Gator Speed Eye Opening

We all knew the Florida Gator football team was loaded with speed. We knew the times that Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps had scored on the track. We knew that Percy Harvin was amazingly quick and we had an idea about the redshirt freshman wide receiver Deonte Thompson.

But in truth, we didn't have a clue. Demps, Rainey and Brandon James each turned in a sensational long run in Florida's easy season opening win over Hawaii. Thompson would have joined in the fun but an early bomb from Tim Tebow went off his fingertips. Just to make certain the young pups didn't get all the glory, senior Louis Murphy hauled in a 48-yard pass from Tebow midway through the third quarter. The defense also got into the speed act with long interception returns for touchdowns by Major Wright and Ahmad Black.

Coming into this game it was obvious Hawaii couldn't keep up the Gators' speed, but the big play potential Florida flashed was remarkable. Four scores from beyond 30 yards is something SEC defensive coordinators didn't want to see, but it appears they will see plenty of it in '08.

In Florida's first two seasons under Urban Meyer, the Gators were incapable of turning openings into big plays. How many times was it written or discussed that Florida ended a game with no plays Moe than 25 yards? It sure seemed like it was at least half the contests.

It may be a long time before we hear it again. I've already mentioned five guys who made or barely missed making a big play on offense, and I've yet to mention the 34-yard reception from Tate Casey. OK, now I have. But there's someone even more significant that hasn't come up yet. Percy Harvin.

Florida's injured receiver/runner is arguably the most dynamic player in college football. He has averaged more than eleven yards per touch in his two seasons in Gainesville and it's scary to think of what he will add to this team's big play ability when he is healthy.

There are some football commentators who will tell you speed is overrated. They like to point out that the difference between a 4.3 and 4.6 is just a yard and a half over a 40 yard distance. What they forget is that a yard and a half is the difference between catching someone and not catching him. Look for the Gators to put that yard and a half to good use over and over again.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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