I definitely overestimated UCF. That was the first time that I can remember that no one called in to complain about anything on Steve Russell’s post game show on AM 850, and that speaks volumes. No one can find things to complain about after big wins like Gator fans can.
Everyone is high on Percy Harvin, and rightfully so. He should have had a lot more yards than he did if not for penalties. I was also amazed that Urban Meyer called his number the next play after Harvin’s lost fumble. Last year, Urban would have benched a player for the next series for losing a fumble. It just shows some changes in nuance in the way that Coach Meyer manages games and his players. One thing is for sure – Harvin will not look as fast against Tennessee as he did against USM and UCF. He may still make some big plays, but UT has top-caliber players just like Florida. It’s the SEC, after all, which suddenly looks a lot better than the Big 10 (so ignore that part of my season preview).
Let’s face it. This was UCF. The Gators got away with a lot of things that they will not be able to against SEC opponents. Andre Caldwell’s second touchdown reception would have been intercepted if it was Tennessee’s defense. Then again, Chris Leak may not have made that throw if it was UT back there. He was great again, and even set a career high in passing yardage. The running game also was improved, which is very important after Air Force appears to have run with great success against the Vols based on the box score.
The one thing that concerns me is that this reminded me of the Kentucky game of last year. The offense looked spectacular, and I think the coaches may have forgot that it was, in fact, Kentucky that they had just played. Everyone looks great against Kentucky’s defense. They came out calling plays the exact same way the next week and barely got 3 on the board against Bama. Tennessee is just as big, physical, and fast as Florida is, whereas UF has better players than USM and UCF at nearly all, if not every position.
The encouraging thing though, is that they came out focused and prepared. There was no mental breakdown that lead to cheap points like with Southern Miss. They took care of business and got the backups some excellent playing time in the second half, like the way things should work in the first two games. Tim Tebow looked like a freshman quarterback, but he’ll be fine. One person in my section said he’s a bit of a ballhog, and it’s true. If the first receiver in the progression is not open, he takes off running. I’m not ready to call him Tim “Anthony Roberson” Tebow yet, but St. Timothy must, as all freshman quarterbacks do, learn to read college defenses and go through progressions. I doubt we’ll see him for any significant time against Tennessee. Leak has simply been too good.
What a difference Marcus Thomas and Steven Harris make. If Tennessee couldn’t run on Air Force (and they really didn’t), then there’s no way they’re running on Florida. It will be the rejuvenated Erik Ainge against Florida’s pass coverage. I think the D-line is good enough so that they can put extra guys in the secondary to compensate. Come next Saturday, we’ll find out who wins.