Special Teams Generate Offense

While the boxscore credits the offense for the Gators' dominating performance in the first half of Saturday's game against the Troy Trojans, the special teams were perhaps just as big a contributor.

Many of the Gators' seven touchdowns in the first half were aided by tremendous field position. Six out of those seven possessions, the offense found itself beginning drives already at midfield or in opponent territory.

"The kicking game was phenomenal," Meyer said. "Great return yardage on punt returns and great return yardage on kickoff returns. If we do that, we'll be competitive in this conference. Our big wins we've had against Tennessee and LSU and some of those great big ones we've had around here are because we played football like we played that first half. Everyone's excited about the offense – it had nothing to do with the offense. It had to do with special teams and defense and playing that short field."

Meyer commented at last week's press conference that due to the new kickoff rules, he would elect to re-kick if the opposition's kickoff drew a penalty. That scenario came to be midway through the first quarter when Troy kicker Greg Whibbs' kick went out of bounds. Rather than taking the ball at the 35-yard line, Meyer chose to have him kick again.

The decision proved to be a good one as sophomore Brandon James returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards all the way to the Trojan 37-yard line. Despite coming off a one-game suspension, James was quick to resume his role as one of the country's most dangerous returners, taking back three kicks for a total of 127 yards and a punt for 32 yards.

"He's a very aggressive returner," Meyer said. "You talk about the ‘it' at certain positions, he's got ‘it.' When he hits it, he hits it and he's got great speed. Our guys like blocking for him and he's a dynamic returner, one of the best ones out there."

The Gators also had a 19-yard kickoff return from sophomore wide receiver Jarred Fayson and a 39-yard kickoff return by Chris Rainey, though it was nullified when he fumbled at the end of the return.

The Gators special teams also made a tremendous impact on punt coverage, setting up the Gators' first score on a block by reserve linebackers Roderick Blackett and Jamaal Deveaux.

"The scheme of the punt block is based on the field position of the opposing team," Blackett said. "We had to push their wedge back. When we hit the back shield of the punt team, we pushed them into the punter."

The Gators then blocked another when freshman defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap got a hand on the punt, deflecting it for minimal yardage.

Meyer mentioned a study he read that showed that teams that block a punt have a 90 percent chance of winning the game.

"I read that after my first year when I was at Bowling Green," Meyer said. "I'm not real smart but I kinda like that 90 percent stuff. So let's go block a punt. To hear a stadium completely come unglued when you block a punt, to me that's one of the great things. Our kids bite into it, they love it."


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