Brantley, Hammond Play Big During Spring Game

This year's edition of the Orange and Blue Game wasn't a classic spring game with the roster divided into two teams. Instead, the coaching staff chose to match up the first and second team offensive and defensive units against their respective counterparts.

Even that was a misnomer though, because the true defensive first teamers like Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham and Joe Haden didn't play. While the final score of Orange 31, Blue 21 doesn't mean much, some players did make important statements about how their development is coming along.

Tim Tebow looked sharp early, leading the Blue offense on a 65-yard touchdown drive. The highlight was a screen pass to Chris Rainey that went for 37 yards. The sophomore showed no lingering effects from his groin issues, weaving past defenders with help from some excellent downfield blocking by left tackle Matt Patchan. On the ninth play of the drive, Tebow rolled left and hit fullback T.J. Pridemore coming across for the touchdown.

Tebow called it a game at the half, having competed 7-of-9 for 83 yards and carrying three time for 21 yards. His one blemish for the day was a tipped pass by Jon Bostic that led to an interception by Dorian Munroe. John Brantley became the quarterback for both teams during the second half, and displayed an impressive arm and better than average mobility. For the game he was a combined 14-of-23 for 265 yards, throwing three TDs and also running for a 15-yard touchdown for the Orange just before halftime.

Tebow took Brantley with him on his typical lap around the stadium to interact with the crowd. The redshirt sophomore was modest after his big day.

"I think I did fairly decent out there," Brantley said. "My line did a great job and the receivers really stepped up and made big plays. I just tried to get the ball to my playmakers."

The breakout star of the game was redshirt freshman wide receiver Frankie Hammond. He hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Brantley for the Orange offense 40 seconds into the game's third quarter. The two had already hooked up for a 47-yard pass in the first half over redshirt freshman cornerback Adrian Bushell and barely missed another 45-yard bomb on the Orange's first play of the game. Hammond caught four for 131 yards and two touchdowns on the day.

"He was the man I was going to," Brantley said. "Today he really stepped up and made plays for us."

"Frankie Hammond finished a very productive spring," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "The great thing is they all leave that locker room knowing 'Don't sleep on Frankie Hammond.'... he'll get playing time this year."

Others singled out for praise by the head coach included wide receiver T.J. Lawrence, defensive lineman Jaye Howard and freshman linebacker Bostic, whose four tackles led the Orange team.

"I love the guy," Meyer said of Bostic. "I love his professionalism. The redshirt's gone. Now he's battling for a starting spot at Florida."

The day's leading rusher was redshirt freshman Christopher Scott, who carried 14 times for 80 yards. Chris Rainey only carried the ball five times, with one going for a touchdown.

Some other standout moments from the game included a little razzle dazzle, with wide receiver Carl Moore taking an option pitch and then throwing to Deonte Thompson for a 19-yard gain. Redshirt freshman linebacker Brendan Beal making a clean interception on a bullet throw by Brantley. Freshman offensive lineman Nick Alajajian drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd when he destroyed DT Edwin Herbert with a block on an end around.

The crowd was absurdly estimated at 65,000, but appeared to be much closer to 35,000. They had to go home impressed with what they saw and happy there were no new injuries to add to Florida's lengthy list. Meyer made it clear that while formal workouts are done for now, the work expected of the team will only increase as they look to avoid complacency.

"We're going to make it so hard that they're just going to try and make it to three in the afternoon," Meyer said. "We're going to make it so hard they have a hard time picking up the magazine that tells them how good they are."


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