Friday, January 9, 2009

The Florida Gators Win Another BCS National Championship

Going into the game, I thought the Oklahoma Sooners had legitimate shot at winning the title. I actually picked them to upset the Gators. I thought most experts underrated the Sooners defense and the entire team's speed. In comparison to the Florida Gators speed, the Sooners team speed falls short. I wouldn't say WAY short but there is a good distance between the two. That is why they play the games. Florida defeated Oklahoma 24-14.

Florida's defense held the nation's best offense to 14 points. The secondary of the Gators had great game. They were physical at the line of scrimmage and down the field against the receivers. The Gator defense made Bradford check down on numerous occasions. The Sooners' deep routes were non-existent for the most part in the game. The Sooner receivers were running shorter and shorter routes as the game progressed. When the Gators defense saw that, they started taking those routes away, especially in the fourth quarter when the Sooners were behind in the game. All in all, the Florida defense played a good game.

Offensively, the Gators were so-so until the second half. In the first half, the Gators struggled passing and running the ball. Tim Tebow threw two interceptions. One of the interceptions was poorly thrown, and the other was a byproduct of the defense that was called. The defense that was called on that play was a zone blitz. Gerald McCoy was one of the linemen dropping back in the zone and he had the second interception. One play that was effective in the first half for the Gators was the triple option. The triple option made the Sooner defense have to defend the quarterback keeper, a pitch to the running back, and a shovel pass to the tight end. This play is what helped the Gator offense in the second half. The Sooners just could not defend that play. Tim Tebow and the Gator offense were able to find their rhythm in the second half because of that play. Tebow ran more quarterback design runs. In fourth quarter though, Tebow's arm is what got the job done for the Gators along with Percy Harvin, who was questionable before the game started. Tebow was accurate throwing from the pocket or on the run to his left. He threw in stride to his receivers and making the correct decisions. The former Heisman winner even did his patented jump pass for a touchdown. Tebow's statline was 18/30 for 232 yards for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Tebow also had 22 carries for 108 yards. Percy Harvin's contributions can't go unnoticed. Harvin had 9 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. He also had 5 catches for 50 yards.

The Sooners played well. I wasn't surprised about how well they played. They are a very talented team. Anyway, the Sooners came up short. The Sooners offense certainly had their opportunities. After getting the second interception thrown by Tim Tebow, the Sooners were given excellent field position with the opportunity to score first. That drive yielded no points. The Sooners moved the ball inside the Gators 5 yard line. Actually, they had the ball at the goal line. The Gators stopped them four straight times. Yes, FOUR times! For whatever reason, Bob Stoops chose to go for it on fourth and the play was a run play. The Gators stopped the Sooners on the three previous plays that were run plays. When going for the touchdown on fourth down, why not go play action? Why even go for it on fourth down anyway? Before Bob Stoops went into the tunnel for halftime, when questioned about going for it on fourth down on that drive, Stoops said something along the lines of that's how the Sooners play. Really? You're in a national championship game against a tough Florida Gator defense, so you know opportunities to score are few and far in between. You should take the three points and move on. Nope. Not Stoops. This is Sooner football and going for it on fourth down is how we play. Anyway, the Sooners beat themselves once more before halftime with Sam Bradford throwing an interception in the redzone. He tried to fit the ball in tight coverage by the corner on the receiver. Bradford has to know that the only time you throw the ball in the redzone is if the receiver is wide open or has separation from his defender. That pass was just a bad decision from Bradford. For the rest of the game, the Sooner receivers were locked up by the Gator corners. They couldn't get any separation from the cornerbacks. Jermaine Gresham, a tight end, was the Sooners only mismatch on the field. He caught two touchdown passes in the game. Everybody else was locked up. Sooners did have a running game with Patrick Brown, but the running game was non-existent in the fourth quarter as the Sooners had to become a throwing team because of the deficit. Not a poor showing from the Sooner offense, but they could have done better for themselves with better decision making and with less mental lapses on offense.

Simply put, the Sooner defense could not defend the triple option to save their lives. Aaron Hernandez continued to catch shovel passes from the triple option because the Sooner defense just wasn't playing him. The Gators' speed on offense began to show itself in the second starting with Percy Harvin. They did not have any answers for the speedster. He was making tacklers miss and miss badly and cutting on that bad ankle as if it never existed. His speed was zapped a a little but he was still faster than most of the Sooners defenders. The only bright spot for the Sooners on defense was Gerald McCoy. He had a good game including an interception. He also has good hands for a big fella.

The game was another tough lost for the Oklahoma Sooners, and another championship banner for the Florida Gators and Urban Meyer. If I had to guess, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow will return to school. The latter is more likely than the former. The reason that I think Bradford will return is because the Sooners have another chance to get to the title game again and they might have a healthy DeMarco Murray too.

The title game wasn't what many expected it to be. It was a defensive struggle for most of the game. Oklahoma Sooners' defense was the defense that blinked first and the Florida Gators took advantage enroute to their second BCS Championship in three years. Congrats to the Florida Gators!

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