James Wants to Spring Decisive Return

You could forgive Brandon James for wanting the Gators to lose the coin toss before Thursday night's game with Oklahoma. You see if Florida wins the toss the Gators will likely defer to the second half and end up kicking off to the Sooners.

But if Oklahoma wins the toss they might do the same, meaning the Gators would get the ball first. If that happens, the junior from St. Augustine will get a chance to get the game off to a rip-roaring start.

There's reason to believe that could be a big play. Oklahoma has allowed four kickoff returns for touchdowns this season and that's something the Gators would love to exploit. James has not broken a big return this year that has counted; although twice he has taken a kickoff all the way back only to have it voided by a penalty.

James has returned kicks for more than 3,000 yards in his career, 1,911 on kickoffs and another 1,126 on punts. I went one-on-one with James to talk about the BCS Title Game and his hopes of making a big play in it.

LV: How much more exciting is it to be playing in this game now that it's game week?

BJ: I'm incredibly excited. Just to be playing in my second national championship game, being down in Miami with my teammates is amazing. I'm just trying to control the emotions and keep it mellow a little bit before Thursday night.

LV: How is it different from two years ago?

BJ: It's different because I think our class is a bigger part of this one. Last time there were just a few guys – me, Tim and Percy who had a big part but this time I feel like our class is the core of this team and a much bigger part of what got us here.

LV: Is there anything you and the other members of your class can do to help keep the younger guys from getting too caught up in the hype and all?

BJ: I think that part is easy because our younger guys are so mature. You got guys like Janoris (Jenkins) and Joe (Haden) and they play like they've been here before. We just tell them to try and treat it like another football game, keep their focus on the game even though it is for the national championship and they'll be fine.

LV: Brandon, how do you feel about your season returning kicks this year? It started out really strong, but you didn't have very much success the second half of the season.

BJ: I thought we had a pretty good season overall. Like you said we were pretty hot early and had some big returns but then I got a bit of an ankle injury but with all the wins we got I can't be angry about anything.

LV: How's that ankle now?

BJ: It's great. I had time to heal so it's fine now and I'm ready to go.

LV: Oklahoma has had a lot of trouble covering kickoffs this year. Do you like your chances of breaking loose Thursday night?

BJ: Absolutely, but my mindset doesn't change from game to game. I always think we have a great chance to make a big play in the return game. But with them being kind of vulnerable in that area we've talked a lot with the guys on the return team that if we do things right we can make a big that could change this game.

In the last six games of the season James averaged just 8.1 on punt returns and 19.5 on kickoff returns. The first half of the season those averages were 20.1 and 28.8 respectively.


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