It’s a little too early but if top-ranked Florida wins yet another national championship, an argument could be made that quarterback Tim Tebow is the best college football player ever, even if his effort during last Saturday night’s 13-3 triumph over Louisiana State wasn’t top shelf. A mouthful but let’s consider what the senior has accomplished since his freshman season.
Though a backup in 2006, Tebow was extremely pivotal in short yardage situations. At 6-foot-3, and 245 pounds, he was strong enough and durable enough to scare linemen and linebackers. If he ran the ball, he usually picked up the first down. If he fooled the defense, and decided to throw the ball, he’d find the receiver.
In the Bowl Championship Series title game, Florida laid waste to Ohio State, 41-14, collecting the school’s second national crown. The next season, Tebow had a campaign so spectacular that it earned him a Heisman Trophy. As a junior, Tebow directed the one-loss Gators past high-powered Oklahoma, 24-14, in the BCS title game.
Now, despite a concussion he suffered Sept. 26 at Kentucky, Tebow was at it again, leading the Gators past the host Tigers in a Southeastern Conference showdown. With Tebow hitting 11 of 16 passes for 134 yards with one interception, and carrying the ball 17 times for 38 yards, along with a cat-like quick defense ranked No. 1, Florida throttled No. 4 LSU before a record crowd of 93,129 fans at Tiger Stadium.
Florida’s defense is No. 1 in pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. The unit has allowed two touchdowns this season.
“We’ve got a Heisman winner on the team and all those great athletes on offense, so it’s easy to overlook the defense,” said safety Fred Hill after Saturday’s game.
The defense was stout against the Tigers, finishing with five sacks, including 2 1/2 from senior linebacker Brandon Spikes, who also had a team-best 11 tackles.
Tebow’s 24-yard pass to wide receiver Riley Cooper (33 yards and two catches) late in the second quarter gave Florida (5-0 and 3-0 in conference) a 10-3 lead.
Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer played it safe with Tebow, who was cleared to play only hours before kickoff. Using conservative inside handoffs to running back Jeffrey Demps, and one-time USC star Emanuel Moody, the Gators finished with 193 yards on the ground.
Demps carried the ball 16 times for 86 yards, while Moody added 42 yards on six carries. Caleb Sturgis kicked a 28-yard field goal with 3:50 left in the opening quarter, and then drilled a 32-yard attempt about midway through the final quarter to give the Gators a 10-point lead.
Tebow’s favorite target was tight end Aaron Hernandez, who snared six passes for 70 yards, and had 16 yards on one rush. The Tigers (5-1 and 3-1 in conference) were in trouble early, knowing that moving the ball would be a chore, and would take every ounce of effort.
LSU managed only 66 yards on the ground, and was paced by Charles Scott, who had 53 yards on 13 carries. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson was at his wits end. Harassed and hurried, Jefferson connected on 11 of 17 passes for 96 yards, and was intercepted late in the second quarter. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell grabbed four passes for 44 yards.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.