Grading the Florida Gators at Tennessee game

By Adam Silverstein
September 21, 2010

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Tennessee Volunteers in the third game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has not had a stellar start to the season; however, in the same respect, he hasn’t played poorly either. A week after seeing his completion percentage fall by 10 points, Brantley once again hovered around 60 percent, going 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also showed his mobility Saturday, rushing four times for 19 yards. For a second-straight week Brantley did a better job finding open receivers and even spread the ball around a bit more to seven different pass catchers. Most notably was his efficiency on third down, in which he completed six passes to keep drives going. However, Brantley also made a number of mistakes during the game including poorly managing the play clock and tripping over himself. For that reason, his grade remains the same as last week.

No, the Gators did not rush for 267 yards like they did last week and the unit certainly wasn’t as efficient either (three players averaged over 7.3 yards per carry). Even so, junior Jeff Demps (26 carries for 74 yards) and sophomore Mike Gillislee (eight rushes for 27 yards) were impactful and an important reason why their team emerged victorious. Demps will not be able to shoulder such a load game-in and game-out, especially as the schedule gets tougher, and the unit as a whole gets an “A” for effort.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Tennessee game after the jump…

From a D+ to a B to a B+, Florida’s receivers continue to improve with each passing week. Freshman Robert Clark once again got in with an eight-yard first-down catch, and redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. achieved his first reception of the year on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Brantley. But it is in the Gators’ two primary options – redshirt junior Deonte Thompson and redshirt senior Carl Moore – where the most improvement was made. Each excelled in their edge blocking (especially Moore), and both contributed significant catches including many which kept drives alive on second- and third-down. Thompson’s 55 yards and Moore’s 26 yards may not be impressive stats but, like we said last week, this unit keeps building on its positive performances.

Playing the first week of the season without a single true tight end, Florida got sophomore Jordan Reed back against South Florida. Through two appearances now, Reed has only managed two catches: last week he scored a touchdown and this week he took one for 22 yards against Tennessee. Where Reed impacts UF’s offense the most right now is his blocking, which makes his performance tough to grade overall.

The offensive line was easily the single unit that improved the most between week one and week two. Finally getting sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back as a starter was supposed to boost the group even more, but against a young Volunteers front it took a step back. That makes a bit of sense due to the athleticism and talent that Tennessee had up front, but the lack of holes created for Demps in the running game was certainly a concern that needs to be addressed before facing Kentucky at home on Saturday.

The defensive line has certainly been up-and-down when it comes to stopping the run through the first three weeks of the season. Limiting Miami (OH) to four yards, the Gators’ front four were mostly responsible for the 244 yards achieved by South Florida. Florida’s front became staunch yet again this week, holding Tennessee to 47 total yards rushing with only 23 coming from star RB Tauren Poole. No doubt an impressive feat. The line also came alive pressuring the QB with senior defensive end Duke Lemmens getting two half sacks, senior DE Justin Trattou contributing a half of his own, freshman DE Ronald Powell achieving the first sack of his career, redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine getting in on the party with a sack and redshirt senior DT Terron Sanders getting a big tackle for loss. We noted last week that the entire unit needed to come together – and it did. Will that cohesiveness continue against Kentucky?

For the second-straight week sophomore Jon Bostic led the way for the linebackers, totaling a team-high eight tackles (five solo) and his second interception of the season. Following in his footsteps were senior Brandon Hicks (1.5 sacks) and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins (one sack), who each grabbed six tackles put good pressure on QB Matt Sims. The unit as a whole also did much better against the run, stopping anyone who got through or around the defensive line.

After pulling in three interceptions in consecutive weeks, the Gators’ secondary was somewhat victimized against the Volunteers. First the good: For the majority of the game, Florida shut down Tennessee through the air, severely limiting their effectiveness in moving the ball up and down the field. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown grabbed his second interception of the season and broke up another pass he almost picked off, and freshman safety Matt Elam recovered a fumble to ice the game. Now the bad: Brown flubbed up at least twice in coverage to allow an important 15-yard gain and touchdown on separate plays. Junior S Will Hill – starting for the first time all season – seemed out of position on both long touchdown scores, one of which some are attributing to blown coverage by junior CB Janoris Jenkins. Either way, two deep scores – one of which resulted in a receiver being wide open in the end zone – are simply unacceptable in a game of this magnitude.

Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis averaged 65.8 yards on his six kickoff attempts and knocked through a 44-yard field goal in the third quarter in what was easily his best performance of the season. Senior punter Chas Henry continued his dominance, kicking three balls down the field (two inside the 20) for an average of 43.7 yards. The coverage units were also stout, allowing a total of two punt return yards and a long kickoff return of 25 yards. Above all else, the performance by the coverage team in sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines’ 36-yard fake punt run was this unit’s most stellar achievement of the game. In fact, head coach Urban Meyer said Hines could have scored if he had followed a block laid out by redshirt sophomore DT Omar Hunter. (Demps also returned two kickoffs for 70 yards and Ja. Jenkins was covered well on two punts.)

It was obviously a conscious decision by the coaching staff on Saturday to concentrate on the run on both sides of the ball – utilizing Demps as much as possible on offense while limiting Poole’s effectiveness with a strong defensive front. Meyer’s gutsy call for a fake punt to turn the momentum around obviously worked and was another mark of sheer genius for the man who hopes to earn his 100th win against Kentucky. The Gators once again struggled on offense from the outset but did a good job in the field position game which led to some easy scores later on. Remember that red zone inefficiency last season? UF was four-for-four from inside their opponent’s 20-yard-line with four touchdowns. Give offensive coordinator Steve Addazio some credit for that turnaround, will you? The offense was also eight-of-14 on third down, while the defense held UT to two-of-13 in the same scenario. The inconsistencies in the secondary lead one to wonder how prepared Hill and Brown are for Southeastern Conference competition, especially Hill who missed the first two games on team suspension. Considering we were pleased with the coaching performance last week (B grade) and saw both positives and negatives this week, we’ll just leave the grade the same.

For all of the grief the Gators seem to get for their performances week-to-week, the fact of the matter is that the team is improving as the season goes on. Strides by the wide receivers, defensive line, linebackers and special teams units were all evident against the Volunteers, even though the secondary seemed to take a step in the wrong direction. When it all comes down to it, Florida graded out as well as it did against South Florida but with less of a jump upward. With so much improvement possible in the coming weeks, it is tough to give the team a higher overall grade at this point.


  1. brlgator says:

    my only caveat to your grading which i think was excellent this week has to do with brantleys time managment. I blame the coaches especially when you have a young qb. I rememeber a couple of time brantley looking over at the sideline and banging his helmet asking for the play as the play clock ticked down. I beleive we took 4 timeouts purely to save the delay of game penatly including one after the fake punt which is unforgivable. I even think urban addressed that in his press conference last week or this week about shortening up the play calls and getting them in faster. This has got to get straightned out and from my perspective it falls more on the coaches then it does on the players.

    props to addazio for our 3rd conversion % but thats all he s gonna get from me

  2. Timmy T says:

    Seems about right to me ADAM. Like you said, Bostic sure seemed to stand out a lot. This team will be really something to watch grow up before our eyes.

  3. John S says:

    For the most part I am pretty positive on our progress, but I think “B” is generous for the coaches at least on offense. While we had more talent UT seemed a lot more prepared and disciplined. I think the 3rd down efficiency was a function of some impressive plays, not the play calling. We were in 3rd and long a lot because the play calling was predictable and our players (especially the receivers) bailed us out. 3rd down just proved we could be explosive if we decided to be. Our line can still not gain a yard or an inch when we need it too, because the other team knows what play we’re going to run. If the fans know what we’re going to do, I’m certain the worst SEC coach will know as well.

  4. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I agree with all your grades Adam. They are pretty spot on IMO.

  5. SC Gator says:

    Unless I am mistaken, the last time we scored this many points in Knoxville, Danny was playing QB. So yeah, there is plenty to work on but anyone that didn’t walk out of that game feeling a bit happy just needs to get over it. A B or a B- seems just about perfect to me.

  6. Gatormiami says:

    Grading or Cheerleading? Put down the pompoms & get realistic! This is not a “young” team & will struggle all year based upon this performance. Vols, a young team gets a B-…. an experienced Gators team playing this poorly gets a D+ (3 1/2 yds per carry/ virtually no passing game/ 2 “broken coverage” TD passes…. Yeah B-) Offense F/ Defense C+ Look where the Gators stand nationally & in SEC and tell me how terrific they score!

    This Gator team has a ton of potential, but is a long way from beating a good team…. like Alabama. Get realistic GatorNation!

    • You’re accusing ME of cheerleading? Please. Get real. You just wasted your time typing that. Your expectations are way too high if you think the team performed that poorly comparative to what they are capable of.

  7. RSeegobin says:

    Thought Demps had 26 rushes for 74 yds, not 94…

  8. ejlgator says:

    Ha I can not believe that someone would consider these grades cheerleading. I consider my self a critical gator fan and I think a B- is on the low end of the fair spectrum. I agreed with all of the grades accept I think that a C- is very harsh on the secondary – even with the two blow coverages. As far as I am concerned the majority of those sacks were coverage sacks. Generally in football a secondary can be bailed out by a very good defensive line and often times a very good secondary can make a D-line look good. I think in this weeks performance there were several instances when linebackers and D-lineman were capable of getting to Simms because he simply had nothing open downfield. Two blown coverages of that magnitude/in those situations are definitely unacceptable.

    Good job Adam…Go Gators….I am loving the improvement from week to week.

  9. caligator says:

    Nice assessment ADAM…GO GATORS!!!

  10. Scooterp says:

    I’m sorry to be so critical Adam, but the talent gap in this game was’nt even close. I don’t know how anyone who watched could say that this was “anyone’s game”. The Florida athletes were far superior to the vols, but yet with the crappy play calling and the endless amount of mistakes make it look to the casual obsever that the game is closer than it actually is. Why do we continue to run the option with Brantley? All I heard for the last three years is that we have an NFL caliber QB with a great arm, but we keep running out of the Tebow playbook. The offensive coaching better improve, because we will not be able to dink and dunk our way through the SEC.

    • Who said it was anyone’s game? I sure didn’t. Not sure how you got that impression. Yes the talent gap was wide but I think you are seriously exaggerating the playcalling and mistakes. Also, why are you so concerned with what the casual observer thinks?

  11. Aligator says:

    Good job Adam

  12. Mr2Bits says:

    The biggest thing we need to corrected are 4th down play calls. Addazzio needs to realize that if it’s 4th and a few inches…..QB sneak. Running HB dives or toss sweeps so we have to get 6 yards and a few inches is just plain retarded. Can’t recall if it happened during the USF game or not but I know we have looked liked morons against UT and Miami with the 4th and short play calling. Until Addazzio stops calling retarded 4th down plays, he will be a failure in my eyes.

  13. Scooterp says:

    Adam, I know “anyones game” is not your quote, but its something that I kept hearing when someone on the national level described the game. Their assessment of the offense, however, has been pretty accurate. The reason we keep winning?…..we have better athletes. It’s not because we out execute or have put together a better offensive game plan than UT/Miami/USF. The defense has largely been impressive (A/A-), but continuing to use the same playbook on offense that we ran last year with a QB that had a completely different set of skill sets…..silly. Offense (C+), Coaching offense (C-)

  14. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    I watched the game again and replayed a lot of the plays that killed our drives and I am not quite as critical now personally of how we played….I would probably give the WR’s and A as they made 3-4 tough catches and had few drops and the O-line a C…several of the drive killing plays were directly on the O-line between a couple of bad snaps and some completely blown blocking assignments in the run game and passing game….the 3rd down and lesss than a yard that we ran two straight plays and didn’t get were blown assignments on the left side of the line…not sure if that falls on Pouncey’s call at the line or if the guard of tackle missed the call but why are your lineman running down field on 3rd and 4th and inches and running right by two d-lineman?

  15. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    And I agree with Mr2Bits…go with a QB sneak for crying out loud…it’s pretty difficult to stop defensively and it’s difficult to screw up offensively!!!

  16. Scooter-

    (A-) + (C+) / 2 = (B/B-)


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