In last Saturday’s victory at Ole Miss, Florida’s offense, which is supposed to feature a plethora of playmakers, evolved into a two-man show.
Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin.
And what a show it was.
Tebow rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns and amassed 427 of Florida’s 507 yards of total offense. Harvin caught 11 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
And, of course, when the game was on the line in the final eight minutes, Tebow took over completely, carrying the ball almost every play in UF’s final two drives to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
It’s hard to argue with the results, but everyone, including Urban Meyer, knows this two-man thing is not the ideal way to go. Harvin has had injury problems in the past, including earlier this year, and it’s hard to fathom a quarterback rushing 27 times the way Tebow did the other day.
If you talk to players on the team, they’ll tell you Tebow is UF’s toughest player, physically and mentally. But how many shots can this kid take before one knocks him out of a game, or worse?
Meyer said the No. 1 goal is always to win the game and he’ll use Tebow the same way he did Saturday in the future if he has to. But Meyer also said he and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen have to be smart with how they use their prize quarterback in terms of the number of times he runs the ball.
UF depends on Tebow to make plays, and many of those plays figure to be made with his legs. But Tebow clearly has a target on his back now and opposing defenses every week are talking about looking forward to taking their shots at the big guy.
After Harvin’s performance Saturday, defenses also are going to be focusing on him, especially with senior wide receiver Andre Caldwell very questionable for Saturday’s game in The Swamp with a sprained knee.
To protect the health of their two most productive offensive players, the Gators need to get back to spreading the ball around, even if Caldwell can’t go Saturday.
Wide receiver Jarred Fayson was wide open several times in the Ole Miss game, but Tebow was looking in the other direction and missed the opportunities. Louis Murphy had only two touches, with one going 37 yards for a touchdown in the second half, and probably should have seen the ball more. The same certainly can be said of Cornelius Ingram, who was thrown to only twice, reeling in both passes for 41 yards.
This week, wide receiver Riley Cooper is expected to return from a sprained ankle, so that’s at least one more option for Tebow Saturday.
Obviously, Tebow and Harvin will continue to be focal points of the offense. But it’s time for Tebow to start spreading the ball around to the other playmakers and time for Meyer and Mullen to rein in their quarterback a little bit in terms of the number of times he runs the ball.
This offense has been scary good with the way Tebow has run it so far. It could be just plain scary if something happens to Tebow.