Friday, October 26, 2007


Assuming that the best strategy for slowing down the Florida offense is to put a spy on Tebow to track his every move and limit his production running the ball, who should it be? The conventional wisdom is to put a linebacker in this role. In that case, it should probably be Danell Ellerbe, who seems to be our most capable linebacker. However, if we reduce Ellerbe to the role of a spy, I believe our other linebackers will struggle to defend the other weapons the Gators have when running the end arounds or short passing game. I think we need Ellerbe to fulfill his normal gameday duties and hopefully do it better than he has all season.

My choice for spy is Marcus Howard. Marcus is plenty fast enough to catch Tebow and as one of the strongest players on the team, he can get Tebow to the ground. Marcus seems to have the stamina to run hard all game based on how I have seen him chase quarterbacks from sideline to sideline (with the exception of the Tennessee game.)

Of course this would require some creativity in how we deploy the other guys in the front seven. I would run a three man front with Adkins in the middle, getting relieved by Weston and Owens throughout the game. On the ends I would rotate Battle, Lomax and Dobbs. I am not sure if any of the tackles could play on the end, but if they could, I would try that some as well. These front three would be charged with tying up the o-line and keeping them off of our linebackers and our spy.

Our linebackers would still line up in their regular positions only the middle linebacker would need to make room for Marcus. Other than defending the reverses, the only other real threat in Florida's running game is Tebow. If we stop Tebow as a rusher, we should stop Florida as a rushing team. (Of course, now that I have said that, Kestahn Moore will have a career day.) Certainly our work will not be done if we can stop their running attack, because Tebow is a dangerous passer as well with many weapons in Harvin, Caldwell, Ingram and others. However, if we can force them to beat us by throwing the ball, we have a better chance in this game. If they can run and pass with equal success, then we are cooked.

Obviously, this is a gimmick approach to stopping Tebow. However, if there was ever a gimmick as a quarterback, it is Tebow. So, in my view, one gimmick begets another. While I would like to see this approach, I am quite sure that we will actually see our normal defensive alignment and will try to keep Florida off-balance by giving Tebow several different looks and changing coverages just before the snap, etc. Maybe we will even deploy a linebacker as a spy. But, in the end, our front seven guys will have to beat a block on more plays than not to stop Florida with any consistency. It promises to be a physically draining ball game and in the fourth quarter, our guys will be tired. Let's just hope that we are still in the game in the fourth quarter and hope that we have the football last like Auburn and LSU did.


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