UF winning with Urban Ball
Published: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 1:07 a.m.
Urban Ball is back.
What is Urban Ball?
It's what Urban Meyer goes over at every Monday news conference during the season. His plan to win: play great defense and special teams, take care of the football, score in the red zone, win the battle of field position.
So far this season, the Gators have nailed it in all three games.
Perhaps the textbook version of Urban Ball was on display in Neyland Stadium last Saturday. Despite gaining less than 250 yards of total offense, the No. 4 Gators wiped out the Vols 30-6. They did it with great defense. They did it with special teams. They did it by not turning over the football. They did it with field position and by scoring on five of six trips to the red zone.
It looked like a typical Gator game straight out of 2006 (and we all know what happened that season).
"We're focusing on controlling the ball, controlling the clock, not making turnovers and putting our defense in good position," quarterback Tim Tebow said. "It's something we've done pretty well so far.
"If we are able to manage the game like we did against Tennessee and for a lot of the Miami game, I think it's a pretty good recipe for a championship. With the defense playing extremely well and the special teams playing extremely well, and the offense taking care of the ball and putting up points when we need to, I think that's a pretty good recipe."
While many are a little stunned (and frustrated) by UF's low offensive numbers (the Gators are 10th in the SEC in total offense), here are some stats that are more pertinent to Meyer and what he's trying to do:
The Gators are the only team in the nation with zero turnovers.
UF is one of only five teams in the nation that has not trailed at any point in the season.
The Gators lead the SEC in total defense (213.0 yards a game), scoring offense (37.3 points a game), kickoff returns, punt returns and punting.
The special teams have scored 14 points, only five shy of opposing offenses.
Opposing offenses have not started a single drive on Florida's side of the 50.
It all adds up to near perfect execution of Meyer's plan to win and a 3-0 start for the Gators.
Executing the plan to win was a difficult challenge last season because UF's young defense was going through some serious growing pains, putting the pressure on the offense to outscore opponents.
Now that the defense appears more sound, the offensive priorities seem to have shifted back to where they were in 2006, when the Gators were a little more conservative, protected the ball and kept the defense out of bad situations.
"Great defense is a result of taking care of the football," Meyer said. "A great example, Charlie Strong's defense against Miami (in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2004). I counted five times the defense jogged out to midfield to play defense. You can't play defense at midfield. The percentages of scoring are way up.
"Great defense is not allowing opponent offenses to start near midfield. That's why you put such an emphasis on ball security and an emphasis on punt coverage and kick coverage, and keeping them pinned down in there."
Perhaps UF's most impressive stat this season is the zero turnovers.
"It's always been a huge priority for us at Florida, our offense taking care of the football," Tebow said. "A team that turns it over, no matter how good the offense is, you put your defense in bad situations and you give the other team lots of momentum, especially on the road. Pretty quick, the momentum is against you. That can turn into some pretty bad situations.
"We've done a good job controlling the ball and not turning it over. We're putting ourselves in good situations."
This take care of the ball, play field position football approach has not been good for Tebow's numbers, or those of the offense. But Tebow said it's not about numbers, it's about winning. That's why the Gators have embraced Meyer's plan to win.
"Sometimes you want to make some of those (big) plays and throw it down the field," Tebow said. "But you've got to be smart and content managing the game. That's something that I think I've gotten a lot better at. I think we did a good job of not forcing things (in the UT victory).
"You love being able to run around and make big plays and score a lot of touchdowns, but that game didn't call for that. That's where I've matured and gotten a lot better. For me, it's managing and running the offense. If we win games like we've done, then I'm totally happy with that, not having to throw 50 times a game or anything. Just go out there, manage the offense and win games. That's what I'm focused on."
It's Urban Ball — Meyer's plan to win. And it works.
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