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September 14, 2010

Tale of the Tape: Florida vs. South Florida

Every Tuesday, GatorBait.net will review game tape of the previous week's opponent.

We'll do our best to analyze it and point out some interesting things that stood out on film. We'll pay special attention to things happening off the ball, players who performed well, players who disappointed and statistical trends forming based on personnel groupings.

Today we go back over Saturday's game against South Florida and report our findings.

OVERVIEW

For the second time in as many weeks, the Florida offense came out looking lethargic and completely out of sync to start the game.

The snaps looked like they might be an issue early on, but quarterback John Brantley dropping one early on was more on him than Mike Pouncey. The snaps weren't an issue for the rest of the game.

For the second consecutive week, the Gators opened the game using the swing pass to the flats and the dive play. Again, neither was very successful, as the Gators struggled to move the ball early on.

Later in the game, Florida started to run more off tackle and throw the ball a little more down the field. Around that time, the offense began to get in a rhythm and move the ball.

While watching the game live, it appeared that Florida's offensive line improved its run blocking tremendously in the second half. However, aside from a 62-yard run from Jeff Demps - when tackles Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt made great blocks - the blocking wasn't significantly better.

That's a good news, bad news situation for Florida. While there weren't gaping holes to run through, the running backs were still very productive in the second half. They managed to get very good yardage out of several very small holes. All three hit the hole with authority and displayed great vision in the second half.

Demps was also impressive in his ability to shake off arm tackles near the line of scrimmage. On a few decent runs, he blew through a defender who might have made the tackle and got forward for a very good gain.

In the passing game, the Gators improved somewhat. Some early drops in key spots by Deonte Thompson continue to be a concern, but Florida did a much better job spreading the ball around and being less predictable passing than it did a week ago against Miami (Ohio).

Carl Moore had his best game as a Gator, recording several nice catches away from his body. While his blocking must still improve, there was a noticeable step in the right direction.

Defensively, it's tough to gauge where Florida's at based on the opposition on Saturday. There wasn't much pressure on the quarterback for the majority of the game, but that's to be expected when facing a quarterback with such great ability to take off and run.

For the most part, the Gators struggled to contain B.J. Daniels, despite frequently designating a spy on him. To his credit, Daniels made some great reads on option plays and simply outran the defense after selling the option pitch.

The linebackers had a fairly poor day as a whole. Jon Bostic struggled much more than he did in his impressive opening-day performance. He missed several tackles near the line of scrimmage that resulted in big gains.

On the flip side, Jelani Jenkins had a much better day and was much more active in pursuit and flying to the ball than he was on opening week.

In the secondary, there was plenty to be encouraged about, despite the absence of starting free safety Will Hill for the second straight week.

Janoris Jenkins put together another fantastic performance, and it's starting to look like he'll be nearly impossible to throw on this year. Throw in his ability to come down near the line of scrimmage and play against the run and he is easily one of the top five cornerbacks in the nation.

Strong safety Ahmad Black continues his strong play at safety with his instinctive ability to jump routes for the big play. He also played near the linebacker level at times on Saturday and looked comfortable making plays in the running game.

Finally, Jeremy Brown had an impressive first half performance with some great coverage despite getting flagged early on for pass interference in the end zone. When Brown left the game, freshmen Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins did an excellent job filling in for him. Both recorded diving pass break-ups during the second half.

Overall, there's still work for Florida to do on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Gators must work to find their rhythm earlier in games. Defensively, the tackling must improve heading into SEC play.

STANDOUT PLAYER ON FILM

This week's standout player is an obvious choice. Demps was a man among boys and one of the few players that was consistently productive on Saturday - even in the first half.

However, Demps earns the nod here for the improvement he showed in a couple areas on Saturday.

First and foremost, he hit the hole much quicker than he has in the past. The seams weren't the biggest, but Demps managed to find even the small ones and explode through them for chunks of yardage.

While fans will recognize his 62-yard scamper up the left sideline as his best play of the game, it was Demps' ability to find the hole late in the game and burst through the middle for big yardage that sealed the game.

He even showed once or twice that he can shake off a defender at the line of scrimmage, breaking through an arm tackle while losing almost no speed and gashing the defense.

Finally, and perhaps the most encouraging part about his performance, Demps seemed to markedly improve in his pass blocking. He was only asked to block on a handful of snaps, but he managed to record one or two very nice chop blocks that freed Brantley long enough to find a receiver down field.

Honorable Mention - Center Mike Pouncey.

DISAPPOINTING PLAYER ON FILM

Our pick last week (RG Jon Halapio) once again had a fairly disappointing game, but since he showed some improvement, he avoids getting the nod here for the second straight week.

Instead, linebacker Jon Bostic gets the call.

After an impressive opening-week performance, Bostic seemed to take two steps back against South Florida. Perhaps he was too worried about containing Daniels, but something was just off about Bostic's play.

On a handful of occasions he was one or two steps too slow to make the play and he missed at least three tackles by our count.

While he had some nice plays to make up for it, several times his missed tackle cost Florida an extra 10 to 15 yards. That's something that absolutely must get fixed before the Gators head into SEC play against teams that can pound the rock on the ground.

FACTS, FIGURES & NOTES

* After getting good pressure on opening week, but failing to show up much on the stat sheet, Duke Lemmens really stepped it up this week. His play in the run game seemed to improve significantly. On one play, he exploded through his man and blew up the running back behind the line of scrimmage. On another, he was able to turn and hit the running back and recover a fumble.

* Cornerback Jeremy Brown might have had the tightest coverage on the team Saturday. He was flagged for one pass interference call in the end zone and nearly could have been flagged for another on a deep pass down the left sideline. Instead, he did a great job making sure he adjusted slightly and hit the ball just as he came through the receiver for an outstanding pass break up.

* Florida used its "Joker" package on defense a whole lot against South Florida. The primary defensive linemen in this package were William Green, Justin Trattou and Lemmens, with Trattou and Lemmens rotating at the inside spot.

* The Gators didn't get as much of an interior push from Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter this game. That was probably by design as Florida hoped to contain Daniels in the pocket.

* The play calling was much more evenly spread this week. Florida ran the ball almost the exact same amount of times as it passed when Demps, Thompson, Emmanuel Moody and Trey Burton were on the field.

* While he didn't touch the ball a whole lot aside from his touchdown reception, tight end Jordan Reed was one of the more productive players on offense. When Reed was in the game, the Gators gained an average of 10 yards per play. That was second highest on the team - wide receiver Stephen Alli was first with 12.44 yards per play.

* Demps will run the ball just about anywhere. By our count this season, seven of his touches have come on the left side, seven on the right side and nine in the middle. That's pretty good balance for the speedster and keeps defenses from cheating to one side.

* The two biggest trends in playcalling by personnel groupings are when running back Mike Gillislee and wide receiver Chris Rainey step on the field. On the season, the Gators have run 12 times when Gillislee is in and passed just six. When Rainey is on the field, the Gators have run just eight times and passed 31 times.

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