Running Backs a Factor Without Stats

Kenny Carter's guys had 20 yards on 11 carries, but it was just part of the flow of the game and the way that Oklahoma played defense. With a new look defensive front, the Oklahoma Sooners caused a few changes in the Florida offense from what has worked all year long. The Florida running backs didn't have a big night running the ball, but they helped contribute to the game in their own way.

Oklahoma changed their defense and came out in a three man front to try and stop Florida's offense. The effect was a change in blocking assignments up front for the Florida offense and a wrinkle they weren't expecting. The Gator staff had to adjust from their normal trait of running the ball a lot with the Gator running backs to relying more heavily on Percy Harvin with the versatility he brings and the issues he causes with the defense.

Inserting Harvin more in the backfield along with relying more heavily on Tim Tebow to run the ball was the key to the success of the running game. Harvin finished with 122 yards on nine carries and Tebow with 109 yards on 22 carries.

The running backs were happy to do whatever they could to make the system go. Nothing unusual for the unselfish bunch. Next year could be a lot different, like it was for junior wide receiver David Nelson.

"That's why it is a team game and all we cared about was the win," Carter said of the change in direction of the offense for one game. "A guy like Percy Harvin, he shows up and makes plays because he's a great player and we rise that guy. You wouldn't think a guy like David Nelson would make a play like that last year, but this is the year the light came on for him and he made a great play."

The light for the Florida football team came on after the Ole Miss loss. The fourth game of the season was a shocker in the college football world as the Gators fell to the unranked Rebels 31-30 at home. The change in the team that saw the Gators win 10 games in a row was more of a hard look at themselves rather than actually working harder in the weight room and on the practice field.

"Everybody came together and decided we needed to play as a unit," Carter said. "We always talk about the pride of the unit and that is what it comes down to. Individuality was out the door and everyone came together.

"Everybody realized that we need each other. We can't do it with two people or three people. You have to do it together. When we do things together, we are pretty dad-gummed good."

That was apparent Thursday night as his group of Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody, and Kestahn Moore that amassed 1816 yards on the season, did all of the little things to make sure the Gators won. They blocked, they ran crisp routes, and they kept their heads in the game. Carter sees this group being better in 2009 when the Gators will try and make a run at a third National Championship in four years.

"I think we learned a very valuable lesson and our guys banked on that," Carter said of the season that changed after the Ole Miss game. "We are going to take that and just roll it over (into next year).


Carter updated the status on Chris Rainey who was hurt at the end of an 11 yard pass reception in the second quarter Thursday night.

"He just sprained his ankle, he will be alright," Carter said of Rainey. "They X-Rayed his ankle and they came back okay. He just sprained it and he's alright.

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