Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Florida has become a machine

He came, he played, he conquered. He did what he does.

Tim Tebow really didn't look that great Saturday, but it didn't matter. When he took the field, the outcome was decided. I don't mean that entirely in a confidence sense, but partially in a logistical sense -- LSU's only chance of winning that game was getting a score on defense or getting a huge turnover that set up the offense for an easy touchdown, and that just wasn't gonna happen with Tebow at QB.

As good as Florida's defense was -- and it was really good -- it didn't hurt that Florida milked the clock to such a ridiculous extent that LSU had a total of FOUR drives in the second half. It's pretty hard for an offense to get in rhythm when it's not on the field, and it showed: the Tigers had negative second-half yardage until their final possession, and they finished with 29 yards over the final 30 minutes.

I think the drive following LSU's game-tying field goal in the second quarter says a lot about Florida's offense. OK, you put some points on the board and got the crowd back in the game? No problem:
Florida at 5:16
  • 1st and 10 at FLA 20 - Tim Tebow rush for 8 yards to the Fla 28.
  • 2nd and 2 at FLA 28 - Emmanuel Moody rush for 4 yards to the Fla 32.
  • 1st and 10 at FLA 32 - Tim Tebow pass to Brandon James for 20 yards to the LSU 48.
  • 1st and 10 at LSU 48 - Jeffery Demps rush for 13 yards to the LSU 35.
  • 1st and 10 at LSU 35 - Emmanuel Moody rush for 6 yards to the LSU 29.
  • 2nd and 4 at LSU 29 - Tim Tebow rush for 2 yards to the LSU 27.
  • 3rd and 2 at LSU 27 - Tim Tebow rush for 3 yards to the LSU 24 for a 1ST down.
  • 1st and 10 at LSU 24 - Timeout LSU, clock 00:57.
  • 1st and 10 at LSU 24 - Tim Tebow pass to Riley Cooper for 24 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.
  • Caleb Sturgis extra point GOOD.
Florida 10, LSU 3
Tebow took over, running three times (once for a first down on third-and-2) and throwing twice (once for a 24-yard touchdown) on an eight-play, five-minute, 80-yard drive that basically ended the game. LSU didn't get past midfield again.

That's the scary thing about this Florida team: Their Heisman Trophy-winning QB is third in the country in pass efficiency and can take over a game whenever necessary (usually with his legs), but the offense at its core is built around a power running attack that's good enough to grind out 200 yards against one of the best teams in the SEC and completely control the flow of the game. Oh, and their defense might be the best in the country. I know LSU's offense isn't what it used to be, but when you're playing at home and you can't get past midfield for an entire half, that's a dominating defensive effort.

Florida doesn't have a clear weakness right now -- the passing game is still somewhat of an unknown, but you can't call it a weakness until someone shows that it doesn't work (which might never happen). Consider this: Florida is third in pass efficiency, second in rushing, sixth in total offense, seventh in scoring offense, first in scoring defense, first in total defense, first in pass defense and 11th in rushing defense.

I repeat: Florida doesn't have a clear weakness right now.

Does that mean they're unbeatable? No. In fact, I'm not even 100% sure that they're the best team in the country -- Alabama has looked just as good in nearly every aspect while playing better competition. I hate to look ahead so far ahead, but I don't think I'm really going out on a limb when I say that the game of the year will be played on December 6, with either Alabama or Florida wrapping up a 13-0 regular season and clinching a spot in the BCS title game.

Until then, the only real question for the Gators is if anyone (Colt McCoy, specifically) can put up the mind-boggling numbers required to stop Tebow from winning his second Heisman. Considering that Tebow's legend has already reached epic proportions and that Florida should be 12-0 when most of the votes are turned in, my guess is no.

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