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One Idiot’s Suggestion

Posted Oct 16, 2006 by Aaron Knox

Updated Oct 16, 2006 at 11:49 PM

GAINESVILLE – 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, I’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 I’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 Gators’ goal line and the opponents’ 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. Don’t believe me? Check the stats.

Of Leak’s 15 touchdown passes, only three have been of 10 yards or fewer. This isn’t a knock on Leak – plenty of folks already took their shots at the senior after the Auburn game – 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 – or an option with Tebow and a speedster such as freshman Percy Harvin – 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 Florida’s receivers. Leak either tried to spike the ball – Florida fans’ view – or tried to pump fake and dropped the ball – 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 – a 35-yard pass against LSU and a 15-yard run against Auburn – 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.

Here’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 Florida’s starter. This is foolish. Starting Leak still gives the Gators the best chance to win. A few people have said Meyer’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 Leak’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 opponent’s goal line.

Reader Comments

Por (Mike Stancil) on October 17, 2006 (Suggest removal)

I agree with you Andy.  But, while I agree Tebow should be in for Leak inside the 10, I do think the coaches need to run something other than the QB draw with Tebow in. Yes, they did run the jump pass and the fake draw/pass against LSU, but maybe…and I might be grasping at straws here…maybe Tebow goes in and hands it off or pitches it to someone???  I hope that is the logical progression the coaches are taking with the “Tebow package.”

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Por (Ron Griffin) on October 17, 2006 (Suggest removal)

The game announcers said of the Leak pass fumble that “In the NFL that would be a fumble under the Tuck rule but this isnt the NFL”.  The review said it appeared he tried to pull up.  Does the Tuck rule apply in college or not.  If it does not, then it was a forward pass.  His arm was going forward and there is no doubt about that.

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Por (Ly Anne Agger) on October 17, 2006 (Suggest removal)

I agree with you. Tebow would’ve probably gotten far enough out of the endzone to keep from giving Auburn the 2 points, but we’ve been reading for weeks that we’d see more of Tebow. Sadly, it seems like we’ve been seeing less each game since Alabama. Also, I don’t know if anyone noticed, but during one play, both Tebow and Leak were in. I stood, watching, waiting for what crazy play Meyer was about to pull. Then nothing unusual happened. Why was that opportunity to surprise and confuse Auburn wasted?

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Por (Andy Staples) on October 18, 2006 (Suggest removal)

Ron, there is no tuck rule in college. I’m not sure anyone would be satisfied if there was. That type of play may be the toughest bang-bang call to make in all of officiating, and replay doesn’t help because it’s so hard to find conclusive evidence. I guarantee that play winds up on some officiating exam somewhere. Mike, I’m with you on varying what they do with Tebow in the red zone. I think that’s where they’re headed.

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Por (Eric Howe) on October 18, 2006 (Suggest removal)

From a die hard Gator fan I agree 100% with your story. Urban owes Leak nothing and is trying as hard as he can to get him to Atlanta. It was a bad call to have Leak even attempt to throw the ball that close to the goal line and that late in the game. It completely changed the game. Team needs to forget about the what if’s and move on to Georgia next.

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Por (Norman Hall) on October 18, 2006 (Suggest removal)

I agree and I think Urban has shown in the past his willingness to change when things don’t work. You will see more of Tebow in those type of situations. You can BOOK IT!

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