Gators bring thunder before the rain


Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:25 p.m.

Figures. They raise ticket prices and make the games shorter.

Or was it longer?

Football season never seems like it arrives fast enough. This one was so highly-anticipated, the first game didn't want to end.

And then it did with a soggy thud.

To be honest, most of us had seen all we needed to see on opening day. None of it was surprising. Sure, Urban Meyer and the other coaches wanted the final 8:23 that floated off into space Saturday, but it was already mop-up time.

If you were disappointed that Florida's opener was “terminated”— the official term used by the SEC — understand that everyone's goal on Saturday was to make sure anyone in the stands was not “terminated.” Just because a few of you decided to sit in metal seats during the delay with lightning popping all around the stadium ... hey, to each his own.

Look at it this way. If you were there, you were part of a first — the first game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that wasn't completed.

When there was football being played, it was pretty much what we thought it would be going into the game.

Tim Tebow was terrific except for one series that he didn't manage well and penalties killed a drive. He made crisp passes and hit deep receivers in stride. And Florida barely reached into its playbook because the Gators were that much better than Western Kentucky.

“He did very well,” Meyer said of his young quarterback. “But they weren't very challenged throws.”

The defense is a work in progress. The question is how much it progresses in the next two weeks. It had better be a lot.

It's difficult to be critical of a defense that gave up three points in a win. But what I saw were defensive tackles who didn't create much of a push in the middle.

“I saw the same thing,” Meyer said. “We don't have the great push in the middle. It's nothing new. I've seen it all through practice. We need to create some push.”

I also saw mediocre play and poor tackling in a secondary that wasn't as challenged after starter David Wolke went out with a concussion after leading the Hilltoppers down the field with 43 passing yards. The secondary has a long way to go.

I know. We're spoiled. Remember, in Florida's last game it gave up 82 yards. To Ohio State. On Saturday, the defense gave up 204 yards, which isn't bad but two WKU quarterbacks were injured and eight minutes were lost.

It is good to know that Florida still has a linebacker who is willing to make tackles after his helmet flies off as Dustin Doe did against Western. This is a young defense that has the potential to be good but also the potential to be a problem.

But I also believe that you don't read too much into an opening game. Unless you were in Ann Arbor Saturday. (Yeah, Michigan definitely deserved to be in last season's national title game. Suuurrre.).

Does Saturday's game mean Meyer plans to go deep a lot more this year? Or is he showing Tennessee something? Did the game mean that Florida won't blitz as much this year or that the Gators didn't want to show too much?

All we know for sure is that we saw a team gain 510 yards without leaning on its most dangerous player. Percy Harvin did have a touchdown catch but only six touches in the game. We know that it's a kinder, gentler Tim Tebow this year. No demonstratives, even when he twice was shoved into the opposing bench and you thought the fans might finally storm Florida Field. Don't mess with our Timmy.

“There are times when you want to be fiery,” Tebow said. “I wanted to show the guys I can have ice water in my veins.”

And we know for sure the one truth of the universe — Urban Meyer doesn't lose many instant replay reviews.

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