When No.18 Florida travels to Knoxville to take on the Volunteers this weekend they will win, for the 9th time in a row. They will win because Tennessee sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray is not Joe Montana, Steve Young, Bowling Green junior quarterback Matt Schliz or Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
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Bray is one of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA and currently has the No.5 passer rating in the country. He has 643 passing yards and six touchdowns this season, however, he is not mobile and he operates an offense that relies on five and seven step drops.
Steve Young and Manziel represent the mobility factor that decimated the Florida defense in the first half against Texas A&M. Young and Montana played under the late great coach Bill Walsh’s west coast offensive scheme, which focused on three step drops and getting the ball out quick into a play maker’s hands.
Young possessed the ability to escape the pocket and gain yards with his feet; exactly what Manziel did against an aggressive Florida defense. When Florida’s defense would rush up field, they would often abandon their defensive assignment while doing so, which allowed for running lanes that the quick Maziel could run through. The rest of the plays for Manziel were short 5 to 10 yard routes that Florida could cover.
Bowling Green’s Shilz and the great Joe Montana are not the level of athletes that Young and Manziel are, but they used the quick three step drop to their advantage, getting rid of the ball before being pressured.
Bray is a pocket passing quarterback, who relies on outstanding arm strength and accuracy to get the ball to star junior wide receiver Justin Hunter. Due to their reliance on the long yardage passing game, the quarterback needs time that only a five or seven step drop can provide.
Unfortunately for Bray, the Florida defensive line – which features the likes of junior defensive end Dominique Easley, senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter and junior nose guard Sharrif Floyd - will be able to use this extra time to successfully put pressure on the quarterback. It will also allow Florida coach Will Muschamp the opportunity to dial up blitzes more often.
Florida will need to be careful of the occasional screen pass that can be the detriment to an overly aggressive defense. Also, Florida has the advantage of watching the game tape of Tennessee, as opposed to Texas A&M when they didn’t know what to expect.