Posted: 10:00 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013
The Florida Gators' stifling defense set out to give the Kentucky Wildcats no favors Saturday night and they accomplished just that. The Gators allowed a total of 173 yards (125 passing, 48 rushing) in route to a 24-7 win in which the outcome was hardly ever in doubt.
And that's taking into account the Wildcats' fake field goal run for a touchdown.
The Gators even dominated the time of possession, allowing the Wildcats offense to take the field for just under twenty-two minutes of gametime. The Gators allowed 2.3 yards per rush in a great performance that showed that they just might be fine without all-world performer Dominique Easley. Even though that's probably easier to say after Kentucky than say, Florida State.
Nevertheless, the Gators had five sacks, eight tackles for loss and an interception (Vernon Hargreaves III has got to be a future Jim Thorpe Award winner, right?) in what I would call their best performance of the season. Dante Fowler Jr. looks primed to take over the role of defensive leader, while Ronald Powell appears back and ready to wreck havoc on the SEC.
Now if we can just get Loucheiz Purifoy to straighten out his game.
Play No. 1: Jonathan Bullard's sack
Couple of things here: First, this sack is a somewhat accidental one for Bullard and two, it's all about Ronald Powell. Powell is going to burst off the edge and cause Maxwell Smith to step up into the pocket right into the waiting arms of Bullard.
Powell is unblocked and coming off the edge. Meanwhile, Bullard, who is at the top of the defensive line is still being blocked. Smith is about to scramble right through the line and try and get to daylight.
Bullard releases from his block at the exact moment that Smith makes his way through the line. I'm not sure if Smith is falling to begin with (it looks like it on video one second then the other it doesn't) but anyway it's a great play for Bullard who is supposed to shine on the defensive line this year.
Play No. 2: Alexander Montgomery gets hit by Jabari Gorman
This play in my opinion, is the play of the game. Nothing sets the tone and/or destroys the will of an opponent like a great defensive hit. For another example, see Major Wright in the BCS National Championship Game against the Oklahoma Sooners.
Also, to move things along, we're going to just look at the hit and not the entire development of the play.
Now it's my understanding after talking to a few people and reading the rulebook, that since the player left his feet it can be ruled targeting, yes? I'm not so sure about this one. I think it's just a very solid play.
If plays like this are taken out of the game then football is a doomed sport. It's the most popular sport in America for a reason and eliminating this stuff or saying that this stuff is a penalty is just ridiculous. I understand player safety and all, but when Robert Griffin III slides heads first and it isn't considered giving up on a play...
... I don't understand it. Yes, that's in the professional ranks but come on. Can't have it both ways.
Is that even leading with the crown of the helmet or even helmet to helmet? The crown argument could be made, I guess, but not the helmet to helmet contact one. I'm not even sure he fully left the ground.
Play No. 3: Smith is sacked by Dante Fowler Jr.
This is the second sack by Fowler Jr., as this one and the first one are very similar.
On this sack and the previous one, it appears as if the left tackle for the Wildcats just moves out of the way on purpose. But upon second and third review it's obvious that it's just a miscommunication about what exactly what was the correct blocking/protection scheme.
The left tackle isn't even paying Fowler Jr. any attention. The fact that this occurred on what seemed like back-to-back plays is just ridiculous.
I don't care what Florida State fans say, Fowler Jr. is a beast. He has a chance to be one of the best defensive players to ever come through Gainesville.
And just because Hargreaves III is amazing:
It's getting to the point where Hargreaves III just might be the best man-to-man cover corner the Gators have. I know that others get more publicity or are more highly regarded by opposing teams but this is getting ridiculous. I've always been careful with leveling praise too quickly but this kid is proving that it might not even matter. Sure he's a true freshman and he is going to make mistakes, I think, he's a great one.
The Gators will live and die by the defense this year, we all know that.
But I'm thinking that I'd rather have it that way.