Monday, October 19, 2009

Tebow's Legs, Not His Head, Under Scrutiny

27 rushing attempts: Tim Tebow fans watching the Arkansas game didn't need to hear the final stat to know that Florida relied -- arguably overrelied -- on Tebow's legs against Arkansas.

27 rushes: That's more than the number of passes Tebow threw (26). It's nearly 50 percent more than the rushing attempts of the rest of the backfield, combined.

If someone told you two weeks ago that Tebow would run 27 times against Arkansas, three weeks after his concussion -- or that Florida coaches would let him -- you would be shocked.

But probably not surprised. And neither is Urban Meyer:

"He’ll go 1-2 (seconds) and get going. There are quarterbacks that are maybe 1-2-3-4. Those same quarterbacks aren’t completing a high percentage, aren’t as third-down efficient as Florida. Like all quarterbacks, some are great, some you need work at. His ability to get a first down, three in first half when he put his foot down and went. That’s part that makes him such a great player."

Take 5 minutes and read the best piece of Tebow-related analysis of the weekend, from the Sentinels' Jeremy Fowler. It is refreshingly candid.

The irony of Tebow's 27 rushing attempts was that if you had to pick out the three game-defining plays by the offense, No. 1 would be Tebow's throw to Riley Cooper on 3rd-and-10 on the final drive, to set up the game-winning FG.

No.2 would be Tebow's 77-yard bomb to Deonte Thompson -- the longest TD pass of Tebow's career and the first glimmer of momentum for Florida all game.

And No. 3 would be Jeff Demps' scamper into the end zone on 1st-and-goal, to tie the game 20-20 and put the Gators in a position to make a stop then drive for the win.

No question: A couple of Tebow's rushing attempts were key -- first downs here, turning Nth-and-long into N+1-and-short there. But they were also predictable.

I understand why Meyer would limit the touches for Chris Rainey. But doesn't it feel like Emmanuel Moody has earned more than 3 attempts? (More fumbles for Tebow against Arkansas than Moody.) And it would be great to see Jeff Demps crack 10 rushing attempts, given that every time he touches the ball, he either does something electrifying -- or has the potential to.

Tebow remains the best rushing option, both in short-yardage situations and when plays break down. The ultimate "game manager" wants to keep the ball in his own hands. I don't blame him, but you can still argue about the value of diversifying the workload.

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