Gator News and World Report (1/3/2006)

The Gator News and World Report for Tuesday, January 3, 2006. Outback payback; Without a doubt, Brown is the face, heart of team; Showing heart all the way, Brown ends college career with first TD; UF faces next depth charge; Gators rally past 'Noles, 72-62; Baker's dozen; Hawkeyes speechless about officiating; Florida hangs on to beat Iowa 31 - 24; Coach bugs Baker into a big day; A Matter Of Trust; Questionable Calls Hinder Hawkeyes' Bid and more...

Florida Gator Football

Outback payback
With Urban Meyer, it's been all about trust since that very first meeting the new Florida coach had with his players last January.

Without a doubt, Brown is the face, heart of team
Even if he doesn't make a play, doesn't bat away a pass, doesn't make a tackle, it will matter. He knows it. They know it.The face of Florida football is back, and if nothing else it should give the Gators a lift today when Vernell Brown lines up at cornerback against Iowa.

Hawkeyes surprise Gator D
The strength of Iowa's offense isn't its running game and it's not its passing game. It is the Hawkeyes' ability to be proficient in both. Balance.

Showing heart all the way, Brown ends college career with first TD
Vernell Brown came into his senior season dubbed by Florida coach Urban Meyer as "the face of Florida football."

Meyer's daring call surprising
Brandon Siler and Mike Degory each shook their heads with one part awe and one part disbelief.

Baker's dozen
Dallas Baker acknowledged he was a little surprised when Outback Bowl officials handed him the game MVP trophy.

Hawkeyes speechless about officiating
The Iowa Hawkeyes weren't shy about blowing the whistle on the officiating following their 31-24 loss to Florida in Monday's Outback Bowl.

Florida hangs on to beat Iowa 31 - 24
Chris Leak showed why Florida is confident its spread option offense is capable of carrying the Gators back to national prominence.

Fake punt, real win
It was not out of desperation that Florida coach Urban Meyer told his team to run a fake punt at its own 19-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

Brown does it for Gators
He says he forgot about it, but it happened. In fact, it happened in the same stadium and bowl three years ago. Vernell Brown became infamous for his role in the 2003 Outback Bowl against Michigan. Then a wide receiver, he took the handoff on a reverse and threw a pass right into Michigan linebacker Victor Hobson's arms, sealing the Wolverines' 38-30 victory.

Coach bugs Baker into a big day
Throughout the past week in practice, Florida receivers coach Billy Gonzales was all over Dallas Baker. Gonzales nagged, cajoled, pushed and generally antagonized the 6-foot-3, 204-pounder from New Smyrna Beach. The pressure apparently worked, because Baker caught 10 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns to win Outback Bowl MVP honors after the 16th-ranked Gators' 31-24 victory over No.25 Iowa on Monday afternoon.

Outback Bowl Extra
Special teams scored again. Jemalle Cornelius blocked a punt, and Tremaine McCollum scored on the play to give the Gators a 7-0 lead. It was the fifth blocked kick of the season and the second blocked punt for a TD.

A Matter Of Trust
Urban Meyer sat on a plane exactly one year ago Monday, thumbing through the media guide of the University of Florida football program he had just signed on to coach. He didn't know the players who smiled up at him from the pages. He sure as heck didn't trust them.

Meyer: Leak's Feet Key To Title Aspirations
Florida QB Chris Leak blamed the damp Raymond James Stadium turf and the fresh paint for his indecisive feet and uncertain balance during Monday's Outback Bowl.

Baker Leaps Into Leading Role For Gators
From the time Outback Bowl officials first told him of the award up until he actually received the trophy, Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker wasn't sure whether to believe them.

Questionable Calls Hinder Hawkeyes' Bid
Iowa could take solace from the final score in Monday's Outback Bowl. Outmanned in talent and overwhelmed early after having a blocked punt and an interception returned for touchdowns, the Hawkeyes fought back to lose to Florida by a touchdown, 31-24.

Putting the past in the past
In a few seconds, center Mike Degory would pack his gym bag, exit the Raymond James Stadium storage room and walk into life as a former Florida football player.

UF seniors ponder futures
They look back with distress, seeing three head coaches and zero SEC championships. They look ahead with trepidation, wondering if today's Outback Bowl marks the last time they'll play a football game that matters to fans.

UF's fast start enough to beat Iowa
An interception return by Vernell Brown and the Chris Leak-Dallas Baker tandem helped UF to its first bowl win since 2002.

Winning the important ones has aided Meyer's cause
Lifting a line from The Great Communicator, the question for Gator Nation is, ``Are you better off now than you were a year ago? Two years ago?''

Baker making himself attractive NFL option
Florida junior Dallas Baker plans to pick up next season where he left off in the Outback Bowl, and that would do plenty for his plans to go pro.

Moore emerges as RB option for Gators
Maybe DeShawn Wynn shouldn't have listened to his coach. Florida coach Urban Meyer convinced Wynn, a junior tailback, to stay at Florida for a senior season to try to improve his NFL stock.

Trust does trick for Gators
Billy Latsko's heart was racing before coach Urban Meyer even called the junior jack-of-all-trades' number. Latsko hoped Meyer would take a chance on him — on all the members of the Florida Gators' punt team — with an eventual 31-24 Outback Bowl win against Iowa hanging in the balance.

Brown's leg, spirit still strong
Three years ago on this field, Vernell Brown threw the goofy reverse pass that symbolized the futility of the Ron Zook era at the University of Florida. The interception doomed Florida to the first of three three straight bowl losses, two of them in the Outback Bowl.

Leak ends hard year on roll
Chris Leak ended an up-and-down season headed in the right direction. The junior quarterback put together solid back-to-back performances for the first time this season, capped by a 278-yard, two-touchdown effort Monday in the University of Florida's 31-24 win against Iowa in the Outback Bowl.

Everything goes right for Meyer, Gators
Urban Meyer claims to have boned up on his Florida football history. He must have skipped the chapter on Fourth-and-Dumb.

Gators get gutsy
It's a matter of trust. Florida coach Urban Meyer talked all season about his players earning trust, often lamenting the lack of faith he had in his players.

Gators seniors go out on top
In a few seconds, center Mike Degory would pack his gym bag, exit the Raymond James Stadium storage room and walk into life as a former Florida football player.

Staking their claim
It looked as if Florida's three-game bowl losing streak would end in overwhelming fashion Monday at the Outback Bowl.

Florida's win: big; area sports bar crowds: small
Check out most Gainesville sports bars during the University of Florida Gators' football season, and you'll find a wall-to-wall crowd of blue-and-orange-clad fans cheering at the top of their lungs.

Gators receive Meyer's message loud and clear
To break a streak of three straight bowl losses, all Florida had to do was take incredible chances, get some lucky breaks and hold on by the seat of their collective pants.

It Was That Close
Through it all — the interception and blocked punt for touchdowns, a 31-7 second-half deficit, key penalties — Iowa still had a chance to win the Outback Bowl at the end.

Chris Spielman unleashed
The officiating in Monday's Outback Bowl between No. 16 Florida and No. 25 Iowa was controversial — at least that's the way a lot of Hawkeye fans see it.

'Happy Hawk Day' has sad ending for fans
At dawn Monday — 7:42 a.m., to be exact — Brooks Reynolds and a half-dozen friends gathered over a fire in the cold, misty rain on Reynolds' parents' back porch in Des Moines.

Fake punt key to Florida win
Running a fake punt from inside the 20-yard line with a 10-point lead and about five minutes remaining hardly qualifies as sound, fundamental football.

Brown shines in his return from injury
After breaking his fibula against Vanderbilt on Nov. 5, Florida senior cornerback Vernell Brown Jr., vowed to return to the field.

Hawks fall to Gators in Outback Bowl
An ordinary effort wasn't going to cut it Monday for the Florida football team.

Penalties haunt Hawkeyes in Tampa
Iowa running back Albert Young speaks softly, but he also speaks his mind.

Onside kick penalty stalls UI rally
The Iowa football team and its fans will assuredly spend months speculating, wondering and wishing they had had one last possession in the 2006 Outback Bowl.

Ferentz downplays NFL talk
The NFL's coaching carousel started spinning again Monday, and as usual, Kirk Ferentz's name is being mentioned as a possible passenger.

Iowa's problems more than refs
It's hard to criticize a group of young men that refuse to quit in the face of adversity, but it's also hard to praise Monday's performance by the Iowa football team.

Comeback falls short
The Iowa football team filled the final 15 minutes of the Outback Bowl with excitement.

Dejected fans see red
Jubilation and a spark of hope quickly turned to anger and frustration Monday for Hawkeye fans as Iowa lost 31-24 to the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl.

Hawkeyes can't recover from early deficit
Afflicted by mistakes, Iowa couldn't match last season's late bowl heroics.

Iowa's steady special teams falter
In the week leading up to the 2006 Outback Bowl, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz stressed the importance of special-team play heading into the clash with Florida.

Degory leaves streak, acres of goodies behind
Mike Degory ended his career Monday with a phenomenal streak. The center started all 50 games in his career, matching the Florida record of cornerback Larry Kennedy (1991-94).

Hawkeyes break down
His college career suddenly behind him and a certain NFL future awaiting, Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway stood before a battery of microphones and television cameras and explained his role in the play that ended Iowa's Outback Bowl hopes.

Gators in lead but pursuit continues
We are now in the home stretch of recruiting with less than a month to go until national signing day on Feb.1. Looking at the Sunshine State, Florida is leading the charge. In fact, the Gators have the nation's top recruiting class, according to Coach Urban Meyer is sitting on 27 commitments and looking to get as many as five more

Gators catch on
When the final seconds had ticked away and their careers were officially over, the senior members of the Florida team stood in the Bucs locker room at Raymond James Stadium as winners one last time.

MVP nearly afterthought for Baker
He walked onto the stage, leaned on the lectern and totally ignored the Most Valuable Player trophy glistening beside him. And it was his.

Meyer's gamble like good ol' days
Urban Meyer pounded the podium in mock anger, slamming it hard enough to send a basso profundo belch out the speakers in the back of the room

Winning the important ones has aided Meyer's cause
Lifting a line from The Great Communicator, the question for Gator Nation is, ``Are you better off now than you were a year ago? Two years ago?''

Neither too little nor too late for face of UF football
He'd always been a pleasant kid. That was the word around the Florida program. That Vernell Brown was as likable as they come.

Football fans search for good seats inside and out
Sisters Anna and Sina Decaria spent Monday morning walking around outside Raymond James Stadium, shaking their heads no.

Jackson catches up to 1969 team mark
Florida junior receiver Chad Jackson hasn't told teammates whether he plans to leave for the NFL or stay for his senior season.

Huge win big relief for Meyer
Year one is now year done. And, as opening acts go, this one appears promising.

Gators break three-bowl losing streak
Florida coach Urban Meyer accomplished something his predecessor, Ron Zook, could not. He won the Outback Bowl.

Fans cheer teams, jeer weekday games
On most weekday mornings, Mike Weber is teaching martial arts, and he was planning to do just that later on Monday.

Florida Gator Basketball

UF faces next depth charge
t 0-10, Morgan State would seem a likely candidate as the worst team that No. 5 Florida will face this season.

Florida Lady Gator Basketball

Gators rally past 'Noles, 72-62
Whenever Florida and Florida State face off, no extra motivation is necessary. But the UF women's basketball team had a little more incentive than usual to beat its in-state rivals.

Gators run by FSU women
The Florida women's basketball team served up fitting revenge against Florida State on Monday night in a 72-62 victory.

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