Odds and Ends

COLUMBIA, SC -- Three years ago in Gainesville it was defensive end Jarvis Moss who saved a Florida national championship run with a blocked field goal. Satuday, another Gator defensive lineman broke South Carolina's heart when they were threatening to pull a potential major upset. 

 Justin Trattou gathered in a deflected Stephen Garcia pass and returned it to South Carolina's 26. Four plays later the Gators were in the end zone and the victory was largely secured.  

Trattou's big play came on the first snap of the fourth quarter, with South Carolina facing a 3rd-and-3 from Florida's 22 trailing just 17-14. According to Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier the play was supposed to be a pass to receiver Jason Barnes on the right side of the field, but Garcia thought he had Moe Brown open to the left and went that way instead. Trattou describes what happened next.  

"It was a great play by the defensive back to tip it in the air, and the ball came my way. I just made the most of it when I had the ball in my hands and tried to score."  

Trattou wasn't able to reach the end zone, but he did rumble 53 yards with the return, eluding a couple of tackles before tripping over the feet of one of his blockers.  

Joked Trattou, "Everyone thinks because I'm white that I'm slow, but I just sort of kept running."  

Urban Meyer described Trattou's play as "Huge - the whole field was tilting their way... and then the field shifted back and momentum completely swung." Meyer added, "That play by Trattou will go down as one of the great plays." Much like the one by Moss, it might have been a championship saver.  


Florida's performance against South Carolina brought to mind a lyric from an old Eagles song: "Nothing's wrong as far I can see... we make it harder than it has to be, and I can't tell you why". The Gators should have dominated a game where they were plus three in turnovers, but they didn't. Caleb Sturgis missed three field goals, although two were from 52 and 54 yards.  

In between the second and third Sturgis mises, the Gator coaches opted to go for a 4th-and-nearly-2 at South Carolina's 28. Everyone in the stadium knew the play call was to slam Tim Tebow up the middle, including the South Carolina defense. The play never had a chance of success, as virtually every Gamecock defender was in the box.  

Florida also had two deep throws touch Riley Cooper's fingertips in the end zone after he'd beaten his man soundly, but he wasn't able to gather either one in. A Brandon James punt return inside South Carolina's 20 was nullified by an unecessary block in the back as well, with Florida failing to score on that drive. If Florida keep missing opportunities like this, eventually it will cost them a game.  


Florida started Xavier Nixon at left tackle for the first time in the freshman's career, moving Carl Johnson back to his more natural left guard spot. Off his initial impression before getting to see the game tapes, Urban Meyer liked what he saw.  

"He made his first start in that atmosphere on silent cadence, and I don't believe we had a mechanical error or a penalty. He's going to be a great player."  


While Florida's passing game was largely comprised of Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon James as it typically has been this season, a new face got some chances. Redshirt freshman Omarius Hines had two catches for twenty yards, with one of his grabs coming for 12 yards on a scoring drive early in the second quarter. Hines had seven catches in Florida's first two games, but has seen little action on offense since then. Somewhat astoundingly, he now has just one fewer catch for the season than Deonte Thompson. Thompson did not have a catch against the Gamecocks.  


Florida's win means they have completed an undefeated SEC regular season, becoming just the 11th team to go 8-0 in conference since they started playing that many conference games. It's the first time they've accomplished that under Meyer. The last Gator team to pull that off was the 1996 squad on their way to the national championship.

Fightin Gators Top Stories