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Gators Report Card: Good teams win in the 4th

GAINESVILLE -- We're looking back one final time (we think) at Florida's 26-3 win against Miami. Overall it was an excellent effort by the Gators, who held Miami to 140 yards of total offense, forced a safety on special teams and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Good football teams win games in the fourth quarter. OK, on to the report card.

This preseason, Florida coach Urban Meyer called his offensive line the Gators' best unit. It sure didn't look that way against Miami, which held Florida's running backs to 34 yards combined. The Hurricanes' blitz packages also disrupted UF quarterback Tim Tebow, who only had 150 yards passing entering the fourth quarter.

Tebow led the Gators in rushing. A receiver, Percy Harvin, out gained the Gators' traditional running backs and Harvin only had 27 yards on five carries. Running backs Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps and Kestahn Moore combined for seven yards on nine carries. Anyone see Emmanuel Moody lately?

Without Tebow, Florida might have lost this game. The junior completed 21-of-35 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries and Mr. Heisman was at his best in the fourth quarter.

Florida coach Urban Meyer chuckled on Monday when he announced that redshirt sophomore Terron Sanders had the best game of his career. Yes, it was that kind of game for the Gators' D-line, which held Miami running backs to 1.6 yards per carry. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham had nine tackles and a sack. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap had two sacks.

MLB Brandon Spikes led the Gators in tackles with 11 and reserve linebacker Ryan Stamper had five tackles despite a broken hand. Special teams dynamo Brandon Hicks earned playing time against Miami and had three tackles. WLB Dustin Doe was limited with a groin injury.

Two impressive games in a row for the Gators' secondary. And to think this unit was one of the worst in the SEC last season. It seemed Miami's offensive coordinator was so intimidated by Florida's cornerbacks and safeties that he only chose to throw downfield a few times. UF free safety Major Wright only had to make two tackles and Gators strong safety Ahmad Black held his own against Miami's athletic receivers and running backs.

Punter Chas Henry netted an average of 40 yards on seven kicks and freshman Jeffrey Demps forced a Miami safety with a blocked punt in the end zone. Florida return specialist Brandon James led the Gators in all-purpose yards with 49 yards on punt returns, 82 yards on kickoff returns and 30 yards receiving.

Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney is proving to be an excellent offseason hire. Florida's offensive coaches made the proper adjustments in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points. Had to cringe a little bit when the Gators threw for the end zone late in the fourth quarter with an insurmountable lead. Would hate to see someone injured in a situation like that.

Much to the chagrin of UM coach Randy Shannon, Florida's 26-3 win showcased the best of Florida football for about 75 recruits.

Florida's sports information staff was quick to respond to Miami's claim that the Hurricanes were the younger team on Saturday. The Gators sent out this text message to beat writers and reporters who cover the Gators: "Interesting nugget about UF youth -- 60 of 85 players are frosh or soph and we started 10 jr/sr and Miami started 13."

Here's what I think: College football programs must think high school recruits are stupid. Are they? Football teams try to make such a big deal about playing young players. The reason football teams do this is to make high school recruits believe they have a chance at playing time as freshmen. Here's the funny thing about that: If a team plays a bunch of young players one season, doesn't that mean that the next season those same young players will still be starting, meaning it will actually be harder for incoming freshmen to get playing time?

WLB Dustin Doe has an injured groin muscle and will miss practice this week. Receiver Carl Moore will miss practice this week due to the hip injury he suffered against Miami. Walk-on safety Cody Worton of Miami Homestead tore a knee ligament against Miami and will miss the rest of the season.



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