Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Question for Tebow-ologists: The Fumble

I have a not-sarcastic question for Robbie Andreu, Jeremy Fowler, Antonya English, Jo Goodman, Ben Volin and everyone else who covers the Gators full-time:

The 4-yard "Tebow Tiptoe" for that 1st down on 3rd and 3 when the game was still close, to keep the drive alive and eventually lead to a Florida score was widely lauded -- by Urban and in the media -- as one of Tebow's best plays of his career. I agree: An "instant-classic" Tebow moment.

There was another moment, however, that I would rank among Tebow's most frustrating -- and I'm sure it was, both for Tebow and Urban Meyer.

Given Urban Meyer's fastidiousness about ball-security (as Andreu puts it "zero tolerance for fumblers"), how does that square with Tebow's fumble against Tennessee?

Viewed objectively, it was pretty ugly: The first half of the play was brilliant, classic Tebow -- juking and jiving, making something out of nothing. Then he took a hit and stretched, leaving the ball tenuously exposed -- the fumble was all-but-inevitable.

It was the antithesis of the ball-security -- if Emmanual Moody or Chris Rainey had done that, neither would have seen a touch for weeks.

Obviously, Tim Tebow has earned quite a bit of cred -- with Meyer and in general -- to "excuse" what seemed like a pretty egregious ball-security mistake. (It didn't cost them the game, of course, but -- as Tebow himself pointed out -- it turned "30-6" into "23-13.")

I can't believe that Tebow would ever have to be lectured on ball-security -- I presume he was harder on himself about it than Meyer could ever be. But it struck me as an overlooked moment.

And, to be sure: It didn't impact the result. It didn't take away from Tebow's signature play -- the "Tiptoe." It didn't even make SportsCenter or GameDay's highlights package.

Maybe I remember it more vividly because it happened literally right in front of where I was sitting -- maybe 30 feet away. Or because the play started so brilliantly and ended so frustratingly, or because it was the difference between the blowout it was about to be (and deserved to be) and the 10-point win it turned out to be.

I'm nit-picking, of course. But before we move ahead to Kentucky, I felt like the moment hadn't been given its due analysis. Carry on.


  1. As the amateur, on-the-ground Tebowologist: That fumble was huge, and it definitely showed up on SportsCenter and GameDay. I saw it several times Saturday night.

    It's one of the worst plays (maybe, off the top of my head, the worst) Tebow's ever made, and totally his fault. I compared it to Stanley Havili's inconceivable fumble while fighting for a foot or two in the USC/U-Dub game: It's a senior playing like a freshman.

    And yet, the Gators won. That's part of why Tebow is so huge: He's enormous when they win, and heroic when they lose. It may be a big play, but it's going to be forgotten by Friday.

  2. I think you guys are completely misinterpreting that play. Tebow did NOT reach his arm out with the ball.

    What happened si that Tebow was running and the guy behind him grabbed the ball and had it firmly in hand and was pulling down on it. Tebow was pulling UP on it trying to prevent the guy tackling from pulling up on it. Tebow pulling up on it and losing grip on it caused his arm and the ball to fly up and away from him. This is how he lost hold of the ball.

    But if you look at how many times Tebow carries the ball and how many times he carried the ball JUST in that game.. and see how little help Tebow was getting form his teammates on offense AND defense I don't see how you can blame Tebow. The fumble he had the other day was in rainy conditions as well.

    I think the reality is just that Tebow and the Gators are fighting the odds. It's nearly impossible to win back to back in college or even the pros because of the chaotic nature of football.. especially now with all the parity in college and the pros. Especially considering how much Tebow had to carry the Gators just to win 2 championships... especially in the SEC. It's not like this is the BIG`2 where you are playing highschool defenses.

  3. There's a post game interview at where Tebow talks about this play,

    "I was just fighting for extra yards, and it's something that I never do, you know, we hold onto the ball, we don't turn the ball over and we did. It was a stupid error by me, and uh, you know, he had it, he had the ball, I felt it, you know, he had a great grip on it, and I was stupid, I was just trying to drive for extra yards instead of just trying to le...spin back into him and hold onto the ball and go down, and that was just me, you know, selfish and just trying to fight for extra yards. It was just a stupid mistake that I don't usually do."

    What I like about this is how Tebow takes responsibility for his mistake. Whether he was trying to strech forward or didn't go down like part of him knew he should have, he's going to learn from this and possibly never make this mistake again. If we learned anything from last year, it's that Tebow (and this team) turn lemons into lemonade. With a team with that kind of attitude, I'm glad we 'only' won by 10 points and I'm glad Tebow fumbled. If this is this years Mississippi State game, I'll take it. Now let's enjoy how this team responds, i.e. continues to grow and develop. Perhaps this is making the same mistake as last week and having too high of an expectation, but I feel for Kentucky.

  4. Opps, I meant Ole Miss. There was a little voice in my head that told me I needed to double check that, but I was selfish. I did something I never do, and that's rush to post without double checking the facts. I promise you, no one will double check their posts more accurately than I will for the rest of the season. Go Gators ;)

  5. See, what I think Tebow was saying there is that he wasn't stretching his arm out for more yards.. what he did was try to keep running for more yards rather than just grabbing the ball with both hands and arms. Rather than grabbing the ball with both arms he tried to pull up on it, pull it to him, just with that one harm.. and that caused the ball to fly up and away from him and to lose his grip on it. But he had to make that determination in a nano second.. hindsight is always 20/20.

  6. I know it's two and half years later, but Uri's second comment cracked me up so much that I'm posting to say so. :)

    Thanks for the analyses, guys!