Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Florida State: Reviewing Florida's Defensive Performance

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Defensive tackle Jaye Howard #6 of the Florida Gators recovers a fumble against the Florida State Seminoles November 26, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

There is no denying the fact, that the 2011 edition of the Florida-Florida State game was a decidedly defensive affair. While both defenses played outstanding, unfortunately for the Gators, they weren't the ones who "created" the turnovers needed to dictate the outcome.

Without looking at the turnover aspect, because lets face it, this Gator defense just doesn't create turnovers. The Gator defense held the Seminole offense to under 100-yards of offense. Under 100-yards! I'm not going to fault the defense on this one, because they did nearly everything right. They were put into bad positions by the offense (and special teams) numerous times and that is something that they can't control.

Jelani Jenkins (who also lead the team in tackles), Ronald Powell and Jaye Howard each had a full sack, while Dominique Easley and Lerentee McCray combined for another. The defense combined, forced four fumbles, but only recovered one. They also had something like ten tackles for loss as well. Yeah, those are some outstanding numbers, but because of the Gators offense, all this game will be remembered as, is a loss to the Florida State Seminoles...

...and Matt Elam's complete decimation of Jermaine Thomas.

Play No. 1: E.J. Manuel is sacked by Dominique Easley and Lerentee McCray:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

If there was an offensive line this season worse than the offensive line of the Florida Gators, the Seminole offensive line was it. For the Gators on this play, Ronald Powell (top yellow circle) comes off the edge as a blitzing linebacker and Dominique Easley (bottom yellow circle) is just going to rush the quarterback. For the Seminoles on this play, the tight end (top green circle) is just going to run a route down the field, while the right tackle and right guard (middle and bottom green circles) block their man and get confused respectively.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Powell (top yellow circle) is going to be blocked out of the rush by the right tackle (top green circle). The right guard for the Seminoles (bottom green circle) gets confused for a moment and proceeds to help out the center on a double team. This mistake allows Easley (bottom yellow circle) to burst through the line very quickly.

From another angle:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Yeah, that's a massive hole that Easley (yellow square) gets to run through.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this moment, quarterback E.J. Manuel (green circle) knows he is in trouble. He will attempt a quick turnaround and run, but McCray (yellow square) will enter the picture.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At the moment that Manuel attempts to make that turn (yellow square) he is caught by both Easley and McCray. Also, note that Jelani Jenkins has the running back covered even though he probably knows by this point that the play is over.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As noted at the beginning of the article, Easley and McCray each get half credit for the sack.

Play No. 2: Ronald Powell's sack on E.J. Manuel:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Ronald Powell (yellow circle) gets credit for the sack, but he gets a huge assist by the defensive backs on this play as they do a great job covering their men.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At the moment that Powell is engaged with his blocker (yellow square), E.J. Manuel isn't quite ready to get rid of the ball. His only open target at the moment is his wide receiver (green circle) but Jelani Jenkins (yellow circle) is lurking. 

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Manuel (green circle) at this time gives a quick look to the receiver out in the flat, and will then step up into the pocket. Meanwhile, Powell (yellow square) is slowly gaining the upper hand on his blocker.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Powell (yellow square) has now gained the inside advantage on his blocker, while Manuel (green circle) continues to look downfield for someone to throw to.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Manuel runs out of time as Powell catches him (yellow square) and gets the sack.

Play No. 3: Jaye Howard's sack on E.J. Manuel:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

On this play, the Seminoles will attempt a play-action pass play in which the wide receiver that is in motion pre-snap (green circle) will get the fake handoff. Jaye Howard (yellow circle) doesn't fall for the fake.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At the moment the play-action occurs, Howard (yellow circle) has already beaten his man.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The play begins to develop at this moment. Manuel (right green circle) is obviously trying to pass the ball to the running back (left green circle), but he is covered by Ronald Powell (bottom yellow circle). Howard (top yellow circle) at this time, is now running free at Manuel.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Manuel (right green circle) is still waiting for the running back (left green circle) to get open. Powell (left yellow circle) is making sure that doesn't happen, and he's even got help on top in the form of Jon Bostic. Howard (right yellow circle) is still chasing Manuel.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At the moment that Manuel (right green circle) decides that he is going to run with the ball, Powell (bottom middle yellow circle) decides that he is going to break off coverage on the running back and head towards Manuel. Bostic meanwhile, takes over coverage duties on the running back just in case. Howard (right yellow circle) and Jelani Jenkins (top middle yellow circle) both continue to converge on Manuel.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Howard just beats Jenkins and Powell to get the sack (yellow square).

Play No. 4: Michael Taylor causes running back Jermaine Thomas to fumble, and Jaye Howard recovers it. Which of course leads to a touchdown for the Gators and their shut-out streak stays intact:

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

This play is all about linebacker Michael Taylor (yellow circle). He is going to just absolutely destroy the fullback (right green circle) who attempts to block him, and then knock the ball out of the hands of Jermaine Thomas (left green circle) causing a fumble.

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

This is the moment in which Taylor (yellow square) levels the fullback.

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Taylor (yellow square) is then going to use his left arm to know the ball out of Thomas' hands.

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

After Taylor (yellow square) knocks the ball out (red circle), Jaye Howard takes advantage.

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(Photo courtesy of the SEC Digital Network)

Howard recovers the fumble (yellow square) and returns it to the Seminole 21-yardline.

So I guess when you think about it, this game will be remember as three things instead of just two. Not getting shut-out at home is a really big deal. Just ask the Seminoles about it.

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