QB – Florida
When Florida QB Tim Tebow decided to stay for his senior season, many were surprised. Those in NFL circles, however, were not. Had Tebow declared for the NFL draft as after his junior season, most experts agreed that Tebow had almost zero chance to be a first round pick. With an awkward throwing motion, a high tendency to tuck and run, as well as coming from a very option-heavy offense, Tebow wasn’t ready to transition into the NFL.
After Tebow announced he would stay at Florida for his senior season, word out of Gainesville was that the Gators were bringing in a quarterback “specialist” to help Tebow ready his game for the NFL. In fact, head coach Urban Meyer even indicated that the Gators would be running more of a “pro-style” offense to help with the development of Tebow as a quarterback.
Throughout the first two weeks of the season, Florida didn’t show many changes and neither did Tebow’s game. The Florida signal caller continued to put up video game style numbers and appeared to be on track for a run at the Heisman. Personally, I reserved judgment of Tebow and his game until after the Gators’ faced a tough defense this season. This week, the Gators matched up with the Tennessee Volunteers, with a Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator and superstar safety, Eric Berry. What I saw from Tebow and the Florida offense is exactly what I expected; more of the same plays with less points.
Tebow took every single snap from the shotgun and the Gators relied heavily on option-style plays (over 30, by my count). On top of that, Tebow’s streak of 30 straight games with a passing touchdown came to an end against Tennessee. Tebow also threw one interception (Eric Berry) and had a key fumble near the goal line in the fourth quarter, leading to a Tennessee touchdown drive.
Looking at this a little further, here are some important points I noticed while re-watching the game. Tebow made 13 passing attempts from the pocket. Of those 13, Tennessee recorded 3 sacks and 1 interception. Also of those 13, 5 were designed screen plays. So looking at those 13 total pocket pass attempts, only 4, yes, FOUR, passes were actually down the field. This is not indicative of a “pro-style” offense. (If you look at the final numbers, Tebow only had 19 total attempts. It’s important to remember that passing attempts do not include plays where the QB intended to pass and was sacked and/or decided to run with the ball).
One of Tebow’s down sides has always been his slightly awkward mechanics, including a bit of a windup, a low delivery and a tendency to throw side-armed at times. The QB expert that Florida brought in during the offseason was supposed to help Tebow correct this. CBS had the coverage of the game and did a good comparison of Tebow’s old throwing motion (2006) to his “new” throwing motion (2009). The comparison between 2006 and 2009′s throwing motion revealed…..they’re almost identical.
Tebow finished the game 14 of 19 for 115 yards, zero touchdowns and 1 interception. Tebow only averaged 6.1 yards per pass, but ran the ball an astounding 24 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. Tebow actually ran the ball more than every other Florida player (4 total players) combined. Tebow also rushed more times than Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty (20), USC’s McKnight (11) and Johnson (10) combined, Penn State’s Evan Royster (19), and Michigan’s Carlos Brown (13). In fact, Tebow only had two less rushing attempts than California running back Jahvid Best (26).
So my question is, how is this more of a “pro-style” offense, designed to help Tebow develop into an NFL quarterback? On top of that, on the few occasions that Tebow stayed in the pocket to throw the ball, Tennessee was able to register 3 sacks and an interception. If this is against a young Volunteers defense, what will Tebow look like against an NFL defense, let alone Alabama’s defense.
Now don’t get me wrong, when it comes to leadership and fire, you can’t ask for a better QB to lead your college team. When it’s all said and done, Tebow will be in the conversation as one of the greatest college football players to ever play. The problem is, Tebow hasn’t shown me anything to believe that he’ll be a first round draft pick…or even make it as a starting NFL QB. Until I see him take snaps from under a center, stay in the pocket to throw a deep out, and stop staring down his primary receiver when he is in the pocket, I just don’t see the NFL appeal.
All in all, I can’t think of another college player that needs outstanding performances at the Senior Bowl, his Pro-Day and the NFL Combine more than Tim Tebow.