But it didn't have to be that way, and the Gator lead should have been bigger. After Florida's opening touchdown on a drive that started from the Miami 35, the Gators were forced to punt on their next six possessions. They went scoreless for more than 44 minutes, but it wasn't the Miami defense that shut them down. Mistakes by the Gator offense kept them from scoring on drive after drive.
Florida's second drive of the game started from their 20-yard line. They picked up a first down after a 7-yard gain by Percy Harvin and then another seven when Tim Tebow hit Riley Cooper. Then with a 1st-and-10 from the 36, Tebow threw a bit behind Louis Murphy, and it went through Murphy's hands. Still, the Gators were able to pick up another first down after two runs by Tebow, but a questionable personal foul penalty on Phil Trautwein set up the Gators with a 2nd-and-24, and they were never able to recover.
On their next drive, UF started from their own 24. After a 1-yard loss by Kestahn Moore, Tebow ran for seven, setting up a short third down situation. Tebow dropped back to pass, but Marcus Gilbert was beat by Canes' linebacker Sean Spence who got to Tebow for a nine-yard loss. The Gators were forced to punt again.
Midway through the second quarter, the Gators again started deep in their own territory, but Tebow started the drive with a 20-yard run. After picking up another first down, the Gators eventually found themselves in a 3rd-and-short situation from the Miami 34 but were flagged for having too many men on the line of scrimmage. After failing to convert on 3rd-and-8, they had to punt.
On the last possession of the first half, the Gators started around midfield with 47-seconds to work with. Starting with two incomplete passes, Tebow had Murphy open downfield, but the senior dropped the pass ending the drive again.
Florida's offensive woes continued into their first drive of the second half. For the second straight possession, the Gators had a three-and-out. The Canes did put pressure on Tebow in the pocket, but he had a chance to hit Aaron Hernandez across the middle. The throw from Tebow was low, but Hernandez was in position to make the play, but couldn't come up with the catch, forcing the Gators to punt for the fifth consecutive possession.
On the Gators' second possession of the second half, Tebow completed passes on the first two plays of the drive. It looked like the offense may have settled down and found a rhythm. After another first down helped by a Chris Rainey 13-yard gain, the offense was moving. But then Tebow overthrew a wide-open Murphy down the left sideline, and Demps tripped on a third down completion falling two yards shy of the first down marker. There wasn't a Miami defender within 10 yards of Demps when he went down.
Florida finally sustained a drive late in the third quarter that carried over to the fourth and resulted in a touchdown. They would score on three of their final four possessions.
Against Hawaii, big plays prevented the Gator offense from getting into a rhythm and Tebow was asked about it after the game. He said it didn't make a difference, but maybe it did as the offense struggled for most of the game on Saturday night. They'll have two weeks to get it all straightened out because they'll need to be completely in sync when they head to Knoxville to face Tennessee in the SEC opener.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski
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