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The best of 2008 for the Florida Gators

GAINESVILLE -- So long, 2008. A quick toast to the future before we "gnarfle the Garthok" ...

In the spirit of hope, since that's the catch phrase these days, Gator Clause wishes a Happy New Year to you and your friends and slow and agonizing stomach cramps to your enemies. May all your dreams come true and may all those who oppose your dreams suffer the pain of 10 lanced hemorrhoids. To life! L'Chaim!

Moving on...

It was a great year to be a Florida Gator. Let's review. Listed below are the Gators' top-five moments of 2008 as voted on by the editorial staff here at Gator Clause...Leave a comment and let us know your top-five moments of 2008.

TOP FIVE MOMENTS
1. The Comeback: Easily the best day of 2008 for Florida Gators fans came on Dec.8 in Atlanta when the Gators defeated Alabama 31-20 in the SEC championship game.
          1a. With 17 seconds left in the third quarter and Alabama at the UF 10, Florida linebacker Dustin Doe dives and catches the foot of Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson. Wilson stumbles forward and throws the ball out of bounds, forcing the Crimson Tide to kick a 17-yard field goal. Alabama dominated the second half to that point. Later, former UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen would call Doe's effort and the defense's stop at the end of the third quarter the most important moment of the game.

          1b. With 12:57 left in the fourth quarter and UF trailing Alabama 20-17, Florida needed four yards for a first down at the UA 46 but only gained three yards when Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower grabbed UF running back Jeffery Demps and tossed him to the turf. But wait! There's a flag! Hightower grabbed Demps' facemask! A 15-yard penalty is assessed and UF's drive continues.

          1c. Same drive. With 10:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Florida faced third and 5 at the UA 9. With UF trailing 20-17, this would be one of game's decisive moments. A perfect play needed to be called. How about a shovel pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez? Tebow relays the information to his linemen with 10:38 on the clock. The ball is snapped and Tebow sells the play beautifully, faking an option pitch to Jeffery Demps. Meanwhile, UF tackle Jason Watkins slams into UA defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick, clearing a narrow running lane for hard-charging Hernandez. Tebow shovels the ball to Hernandez, who sidesteps Alabama linebacker Ali Sharrief and then levels Alabama defensive back Justin Woodall for the first down at the UA 3.

          1d. Same drive. With Florida on the UA 1, everyone inside the Georgia Dome is expecting Tebow to take the snap from center Maurkice Pouncey and slam into the middle of Alabama's beefy defensive line. Not the case. UF lines up in the offset I-formation and runs an option to the right. UF redshirt senior tight end Tate Casey makes a perfect goal-line block on Alabama All-American safety Rashad Johnson with 9:19 left in the game and Demps leaps into the end zone to give UF a 24-20 lead.

          1e. UF 24, UA 20; With 8:27 left in the fourth quarter, Alabama faced third and 8 at its own 41. Alabama freshman receiver Julio Jones was injured two plays earlier during a jump-ball situation with UF cornerback Joe Haden. Jones sat out UA's second-down play -- a two-yard gain by running back Glen Coffee -- but the Freshman All-American receiver trotted back onto the field for a crucial third-and-long situation. It didn't matter. Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson dropped back to pass but was sacked by UF linebacker Jermaine Cunningham of Atlanta (Stone Mountain), Ga., with 8:18 left in the game. Cunningham lined up on the left edge but cut inside after the snap and rushed up the middle untouched to drop Wilson for an 11-yard loss.   

          1f. With 2:50 left in the fourth quarter, UF receiver Riley Cooper of Clearwater cut to the inside of Alabama defensive back Marquis Johnson of Sarasota. You know the rest. UF quarterback Tim Tebow threw a perfectly placed pass on third down and Tebow's roommate, Cooper, caught a five-yard touchdown to give UF a two-score lead. Ball game.

2. UF 49, UGA 10; Revenge!
          2a. Brandon Spikes set the momentum earlier. How early? 45 seconds to be exact. Just ask UGA running back Knowshon Moreno. Surely, he remembers. Or maybe he doesn't remember being slammed into the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium turf by Spikes for no gain on second and 13 from the UGA 15. Here's a reminder, Knowshon. You took the hand off from quarterback Matthew Stafford, thought about bouncing the play outside, then cut upfield. Bad move, kiddo.

          2b. This game was actually pretty close for awhile and UGA was threatening with an impressive drive midway through the third quarter. That all changed with 8:09 left in the quarter when UGA's Stafford dropped back at the UF 30 and made one of the biggest mistakes in his career. The downfield pass was intended for A.J. Green but UF cornerback Joe Haden jumped the route near the Florida sideline, intercepted Stafford's attempt at the UF 11 and return the ball 88 yards to the UGA 1. Tebow rushed for a one-yard score on the next play, giving UF a 21-3 lead.

3. Pain in the Rain: Jamie Robinson meet Tim Tebow. UF 7, FSU 3; first quarter: Facing third and 9 from his own 17, UF quarterback Tim Tebow turned in what will be remembered as one of his career's best highlights when he scrambled left for a first down, smacked cornerback Korey Mangum to the soggy field and then decimated Robinson, FSU's unfortunate safety, with exactly 2:48 left in the first quarter.

4. Torching the Tigers: On Oct. 11, UF led by 13 points near the end of the third quarter and were looking to put away the LSU Tigers. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium erupted with 62 seconds left in the third when freshman running back Jeffery Demps took a pitch from Tebow and went 42 yards for a touchdown. UF tight end Aaron Hernandez provided the initial block at the line of scrimmage against LSU freshman cornerback Patrick Peterson of Pompano Beach Ely. UF center Maurkice Pouncey cleared the rest of the path 20 yards downfield with an amazing block against LSU safety Harry Coleman. Demps' star was born on that night in Gainesville.

5. Carl Moore's elbow: Florida beat Miami 26-3 on Sept. 6 but it was an exciting game for three quarters. The game -- and the season -- might have turned out a little differently had UF receiver Carl Moore not made one of the most important receptions of the season. Leading by six points with less than a minute to play in the third quarter, UF faced third and 9 from the UM 33. It was time for Moore, the junior college transfer from northern California, to earn his scholarship. Moore streaked down the right sideline and leaped high into the Gainesville night for a perfectly placed deep ball from Tebow. Moore made the catch with 32 seconds on the clock before being leveled by Miami safety Randy Phillips. Phillips' hit appeared to carry Moore out-of-bounds and jar the ball loose for an incompletion. The line judge ruled the play incomplete. The play was reviewed, however, and overturned after the replay showed Moore's elbow landed inbounds. Officials determined that Moore lost possession after he landed out of bounds. First and goal from the UM 5. Percy Harvin scored on a two-yard option five plays later.

-jo-

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Um.....I don't mean to be picky, but the receiver who made the critical sideline catch against UM was Carl Moore. Carl Johnson is an offensive tackle.

for number 5 don't you mean Carl Moore who caught it. Carl Johnson isnt a WR,


happy new yer

yup, carl moore. its gonna take a while to edit that because "Johnson" is used a whole bunch. nice catch though, could've easily been ruled incomplete...

Yes, Moore.

Also...Tebow's presser after the Ole Miss game could be one of (if not the single) greatest moment in Gator history if it comes to fruition in a week. I don't see how that's not in the top 5, even with the rest of the things you put up there.

Oh, meant Carl Moore. Must have had a brain cramp. Will make the change.

-jo-

Good call, Adam.

-jo-

On second read, I'm sorry, I have to change the majority of your list.

In fact, I'd totally replace 3, 4 and 5. We were going to win those games (FSU, LSU and UM respectively) one way or another, even without those plays.

1) Exactly as you have.
2) I'd keep 2a. Replace 2b. with Urban's fourth quarter pay-back time-outs.
3) Tebow's speech after the Ole Miss game (moving to No. 1 if/when we win on Thursday).
4) Arkansas game, 4th quarter. Up 17-7 going into the 4th, we were looking unimpressive against another mediocre team. Then, we explode for 21 points in a quarter from our three fastest players in Harvin, Rainey and Demps. It was not only the first game after the Ole Miss loss, but also marked the re-invigoration of the season, started the turn-around and truly began the three-headed monster of 1-2-3.
5) Defeating SC by 50. Handing Spurrier the worst loss of his career. Standing up against another top defense and continuing our domination of ranked opponents. Doing it perfectly on both sides of the ball. Aside from Bama, we beat all of our ranked opponents by 30+ points.

How about us winning the National Championship as the greatest moment for 2008 and not some stupid speech

I wouldn't call the speech, "stupid." I would call it a catalyst. Which I only consider sharing the No. 1 spot w/ the title, not replacing it.

Catalyst? If the team needed that as a catalyst then they should not be playing football. I rolled my eyes during that speech because all I could think of was I don't care how hard you play for the rest of the season if we keep calling predicatable 4 and 1's then its gonna be a long season. Luckily it did not turn out that way. You honestly think the Gators started playing harder after that. You want it in your top 5, I can't argue, but it cannot share the top spot with actually winning the National Championship

So, you're saying the greatest moment didn't happen on the field but during a press conference in front of a bunch of crusty and pasty sportswriters? Nah.

-jo-

Maybe not sharing the top spot with a title, fine. Was just pissed you called it a "stupid" presser. But it is No. 2 then for me if we win the title. And it is certainly No. 3 right now (which I haven't seen you argue.)

"If the team needed that as a catalyst then they should not be playing football." "You honestly think the Gators started playing after that."

YOU HONESTLY THINK THEY DIDN'T START PLAYING HARDER AFTER THAT?!

Jo, you're calling yourself crusty and pasty just to disagree with me? Ouch. Especially after saying "good call" when I mentioned it a few posts ago. As I said, I exaggerated with No. 1 if we win the title, but it would easily be No. 2.

You will see that presser for the rest of your life, multiple times per season and every time we are in contention if we win on Thursday.

Truthfully I do not think that a speech should be even mentioned as a top 5 moment for Gator football this year or all time like you said, but I will concede if you want it in your top 5 because I do not feel like arguing about a speech/presser.
Yes, they did start playing better, not harder, harder has nothing to do with it, again if they needed that speech to play harder then why are they on the field. The Citadel can play harder every week but they are still the Citadel. The speech had nothing to do with two freshman running backs averaging 8 yards a carry, the speech had nothing to do with our defensive secondary particularly Ahmad Black playing amazing. Did the speech help us get amazing field position game after game? If you want to give Tebow credit, fine but on the field, he played better after the speech not harder, he finally started throwing the ball better.

I really think you are minimalizing how off-the-field actions and issues can impact a team on-the-field. Does Tebow's speech or something Urban says to the team specifically make them catch a pass or tackle a player? No. But leadership can breed intensity, accountability and teamwork. Not every player is built like a Tebow with those things engraved into their mind and soul. Some guys are out there for themselves, some guys are more worried about how many snaps they play rather than whether or not they are the best one to be on the field playing those snaps. They started playing better and they started trying harder after that speech. As I said, it is not the REASON for the success after that point...but it was a CATALYST.

And when you are talking about MOMENTS, which is what this list is about, it is No. 3 for me and could potentially be No. 2 at the end of this season. We're not just discussing plays and wins here. That moment will live on in Gator infamy if we pull it out Thursday. Most fans aren't going to remember what we did against LSU or Miami in those games this year. What they will remember is Tebow's presser. And that is what makes it a great moment.

Sorry I did not mean to minimize your boyfriend's speech

Yes, he's my boyfriend because I think his speech was a great moment in Gator football history. Get a life.

you said GREATEST moment in Gator football history, that is kind of reaching

"And that is what makes it a *great* moment."

"could be **one of** (if not the single) greatest moment in Gator history"

I also refreshed my comments two times after that. You're reaching now.

Hey, guys. Kiss and make up.

Just got settled into the media hotel here on Fort Lauderdale beach. Nice digs. Anyone surprised by this Ole Miss-Texas Tech game? Best bowl game so far, in my opinion. Always loved the Cotton Bowl, the house that Doak built. Hate to see the game moving to Dallas' new dome.

-jo-

THE....
U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U U

Jo, Did Patrick Johnson change his last name to Peterson (ref #4 Torching the Tigers)? That is the same player that insinuated that Urban turned in his test score disparity and delayed his acceptance to LSU, isn't it?

CalifGator,

You are correct, sir. Pat Peterson was Patrick Johnson when he played at Blanche Ely. He changed his name to protect the innocent.

-jo-

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