The Florida Gators opened their 2007 season on Saturday at home against Western Kentucky. While the game was little more than an exhibition, the Gators were facing two major questions:
First, could Tim Tebow throw? And second, could the defense recover after losing nine starters?
The first question, in my opinion, had little merit. Never for one second did I think Tim Tebow would struggle passing the football.
Tebow played high school ball in the state of Florida, which is one of the three most competitive states for the sport. In his career, he set multiple passing records against top competition.
That's by no means a guarantee of success on the college level, but it does show that Timmy has the ability to do more than just tuck and run left.
Tebow also competed 66 percent of his passes for five TDs and one INT in spot duty as a freshman. In my mind, doubts about his arm were absurd.
And he proved as much on the Gators' opening drive.
On his first attempt, Tebow connected deep left to Andre Caldwell for a huge gain. Uh oh, America—Tebow can throw.
It was smooth sailing after that, as Tim connected on 13 of 17 passes for 300 yards, three TDs, and no INTs. Of course, the opponent was only Western Kentucky—but Tebow put the ball where it needed to be and remained calm in the pocket
Overall, I don't think he could have done much better in his first college start.
Florida's defense, meanwhile, will rely on a number of young recruits in 2007. On the whole, the unit looks to be more talented than last year's championship model—and with solid coaching from Strong and Mattison, could pick up right where its predecessor left off.
On Saturday, Florida was without some key defensive players, and came out flat on the opening before settling down to hold WKU to three points. Had WKU's starting QB not been injured on that opening drive, Florida may have given up a few more points, but they also would have gained more experience against a better opponent.
Given the weakness of WKU and the impending additions of Markihe Anderson and Lawrence Marsh, I'm leaving the defensive question unanswered until we see a little more action.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Tim Tebow — Tebow threw for 300 yards and three TDs while rushing for 44 yards and another score. He also did a great job running out of bounds to avoid unnecessary contact (although WKU tagged him on two late hits).
Riley Cooper — Four receptions for 122 yards and two TDs. Another game-changing player for Gator offense.
Honorable Mention: Percy Harvin, Kehstahn Moore, Andre Caldwell
Derrick Harvey — Three tackles and two sacks for the preseason All-SEC DE.
Brandon Spikes — 11 total tackles in his second career start.