I hate to pick on David Ching to make a point, but I think he’s 180 degrees off when he says this:
… Ask yourself who wanted to win last year’s Georgia-Florida game more: Matthew Stafford or Tim Tebow. The answer to that question was clear when the Gators turned a 14-3 halftime lead into a 49-10 victory – not that Stafford alone deserves the blame for that loss.
I don’t think Matt’s problem in the second half was that he didn’t care enough. Quite the opposite – I think he cared too much. In his own way, I believe he was guilty of having the same mentality that Reshad Jones and Michael Moore noted gripped the team last year.
“That had a lot to do with our downfall,” safety Reshad Jones said. “We weren’t as one. We were high ranked. Other guys were looking at other big-name guys. We weren’t focused on the task ahead of us.”
On offense, those big name guys were Stafford and Moreno – stars who showed up in highlights and led the SEC in passing and rushing, respectively. They were guys players expected to pick up the team when it needed a boost.
“You kind of felt that you could depend on Stafford to make the throw or you could depend on Knowshon to make that one run that’s going to change the game,” said senior receiver Michael Moore…
Against a team as talented as Florida, feeling like you have to pick up and carry your team on your shoulders isn’t conducive to playing winning football. And it showed.
The only reason I mention this is because whatever kind words are being tossed Joe Cox’ way right now, nobody is expecting him to do the same thing with this year’s squad, including Cox himself. The Florida game shows that there’s an upside to that. Maybe the lows won’t be as much of a meltdown in ’09.
On the other hand, I hope we aren’t going to see moments like we did against Kentucky and Georgia Tech last year, when the defense fell apart and it was Stafford who kept bringing the team back. Because – no reflection on Joe, but he’s not going to be a number one draft pick any time soon – the highs this year at QB probably won’t be as high, either.