Monday, January 08, 2007
Actually, the title of this post is a little misleading. Florida didn't just beat Ohio St., they walloped them. They physically dominated them on both sides of the ball. It was as complete and dominant of a performance as I have seen all season. When I gave how a post explaining 3 reasons Florida would win (to clarify though, I did pick OSU in a close one), my first reason was because the Florida defense was very good and very fast, and my second reason was that Urban Meyer was a great coach that could put together a great gameplan. Turns out that both of those were very true, and the biggest reasons for the 41-14 shocker.
First, let's start with the Gator defense. When you say a defense is fast, usually people think of the defensive backs and the linebackers. However, the biggest source of the game-changing speed came from the Defensive Line, specially Ends Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey, who made a living in the Ohio St. backfield. Troy Smith had no time to throw the ball, the running backs had nowhere to go, and Ohio St. went nowhere offensively.
The other big factor for the Ohio St. offense was that Ted Ginn got hurt in the 1st quarter, which was an absolute killer. He showed off some of his explosiveness on the opening kickoff, and without him the Buckeyes were bogged down. Anthony Gonzalez is a solid complimentary receiver, but he's not nearly as effective when he's the guy the secondary is focusing on. Without the focus on Ginn, the WRs could not get open, so Smith didn't have anywhere to go with the ball even when he did have time, which was not all that often. Give credit to the Gators defense for playing a dominating game (82 total yards for Ohio St.), but the Buckeyes were in big trouble the moment Ginn was lost.
But even if Ginn had played, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, because the Buckeyes could not slow down, let alone stop the Gators offense. This was a product of great playcalling by Urban Meyer and the fact that the Gators just dominated the line of scrimmage. One of the announcers said that Urban said that there were three things you can do to keep the defense off balance: Options, Empty sets, and unbalanced sets. Well, he was definitely right. Leak picked apart the zone, the short passing game supplemented the running game, and Florida just controlled the ball to the tune of a 2 to 1 advantage in TOP.
Florida also spread the ball around and got it in their playmakers hands. 5 guys had double digits in receiving yards, and a sixth guy caught a TD pass. Percy Harvin was used well, with 9 catches for 59 yards and 5 carries for 22 yards and score. Tim Tebow ran for 40 yards and a TD, and also threw for a TD. Leak was efficient and made good decisions. To say that Florida had everything working offensively is a gross understatement. In a word, they were awesome.
Does it make a difference if Ohio St. didn't have 51 days off? Does it make a difference if Ted Ginn doesn't get hurt early on. We'll never know. But what I do know is this... Florida played an incredible ballgame, and on this night they were the best team in the country.