GAINESVILLE -- As most of you know, we here at Gator Clause like to wait a few days after a game to hand out our weekly report card. One reason, we like to watch the game's replay a few times. (Talk about dedication. It was tough to watch Ole Miss 31, UF 30 the first time around.) Another reason, fewer knee-jerk reactions.
A few examples of a knee-jerk reactions have been filling up my inbox. Some are demanding that Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen be fired or demoted. (Check out this website.) Some want UF quarterback Tim Tebow to be benched. Others think redshirt freshman running back Chris Rainey and redshirt freshman receiver Deonte Thompson should both transfer.
Step away from the edge of the cliff, Gators fans. This loss was not unprecedented. Florida has never gone undefeated in the history of the program. No. 12 Florida (3-1) can still win the SEC East and still play for the SEC championship.
Now, I understand why Florida fans are upset. The Gators lost on Saturday to an Ole Miss team that hadn't won an SEC game since November of 2006. What I don't understand, why so much lack of faith in the Gators' offense? Florida gained 443 yards of total offense and did it despite three turnovers and only converting 1-of-11 third-down attempts. That's pretty remarkable.
Of course, that stat was only one of the confusing numbers produced from Saturday's upset. The most bizarre: Ole Miss beat the No.4 team in the country despite accumulating just as many penalties (10) as first downs.
ANYWAY, before we get to the report card, there is an injury report for today.
Running back Emmanuel Moody (high-ankle sprain) is doubtful for Saturday's game against Arkansas and so are left guards Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and Jim Tartt (shoulder). Carl Johnson is the projected starter at left guard for Saturday's game followed on the depth chart by James Wilson and Ronnie Wilson.
Tim Tebow passed for a season high (319 yards) and led two impressive touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. The quarterback loses points for his fumble in the third quarter and a half dozen poor passes.
RUNNING BACKS C
Percy Harvin averaged 8.2 yards per carry (10-82) and rushed for a brilliant 15-yard score in the fourth quarter. His fumble in the third quarter tempered his excellence, though. Emmanuel Moody left the game earlier with an injury (high-ankle sprain). Chris Rainey had three carries for nine yards. Kestahn Moore had a pair of impressive blocks but didn't do much else.
WIDE RECEIVERS B-
Harvin had a career day with 13 catches for 186 yards and a score. Louis Murphy only had four receptions. Aaron Hernandez's fumble hurt the overall grade. Deonte Thompson and Carl Moore didn't factor into the offense.
OFFENSIVE LINE C
Guards Jim Tartt and Marcus Gilbert left the game with injuries. Ole Miss' talented defensive linemen pressured Tebow consistently and sacked him three times.
PLAY CALLING C-
Florida only converted 1-of-11 third-down chances. I'm no football coach, but that seems like a direct reflection of poor play calling. The coaching booth did well calling plays during the Gators' two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, but on the final drive of the game the decisions were questionable. Tebow was clearly off on his deep passes and by the time the final minute of the game rolled around, the Gators' coaches should have recognized this. Instead, Tebow missed Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin deep and the poor play calling put Florida in a difficult situation, third down-and-10. Rushing Tebow on fourth-and-1 with 55 seconds left was the correct call, by the way. Of course, Arkansas never would have seen the jump pass coming...Err, good thing I'm no coach.
DEFENSIVE LINE B
Ends Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap continue to impress. Both players had sacks. Lawrence Marsh had five tackles. Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead completed just 9-of-20 attempts.
Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes might be the best player on the team. He had 13 tackles and stuffed Ole Miss twice on third-and-short opportunities. His pressure of Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead forced an interception.
One bad play ruined it all.
SPECIAL TEAMS F
Florida should have kicked a field goal in the first quarter instead of going for it on fourth-and-3 from the Ole Miss 30. Why not give kicker Jonathan Phillips a shot from 47 yards? He hasn't missed a field goal this season. The Gators also allowed Ole Miss to convert a 15-yard fake punt, which extended a drive. UF punter Chas Henry was off his game. Lineman Phil Trautwein missed a blocking assignment late in the fourth quarter, allowing Ole Miss' Kentrell Lockett to block Phillips' extra-point attempt.