Published: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 8:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 8:38 p.m.
Before every game this season, veteran football beat writer Robbie Andreu will come up with five pertinent questions earlier in the week, then answer them after each game. Here is week eight:
1. Can the UF defense prevent tailback Knowshon Moreno from running wild like he did last season?
The Gators set the tone on the second offensive play of the game, when middle linebacker Brandon Spikes knifed through the Georgia offensive line to nail Moreno for a 3-yard loss. Moreno would go on to have runs of 13 and 18 yards. But other than that, the Gators were in his face and putting him on the ground for the rest of the game. UF gave up some passing opportunities by crowding the box with an extra defender in the box, but that was OK. The No. 1 defensive goal coming into the game was to contain Moreno, and the Gators did it with excellent fundamental defense and excellent tackling. With UF leading 28-3 late in the third quarter, Moreno mishandled a pitch then couldn't get on the loose ball, which was picked up and return to the UGA 10 by defensive tackle Terron Sanders. It was a bad day for Moreno, made that way by a relentless UF defense. After running through the UF defense for 188 yards and three touchdowns a year ago, Moreno managed only 65 yards on 17 carries — and he did not find the end zone.
2. Will Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford have success throwing deep against the UF secondary?
He completed one deep pass (on a great catch by freshman wide receiver A.J. Green), but it came in the fourth quarter when the game was over. The Gators gave up some significant passes over the middle of the field, but they did not get the ball thrown over their heads like a year ago. And the defensive backs and linebackers (especially Dustin Doe) were doing a solid job of reacting to the ball in the air. The result was three huge interceptions that were huge for momentum — and help turn the game into a rout in the second half.
3. Can the Bulldogs contain speedy Gator tailbacks Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey?
Oddly, the Gators did not make much of an effort to get Demps and Rainey on the edge, where they could use their great speed. Instead, the Gators attacked the middle of Georgia's physical defense, and the little guys didn't have a whole lot of running room. But the threat of those two possibly busting big plays up the middle seemed to slow down UGA's defensive push, which led to more time in the pocket for Tebow, who was sacked only once.
4. Percy Harvin got only three touches in the win over Kentucky. Will he be more involved in the offense today?
Harvin more than doubled his touches with seven. It wasn't a lot, but he made the most of them. One of his early touches was 13-yard touchdown run after taking an option pitch from Tebow for UF's first score, in the first quarter. Another touchdown touch came early in the fourth quarter, when a wide-open Harvin caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Tebow to tive the Gators a 42-3 lead. Harvin wasn't the focal point of the offense like many were thinking he might be coming into the game. But those seven touches added up to 13 critical points.
5. Will the offensive line be able to protect Tim Tebow?
Tebow was sacked six times in this game last season. Partly because a shoulder injury turned him into a pocket passer and partly because the UF front could not handle the Georgia rush. The big guys got it done this time. The line protected Tebow all afternoon and created some openings in the running game to give the Gators much-needed balance. Tebow was sacked only once and pressured rarely. The performance of the offensive line was critical in the Gators having success in both phases of the offense.
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