Debose Takes Advantage of Opportunity

It has been a long time coming and it appears the Gators finally may have found a ‘go to' receiver. Sophomore speedster Andre Debose put on a one play show to start the game Saturday against Alabama and unfortunately that wasn't enough. But, in the process, Debose earned some much needed respect from fans, teammates, and maybe most importantly, the coaching staff.

A year ago, Andre Debose did his damage on special teams, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns which tied a Florida player record for one season. This time, Debose caught the first touchdown of his career on a beautifully thrown deep ball by senior quarterback John Brantley.

Despite the beauty of the pass itself, it was getting to the ball that set Debose apart from any receiver yet this season. On the opening play of three games now, Florida has tried to go deep to Quinton Dunbar and Deonte Thompson. Both times, both players were pinned down by the defensive backs covering them and couldn't get to the ball.

This time, despite going against all-American Dre Kirkpatrick, Debose ran straight to the star cornerback used his leverage to bolt past him and never looked back all the way for a 65-yard scamper and a touchdown. It was also the longest reception for Debose in his career and longest by a receiver this season.

It didn't matter who Debose was lined up against for that play. He was going to get the ball thrown in his direction if the coverage allowed.

"Coach Weis told me that he was just going to go at me first play and try to make something happen,'' Debose told the Florida media after the game. "Kirkpatrick is a great player. We know that he has speed, he has NFL potential. Whoever was in front of me on that play, I feel like we were going to take a shot.''

There has seemed to be some break out plays for Debose where he was looking to get more of a chance this season, but an injury got in the way and he missed most of the game against Tennessee and all of the game against Kentucky. Saturday he got his chance and took advantage.

"I understand the offense and feel like I just got my opportunity to go make a play," he said.

Debose's 90 yards receiving on the evening mark a career high, and also the most Alabama has allowed to an individual receiver in nine games dating back to last season. He had a chance to take it to a new level on the next drive when a corner end zone pass was a little hard to reel in and got away from him. It could have been a huge play in the game after the Gators held Alabama to a field goal on the Tide's first drive. Still he was part of the drive that helped put points on the board with a Caleb Sturgis field goal.

"I really felt like that was a big moment. I felt like I was in, but once I saw the replay I realized I didn't," he said. Every time we put points on the board I feel like it is a positive for the team."

Debose will now be a main target for whoever will quarterback his team. Brantley was injured and had to be helped off the field Saturday night and his status is uncertain. Back up and true freshman Jeff Driskel was inserted to finish the game and Debose says the team has to get behind the youngster if needed.

I don't know anything about John Brantley and if he will come back. If it is the case that Driskel is the quarterback, we will rally around him and put our best foot forward. Debose commented that the team wasn't deflated when Brantley went down. They just knew they needed to get ready for when their number was called.

"Nothing really happened we just have to make adjustments when Driskel is in," Debose said. "We all believe in him because he performs in practice. We definitely expected him to perform in the game and he did a great job.

"I don't know anything about John Brantley and if he will come back. If it is the case that Driskel is the quarterback, we will rally around him and put our best foot forward.

Debose believes that Driskel can bring a lot to the table, albeit a lot less experience.

"One thing that Driskel brings to the table is that he can keep plays alive with his legs," Debose said. "He also has a great arm and we tell him all the time, ‘we trust you man', he's a great player."

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