Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tebow Must-Read: "Empty Tebow" Xs & Os

Drop what you're doing and read this incredible analysis of Florida's Tebow-less ("Empty Tebow") offense by Smart Football's Chris Brown (published just now on Yahoo's Dr. Saturday). So much good stuff in here, I can't even begin to pull out highlights. Just read it.

*****

OK, I couldn't help myself. This was the rambling fanboyish email I sent to Chris in response to reading his column:
I am so thrilled you broke down Florida's offense under Brantley.

I think he'll start and play the whole game -- mainly because I don't think Florida will lose, and if Florida gets a lead or even keeps it close -- presuming Brantley isn't keeping it close by turning the ball over -- Meyer will leave Tebow on the bench, because, in the end, the risk is so high. Too high.

And, though it might implode the worldview of many Tebow fans, Brantley is good enough -- and this Florida team around him is great enough -- that he can be the QB to win the game at LSU.

Consider that for a sec: A QB making his first start ever at LSU at night against a purportedly Top 5 team will helm the team to a win. That says one thing about LSU, another about Tebow's value (real vs. perceived) and another about how ridiculously good this Florida team is AROUND Tebow.

What keeps getting overlooked: Florida's defense is the best in the country. It might be the best of all time. They should be able to hold LSU to under 20 points -- maybe under 13 or 14. I *presume* that Florida's D will score a TD of its own.

I also presume that Florida's special teams -- again, best in the country -- will score a TD. (Or trigger a game-changing punt-block or limit LSU's return game significantly.)

So the rest of the team is spotting Brantley -- and the defense -- 14 points. Even if Brantley can't get in the end zone, field position battles -- which Meyer excels at -- should put Florida in 2-3 FG opps, minimum. That's 20-21 points, clearing the "20" hurdle the defense will have to hold LSU to.

And that doesn't even count Jeff Demps, who has scored a TD every game this season -- as a runner, he is every bit as explosive as Percy at Harvin's most healthy. He should get his, too. That's 27-28. There's no way that LSU scores 27 on this defense.

UNLESS: Brantley fumbles or throws INTs that create easy points opportunities for LSU.

Which brings me back to my point: Unless Brantley is incompetent -- not just mediocre -- Tebow won't play. If Brantley is atrocious, Urban may play Tebow. But the more likely scenario is that Urban doesn't put Brantley in a position to be atrocious. He will put him in a position to avoid big mistakes, even if that also avoids big plays. He doesn't need them -- at least on offense, from the QB. They can come from Joe Haden on D or Brandon James on PR or Jeff Demps running the ball.

With a team like Florida's around Brantley, Meyer can afford to do that. See the way he handled Chris Leak in '06. Conservative -- and the only stumbling block that year was at Auburn, when Muschamp figured out Meyer's offense and the green Gators' D -- not this group of 2010 and 2011 NFL rookies -- couldn't get a stop. LSU ain't getting Auburn's chance.

OK, I'll end my rant now.
You bet that read like a hopped-up message-board post. (Maybe I'll republish it at GatorSports.com Message Boards or GatorCountry.) That's how excited I am about the game Saturday night. So many unknowns. So many possible scenarios.

And yet I'm so confident -- makes-me-uncomfortable confident -- that the Gators will win, even without Tebow playing.

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