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One Idiot’s Suggestion
Posted Oct 16, 2006 by Aaron Knox
Updated Oct 16, 2006 at 11:49 PM
GAINESVILLE â€“ Florida doesn’t need to overhaul its offense during the open week this season, but one change might help. The Gators should appoint backup Tim Tebow the official quarterback of the area between the opponent’s 10-yard line and the goal line.
Before we start, Iâ€™ll make one thing clear. I am an idiot. Urban Meyer gets paid $2 million a year to coach football, and I get paid only a small fraction of that to write about sports and occasionally file a blog post debating the merits of various barbecue joints. So feel free to take what Iâ€™m about to say with a grain of salt the size of Jupiter, but give it a read. You may find yourself agreeing with the idiot sportswriter.
The time has come in development of the Chris Leak-Tebow quarterback combination to accept a few common-sense facts. Between the Gatorsâ€™ goal line and the opponentsâ€™ 10-yard line, Leak gives Florida its best chance to score. In the 30 feet between the 10 and paydirt, Tebow gives the Gators their best chance to score. Donâ€™t believe me? Check the stats.
Of Leakâ€™s 15 touchdown passes, only three have been of 10 yards or fewer. This isnâ€™t a knock on Leak â€“ plenty of folks already took their shots at the senior after the Auburn game â€“ but rather an acknowledgement that it is extremely difficult to complete a pass when the defense has considerably less space to cover. Case in point: On Saturday, Florida faced third-and-three from the Auburn 6-yard line while trailing 18-17 with about 9:30 remaining in the game. Tebow had just run for a 1-yard gain. Since Tebow averages 5.6 yards a carry, it stands to reason that another Tebow run â€“ or an option with Tebow and a speedster such as freshman Percy Harvin â€“ probably would have gotten the Gators close to a first down. If not, they still could have kicked a field goal and taken the lead.
Instead, Meyer sent Leak back into the game, and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen called a pass. Auburn defenders, who had less area to cover, blanketed Floridaâ€™s receivers. Leak either tried to spike the ball â€“ Florida fansâ€™ view â€“ or tried to pump fake and dropped the ball â€“ the view of the officials and of Auburn fans. Either way, the ball wound up on the ground, Tray Blackmon picked it up and Auburn wound up with the ball on its own 38.
So the next time that situation arises, why not leave Tebow in the game? Of the six touchdowns Tebow has produced this season, only two â€“ a 35-yard pass against LSU and a 15-yard run against Auburn â€“ came from outside the 10-yard line. Even on called passes, Tebow will run if he senses the slightest chance his receivers are covered. That eliminates the possibility of a momentum-crushing interception and keeps the possibility of a chip-shot field goal in play.
Hereâ€™s an added bonus. Meyer can use Leak as a change-up inside the 10. Think about it. After three quarters of seeing only Tebow inside the 10, you can bet your silver britches Georgia would have to burn a crucial timeout if No. 12 showed up under center on first-and-goal from the 5 in the fourth quarter.
A few Florida fans have called for Tebow to replace Leak as Floridaâ€™s starter. This is foolish. Starting Leak still gives the Gators the best chance to win. A few people have said Meyerâ€™s insistence on using Tebow has cost Leak his chance at the Heisman Trophy. This also is foolish. Meyer does not owe Leak gaudy stats. For Leakâ€™s service to the program and his perseverance through questionable coaching and constant fan criticism, Meyer owes the guy a chance to leave school with a championship ring on his finger. To achieve that, Tebow will have to play.
Meyer said after the game that he and his staff would re-evaluate how they used Tebow. Translated, that means you should expect to see more of the youngster. And if common sense guides the coaches, many of those extra Tebow occasions likely will take place near the opponentâ€™s goal line.