Speed Helps Demps to Huge Night

LEXINGTON, KY - Jeff Demps was overcome by a familiar feeling Saturday night. It happens when he sees an open area of green grass. As he broke through a gaping hole in the offensive line early in the third quarter, the feeling returned. Demps saw a clear path to the end zone with only two Kentucky defenders to beat. As usual, they didn't catch him.

"As soon as you see that hole, you feel like you if you can get through it and no one will tackle you," Jeff Demps said. "It's that feeling where you've got the hole, so take it. Half of the time, I just get that feeling that I'm going to score."

On Saturday night in Lexington, Demps got that feeling twice. He gave Florida a 14-0 lead with a 20-yard run on a sweep play. However, it was his touchdown run in the second half that caught headlines.

Demps broke through the line untouched and found an opening between the cornerback and safety. Both probably should have tackled him considering the angle they each had. A surprise to no one, neither Kentucky defender made the tackle. Instead, they both collided, while diving for Demps' feet as he blew by.

"I felt two defenders closing in on the side, so I just tried to run a little faster," Demps said with a smirk.

That 84-yard touchdown run tied for the sixth-longest in school history. It was the longest run by a Florida player in an SEC game since Emmitt Smith had a 96-yard run against Mississippi State in 1988.

"Jeff has a 3.5 GPA, does everything you ask, works hard off the field, works hard in the community," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "He runs indoor track and won a national championship. He's the ultimate team guy and positively affects everybody in the organization.

"I don't know what else I can say positively about him. He's always in a great mood. He's the type of young man you want representing your program and university."

Demps led the Gators on Saturday with 157 yards on ten carries and two touchdowns. It was the sixth time in the senior's career that he has gone over 100 yards.

He wasn't the only one to do so.

Chris Rainey went for 105 yards on 15 carries. It was the first time the Gators have had two players over 100 rushing yards since Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin did it in the win over Oklahoma during the 2008 National Championship game.

"It's tough for teams to key in because if you stop one of us, you've got to worry about another guy running," Demps said.

Demps showed off his speed on both touchdowns runs, but Rainey showed the flash that has put him in the early Heisman Trophy conversations of some. After a Matt Elam interception with the Gators already up 14-0, Rainey took a toss play to his left only to find what looked like the entire Kentucky defense waiting on him.

True to form, Rainey reversed the field. He dove for the pylon but was ruled out at the one-yard line, and Trey Burton scored on the ground during the next play. He didn't get on the board in the statistics, but Demps still would give Rainey six points.

"It was a great run, but I also think he scored, too," Demps said. "I told Rainey that it was a touchdown in my eyes. That was a great run."

The game plan for Florida hasn't been a secret this season. Head coach Will Muschamp said on Saturday night that it wouldn't change until the opponent takes away what Demps and Rainey can do.

The running backs don't mind. If the statistics are any indication, they're getting better as the season goes on. Florida rushed for 405 yards against Kentucky, the sixth most in a single game in school history. It was the most yardage since Florida rushed for 466 yards against New Mexico in 1989.

"We don't really hide it," Demps said. "Teams know we're going to run the ball. It challenges us to step up, run harder and block harder. It's not a secret. Teams know we're going to do it."

Players indicated after the game that as soon as the wheels touched down in Gainesville, the focus would shift to the challenge coming to town next Saturday at 8 p.m. Alabama will give the Gators their toughest challenge of the season, and it's a similar situation to last season.

The Gators recorded a win over rival Tennessee and a blowout win over Kentucky before taking on the Crimson Tide. The difference this year is chemistry and maturity. Demps said the team learned from the blowout in Tuscaloosa last season.

"We weren't cocky, but for some strange reason, it did humble us and brought us down to earth," Demps said. "This year, that's what kind of team we are. We're a humble team that's very down to earth but hungry as well."


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