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blacksaint 10-04-2007 12:16 AM

No. 1 Tigers turn attention to tackling Tebow
By Tyler Batiste, The Daily Reveille
October 3, 2007
(CSTV U-WIRE) BATON ROUGE, La. -- Only five weeks have passed since the beginning of the college football season, and some lingering questions from this past season have already been answered.

Experts wondered if losing players like quarterback Brady Quinn and wide receiver Jeff Samardzija would affect Notre Dame's offensive productivity. The result has been a 9.6 points per game average and an 0-5 record.

Analysts also wondered if Florida sophomore Tim Tebow could successfully fill the shoes of this past season's starter Chris Leak, who led the Gators to their first national title since 1996.

Five games and 19 touchdowns later, early indications are that he has.

Tebow's 1,297 passing yards and 11 passing touchdowns both rank No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference behind Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson.

The Jacksonville, Fla., native has used his 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound frame to lead Florida almost single-handedly to its current 4-1 record. Tebow also leads the Gators and is No. 7 in the SEC in rushing, gaining 433 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground this season.

LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers will have to employ as many tactics as possible to tackle Tebow.

"Obviously everybody says to go low, and it makes sense to wrap up a strong running back or quarterback," Miles said. "To me, it is not only about tackling low but getting 11 hats to the ball. Swarming that quarterback is what we are going to have to do."

LSU found out this past season that 11 players are almost necessary to take down Tebow. On his first play from scrimmage in Florida's 23-10 win against LSU this past season, Tebow literally ran over senior safety Jessie Daniels.

"Tackling Tebow is just about effort," junior linebacker Darry Beckwith said. "He's a great running quarterback and a very physical quarterback. We just gotta get him down."

Most of Tebow's physicality comes from his size, something that Miles compared to a fullback. Tebow is an inch taller than the Tigers' starting fullback, Quinn Johnson. He is also taller and weighs more than two of LSU's starting linebackers, Beckwith and senior Ali Highsmith.

"He can run; he can pass; he's a big challenge for us," senior cornerback Chevis Jackson said. "Hopefully coach Pelini will put in some things to kind of contain him."

Miles said defending a player like Tebow is a unique situation. He said favoring run or pass formations on defense could prove to be deadly for the Tigers.

"If you load the box on a guy that can throw and has talented receivers, then you're just looking to give up big plays in the passing game," Miles said. "There's going to be disguise. We'll see how it fares. We think its a great challenge for our defense."

This past season, Tebow split action with Leak against the Tigers, much like he did for most of the season. He gained 35 yards on nine carries and completed both of his pass attempts against LSU.

Aside from a third-quarter safety by Florida's defense, Tebow accounted for all of the Gators' points against LSU, throwing two touchdown passes and running for another.

Senior safety Craig Steltz said Tebow's designed runs allow the Gators' tailbacks who would typically get the ball to act as lead blockers.

"They have a great scheme," Steltz said. "With the quarterback running, they get an extra blocker out, so it's kind of a one-on-one deal. Somebody's gotta beat that blocker out to make a tackle [on Tebow]."

Steltz said he anticipates the Tigers' coaching staff will formulate some sort of new defensive scheme just for Tebow and the Gators.

"We'll have some special for them," he said.

No. 1 Tigers turn attention to tackling Tebow - NCAA Football - Yahoo! Sports

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