Florida Gators' Mid-Term Report Card
The Florida Gators are undefeated and well on their way to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game and Pasadena for the National Championship game. Now that we have reached mid-season, let's take this opportunity to analyze the Gators' performance in key areas. The names Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes are well-known; perhaps there are other players who should receive equal time in the spotlight as well.
Florida Gators: the Quarterbacks
Tim Tebow is still the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, but that almost came to a screeching halt when he suffered a concussion during the Kentucky game. With a bye week following the game, mystery and concern led the college football world to Death Valley when Florida came to town to play LSU.
Through six games, Tebow has thrown for 1032 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions. John Brantley, the second-team quarterback, has played sparingly in three games, but has thrown four touchdowns. Position grade: B+.
Florida Gators: the Running Backs
Players: Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Emmanuel Moody, and Brandon James
Highlights: Demps and Rainey are a highlight reel just waiting to happen. The last highlight was Demps scurrying into the end zone to tie the Arkansas game. Demps is averaging 8.4 yards/carry, Rainey - 6.8 yards/carry, Moody - 8.8, and James - 4.0 yards/carry. With production like that, defensive coordinators get very little sleep the week before facing the Gators.
Opportunities: Keep James on Special Teams. Yes, I know; 4 yards/carry is nothing to complain about, but the other three are much more productive.
Florida Gators: the Wide Receivers
Players: Riley Cooper, Dave Nelson, Deonte Thompson
Highlights: There has been production at this position, but cries for Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy ring louder than anything the above receivers have done this season.
Opportunities: Will Tebow's No. 1 receiver please stand up? Riley Cooper is the only one who has played in all six games, and he only has three TDs. Thompson has appeared in three games, and Nelson in five.
Florida Gators: the Tight Ends
Player: Aaron Hernandez
Highlights: A future first-rounder in the NFL Draft, Hernandez has been Tebow's most reliable target. Through six games, Hernandez has averaged 12.9 yards/catch, with 28 total catches for 360 yards and two TDs. He even rushed once for 16 yards.
Opportunities: If a wide receiver doesn't step up, then Hernandez needs to avail himself even more. He has been superb this season.
Florida Gators: the Offensive Line
Players: Matt Patchan, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey, Carl Johnson, Marcus Gilbert
Highlights: Frankly, the men in the trenches have not stood out this season. Tebow has had to run for his life whenever he drops back to pass, creating additional rushing attempts.
Lowlights: Tim Tebow's concussion during the Kentucky game stands out. It's hard to forget the sight of Tebow lying on the ground unconscious for quite some time.
Florida Gators: the Front Seven
Standouts: Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Spikes
Highlights: In six games, the defense has 16 sacks for a loss of 89 yards. It has given up only two TDs all season while surrendering only 95 yards/game via the run.
Opportunities: Simple—complacency. Can Charlie Strong keep the front seven completely engaged at all times? Arkansas may have been the wake-up call.
Florida Gators: the Secondary
Spotlight: Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, Major Wright, Ahmad Black, Will Hill
Highlights: Ranked second in the nation, the secondary has only allowed 50.23 percent of all passes completed for an average of 133.33 yards/game while grabbing seven interceptions.
Opportunities: The same—complacency. The secondary must be fully engaged for the entire game and not slack off.
Florida Gators: Special Teams
Spotlight: Brandon James
Highlights: This is where Brandon James shines. Opposing teams are now kicking away from James, because he is a threat to take it to the house every time he returns a kick.
Opportunities: Focus on returning kicks, and stop entering the game as a running back.
Florida Gators: Field Goal Kickers
Spotlight: Caleb Sturgis
Highlights: Simple—Arkansas. Having missed one field goal earlier in the game, Sturgis put one through the up-rights with nine seconds left to win the game.
Opportunities: Don't miss any more kicks!
Florida Gators: Punters
Spotlight: Chas Henry
Highlights: Very few, but that is a good thing. Only having to punt a total of 14 times this year, Henry is averaging 37.36/punt.
Opportunities: With that few attempts, it's hard to pick out any.