Defense Dominates Canes

It wasn't pretty, but in-state rivalry games usually aren't. The Gator offense struggled for the first three quarters, but the defense kept Florida ahead giving time for the offense to eventually come alive. Florida scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to put away Miami. 26-3, in front of a record crowd in The Swamp.

For the second week in a row, it was No. 5 Florida's special teams and defense that provided the boost for the Gators. The defense was magnificent holding Miami to only three points, despite losing the time of possession battle.

"Our defense played outstanding and that's two weeks in a row," head coach Urban Meyer said after the game. "The best thing we have now going for our defense is that if you don't go hard, you stand out like a sore thumb. Coach Strong and his staff are doing a heck of a job, and they're playing with a little chip on their shoulder."

While the offense killed drives with mistake after mistake, the defense held the Canes to only 140 total yards. Miami's highly acclaimed ground attack mustered just 61 yards, and they converted just 5-of-15 third downs.

The special teams unit did their job for a second straight week in a row also. With 47-seconds left in the first half, momentum switched just before the break when Jeff Demps blocked Miami punter Matt Bosher's kick who was pinned in the Canes' end zone. Louis Murphy tried to cover it up, but instead the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

"I can go on and on about special teams," Meyer said. "Jeff Demps was the one that blocked that punt and gave us a momentum switch."

Not only did the Gator defense stifle Miami's running attack, they also shut down the passing game. Both Robert Marve and Jacory Harris combined for just 12-of-22 passing for 79 yards.

"I think we covered their receivers," Meyer said. "If you think how far our secondary has come, last year it was like a sieve. I thought our guys played much better out there."

After missing the season opener with a foot injury, linebacker Brandon Spikes led the Gator defense with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. The Gators didn't force any turnovers, but they pressured Miami all game, posting three sacks.

Offensively, the Gators struck early. Miami got off a bad punt after a three-and-out to start the game, and it took Florida just five plays to find the end zone. Wide receiver/running back Percy Harvin and tight end Aaron Hernandez who both missed last week's game got involved early and Hernandez was on the receiving end of a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tebow to open the scoring. Hernandez led all players with five receptions for a total of 58 yards.

But then Florida's defense went stale and was held scoreless until the fourth quarter.

"The offense was out of synch," Meyer said. "They did a nice job early of pressuring us. They have a stout defensive line. But in the fourth quarter we opened it up a little bit and some guys made some plays."

The Gators found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter and added a field goal. They sustained a long drive to end the third quarter and start the fourth that was capped off with a two-yard touchdown run by Harvin. Harvin rushed five times for 27 yards and also had one catch for 12 yards.

Louis Murphy had a big fourth quarter, catching four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. He also had another touchdown called back because of an illegal procedure penalty called against the Gators. It was a sweet redemption for Murphy whose negative comments regarding Miami last week have been in the national spotlight all week.

"He's the guy that opened his mouth," Meyer said. "You can count on him never doing that again. That's not Louis Murphy. He apologized to the team and he's a great player."

Tebow completed 21-of-35 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried 13 times for 55 yards.

"I thought he played excellent in the fourth quarter," Meyer said. "The one we had called back was a great throw. He played well at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth."

Take away Tebow's rushing yards, and the Gators rushed for only 44 yards on 14 carries. Meyer was disappointed after a big game against Hawaii last week.

"I was not pleased at all with the way we ran the ball," Meyer said.

Emmanuel Moody not only wasn't involved in the offense, but didn't even play. Last week he was affected by an ankle sprain, but Meyer said he was healthy this week.

"I'm going to revaluate that this week," he said. "We have to get him involved somehow. He's too good of a player not to."

Meyer attributed Florida's early offensive struggles to Miami's defense.

"They had interior pressure and attacked the line of scrimmage with the linebackers," he said. "If we could do it over again, we would have play-actioned a little more in the first half."

But overall, Meyer was obviously pleased with the outcome and said they'll enjoy the victory during their bye-week leading up to the SEC opener at Tennessee in two weeks.

"There's not a more talented team top to bottom in the country than Miami," Meyer said. "I'm very proud of the way that our team played. We are going to enjoy that win."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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