Gators unbeaten, top-ranked and frustrated
Published: Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:44 p.m.
This is what it has come to.
The winning coach was explaining what went wrong and the losing coach was almost giddy.
The winning team was breathing a sigh of relief while the losing team felt the breath of new life.
One team is 3-0 and glum fans filed out of the stands when it was over. One team is 1-2 and its fans are fired up.
But that's what happens when you are expected to win by 30, have the potential to win by 50 and have it suggested to you that you win by 100.
This ... is Florida football 2009.
"I would think in their locker room there was a little bit of frustration," said Kiffin, "because there were so high expectations."
He's right. When the 23-13 win was in the books, Meyer felt a need to "lighten up" the mood in the locker room. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was railing on about the missed tackles. Players were dealing with the black sheet of pressure that had been tangling them all week.
"There are a lot of positives," Meyer said.
But it wasn't positives that a record crowd came to see. They wanted to see total domination and something funky at the end. They got something funky alright, Florida's defense having to make a stand with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
"It's about winning," Meyer said, "and that's what we did. I think this game was actually good for us to keep that edge."
But 23 points? A 10-point win? Where were the fireworks, the highlight-reel plays, the late timeouts?
I don't know where they were, but they weren't at The Swamp Saturday.
"As ugly as it was, it was fun," Tim Tebow said.
That's because Florida has now won five straight over Tennessee under Meyer, 13 of 14 against its rivals and is still unbeaten this year with a school-record 13 consecutive wins.
That's the good news. But it's not what most of you took away from this steamy game.
The Gator Nation is concerned about its offense as it heads into the rest of the schedule. Should it be? Well, there were reasons why it was ugly Saturday. Some of them can be fixed. Some, well, we shall see.
* Monte Kiffin was in their heads. Kiffin is a great defensive coordinator.
"There were times when it looked like he was blind-calling our third downs," Tebow said.
In other words, the UF offense had no idea what was coming next. And UF offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said he over-prepared for the variety of blitzes in Kiffin's suitcase.
"You have to prepare," Addazio said. "But then we didn't see hardly any of it. It was a distraction all week. It took time away from us practicing our base core offense."
* Because Florida was dominating on defense and Tennessee has no quarterback, UF called a conservative game.
"At times I felt like we called a little bit of a tight game," Meyer said.
There were no throws downfield, although some were called, no trick plays or reverses, and a ton of Tebow, who had 24 carries.
"That's our crutch, the Tim Tebow Show," Meyer said.
* Florida had some issues with illness and injury. Jeff Demps played little because of the flu. Aaron Hernandez wasn't himself because of the flu. Deonte Thompson didn't play at all because of a hamstring injury.
Still, what you have to take away from this game is that Florida has a problem at receiver. What was a strength last year appears to be a weakness this year.
Unless some of the young guys step up — and that includes Thompson — you're going to see a lot more games like Saturday's.
* It was almost a blowout. If not for Tebow's fumble at the four, Florida likely would have gone up 30-6, the same score it won by last year.
"That was selfish of me trying to get more yards out of it," Tebow said.
Florida probably played the best defense it will face all year. And as amazing as Tebow was at times, he wasn't at his best. But he left a lasting mark on Kiffin, who won't have to deal with him again.
"I probably said it three times on the headset — is the guy ever going to wear out?" Kiffin said. "I don’t think he’s human"
Oh, he's human. And on a day when Florida's football team won an important game, the rest of the Gators showed they are, too.
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