Over on Twitter I built a long thread filled with GIFs from Tim Tebow’s 2008 campaign where the Gators won the SEC and national championships. Here’s where it begins:
It’s really something to behold the Gator O creating time for Tebow and advantages for their receivers every time they run play-action off their counter schemes against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2008 SEC title game.
The crucial difference that Tebow made for that team was his ability to hold up with a heavy workload in the run game threatening the gaps between the tackles in order to free up their other skill players to find space on the perimeter. He “only” had 176 carries in 2008 but he had many, many more plays where he ran the option and took a shot after pitching the ball so that number is fairly misleading. In the victories over Alabama and Oklahoma he had 17 carries and 22 respectively.
Here’s the crew that he was freeing up space for:
Chris Rainey: 5-8, 180. 4.45 40 time. 84 carries for 652 yards at 7.8 ypc.
Percy Harvin: 5-11, 192. 4.41 40 time. 70 carries for 660 yards at 9.4 ypc, 40 catches for 644 yards.
Jeff Demps: 5-7, 191. 4.23 40 time. 78 carries for 605 yards at 7.8 ypc.
Louis Murphy: 6-2, 203. 4.43 40 time. 38 catches for 655 yards.
Pretty brutal for opponents to handle all that quickness, this was an all-time team in terms of pure speed. Then of course Tim Tebow was 6-3, 236 and though he “only” ran a 4.72 he had a 4.17 shuttle and 38.5″ vertical, he turned 176 carries into 673 yards at 3.8 ypc. They also had Aaron Hernandez, who was 6-2, 245 and ran a 4.65 40 and 4.18 shuttle. Unbelievably athletic team, albeit with some attitudinal problems and a murderer in their midst.
Opposing teams weren’t built for those kinds of stresses, dealing with that much speed in that much space while being tricked by conventional wisdom into trying to pack numbers into the box to stop Tebow in the power run game. Only Oklahoma saw through it all and put together a smarter gameplay, but Tebow still beat them for 100+ rushing with steady gains and Harvin landed some haymakers while the vaunted Oklahoma offense was shut down by Charlie Strong’s NFL-filled Gator defense.
Sam Ehlinger presented similar issues to opponents in high school, throwing for 3833 yards and rushing for 1360 on 254 carries as a HS junior while carrying his team to the championship game. In the college game the Texas staff has pared down his rushing to be more of a short-yardage solution and are hoping to build an offense in 2019 that can surround him with the kind of explosive talent that can produce big numbers like the Gators had. They’ll likely try to get their via the option too, but it’ll look different than it did in Gainesville a decade ago. More to come at Inside Texas this week where I’ll have quotes and diagrams on the plan for the 2019 Texas offense as gleaned from B12 media day conversations with Tom Herman and Sam Ehlinger.