Sunday, September 23, 2007

Young Gators Learn SEC Road Games Are Tough

The Gators and their mighty offense went into Oxford as a 23 point favorite, but found themselves in a dog fight to win the game. The Gators destroyed Tennessee last week and their defense looked like they turned a corner, but in the SEC every game is a fight. The last time the Gators won a game in the state of Mississippi was 1994, but this was a down Ole Miss team against a dominant Florida team and everyone thought a romp by Florida. Ole Miss exposed the Gators defense and played very good defense of their own, giving the Gators a run for their money.

The gators had been flying high going into this game and Urban Meyer knew that it may be a trap game. The SEC is a very hard place to win on the road and the Gators always seem to lose to an SEC West team on the road every year. Urban knew the history the Gators had in
Mississippi and it was a good thing he did not take the Rebels lightly. Ole Miss had a great defensive game plan, not allowing any big plays by the Gators. The Gators had to make their own plays by breaking tackles, which they did a lot of. Tim Tebow was forced to take the underneath passes and run a lot as the Rebels held the Gator wide outs in check for most of the game.

The Gator defense, which looked so dominant against Tennessee was exploited by the Rebels. Rebel Quarterback Seth Adams, who almost missed the game with a strained shoulder, picked apart the young gator secondary for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Gators were able to contain Rebel running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis all games, but the inability to get a pass rush allowed Adams to throw all over the young secondary. At times the Gators were able to get to Adams and at least hit him, but for most of the game he was able to sit back and make the throws he needed to keep drives alive. The Gators will need to sure up that secondary if they want to be in Atlanta playing for the SEC Championship.

The Gator offense also struggled against the Rebel defense. The Gators had average 56 points per game in their first three games, but the Rebels were able to hold them to almost half of that. The Rebels did so because they did not allow the Gators to make the big play anytime during the game. Any yardage that the Gators got was well earned and took a long time. The Gators had to dink and dunk all the way down the field all game because the Rebels were covering the wide outs so well down field. Although Tebow ran for a Gator record of 166 yards, it was not what Meyer wanted to see. The Gators need more out of their running backs and wide outs if they want to compete with the tougher teams in the SEC. Hopefully Andre "Bubba" Caldwell and Riley Cooper will return next week against Auburn to give Tebow more targets in the passing game.

The gators have a young team and it showed against the Ole Miss Rebels. Meyer had 18 players who had never been on a football road trip in their life. This game was a great test to show the young guys on the gators that you can never take any game in the SEC for granted. The Gators will need to tighten up on defense and learn what to do when teams are able to take away the big play if they plan on being the SEC East Champion. The Gators get Auburn next week at 8pm in the swamp. The Tigers are down this year, but in the SEC nothing can be taken for granted. Auburn was the Gators only lost last year, and they need to remember how it felt at the end of that game.

No comments: