Posted by Walter
Or should I say, why Ohio State lost. No let's keep it positive and give the Gators credit where credit is due.
Reason #1 - Coaching
Urban Meyer and his staff totally and thoroughly outcoached Jim Tressell and his. First, it should be noted that Meyer has been masterful all season coaching the Gators through what could have been a very difficult quarterback controversy. The bottom line for Meyer was that he was dealt a bum hand: a team talented enough to win the champsionship this season, a starting quarterback who didn't fit into his system, and a freshman quarterback who fit in perfectly but wasn't capable of leading the team to the title. Well, Meyer took this situation and maneuvered the quarterback he needed (Leak), and the quarterback he wanted (Tebow) masterfully en route to the title.
Last night was just another stroke of genius by Meyer. I commented in my pick that the Ohio State defense, while outstanding, was not nearly as athletic as they had been in years past. So what does Meyer do, he takes his five best WR athletes (Baker, Caldwell, Harvin, Ingram, Cornelius) and sticks them on the field for the entire game to run around the slower, less athletic Ohio State linebackers and defensive backs. Meyer spread the field with his receivers and running backs, threw the ball horizontally, and simply let his athletes run around defenders who had a snowball's chance in hell of covering them. What was most shocking about this strategy, though, was that Jim Tressel NEVER ADJUSTED. Even when he was down by 30 points he still had three linebackers and four down lineman on the field trying to cover the Florida athletes. HEY JIM, A NICKEL PACKAGE AIN'T A BAG OF WEED! The only adjustment I saw all night from Tressel and his staff was to move their best perimeter pass rusher, Ghoulston, inside and have him drop into coverage in the middle of the field. Lot of good that did when Chris Leak was throwing WR screens like they were going out of style.
But Tressel's obstinate commitment to his poorly thought out gameplan wasn't even his worst move of the night. That distinction belongs to his going for it on 4th and 1 at his own 29 yard line in the final minutes of the 2nd quarter. Here is the #1 team in the nation, down by only 10 points, with one of the top 5 scoring defenses in the nation, and the head coach goes for it?????? Despite the fact that they didn't get it (effectively ending the game right there), Tressel's decision ripped the heart out of the very defense he had ridden all season. In one fell swoop, Tressel told his defense "thanks for everything, but I just don't think you can stop this Gator team." The move wreaked of desperation, even more so since it was as un-Tressel a move as you will ever see.
Reason #2 - Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey
Unblockable. That's the only word to describe these two last night. From the opening possession Moss and Harvey totally controlled the game for the Gators from the outside in. Ohio State's offensive line, which had been so strong all season, was completly overmatched by these two superior athletes. I posited before the game that perhaps Ohio State's two marquee wins (over Michigan and Texas) had lost some luster thanks to a combined three losses by those teams since they played the Buckeyes. I think the performance by the Florida defensive front was further evidence that Michigan and Texas were overrated. Ohio State's offensive line is full of blue collar, hard working, country boys like Doug Datish, TJ Downing, and Alex Boone. Great players who play with a mean streak and enjoy run blocking. The Ohio State lineman are the types of guys who play right tackle in the NFL because they aren't athletic enough to handle blind side rushers. Well, they all proved that right tackle is their position last night as nobody could handle the athelticism of Moss and Harvey (two NFL caliber edge rushers). Like the Ohio State defense, the Ohio State offensive line, while very solid, just wasn't athletic enough to keep up with Florida's superior athletes.
Reason #3 - The Gator Secondary
Wow. In addition to having to run for his life, it's not like Troy Smith had anybody open to throw the ball to. Losing Ted Ginn did hurt, but Anthony Gonzalez and the rest of the WR corpse were invisible all night. Credit Reggie Nelson and the Gator secondary. The Gator secondary has been adept all season at creating turnovers, especially the ballhawking Nelson. Against Ohio State they showed that they can cover some talented WR in man to man coverage too. As I said, there is plenty of speed in the big 10, it's just mostly on Ohio State. The Ohio State passing game hadn't faced a secondary as speedy or athletic as the Gators this season, and it showed. I have been leading the "Leon Hall is overrated" charge for weeks now, and I think this game may have exposed him somewhat. Leon Hall was not able to come close to hanging with the Ohio State WR, while the less heralded but more athletic Gators were able to. Once again it just came down to athleticism, and Flordia having more of it.
Reason #4 - Chris Leak
We've all bashed him this season, but it's time to give the man some props. Here is a four year starter, who put his ego aside and shared time with the new kid for the sake of the team. He put up with the "we want Tebow" chants all season and never let it become a distraction for his team. Now he will graduate as the most decorated quarterback in the history of the Gators. Chris Leak played good last night. Not great, but good. Urban Meyer did not ask him to win the game for the Gators, just to get the ball from the center to the Gator athletes to make plays. Leak did just that. He played solid, smart football and he goes out the winner he deserves to be. I couldn't be happier for him.....although I still think he'll be a lousy NFL player.
Reason #1,372 - Time
Make no mistake about it. Ohio State's layoff had nothing to do with the loss. Florida was the far superior team in this game. It wouldn't have mattered if they had played on one week's rest or one hundred week's rest. Florida had the better players, the better coaches, and more emotion. They were the better team.