Sunday, September 7

Blown Call, Timid Play Calling Help Gators Cover the Spread

The result was one we all expected. In the books the victory that Florida got over Miami Saturday night will go down as a blowout, 26-3. For the first 3 quarters though, the Hurricanes held his holiness Tim Tebow and the mighty Gators to just 9 points. The new defensive coordinator Bill Taylor for Miami had a terrific game plan to slow down the high-powered offense of Florida; even more impressive was that the young defense of Miami executed it. In the end, the hot and humid conditions wore down the Canes defense and the Gators broke through in the fourth quarter thanks in part to a ridiculous call and the inability for the Miami offense to stay on the field. Bottom line the Gators are just a superior team right now.

First off, I certainly am not saying the call cost Miami the game, I believe the Gators would have won regardless, but that does not forgive the call. It occurred late in the third quarter on a third and 8 Tebow pass from Miami’s 33. The Florida receiver went up and caught the ball and it appeared he was forced out of bounds by the Miami defender. The ref closest to the play immediately ruled the play incomplete. The play then went into review and far from my understanding; it stayed in review for a few minutes. The head official then informed us that the receiver’s elbow landed in the field of play. That is all well and good but somehow he and the replay official up in the booth missed an important detail: the receiver never caught the ball. In the replay it showed that when the receiver landed the ball came loose. As soon as the receiver came down the ball flew out, probably in part due to the fact that the Gator receiver ended up hurt on the play. Nevertheless, the Gators got the ball first and goal and after a truly terrific pass interference call, Florida punched it in to take the lead 16-3 on a Percy Harvin run where there may or may not have been a block in the back and holding on the outside.

I understand that seems like bitterness on my part but my main anger is at the play calling of the Canes. Robert Marve in his first career start showed some grit by scrambling for first downs and making some nice throws. His receivers dropped some key passes which did not help, but in the second half Miami refused to cut their young quarterback loose. Patrick Nix, the Miami offensive coordinator, accomplished his goal in the first half by controlling the ball and gaining the advantage in time of possession. By the time the third and fourth quarter came around, Miami was still tip-toeing around trying not to make the big mistake, which it did not. But that led to the defense breaking down and the Gators pouring on some late touchdowns. You can only hold Tebow and the offense down for so long. Clearly the Canes missed the Labor Day game where UCLA unleashed Kevin Craft who threw four interceptions in the first half, but in the fourth quarter he led them down the field and eventually to victory.

I get the Miami game plan and I even mentioned it in my preview; play ball control, tough defense, keep it respectable. Miami did that, but at some point you have to go after the win. By staying conservative they gave the ball right back to Florida who began to overcome the tired Miami defense. Of course, I am not a football coach and do not possess the knowledge that Randy Shannon and Nix do. Perhaps they did not want to shake their confidence or maybe they did not believe their offense would make the plays after many dropped passes, but they will not win many games this year if they are that timid on offense. In the end both teams mostly go what they wanted; the Canes showed there is hope for the future and the Gators erased 23 years of bad history.

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