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Tebow struggles with NFL-style defense

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Print Entry

Posted by Todd McShay

After taking a look at the film of Florida's 23-13 win over Tennessee there are still plenty of concerns about whether Gators QB Tim Tebow will be able to make a quick transition to the NFL.

Volunteers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin came up with as good a game plan as possible against Florida's multiple weapons and wide-open scheme, giving Tebow a look at the kind of mixed coverages he will see at the next level. Tennessee often dropped seven or eight men into coverage and rushed only three or four and Tebow struggled for a variety of reasons.

First, the Vols did a good job of taking away his primary reads in the intermediate and deep areas of the field. That forced him to check down a lot and in many cases the rush was able to force Tebow to break the pocket. Tebow also seemed to struggle at times to recognize exactly what kind of zone coverage he was looking at, and that split-second indecision at times caused him to miss open receivers in other areas of the field. Tebow also turned the ball over twice and the second-quarter interception he threw to Vols S Eric Berry was a flat-out bad read.

It is important to note, though, that Tebow didn't get a lot of help from his receivers. The film showed a lot of Florida receivers running their initial routes but failing to adjust and work back to the quarterback if they didn't get open when they expected to. They are used to simply spreading the field and using their speed to get open and when that didn't happen Tebow was often left hanging, which often led to him tucking the ball and running.

From a college football standpoint Tebow showed tremendous competitiveness and courage and he took the game over by using his legs to take advantage of Tennessee dropping so many into coverage and giving him room to run. From an NFL scouting standpoint, however, this game only reinforces concerns about the very steep learning curve Tebow will face in the NFL. It is a similar situation to the one former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith faced after running coach Urban Meyer's spread scheme during their time together at Utah.

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