Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Florida’s Urban Meyer conceded that the pressure was getting to the Gators two weeks ago following their shaky 29-19 win over Mississippi State.
In particular, he was talking about the struggles on offense.
But sometimes, pressure can be a good thing, especially if you have the right kind of people leading the way.
The Gators responded with one of their most efficient offensive performances of the season last Saturday in a 41-17 rout of Georgia.
Granted, they didn’t put up 500 yards of total offense. They didn’t have 35 points by halftime, and there weren’t two or three guys breaking loose on 60- and 70-yard touchdowns.
That was last year.
This is this year.
And this year, the way Florida played offensively in Jacksonville is what this team is capable of when the Gators are on top of their game and everybody’s involved.
It also helps when Tim Tebow plays like Tim Tebow.
He lit up the Bulldogs with two touchdowns passing and two touchdowns rushing, the 11th time he’s done that in his career, but only the first time this season.
Senior receiver Riley Cooper got things started with a pair of touchdown catches, the second one a sensational one-handed grab, and Tebow was also able to spread the ball around. He completed at least three passes to four different players.
He also didn’t turn the ball over, and neither did anybody on Florida’s team.
That’s coming a week after Tebow threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in the Mississippi State game.
As much as anything, the Gators regained their confidence offensively, which should serve them well during this stretch run. They’ve clinched the Eastern Division title and a second straight trip to the SEC championship game, and will be big favorites in every game they play the rest of the way until they get to Atlanta.
What’s more, they have something to build on offensively and not so much a long list of questions to answer about what’s wrong with the offense.
“These kids feel and hear all this stuff going on,” said Florida first-year offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, who had also come under some fire in recent weeks after the Gators began to look increasingly vulnerable on offense.
“You’re sitting here and having a hell of a year and listening to all this stuff, and it’s like, ‘Wow, it can tug at you.’ This team rallied and worked hard, put their nose down, believed and had faith in what we were doing.”
It might be premature to say that the Gators are all the way back offensively.
But when you take into account how good this team is on defense and special teams, Florida doesn’t need to be a record-setting offense to win the national championship.
The Gators just need to be good enough, and they’re going to be hard to beat if they keep playing the way they did offensively on Saturday.