2011 Florida Gators Football: Grading UF's Performance Against Tennessee
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In Florida's first game against a likely bowl team this year, the story was the same versus Tennessee as it was when facing Florida Atlantic and Alabama-Birmingham.
Chris Rainey. Chris Rainey. And more Chris Rainey.
For the third time in three tries this season, the Gators' senior tailback was the best player on the field as UF improved to 3-0 (1-0 in the Southeastern Conference) with a 33-23 victory against the never-quit Volunteers (2-1, 0-1).
Now, it's time to hand out grades to Rainey and his teammates.
With Emmitt Smith on hand as a sideline spectator, Rainey was a star in the rushing game (21 carries for 108 yards) and the passing game (two receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown).
As a team, Florida finished with 40 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown on the ground. That comes out to just 3.3 yards per carry, but it also includes negative-22 yards from quarterback John Brantley and a three-yard team loss.
Standouts Rainey (5.1 ypc) and Jeff Demps (10 carries for 48 yards) each averaged close to five yards per carry, so that's probably where more focus should go.
Give the running game an A-.
Brantley finished the evening 14-of-23 for 213 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He targeted his backs the most with Trey Burton (four receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown) and Demps (four catches for 37 yards) complementing Rainey's efforts.
Who was Florida's player of the game against Tennessee?
Once again, the wide receivers and tight ends weren't as big a part of the offense as the coaching staff probably would like, catching a total of four balls for 34 yards (2-for-26 by Deonte Thompson). However, they blocked well downfield.
As it was in the run game, the offensive line was strong again. That was evident when it was news that they allowed their first sack of the season.
Give the passing game a B.
Let's be as simplistic as we can here: When you limit an opponent, much less an SEC opponent, to negative-nine yards on 21 carries, there is only one grade you possibly could receive.
Give the run defense an A+.
On the flipside, the pass defense had its ups and downs.
The secondary allowed Vols' quarterback Tyler Bray to complete 26-of-48 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. They also were flagged for the majority of the Gators' 16 penalties.
There were a couple of positives, as Josh Evans (who was penalized a few times) and Matt Elam intercepted passes.
Give the pass defense a D+.
What grade would you give the Gators against Tennessee?
Once again, this was a bright spot.
Caleb Sturgis was successful on all four of his field goal attempts (from 28, 30, 46 and 42 yards), Rainey blocked a punt, Solomon Patton returned a kickoff 73 yards and David Lerner averaged 38.5 yards on four punts, with a long of 50 and two being downed inside the 20 (which held back his average some). If there was one negative, it was allowing a 76-yard kickoff return to Marlin Lane.
Give the special teams an A.
The overall grade for the Gators is in the B+/A- range.
Player of the game nominees are:
Rainey (108 rushing yards, 104 receiving yards, one TD, 21 return yards, punt block)
Sturgis (FGs of 28, 30, 46 and 42 yards, 3-for-3 on PATs, three touchbacks on eight kickoffs)
LB Jon Bostic (game-high eight tackles, one sack for a seven-yard loss)
LB Jelani Jenkins (six tackles, one sack for nine yards, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry)
DL Jaye Howard (four tackles, half-a-sack for five yards, a pass break-up)
DL Dominique Easley (two tackles, both for loss totaling three yards)
My pick for player of the game is Rainey. Make your selection using the included poll.
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