Odds and Ends

Too often during the 2007 season Florida fell into the trap of becoming a two-man show. Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin are spectacular players, but others with great talent wound up not being utilized enough. This year the Gator coaching staff seems to be putting a priority on spreading the football around more.

Without the injured Harvin and Cornelius Ingram Florida still piled up yardage and points, but did so in a different way than fans have been accustomed to seeing.

The diverse offense wasn't just a garbage time mirage, as nine players touched the ball at least once on Florida's first two possessions alone. The ground game was the clear focus, with running plays outnumbering passes more than 2-to-1. Eight players other than quarterbacks recorded a rushing attempt, and while Tebow did have a team leading nine carries he was pulled out near the goal line in favor of letting backup Cameron Newton hammer the ball into the end zone.

Tebow was perfectly fine with letting Newton do the dirty work for the final three yards.

"Cam's a very good runner and he's a big boy. We can let him go in there and take the pounding sometimes."

Urban Meyer lauded the play of his running backs, on a day which saw Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Brandon James all find the end zone.

"We have five tailbacks now that are premium people," Meyer said.


Fans knew going in not to expect starters like Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes to be on the field against Hawaii, but the absence of tight end Aaron Hernandez had not been anticipated. Urban Meyer typically will not publicly acknowledge suspensions, and this was no exception as he would only say Hernandez "wasn't ready to play". When reporters tried to pin Meyer down on whether Hernandez would be back in the lineup next week, the coach stated, "If he's ready to play, he'll play. He wasn't ready to play this week."


USC transfer Emmanuel Moody's debut was a quiet one. The tailback saw action early but wound up with just two carries for two yards on the day. According to Meyer, Moody missed out on some carries as a result of spraining an ankle but remains a big factor in Florida's plans.


With two talented backups to Tim Tebow that they wanted to get some playing time, Florida coaches dusted off an old trick from the Steve Spurrier playbook. John Brantley entered the game for his first career play at 9:38 of the fourth quarter. After a motion penalty on the line, he went to the sidelines in favor of Cameron Newton. Newton bobbled a shotgun snap and took a three yard loss, then Brantley reentered. The two continued in the every play rotation for the remainder of the game, with the offense scoring no points during that time.


Florida's performance was marred early by penalties, including repeated offsides and false start calls. One on Riley Cooper nullified what would have likely been a fourth down conversion on the Gators first drive. A roughing the punter infraction sustained another Warrior possession. Hawaii was able to burn a good amount of clock in the first half as a result of favorable down and distance situations thanks to the penalties. For the game Florida racked up 13 penalties for 90 yards.


Tight end Tate Casey has seen his role diminish since Urban Meyer's arrival after catching four touchdowns his freshman season. He sat out last season with an injury redshirt, but might have a chance to be more heavily involved this season as a result of the injury to Cornelius Ingram. Casey had a team leading two catches, including a 34-yarder from Tim Tebow.


Punter Chas Henry went all of his freshman year without a touchback in any of his 37 punts. That streak was snapped on his first punt of the new season, as he boomed one five yards deep in the end zone on a punt from Hawaii's 46. Henry wound up with three touchbacks on the day.

Fightin Gators Top Stories