The Gators once again outgained their opponents by a large margin, gaining 501 yards to the Owls' 384 yards. Andre Caldwell led the way for Florida with another record setting performance. After having a career game against South Carolina last week, Caldwell followed it with 13 catches for 169 yards, surpassing Carlos Alvarez's career reception mark in the process.
Despite the big numbers for the Florida offense, head coach Urban Meyer was disappointed with the consistency of the offense.
"You take last week's performance with the execution and the playmakers, and I was very pleased with last week's performance," Meyer said. "The key to teams winning championships is guys stepping up and making plays. Aaron Hernandez made a play, so did Cornelius Ingram and so did some other guys on this team. I was very disappointed in the fact that I don't think we did a very good job running the football early in the game. I thought we had some misreads, a couple from the quarterback position."
The Gators rushed for 155 yards, but most came in the second half. Back-up quarterback Cameron Newton led the Gators with 46 rushing yards. Tebow finished with 31 yards on 11 carries, but he was stuffed by the FAU defense for most of the first half. He did finish with an impressive day throwing the football, completing 25-of-34 passes for a career-high 338 yards and three touchdowns. He became the first player in NCAA history to rush and pass for 20 touchdowns each in the same season.
But again, Meyer was disappointed with the play of his sophomore quarterback.
"Tim didn't play his best game," Meyer said. "I'll be critical of Tim because he needs some critical analysis. That shows you how good a football player he is, though. He had some great plays around him."
Freshmen tight end Aaron Hernandez was one of the Gators to make great plays. In the third quarter, Hernandez leaped up and grabbed a touchdown catch over an FAU defender. He finished with three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.
"Get used to him because he blocks well, too," Meyer said. "Aaron Hernandez is a hard worker and he's done a nice job. He's really been progressing over the last seven weeks."
Ingram had a big day as well, catching four passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first multi-touchdown game for the junior.
"He was tremendous," Meyer said. "He's been healthy for three weeks. He made a comment when I called him out in front of the team that he's never been hurt throughout his career, and he didn't know how to handle it. We ran the same exact play last week that today we scored on, and in my opinion, it was a much more difficult catch this week."
The Gator special teams got in on the action as well. Joey Ijjas nailed a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but the biggest play came on a blocked punt in the first quarter. Walk-on Joey Sorrentino blocked the punt and Markus Manson scooped it up and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.
"[Sorrentino] he's like our little sixth grader," Meyer said. "He's a tremendous human being. I wish he had picked it up and scored because he's one of my favorite players."
The defense played well upfront, holding the Owls to just 75 rushing yards on 36 carries. The Gator secondary allowed more than 300 yards passing, however.
"It's just simple things in cover two covering the verticals," Meyer said. "We've been getting better. That's the thing that bothers you. That No. 16 for them is a good receiver, and we just got wore out on the short side of the field."
Cortez Gent had six receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. Joe Haden covered him for most of the afternoon until he left with an ankle sprain.
"I was a little disappointed," Meyer said. "I though he [Haden] was coming on, and I thought he was our best corner. I think he'll have a bright future here. He's a heck of a competitor and he likes the contact."
With Georgia's win over Kentucky also on Saturday, the Gators are eliminated from the SEC East race. But they're still in contention for a BCS bowl bid and face their instate rivals Florida State next weekend at The Swamp.
"We'll attack this thing like we do for all of our rivalry games," Meyer said. "This is a big game for us. It's a game where we're starting more true freshmen than we are seniors. My first year, I was indoctrinated, too. This is a very important week and a very intense week."
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski
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