Cooper Return is First Win of 2009

The college football regular season is 12 games and if all goes well the total season will be 14 games for the 2009 Gators. But the football season is more than an accumulation of wins and losses in those formal matchups. The college football season is a succession of little triumphs and setbacks along the way. In that sense, the Gators are off to a 1-0 start.

Riley Cooper has not been hugely productive in his three seasons with the Gators. Still, he has more TD receptions (9) than any other returning Florida receiver. His average of 17.8 yards per catch is the best among returning Gators and his 30 receptions trails only Aaron Hernandez (43).

Cooper's return strengthens Florida's core of receivers all of whom had meaningful success last season. Florida starts out with a trio of seniors who caught double-digit passes last season. Cooper (18-261, 3 TD), David Nelson (12-228, 5 TD) and Carl Moore (14-184, 1 TD) had solid seasons in 2009 and each caught a touchdown pass in the SEC Championship Game.

Cooper's return takes a little pressure of Deonte Thompson (18-269, 3 TD) though the third year sophomore remains Florida's best hope for a big time playmaker this fall. Justin Williams, Jeff Demps and Brandon James should also factor in the passing game along with a trip that redshirted last season – Frankie Hammond, Omarius Hines and T.J. Lawrence and highly touted freshman Andre Debose. Out of that group the Gators should be able to find enough weapons to keep defenses honest and ring up the scoreboard.

Cooper's return is also a nice psychological shot in the arm. After seeing one senior get in trouble for repeated misbehavior behind the wheel now the Gators can point to a senior who unselfishly returns at his own expense because in his own words, "We have something special going on in Gainesville and I want to be a part of that."

The Gators have their first practice Thursday morning at 6:00, but already Florida is off to a good start in trying to defend its SEC and BCS Championships.


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