Odds and Ends: Cooper's still blue collar

Saturday night marked Riley Cooper's debut as one of the main factors in the Florida passing game. The senior led all receivers with five catches for 105 yards. Just as impressive as his stats was his continued commitment to what has been his hallmark to this point as a member of the Gators: blocking.

Urban Meyer's scheme depends on receivers being just as effective at clearing the way for teammates as they are making plays with the ball in their hands, and Cooper has embraced that challenge.

The series that sums up Cooper's approach best came early in the second quarter. Tim Tebow quickly flipped a lateral to Brandon James, who took the ball up the left sideline. Not only was Cooper blocking for him, he continued to do so even after his helmet was knocked off by the frustrated Charleston Southern defender. James gained 25 yards. Two plays later Jeff Demps raced into the end zone from 23 yards out, with Cooper again helping to lead the way. Cooper played an important role in the 4 play, 69 yard TD drive and never touched the ball once.

"I still love blocking. I take a lot of pride in blocking," said Cooper. "I had some good ones tonight, and I'm going to go out there and keep getting after it."

Cooper's big day didn't come with him feeling his best. He vomited on the sidelines at one point, and said he'd been sick multiple times during the day. It never seemed to slow him down, as he beat Brandon James to the endzone after throwing a block earlier in his return for a touchdown.

"He hasn't missed a practice, and he played like that today," said Urban Meyer. "He playing as good as he's ever played."


Chris Rainey got just one carry in the Gator win, but the running back made it count. He raced 76 yards for the score which put Florida ahead 14-0. By doing that, Rainey became just the second player in school history to have two touchdown runs of 75 yards or more. (Rainey had a 75 yarder against Arkansas last season.) Neal Anderson was the first to achieve the feat, with a 76 yarder in 1983 and an 8o yarder in 1984.


It was a brief game for Tim Tebow, as he was pulled late in the second quarter with UF decisively ahead. Even on a short night, he continued to pile up noteworthy numbers. With a rushing touchdown he tied LSU's Dalton Hilliard for fourth in SEC history with 44. Tebow also threw a touchdown to Aaron Hernandez, extending the nation's longest current string of consecutive games with a TD pass to 29.


Wide receivers Justin Williams and Cade Holliday each scored on their first career catches. Both of them came on passes from John Brantley during the second half. Freshman running back Mike Gillislee reached the end zone for the first time with a seven yard run that capped the game's scoring with 9:33 remaining.


Gillislee wasn't the only member of Florida's recruiting class to make his college debut in The Swamp. A total of nine true freshmen played at some point during the game. Early in the second half, the Gators went with an offensive line composed entirely of either redshirt or true freshmen that included guys like Jon Halapio and Xavier Nixon.


Florida came out of the game largely healthy, although there was a scare when Carl Johnson limped off the field during the first half. Johnson, who opened the game at left tackle, suffered what Meyer called a "bone bruise". At this point, he's considered probable for next week's game against Troy.

Fightin Gators Top Stories