are so many potential playmakers on the depth chart and James is obviously very valuable to the gator's special teams.

There is some evidence that a go-to guy in the gator running game is emerging however. Despite a quiet season so far, Chris Rainey had a larger role in the win over MSU Saturday, going for 90 yards on 12 carries and a TD. Sizewise, he's another Brandon James type back but his 7.o yards a carry is getting closer to what Meyer had with Harvin last year.

On plays in which Tebow drops back, Aaron Hernandez and Riley Cooper are clearly the go-to guys. Meanwhile, Deonte Thompson has yet to catch more than two passes in a game, but has obvious explosiveness that a secondary must pay attention to.

Let's compare Tebow's passing stats from this season and last:

Comp Att Yds Comp% Yds/Att TDs Int Rating
2008 192 298 2746 64.4 9.22 30 4 172.4
2009 84 132 1159 63.6 8.78 8 4 151.3

Per game, Tebow is passing 18.8 times so far this season...compared to 21.2 last season. The only other stat that I find significant is the INTs, which also explain the drop in rating.

But when you put all this together, it adds up to an offense that is easier to defend. Without Murphy to stretch the field, safeties can pay more attention to the backfield. And without Harvin to juke and jive his way to the first down marker, more gator rushers are getting taken down at the point of contact, closer to the line of scrimmage.

I've always felt that Willie's defense matches up well against Slurban's spread. But it takes superb tackling, reducing the yards after contact. The Dawgs are catching this gator offense at a time when they are desperately searching for answers. The key will be to deny Tebow and Co. any early confidence, force them to keep guessing.

Let the hated gators find those answers against Vandy next week. Better yet...November 21st against Florida International.


Pumpdawg said...

Ya know Bernie,even when the post is pointing out St. Tebow's flaws,I still get tired of hearing his name.

Kimberley Nash said...

I've been saying this since both Harvin and Murphy declared—Tebow isn't nearly as much of a superman without his sidekicks. The departure of Percy And Louis accounted for nearly 50% of Tebows stats and 40% of that Gator offense.

Tebow was able to be so super human because he was part of a triple-threat. Now it's just him and defenses have been able to contain him very well.

If the Dawgs can play disciplined football, they have a shot at knocking these Gayturds off their high horse. I just don't know if CWM and CMB have the goods to make that happen.

Go Dawgs! and Great Post!

MikeInValdosta said...

I hope we spend a little time prepping for Brantley.


Go Dawgs!!!

Bernie said...

Pump How ya think I felt typing it all night? Ugh...

Kim Let's give Willie some credit, he's done pretty well against Slurban's spread. Stopping the gators the last few years has been about making tackles. When we do, we win. We will Saturday. More on that Thursday.

Mike Have you been sneaking a peek at my Friday post?

Ed The Sports Fan said...

Gotta give you some credit, this is an awesome breakdown. As an Oklahoma fan, i hope you beat the dog shit out of Florida. Go get 'em dawgs!