Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Legend of the Injured Tebow

As “everyone” knows, Florida lost to Georgia in 2007 because of Tebow’s shoulder injury. From Tony Barnhart’s blog of July 24 (h/t Get the Picture) -

Gators want Tebow healthy for Georgia: It is a fact that in 2007 Florida quarterback Tim Tebow had one of the greatest individual seasons ever (32 touchdowns passing, 23 rushing). But it is also a fact that Florida feels it lost to Georgia (42-30) not because of the motivational lift the Bulldogs got from storming the field, but because Tebow was banged up and nowhere close to 100 percent.

So in a game which the Gators scored 30 points the reason we lost was because Tebow was injured.

Nevermind the fact Georgia scored 42.

It’s wasn’t Tebow’s best day of the year, and from a rushing standpoint it was his worst. But for pure quarterback play it wasn’t as awful a day as is being portrayed. Tebow’s QB ratings last season (best to worst) were –



Tebow had overall worse performances against South Carolina and Mississippi, but Florida still managed wins. And, notably, the 3 “other” losses last year were the games in which Tebow had his 3 worst QB ratings.

But a simple glance at the chart above reveals the real problem last year, and it had nothing to do with Tebow. The problem was our worst-in-a-generation defense. Florida lost 3 games in which Tebow and the offense scored 30, 35 and 24 points. The only game in which a better offensive performance should have made a difference was Auburn, the sole game all year in which the Gators scored 20 points or less.

While expecting a healthy Tebow to – just perhaps – be able to pass and run his way 43 points in any given contest, he can’t play both sides of the ball. He didn’t surrender 188 yards to Knowshon Moreno, the Georgia running back’s 2nd best effort in 2007 –

Moreno’s Rushing Yards per Game in 2007

Troy 196
Florida 188
Vanderbilt 157
Kentucky 124
South Carolina 104
Auburn 101
Western Carolina 94
Mississippi 90
Alabama 74
Oklahoma State 70
Hawaii 61
Georgia Tech 45
Tennessee 30

Moreno is scary good, but we allowed him to look “Troy” good. (Troy had 95th worst rushing defense in the nation last year).

Stafford also had a career day against Florida last year, that despite his 217 yards passing (which was tied for 3rd best for the season), he posted a gaudy QB rating of 206.27, his best of 2007 at 19.38 points better than any other effort. He also threw a season high 3 TD passes on his lowest number of attempts all season. Our hapless DB’s made him look like Tom Brady. Notably, Tebow wasn’t playing that position either.

Offense wasn’t the problem against Georgia last year. The 2007 game was the only game in the venerable history of Florida-Georgia in which both teams scored 30 points or more. Putting our defensive debacle in another light, assume that – going all the way back to 1990 – Florida had scored exactly 30 points in every game against Georgia. How would that have affected the overall 15-3 record since then?

The answer is it wouldn’t – 30 points would have been enough to win every game we won since 1990, and still lose the ones we didn’t. We would have been much closer in the losses of 1997 and 2004 at 37-30 and 31-30 respectively, but would have won every other game – most of them quite comfortably.

Defense was as much, if not more, a responsible factor in the wins as offense over the 18 games leading back to1990. Georgia’s average score in the games we won over that span was 14.13. In the 3 games we lost the Bulldog’s average score was 36.67.

IF it is the mindset of the Florida coaching staff that more offense is the answer to last year’s 9-4 record, get ready for 2008 to look a lot like 2007.

8 comments:

Tommy said...

I never thought I'd find myself defending Tebow, but your post raises an interesting point. The Gators' offense scoring output in Meyer's three trips to Jacksonville have been 14, 14, and 23 -- a 17 points/game average. The fact that Meyer is 2-1 over that span is a feat more typical of Tommy Tuberville or Joe Gibbs. Georgia fans will point to factors like DJ Shockley's injury in 2005 and Stafford's five picks in 2006, but the two wins are still mostly an impressive testament to the Gators' D.

I re-watched the game last weekend and, for all of the abuse that Gary Danielson heaped on the Gator DBs, what jumped out at me was how Florida got zero push up front. As Georgia learned in Knoxville last year, a weak front four will always make your DBs look bad, because they're the ones trying to contain a jailbreak. I think that first drive, where Georgia ran the ball nine straight times (eight were handoffs to Moreno) was demoralizing to the Gators' front four. If the Gators want to turn the tables this fall, that's where the battle must be won.

Tommy said...

Sorry, I didn't finish the point I intended to make. Point being, a healthy Tebow and a less fumble-y running game probably gets you well past 17 points. Does it get you to 42? Probably not against the Georgias and Auburns of the world, but, with a better push from you D, you may not need all 42.

Mergz said...

Tommy-

Excellent follow up on the offensive scores of the 3 Meyer/Georgia games. You certainly wouldn't expect the game where we scored the most to be the one we lost.

The 2007 game wasn't won because of the silly celebration thing - it was the fact, as you point out, they ran the ball 9 straight times and scored on a fresh D. That opened up the passing, and hence 42 points.

Of course we shouldn't need to score 43. If our D can be good enough this year to hold teams to something in the 20s, we can win games like this.

Anonymous said...

I think your post makes it clear that Georgia wasn't quite as good offensively as the nation believes. The perception seems based on how they played against Auburn, Florida and Hawaii. They certainly finished the season strong but Hawaii and Florida had questionable defenses. In their favor Auburn was a very respectable defense last year.

DoYouKnowshon? said...

I'm glad someone went back and re-watched that game.

Tebow's shoulder had nothing to do with him laying on his back all day. It was a great pass rush. The Heisman trophy winner looked almost as bad as Colt Brennan against the Bulldogs when it came to standing in the pocket.

But, with that said, a "hurt" Tebow still completed passes of 19 yards or more to 6 different receivers and ran for 3 TD's. Percy Harvin rushed for 97 yards on 10 attempts. The Dawgs sacked Tebow 6 times, Florida sacked Stafford 1 time. And Stafford gave 7 of those final 30 points to Wondy Pierre-Louis' by way on an int-return. Although, that is not surprising, he seems to make a horrible throw like that in every big game, which is a whole different issue.

A porous D and a few turnovers killed Florida in Jacksonville. Not Tebow's hurt shoulder.

Florida scored at least 45 points in every win this past season, with the exception of Ole Miss. The Gators scored 45 against Kentucky in a win the week before the UGA game. How hurt was Superman in that game? They even scored 49 against Vandy the week after the WLOCP. 51 the week after that, 59 the week after that, and 45 the week after that. So does that mean that Tebow was only injured against the Dawgs? 1 week? Enough.

If Florida fans want to make excuses, then I'll add this.

2007 was the first year since 1992 that the Gators have NOT had a bye-week before the WLOCP. 2007 was the first time Georgia has had that luxary since 1991.

Well Gators, neither team has a bye this year. I'm pretty sure it will be an important game for both teams(as always). Hopefully, Timmy Tebow will be perfectly healthy before(and during) this game. I don't want to hear the same excuses around this time next year.

GO DAWGS! SIC'EM!

Henry Louis Gomez said...

If you back and read the posts from this blog at the time you'll see that we were always on top of the fact that it was the defense that killed the Gators in their losses.

DoYouKnowshon? said...

I agree. This is a great blog that actually DOES point that out.

However, on every other blog I have read, in every major news column I have read, from one post above, and from every Florida fan I know, who still bring up 3-15(with good reason), that is not the case. Most of THEIR arguments are all about Tebow's shoulder and how much it hindered his performance.

I was simply stating my case. No harm intended. No harm done.

And for the record. I do enjoy this blog. Go Dawgs!

Henry Louis Gomez said...

I think there is a lot of truth to what you say but I think the Tebow shoulder excuse may have been played up because of the context of the Heisman trophy race. It was used to explain an anomaly in his otherwise gaudy statistics. There is no doubt that Tebow injured the shoulder and that the game plan for UGA was for Tebow to not run the ball. The injury was to his non-throwing, right shoulder. The one he leads with when rushing. Taking away the running an option from a QB whose entire game is based on being a dual threat is going to have repercussions. It's easier to defend him. Period. Perhaps a 100% healthy Tebow would have been effective enough to overcome (again) the fundamentally weak defense of the Gators but that's like saying if I hadn't been driving that night my bald tires wouldn't have mattered.