Game-winner eludes Tebow

Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 9:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 9:25 p.m.

ORLANDO Tim Tebow knows there is one aspect of his game he needs to improve on. Tebow needs to learn how to lead his team on a game-winning drive.

In his first season as a Florida stater, Tebow went 0-for-3 on potential game-winning drives to end games. On Tuesday, Tebow went 0-for-4 passing on Florida's final possession of its 41-35 loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.

It was a familiar scene. Tebow failed to lead Florida to game-winning drives in the final moments of losses to Auburn and LSU this season. When asked what he needs to improve on for next season, Tebow said: "I need to get a lot better and be able to lead my team down on that last drive and get a touchdown."

Had he done it Tuesday, Tebow would have saved what was an otherwise lackluster performance. In his first game since winning the Heisman Trophy, Tebow was just 17-for-33 passing for a season-low 154 yards. He was repeatedly harassed by an aggressive Michigan defense which sacked him once and put him on the ground countless other times.

"They had a nice pass rush," Tebow said. "They played hard and physical."

Coach Urban Meyer said Michigan brought blitzes the Gators hadn't seen on tape before.

"They had two blitzes we had not seen," Meyer said. "They pressured Tim."

Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said Tebow held onto the ball too long on certain plays.

"In a couple situations, he's got to throw the ball away," Mullen said. "That's something we've been working on with him."

Tebow also struggled with his accuracy Tuesday. Tebow missed out on a chance for a nine-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter when he threw low to a wide open Percy Harvin in the end zone. Harvin couldn't hang on to the ball, which was thrown at his shoelaces. Two plays later, Joey Ijjas' 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked and Florida failed to score.

Tebow said Florida was hurt by the fact the Gators were facing several third-and-long situation. For the game, Florida converted just 2-of-11 third downs.

"I felt like we got in some pretty good rhythms moving the ball," Tebow said. "But when you get in second-and-long and third-and-long, it's tough to convert."

Tebow also rushed the ball 16 times for 57 yards, an average of 3.4 per carry. But even when he rushed, there was a Michigan defender there to put a hit on him. None was harder than when Michigan safety Jamar Adams upended Tebow in the second half, sending the Florida quarterback flipping through the air.

"They did some nice things," Tebow said. "They came out ready to go. They heard a lot about the SEC and wanted to get a piece. They got it, obviously."

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