Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Ohio State: Reviewing the Gators' Defensive Performance

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 02: Jordan Hall #7 of Ohio State Buckeyes is tackled by a group of Florida Gator defenders during the first half of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

This is the third and final look at how the Gators performed in the 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Previously, we've taken looks at how the offense and special teams units performed respectively.

Heading into the Gator Bowl, we took a look at what the Ohio State Buckeye running game and passing game might look like. Well, if you don't count the borderline garbage time touchdown the Buckeye's got at the end of the game, we were mostly right. The Buckeyes ended up with 162-yards passing and 137-yards rushing. But eight-two of those passing yards, came in the last three minutes of the game. So feel free to count those if you wish.

The Gators defense gave up 299-yards of total offense to the Buckeye offense, which coincidentally, was their exact season average in terms of yards per game. The Gators as a result, played to exactly the level that we were accustomed to playing.

The 137-yards rushing the Gators gave up, was slightly above their season average of just under 133-yards per game. The 162-yards passing that the Buckeye offense generated, was just under the 166-yards per game the Gator secondary allows per game. Yes, the Gators' passing defense, finishes the season ranked 7th nationally. How's that for a young secondary?

Play No. 1: Sharrif Floyd's sack on Braxton Miller:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Yes, I know that Sharrif Floyd gets full credit for this sack, but I'm not so sure that he should.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this moment, Sharrif Floyd (double yellow circle) is being double-teamed. But he does exactly what you want a defensive tackle to do. He has the time to do this, because of the great coverage by the Gators linebackers and secondary (yellow circles). The coverage is great on the Buckeye receivers (green circles).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Because the coverage downfield is still fantastic (yellow square), and the pass rush is beginning to close in on Miller (green circle), he is forced to try and run out of the pocket. You can see that Floyd (yellow circle) is still trying to fight off the double team.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

This is why I'm not so sure that Floyd (yellow circle) should be given full credit for the sack. Miller (yellow square) is already being tackled, while Floyd has just gotten past his block.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Floyd gets the sack (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

See? There is someone else who should get credit for half the sack. As a bonus, Floyd would get a half-sack on the very next play with Jaye Howard.

Play No. 2: Braxton Miller's touchdown pass to DeVier Posey:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The No. 1 coverage rule, if you're a defensive back, is you don't let the receiver get the inside on you. Well, Loucheiz Purifoy (yellow circle) lets DeVier Posey (green circle) do exactly that. I'll give Purifoy the benefit of doubt, because he is a true freshman, but I'd like to see him work on this technique in the spring.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At the snap, you can see that the Posey and Purifoy are all squared up (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

And Purifoy is burned (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Touchdown, Buckeyes (yellow square).

Play No. 3: Jaye Howard's sack on Braxton Miller:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

I tell you what: If you can find a play, any play, in college football this year, in which another defensive tackle times the snap and gets through the offensive line faster than Jaye Howard (yellow circle) does here, I'll send you a Gators koozie.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

I mean, just look at this. Right after the snap, Howard (yellow circle) is already halfway through the offensive line. The Buckeye offense doesn't stand a chance on this play.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

A half-second later, Howard (yellow circle) is closer to the quarterback than any Buckeye player.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

At this point, it's all over for Miller (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Howard then does his best Matt Elam impression (yellow square). Yeah, he throws Miller like a rag doll.

Play No. 4: Braxton Miller's 11-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Hall:

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Jonathan Bostic (yellow square) isn't even really paying attention here. But then again, neither is the rest of the Gators defense. Jordan Hall (green circle) is just going to run out into the flat.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

It's not often that both Matt Elam (yellow circle) and Bostic (double yellow circle) are going to both miss on the same play. Hall (green circle) is about to make a great cut inside, to ensure that they do miss.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

There is the cut by Hall (green circle) and there goes Elam and Bostic (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Missed tackle No. 1 (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Missed tackle No. 2 (yellow square).

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Touchdown, Buckeyes (yellow square).

Overall, the Gators defense didn't really play all that bad. They combined to get six sacks, eleven total tackles for loss and forced and recovered two fumbles. As stated at the beginning, if it wasn't for that really long touchdown drive at the end of the game, when things really didn't matter all that much, the overall performance looks even better.

It is going to be a lot of fun to watch this defense mature next year and in 2013.

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