Horns of a dilemma

No, I’m not talking about Texas here.

Tony Barnhart, in his swan song run at the AJ-C, takes a trip to Gainesville, Florida to visit the mighty Gators and lays a few thoughts on his faithful readers.  This is the one I’m blogging about:

3. Taking care of Tebow: Tebow carried the ball 210 times last season. Kestahn Moore was second on the team with only 104 carries. Mullen concedes that that just simply can’t happen again in 2008. Tebow had a couple of significant injuries that slowed him down at the end of last season. Even if Tebow doesn’t get hurt, the wear and tear of the pounding by SEC defenses has to take its toll.

“Yes, we have to get the ball out of his hands,” Mullen said. “The good news is we’ve gotten to the point were we have guys like Cameron Newton who can come in a take some of that (offensive) package because he’s ready. We also have more guys we can put at the tailback position (like Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody), who can take some of those runs away.”

Now whatever you think about Urban Meyer, he’s no dummy.  There’s a simple reason why the GPOOE™ got all the carries he did last season – he was the best option to win.  And there’s no shame in admitting that; it’s the coach’s job to put his team in the position to do exactly that.

But here’s the catch.  Do any of these players Barnhart mentions give Florida as good or better an option to win as does the GPOOE™?  I mean, right now, I’d guess there are few fans of Florida’s opponents this year that wouldn’t mind seeing Cam Newton taking crunch playing time away from Tebow.  On the other side of the coin, none of us can forget (or perhaps more accurately, will be allowed to forget) the number one reason why Florida lost to Georgia last year.

So which horn does Meyer choose to impale himself on here?  I suspect that Barnhart’s got the answer when he writes

… This may be too much X’s and O’s talk for Aug. 7, but here’s the thing that makes it so tempting to run the ball with Tebow. When Tebow is in the shotgun and the Gators have three wide receivers, the defensive is spread to the point where Florida actually has a numerical mismatch. Tebow is such a good runner that the play almost always does well.

The devil you know is always the easier choice.

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13 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Media Punditry/Foibles

13 responses to “Horns of a dilemma

  1. chefboyardee

    I love Barnhart, I’m gonna miss him, he better find a new gig pronto … but I am not going to miss the AJC commenters.

  2. Hobnail_Boot

    It’s a tied game vs. LSU in the 4th quarter. UF ball on the 50 yard line, 3rd and 2.

    I’ll bet every Gator fan I can call the play.

  3. dean

    Do any of these players Barnhart mentions give Florida as good or better an option to win as does the GPOOE™?

    Seeing as how Rainy, Moody and Newton are unproven playmakers I will have to say no. For now anyway.
    I agree with Hobnail that in short yardage situations, especially in crunch time, Timmy still gets majority of those carries. It’s the first and second down carries that we’ll likely see the reduction in.

  4. If they’re smart, he’s not playing in garbage time this year to pump up his stats for the Heisman.

  5. Jim

    Tebow is a great player but on the field when there is a decision on whether to run or not, he will run. When his receivers are covered or there is pressure from the defense, he will run the ball. That is his first instinct. That will be our opportunity to hit him. I hope he does not get hurt but I hope we sack him six times again.

  6. Ah my Dawg friends, we have many, many more options on offense this year than last.

    Not only do we add Emmanuel Moody, who was merely the leading rusher at USC 2 years ago as a power back, we add Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps. Demps ran a 10.01 in 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials, the fastest time ever for an American teenager. Rainey is apparently even faster than Demps in the 40.

    Both are faster than Percy Harvin.

    If the Florida coaches don’t find a way to get the ball in the hands of Moody, Rainey, Demps and yes, even Harvin, the coaching will be criminally negligent.

  7. So, Mergz, how much big play action can we expect Cam Newton to shoulder this year? ;)

  8. dean

    Sorry about the all italics in my first comment. I obviously did something wrong.

    Mergz,
    While speed is never a bad thing how exactly does ones 100 meter time in an Olympic trial translate to football success? I was not aware that the Olympic trials had their sprinters running against defenders.

  9. Blutarsky – Um, probaby, ZIP. (Using the “big play action” criteria). I wish they would send him him to run it on occasion a la Tebow 2006.

    Cam aside, we CAN expect (hope, pray?) that Tebow won’t be our number 1 running option next year, with all that other talent and Moody in the backfield. I doubt UGA plans on using their backup QBs much either.

    Dean – Aren’t you aware of the famous 100 meter Olympic time-to-Football success formula? The correlation is something approaching 100%

    Honestly I don’t know if Demps has hands or not. However if we line him up at wide, are you going to leave him uncovered going downfield? At the very least that takes one of the D’s speediest defenders out of the play. And while Demps is a question mark, don’t think for a second that Chris Rainey doesn’t have football skills. The guy is scary fast and elusive, and I predict he will be the biggest name on the team this year that is not Tebow.

  10. I doubt UGA plans on using their backup QBs much either.

    No, but I wouldn’t expect Stafford to carry the ball 200 times this year, either. Anything like that and the Dawgnation would run Mike Bobo out of town on a rail. :)

  11. dean

    Merz,
    I don’t think if you line up Wilson at WR with his AK47 we would let him run downfield uncovered. Now that we both have made a ludicrous statement lets get back to the truth. The truth is none of us know what Moody, Rainy or Newton will do. There’s not much debate to the potential of any of the said players but until it is proven on the field it is just that….. potential. I could very easily say that Caleb King and AJ Green are going to tear through defenses like wet toilet paper this year but that’s just my opinion. Until they get in a game against opposing defenses we don’t know how they’re going to perform.

  12. The Realist

    As a point of clarification on one of Mergz’s statements…

    Moody was the second-leading rusher for USC in 2006 with 459 yards on 79 carries. Moody was essentially ran out of L.A. due to injuries and competition at his position, prompting him to leave town before his playing time was dropped to nil.

    And, Urban Meyer has never — ever — had a feature back that shouldered much of the offense. His offense is quarterback-centric, and will continue to be so until he is forced to change.

    (I might be mistaken, but I’m not sure he’s had a 1,000 rusher at running back… despite having offenses that put up a ton of yards. Will someone fact-check me on that?)