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THE TEBOW EFFECT GOES TO DEATH VALLEY

Unless the opinion in question happens to belong to an Auburn fan, or a hater of Florida and/or cohesive narrative drama, it's impossible not to be a little disappointed by Auburn's win last week. In crushing Tennessee, Florida had looked merciless and fast on defense, not young. Or at least not young enough to prevent the unit's ascension to "strength," if only to make the "Immovable Object Meets Irresistble Force" hype for impending Gator-Tiger Armageddon that much more appealing. Even those of us who perpetually favor BCS chaos under all conditions are awestruck by the sheer cosmic magnitude of the biggest planets in the solar system crashing together.


Then again, if Mike VI in Brent Musburger's camp when it comes to hippies in the oak trees, the current geography of dangerous animal mascots is probably for the best.
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I somehow doubt, though, that the slightly diminished circumstances will diminish the atmosphere in Baton Rouge in the least, and so if it still feels like the Game of the Year, then USC-Cal be damned, let it be the Game of the Year. They do not keep dangerous animals on hand for fun in Berkeley.

They do, however, keep Glenn Dorsey in the middle of the defensive line at LSU, the fount from which the following stat rankings flow and then mix disgustingly with so much rancid Hokie blood:

Rush Defense: 1
Pass Defense: 5
Pass Efficiency Defense: 1
Total Defense: 1
Scoring Defense: 2
Sacks: 10
Tackles For Loss: 10
Turnover Margin 3
Tim Tebow is neither Sean Glennon nor Blake Mitchell, but LSU is not Auburn, either; the Louisiana Tigers are bigger, frigtheningly so, and have played with more consistency on defense each of the last five seasons (well, five and a half now). And the AU defense last week played a disciplined, tough game in holding Tim Tebow to 3.9 per carry and the Gators as a team to zero runs longer than twelve yards. It got in Tebow's face and stonewalled him on short-yardage in the third quarter, not the first time a defense has known what's coming but certainly the first time it's been able to do anything about it. Tebow made his name last year against LSU more than any other team, but the Tigers are almost uniquely equipped to deal with Florida's glut of options on every snap.

This starts with Dorsey, who clogs lanes and demands double teams at every turn, and who is more likely than any other tackle on the Gators' schedule to take away Tebow as a power running option. Against Tennessee, everything began from the fear of the quarterback bulling his way for yards between the tackles, to the point that the world's simplest play-action - the one half-step forward out of the shotgun - was still enough to freeze over-concerned linebackers and safeties while Tebow wasted very little time or motion getting back to his passing posture in the pocket. The Vols were confused, manhandled by the UF offensive line and gashed in every possible fashion as a result.

It's safe to assume LSU will not be handled so easily, as Auburn wasn't, and will be free to devote more of its back seven's time to mixing up coverages or - this being a Bo Pellini defense - blitzing as a result. If Tebow's running ability allows Florida to play "11-on-11 football" without wasting the quarterback on a handoff, LSU's athletes in general and Dorsey in particular evens the numbers by commanding the attention from the "extra blocker" that less gifted defenders do not. This is not an avoidable situation for Florida: Tebow is not a significant threat to break contain against LSU's speed on a regular basis, and much of the misdirection, protection and timing of the passing game (especially on downfield routes) relies on the hesitation facilitated by the running game. Auburn didn't dominate Florida by any means, but it slowed the Gators down by stopping the run and holding completions to acceptable yardage most of the night. If Dorsey or any of the other monsters on LSU's defense has his way, UF will be lucky to replicate last week's production.

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More on Friday Quarterback coming this afternoon. You know you shouldn't be leaving work early, anyway.