Bye Will Provide Good Measurement for Gators, Muschamp

I was glad to see the Worldwide Leader, the Twitterverse and most of American society were subdued in their reaction to Tim Tebow’s first start of the 2011 season. I expected Skip Bayless’s head to explode and Merrill Hoge to punch a camera.

Tebow was everything that should be expected from him, as was the predictable ESPN reaction. Maddening, infuriating, exhilarating, nonsensical and unexplainable. The Chosen One looked about as bad as any NFL quarterback (Kyle Boller exempted) could look for 3 ½ quarters. But as if struck by some higher power, Tebow transformed before our eyes in a playmaking machine and rallied the Broncos to the first comeback by a team that trailed by 15 or more points with less than 3 minutes left since the NFL-AFL merger. It was an amazing comeback that will keep the Tebow media monster hungry and craving more. It is unfortunate because it really does overshadow the fact that Tebow can play in a league that employs the aforementioned Boller, A.J. Feeley, Matt Moore, Kevin Kolb, John Beck and Curtis Painter among others. Again, my belief is that he’ll never be an All-Pro but with the right offense, he can lead a winning team. The Broncos are far from that offense but maybe Tebow will show enough to have someone build an offense around him that bests suits him. Stay tuned, of course you will since it will be impossible not to.

As for the current Gators, look on the bright side – we aren’t Wisconsin. Talk about heartbreaking, nut-crushing losses. Can you imagine losing on a last second Hail Mary? Blowing a shot potentially at a national championship on a batted-ball deflection? So on the bright side, the Gators haven’t suffered this year. We’ve been mercy killed.

This weekend, it’s the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. I don’t remember much from my six trips to Jacksonville except that Florida owns Georgia. But will that trend continue? There are ominous signs. First, our head coach is a Bulldog. Second, Georgia has snuck into the polls this week. Sorry to repeat such a horrific statistic but the Gators are now 0-for-their-last-7 against teams ranked in the top 25. They’ve been outscored in those seven games 227-83, the average defeat being 20 points. Third, the best news Florida has had in a month is that John Brantley is likely back this week. Fourth, Georgia has actually looked pretty good the past few weeks and seems close to reaching its potential. Fifth, the Dogs feature a freshmen battering ram at running back. You may have noticed Florida has not fared well against tough, physical running attacks.

And what are Florida fans hanging their hats on? The simple fact that Florida owns Georgia. Psychologically, does that matter much with two young teams that know Steve Spurrier only as South Carolina’s head coach?

It will be interesting to see what Will Muschamp’s bunch looks like coming out of the break. Good coaches are notorious for making adjustments and changing fortunes with a week off. The first step back to respectability and competitiveness is this week. If Florida does not look improved on both sides of the ball this week, there should be honest questions about whether Muschamp was ready for this job. Again, that’s not a call for his head. That’s insane eight games into his rookie campaign. It is merely a factual statement about his lack of experience being a significant hurdle in putting his mark on the program.

We all knew October was going to be brutal. Not many expected an 0-for but now it is very possible. Many Vegas books and web sites haven’t set a line yet because of Brantley, but the ones who did opened the game Georgia minus 1 and it is quickly up to 2 ½ and 3. Again, a clear indication of just how much things have changed in Gainesville because Florida has been an underdog in this game probably only two or three times in the last 20 years.

Here’s this week’s poll:

1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Oklahoma State
4. Stanford
5. Boise State
6. Clemson
7. Oregon
8. Kansas State
9. Arkansas
10. Oklahoma
11. Michigan State
12. Wisconsin
13. Virginia Tech
14. South Carolina
15. Houston
16. Nebraska
17. Michigan
18. USC
19. Penn State
20. Texas A&M
21. Texas Tech
22. Arizona State
23. Georgia
24. Cincinnati
25. SMU

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