Big Night for Dunlap

Carlos Dunlap was projected to be a starter at the beginning of the season. He lost that role and never gained it back. But the Gator defensive end continued to work his tail off and stood on the field at Dolphins Stadium after the BCS National Championship Game as the Defensive Player of the Game.

The freak-like lineman posted four tackles, but put pressure on the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford for a good part of the night. Carlos Dunlap said the Gators weren't able to put the kind of pressure on Bradford they were hoping, but they disrupted him just enough for Bradford to have one of his lesser impressive games of the season.

"A team that came out scoring 60 points all year and was the No. 1 offense all year, we wanted to come out here and be the No. 1 defense," Dunlap said after the game. "We knew we had to hold them to less than 21 points. That was our goal."

In a game that most people thought would be a shootout, the two teams were held scoreless in the first quarter. The first 15 minutes and the better part of the second quarter were marred with clock issues and long timeouts. Neither team could get into a flow, and Dunlap said the Gator defense felt it.

"It really wore down on the defense," he said. "But going back to the offseason, we just pulled together and went hard and we knew we had to then go on the next play to get us off the field."

The defense faced and passed a huge test midway through the second quarter. With the score tied at 7, Oklahoma had a 1st-and-goal from the 9 after Tim Tebow threw an interception. But the Florida defense stuffed the Sooners on two consecutive plays from the 1-yard line, including a fourth down try.

"That comes from our offseason," Dunlap said. "In the offseason we did so many mat drills and crazy things that really tested our toughness. When we got down near the end zone most teams would have thought about giving up, but we didn't give up. We helped our brother and we knew the guy next to us was going to try and make a play so we all had to try and make a play."

The tough SEC schedule also helped the Gators prepare for the game against Oklahoma who came in ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings. After the game, though, Dunlap was having a hard time realizing what the Gators and him personally had just accomplished.

"It hasn't completely hit me yet, but every time I look at [my award] I have to kiss it," he said. "The offseason paid off. Coach Mick [Marotti], Coach Meyer and everything we did to get ready for the no-huddle offense. The extra sprints we ran at the end of practice when we were dead tired. We did everything we could to get this win and to down that team that's been scoring more than 60 points."

The game may have been a little closer than hoped for Dunlap and the Gators, but he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

"That's how you always want to play football," he said. "You always want to have competition and compete. You'll never want an easy game because you want to compete. … They put it in our home state and there's no better feeling than to come out and win it in our home state."

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