Odds and Ends: Good Thing Cooper Stayed

Before the season Riley Cooper had a choice to make. Should he sign with professional baseball and begin his career immediately, or play his final season of eligibility at Florida first? It's a good thing for the Gators that Cooper decided to stick around, because he's the only receiver producing with any consistency right now.

Riley Cooper's numbers against Arkansas won't wow anyone on the surface -  six catches for 58 yards. The timing of the catches was critical though, as he and Tim Tebow connected three times on what turned out to be the game winning drive. Florida's other wide receivers combined only had three catches on the day.  


Caleb Sturgis had never attempted a possible game winning field goal in his life prior to the 27-yarder that sealed the Gator victory. The sophomore kicker was confident he would come through regardless.  

"I was ready to hit that ball from 57 when it was third down. I didn't really care where the distance was, just wanted to knock it in for the team," said Sturgis.  

Sturgis hit from 51 earlier in the game, becoming the first Gator kicker to make a 50-yard-plus field goal since Matt Leach in 2004.  


Florida had turned the ball over just seven times in the first five games of the season. Saturday afternoon at The Swamp, sloppiness reigned supreme as they gave the ball away four times.  

Some of the turnovers were flukish, like Chris Rainey having the ball kicked out of his hand just as he was breaking into the open field. Others were  simple execution errors, like Tim Tebow and Brandon James not successfully making the handoff on a sweep. Two of UF's fumbles were inside Arkansas's 10 - an Urban Meyer Gator team had never even lost two in the red zone during a game.  

The Gators were extraordinarily lucky to get away with a negative four turnover margin. Research done by Texas indicates that when a college or pro team turns the ball over three times they lose 90 percent of the time - and that's regardless of whether they forced turnovers themselves to help balance out the miscues. Urban Meyer is well known to place a high value on ball security, and said in his post-game press conference that Florida would be doing extra drills to correct the problem Sunday.  


When the BCS standings are officially released for the first time this season Sunday afternoon, Florida might be the highest ranked team depending on how many first place votes they lose in the Harris and coaches polls. Should it occur, that will be a first for the Gators. Despite winning two BCS championships, they've never been higher than second in the standings at any point of a season.  

Riley Cooper says it really doesn't matter to him where the Gators wind up in the polls or the BCS right now.   

"We don't look at it, we just gameplan every week for the opponent we're going to play. Try and beat them - that's all we can do."

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