Gators Ready to Pull out all the Stops

Tim Tebow showed up in the media room following the game with Georgia with a boot on his ankle and no one knew before he did it that the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback was injured. So grows the legend of Tebow as he wins games and performs well under injury or other duress. The coaches don't even know when Tebow is in pain half the time, play calling wouldn't mater if he was.

Watching the game, no one knew when or where Tebow got hurt against Georgia. He went 10-13 on the day and threw two touchdown passes and looked fun celebrating with his teammates during and after the game. The team practiced Sunday and Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen could not tell any ill effects of Tebow's ankle injury.

"He went full go," Mullen said of the practice. "To be honest I didn't notice that he was dinged up at all."

Whether he was a little banged up or not, the offense would not likely change much. Mullen has seen Tebow progress enough in the offense and is comfortable where his signal caller is to run various parts of the offense at any time. He knows Tebow has helped himself stay a little healthier this year than he was a year ago at this time.

"At this point, we have to go," Mullen said about game planning and play calling with a championship on the line. "We are full steam ahead and we have to do what we have to do to win the game. Tim has done a nice job of managing the offense and doing a good job of getting the ball out of his hands and that is when you take the biggest hits as a quarterback. He's done a real good job of getting rid of the ball and taking less hits that way...It comes with experience, the more you play the better off you are. The more you see things, the faster you make those decisions."

The plan against Georgia was to throw underneath and run the ball to draw up the safeties and get them in run support to finally try and throw it over their heads. It took a while, but Florida finally took a shot deep in the game, although Georgia still wasn't cooperating by moving up and defending the short field and running game.

"We wanted to, but they were still soft on the deep ball we hit," Mullen said about trying to throw the ball deep. "Louis (Murphy) did a great job of locking him up, snagging him and getting by him. Tim threw a great ball. Even as the game went along, we had to take what they were giving us."

Mullen thinks Tebow is really playing better this year than he did in his Heisman Trophy winning season of a year ago. His game management skills have helped lead the Gators to better record at this stage of the game and in route to a championship type of season.

"I'd say so, because the most important one is wins and losses," Mullen said about Tebow having a better season and which stats he has improved on. "From where we were last year, he is having a better year. Another day like he had on Saturday...I'd be very happy with it."

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One of the big positives from the big win Saturday against Georgia was the play of sophomore running back Emmanuel Moody. Moody came in on the last two drives of the game after missing a few weeks due to an ankle injury. He ended up leading the team in rushing on the night with 71 yards on seven carries.

"I was really pleased with that," Mullen said. "At the end of the week in practice he was really starting to go hard. I thought he would not be 100 percent, but I was real impressed with how hard he ran at the end of that game. It is a great jump start into this week, now he is coming off of it with his first 100% week back with some confidence."

It has vaulted moody back into the mix at running back where two freshmen have kind of stolen the show so far this season. Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have played very well, but on Saturday were not as effective as Moody running the ball. Mullen said the position is like any other on offense, they want to utilize all the talent on the squad and he expects to see more of Moody this week against Vanderbilt.

"I love rolling guys through," he said of having a good rotation at each position. "For us we are going to roll guys through the best we can. I don't think I have ever caught myself once this year saying 'why do we have this guy in?'. We just keep rolling guys in and when you are in, we expect you to make a play."

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Another great sign on offense against the Dawgs was the fact a lot of offensive linemen got to play a lot of snaps. Late in the game the second string line were all inserted to play and got two full series. However, an even bigger moment was when senior left guard Jim Tartt was inserted into the game in the first quarter.

Tartt has been out with a shoulder injury that has plagued him over the years. One of the mainstays on the offensive line for three seasons, he hasn't been able to play much this season. Tartt got in and played well according to Offensive Line Coach Steve Addazio.

"Tartt got in there and got some plays, he is feeling better," Addazio said. "I wanted to get him in there early and get him going, it was a good thing for Jimmy. It's just a process right now, little by little."

In his absence, Carl Johnson has established himself as the starter at left guard. Johnson has had four good games in a row and is now pretty entrenched at the position for this year. Addazio likes the way his big sophomore played Saturday.

"Carl is real athletic, he has great feet and is a great bender," Addazio said. "He's never played a lot of guard so he's adapted to the position. They threw a lot of defense at him and he handled it really well."

Addazio's unit has played inspired ball this season and have become a much more physical group up front than they were even a year ago. Addazio just wants his guys to keep up the good work and finish strong this season.

"I just think they wanted to play physical and tough and they did it again in a big time game and big time atmosphere and against a quality football team," he said. "They just need to keep playing at that level in those big games."

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Another monumental moment and a picture of things to come was the play of wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Thompson caught three passes in the last quarter of the game and finally found himself in the end zone with the ball in his hands scoring the 48th point of the game for the Gators. It marked Thompson's first touchdown of his Gator career and the freshman wide receiver was really excited when he caught the ball.

"It felt so good," he said. "I felt relieved."

Upon further review, Thompson caught the ball and was prepared to celebrate the touchdown. He threw both hands half way up in the air and then looked a bit confused. As it turned out, he forgot what he wanted to do to celebrate when he did catch a touchdown.

"I hadn't been in there in two years so... I was shell shocked, I didn't know," he said laughing. "Now I see how it feels, so I will get back in there again. There is more to come, plenty more."


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