Dolphins return home for 'Gator Day'
Sports Xchange, Oct 17, 2011.
The Miami Dolphins haven't been home in more than
a month but, at last, they will be this weekend when the Denver Broncos
come to town. Amid the Dolphins' poor start - and the mediocrity that
has enveloped the team in consecutive 7-9 seasons - empty seats have
been common at Sun Life Stadium.
Which is why, of course, the Dolphins during the
preseason decided that their game against the Broncos would be dubbed
"Gator Day" - a celebration of the University of Florida's 2008
national championship. The Gators won that BCS championship against
Oklahoma at Sun Life Stadium.
The Dolphins' plan to honor the Gators might have
seemed a bit odd, but at least innocent enough. After all both the
Dolphins, with center Mike Pouncey, and the Broncos, with quarterback
Tim Tebow, featured players who played a prominent role in Florida's
But now there's only one problem: Tebow is no
longer a backup.
Instead, the former Gators star - a beloved figure
in the state of Florida - will be making his first start of the season
against the Dolphins. The Dolphins' decision to honor the Gators had
already been panned in South Florida - especially given it appears to
be a slight towards the University of Miami, which also plays its home
games at Sun Life Stadium.
But now, given that Tebow will be attempting to
lead his team to a victory against the Dolphins, the "Gator Day"
celebration seems even more shortsighted. Not that the Dolphins don't
have more pressing issues.
They entered their Monday night game at the New York Jets hoping they'd figured out some of the problems that have
plagued them in the early season: the red-zone inefficiency, the lack
of creating turnovers on defense, the big plays in the passing game
"I think we've identified some of the things that
we hadn't done well and spent a lot of time (on those things)," coach
Tony Sparano said. "There will be no excuses that way. There won't be
any excuses about not spending time working on the deep ball. There
will be no excuses that way. We need to go out there and do it now."
LINEUP WATCH: Hamstring injuries have been an
issue for the Dolphins throughout the early season, with most of their
injured players succumbing to such ailments. Two players who have
missed time recently, though, are closer now to full strength than they
have been in a while. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas and third-year
cornerback Vontae Davis recovered nicely during the bye week from the
hamstring injuries that had forced them to sit out in recent weeks.
Thomas adds a dimension of power to the Dolphins' running game and
Davis is a skilled cover corner whom the Dolphins need in the lineup.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Dolphins' 1-7 home record a
season ago did nothing to inspire the local fans in South Florida. And
neither did their 0-2 start at home this season. The Dolphins this
weekend are seeking their first home victory since Nov. 14 of last
season, when they beat Tennessee. \
More Miami news at Dolphin Digest
AFC East: Winless Miami Headed to "Gator Day"
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