Andreu's Answers: Capital One
Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 7:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 7:46 p.m.
Before every Florida game, UF football beat writer Robbie Andreu highlights five burning questions and then provides the answers after some postgame reflection.
Let's move on to week 13:
1. Will Tim Tebow show any symptoms of a Heisman hangover?
It really wasn't a hangover, but Tebow's probably going to feel like he has one when he wakes up this morning. Tebow was hit and hit and pressured and pressured right out of his game, especially when the Gators were trying to come back in the closing minutes. Maybe for the first time this season, Tebow was very ordinary. The superman qualities were not present. That's what happens when you hold the ball too long against pressure and when your offensive front can't protect you. Tebow accounted for four touchdowns, but he passed for only 154 yards and rushed for only 57. And he was not very good on third down, with the Gators converting only two of 11 chances. His sporadic performance had nothing to do with his winning the Heisman. It had everything to do with Michigan's defense and the Gators' inability to protect Tebow and convert third downs.
2. Have the Wolverines found a way to slow down the spread offense after early season failures against Appalachian State and Oregon?
Obviously, they have. The first thing they tried to do was get physical and punish Tebow and the playmakers when they had the ball. The strategy worked because the offense appeared out of rhythm for much of the game. The second thing they did was contain Tebow, preventing him from hurting them with his legs. Then, they attacked the UF offense with some blitzes the Gators hadn't seen watching tape of Michigan. The Gators went up and down the field at times, but not like everyone thought they might against a defense that could not stop Oregon's spread.
3. Will the UF defense build on a strong performance against FSU or take a step backward?
Do we really need to put this down in print? Anyone and everyone who watched this futile performance knows the answer. The defense took another giant step backward. All the old problems arose again. The Gators couldn't generate any pressure on quarterback Chad Henne, couldn't cover the Michigan receivers, and had no chance of stopping the Wolverines when the game was on the line in the second half. Obviously, the defense is a project that will draw plenty of scrutiny in the offseason as the coaches try to find some answers — and some cornerbacks who can cover.
4. Can the Gators limit Michigan running back Mike Hart to less than 100 yards rushing?
The Gators did a commendable job against Hart for most of the first half. But when it became obvious the secondary couldn't stop the pass, things opened up for Hart in the second half. He rushed for 129 yards and scored two touchdowns and played a major role in keeping the UF defense off balance for most of the game and the entire second half.
5. Will Aaron Hernandez add a playmaking dimension to the UF fullback position?
With starting fullback Eric Rutledge ruled ineligible for the game (which ended his UF career), the Gators were planning to have Hernandez take over his role. It didn't happen. Hernandez caught three passes for 31 yards, but two came when he was lined up in the slot and the third came on a fourth-down fake in the fourth quarter. Hernandez rarely, if at all, lined up and fullback in the spread. So, there were no plays coming out of a position (fullback) that left with Rutledge.
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