Still the Gators top three receivers ended up with some pretty good numbers heading into the Outback Bowl game with Iowa. Jackson (81-824, 9 TD) is seven receptions from tying Carlos Alvarez's 1969 UF record. Baker (42-550, 3 TD) has hundred-yard games against Alabama and Mississippi State and Cornelius (28-375, 1 TD) had a breakout performance with eight catches for 138 yards against Kentucky. After a Florida practice in Tampa, I had the chance to speak with Cornelius about this game and this season.
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LV: Jemalle, the Gators have three healthy wideouts heading into the Iowa game. It's been a long time, hasn't it? JC: Yeah it has been awhile since all three of us have been healthy so it should be pretty good for us. Everybody is running around and looks a hundred percent so it seems like we're back to normal.
LV: For a guy from Fort Meade, is it pretty cool being back in Tampa?
JC: It's real cool cuz I'm very close to home and a lot of people will get to come watch us play. I'm really familiar with the area so it's good for me.
LV: How much of a difference do you see in the focus in the preparation for this game as opposed to the last two years?
JC: It's a whole lot different. We came here for one purpose and that's to win a game. Even coming out to practice from the very first day we knew we had to maintain our focus. We've had some time off, so we're fresh and ready to play the game.
LV: Iowa is a team that comes right at you, nothing fancy on defense just line up and play very solid football. What stands out about them to you?
JC: To me, looking at their defense they have really good linebackers. They make a lot of plays so we as receivers have to be ready to be physical when we block them and elusive when we have the ball.
LV: With linebackers like that you probably don't want too many shovel passes, huh?
JC: I wouldn't mind because all you should need to do is make one move, so it should be all right.
LV: Does the team feel that you guys still have momentum from the big win over FSU even though it's been a while?
JC: Oh yeah, because we had some great practices even before we left Gainesville. The atmosphere has been a whole lot better since the FSU game and it hasn't changed.
LV: You guys dominated Florida State and they turned around and dominated Virginia Tech. Does that show you guys that it's all come together and you guys that it's all coming together at the right time?
JC: When you got teams from Florida you know the talent is going to be there. When you see those results it tells you we can play with anyone in the country, and now we just have to go out and show that.
LV: How important is it to this team to finish the season the right way?
JC: It would be a great because it's been a long time since we won a bowl game. A nine-win season is great and we're really looking forward to it.
LV: Do you agree with those who say it's a springboard to a better off-season?
JC: Oh yeah because you see the kind of recruits we're getting and we need to keep doing that. A win in the bowl game would help us keep that momentum.
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With Bubba Caldwell coming back Florida should be in very good shape for 2006 at wide receiver even if Chad Jackson turns pro as most expect. But one key question could be who emerges as the next threat? The best candidates as far as I'm concerned are Nyan Boateng and David Nelson, but that's another topic for another time… say spring practice? Keep those emails coming!
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Have a great week.