In the fourth
quarter the Gators used a couple of turnovers to break open a close game.
The Gators once again showed a toughness and resiliency in winning the game
not seen in a Gator team in quite some time.
The Gators ability to make adjustments and battle back to win the game, the
Just about every other unit had more good plays than bad.
Just about every unit still needs to improve, how to start the game like
they finish the game, ball security and of course penalties.
Sophomore Javier Estopinan got his first career start and help the defensive
line keep the Alabama running game somewhat in check, holding the Tide to
just 83 yards rushing. Missed tackles kept that number from being much
lower. On the pass rush the Gators defensive line was able to keep decent
pressure on Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson, sacking him 3 times,
none bigger than Derrick Harvey’s 12 yard sack that knocked the Tide out of
field goal range to end the first half.
The linebackers got plenty of work on Saturday. Earl Everett led the charge
with 7 tackles, with Brian Crum, 5 tackles, and Brandon Siler, 4 tackles,
not far behind. Florida’s linebackers had a hard time keeping up with
Alabama’s receivers, primarily the running backs and tight end, in pass
coverage, which made them susceptible to the draw play against the run. The
speed of the linebackers helped keep the Tide from having much success on
Despite giving up 240 yards passing to Alabama, the Gators were able to
force three interceptions, two by Junior transfer Ryan Smith and one by
Reggie Nelson, which Nelson returned 70 yards for a touchdown late in the
fourth quarter which pretty much sealed the victory for Florida. Tony Joiner was Mister Everywhere leading all Gator tacklers with 10. Alabama
was able to do most of its damage in the first half allowing just 68 yards
passing in the second half.
The offensive line struggled early against an Alabama defensive front that
featured 3 down lineman and three linebackers, resulting in several false
starts and missed assignments, not the least of which was a botched snap
that Alabama returned 50-yards for a touchdown. But starting with the
95-yard touchdown drive the offensive line found a groove and began playing
on the Tide’s side of the line of scrimmage. Florida allowed just one sack,
while grinding out 137 yards on the ground.
Florida’s most experienced receivers, Dallas Baker, Jermalle Cornelius, and
Andre Caldwell were the only receivers to catch passes on Saturday. Andre
Caldwell used a nice little move to score a touchdown, which put Florida in
the lead in the third quarter. Baker went over the top of the defender to
tip the ball to himself for a touchdown to extend the lead in the fourth
quarter. Cornelius made two catches, both of which he had to almost
completely turn around to catch, which were help setup Florida scoring
opportunities. All the Florida receivers continue to impress with their
DeShawn Wynn looked as if he was about to get the Florida ground game going
and push for his third consecutive 100 yard game, when his longest run of
the game, 15 yards, ended his day with a twisted knee. Wynn totaled 50
yards on 12 carries before being injured. Backup Kestahn Moore couldn’t get
much going with only 5 carries in relief of Wynn. Wynn, Moore, and fullback
Billy Lasko each caught a pass to add another 43 yards to the passing
This may comes as a shock to some folks, but Chris Leak had more rushing
yards that Tim Tebow. In fact Leak was the second leading rusher behind
DeShawn Wynn. Leak had a career long rush of 45 yards to help setup Florida
’s first score, a two-yard run by Tebow, and finished with 31 yards on 6
carries. Leak started off slowly and at times looked confused, before
finishing strong to end the day with 174 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no
interceptions on 14 of 20 throwing the ball. Tebow scored a touchdown and
carried the ball 9 times for 28 yards. Tebow also completed his only pass
for 23 yards.
Florida still hasn’t made a field goal, Chris Hetland missed his only
chance, but Hetland did make all his extra point attempts this week. Punter
Eric Wilbur didn’t have much of an average, but two of his punts were downed
inside the twenty. Coverage teams were solid, long snapper James Smith had
a fine open field tackle on one punt. Kick returner Brandon James had a
nice 30-yard return in the second half.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen took a few series before figuring out
Alabama’s funky defense alignment, once he did Florida’s offense began to
move the ball. Mullen found the Tide’s weakness on the weak side of the
formation. Mullen used counter plays, quarterback draws and runs, along
with passes to the running backs to outnumber the Tide defenders on the weak
side and get the Gator offense going. Meanwhile, defensive coordinators
Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison opted for a bend but don’t break defensive
scheme. Florida played a lot of zone in an effort keep the Tide receivers
in front of them and away from the big play. Special teams looked improved
over the last couple of games, but still can’t make a field goal, but are
getting better at extra points.
GRADE Offense B, Defense B, Special Teams B
Once the Gator faithful got to their seats, the fans continued to be a
little late in arriving to the stadium, they were deafening. Once the game
ended most of the faithful stayed around to enjoy the victory.
Paging Alabama player #3, your athletic supporter has been returned to lost
and found. Upon further review, there is insufficient video evidence to
overturn Caldwell’s touchdown, THANK YOU football gods. Dallas Baker’s
touchdown catch would have made Randy Moss blush. Reggie Nelson will be
teaching Interception Returns, How to run after the pick, beginning next
week. We need to find a way get out of the gate faster, especial in the
next couple of weeks.
OVERALL GRADE B
The Armchair Quarterback
Later GATORS, after while the rest!