One side effect of the circus that perpetually surrounds Tim Tebow is that he doesn’t get to lead a normal life, or even a normal one for a football player. I am fairly sure most of his teammates like John Brantley and Janoris Jenkins get to walk around without getting noticed. Tebow hasn’t been able to do that since he first got to campus in January 2006.
Another side effect is that opposing defenders hear about him. A lot. They hear about him to the point of frustration, as though every mention of Tebow’s name is a shot at their ability and pride.
For Sooner CB Dominique Franks, the boiling point has come and gone:
“If you look at the three best quarterbacks in the country, they came from the Big 12…
With us being in Florida and playing against Florida, everybody’s going to think Tebow should have won the Heisman. But the right person won the Heisman, and we’re going to go out there and show everybody the reason why he won it…
Going into a game and knowing a quarterback’s going to throw the ball 40 times a game versus coming into a game and knowing he’s probably only going to throw it about 15 or 20… It makes it a lot harder to prepare for those [Big 12] guys…
Hopefully, he’ll throw me the ball a couple of times, and I can get my hands on it.“
Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy also decided to say that Tebow “really knows what he’s doing, but I think we’re prepared enough that we’ll know what they’re doing as well as they know it.”
OU defensive coordinator Bret Venables did a nice job of backtracking, saying that Franks hasn’t watched enough tape yet, that Franks is confident in his teammates, and that the team as a whole is confident in their process.
That’s all well and good, but this bowl season hasn’t been kind on Big 12 offenses so far. Bowl games are never good enough evidence to outweigh a regular season’s lot of games, but Kansas has the only offense from the conference that has outperformed what would be expected given theirs and their opponent’s season averages (see calculation method here). Not only that, but KU did it against a reeling Minnesota team that was nowhere near as good as its stats would have you believe.
That fact would at least a little bit cast some doubt on the value of the Big 12 quarterbacks’ stats that Franks was touting. While I agree that Sam Bradford was worthy of winning the Heisman, I have a feeling the Florida team as a whole would take exception with how he stated that notion.
As for the part about preparing for pass numbers, he is quite a bit off. The way that Florida does its run/pass option plays is different than how anyone he’s seen does it, and Florida has probably the best set of run blocking receivers in the country. On top of that no quarterback in the country (much less the Big 12) matches Tebow’s power running game, so his unique usage by the Florida offensive staff would indicate he requires more preparation from opposing defenses, not less.
I also appreciate that Gerald McCoy believes his team will be ready. I’m sure they will be since Oklahoma has a great defensive staff. However FSU DC Mickey Andrews knew what was coming in his second attempt at stopping the Tebow-led offense, and UF put up 45 points. Georgia’s DC Willie Martinez in his second crack at it gave up 49 points. South Carolina’s Ellis Johnson, a widely-respected defensive coordinator in his own right, gave up 49 in his first attempt.
Knowing what’s coming and stopping it are two different things. Everyone knew what Alabama was going to do on offense all year, and only two teams stopped it well enough to pull out wins.
Finally, Franks probably doesn’t understand what he did in falling into the trap of publicly trash talking Tim Tebow. Big No. 15 and his teammates don’t take it lightly. Here are a few examples of what happens when people publicly run their mouths about him:
- In November 2007, LB Geno Hayes said before the UF-FSU game that Tebow was “going down,” and “the bigger they are the harder they fall.” Florida won the game 45-12.
- At Tennessee’s media day prior to this season, DT Demonte Bolden said, “Man, I don’t care about Tebow. Yeah, he’s an All-American, but he’s a regular player. Get him back on the field. You know what I’m saying. I made hits on him last year. This year, I’m going to get back to him a lot quicker.” Florida won the game 30-6, and only the two teams’ run-heavy offenses and the new clock rules kept it from being worse as Florida scored on six of its seven non-garbage time drives.
- No one from Miami called out Tebow by name that I could find, but the Hurricanes talked plenty of trash. C Xavier Shannon (head coach Randy’s son) said he wanted “to show [the Gators] the University of Miami still rules the state of Florida,” and S Anthony Reddick wondered, “[a]re they going to be able to match up with our defense?” Florida won the game 26-3, and Miami was fortunate to get the three.
- LSU DT Ricky Jean-Francois said this season that if he and his fellow linemen got a good look at Tebow, “we’re going to try our best to take him out of the game.” Florida won the contest 51-21 and Jean-Francois didn’t even travel to Gainesville for the game due to injury.
- South Carolina LB Eric Norwood promised Florida would not score 40 on his defense. He also predicted he’d get a sack and that it was “definitely going to hurt.” Norwood did get a sack, but it was his Gamecocks who got a hurting to the tune of 56-6.
It is not a trap that the Florida players or coaches set, but it’s a trap that Franks fell into. His temperament couldn’t take hearing about Tebow anymore, and he ran his mouth promising doom for the Gators’ signal caller.
We’ll see if he and his fellow defenders can back it up, but history is not on his side.