From Mike Bianchi, in the Orlando Sentinel:
The Gators couldn’t have asked for a better tuneup and a more perfect homecoming game than they had Saturday. On Friday night, Gator Growl was headlined by Jon Reep, the 2007 winner of TV’s Last Comic Standing. On Saturday afternoon, the Gators turned Kentucky’s entire defense into a bunch of stand-up comedians.
All that consternation of UF’s offense from a few weeks ago seems downright silly now. Remember all the nonsensical criticism emanating from Gator Nation and beyond about what’s wrong with Florida’s offense? Such disparagement may go down in history with the movie critics back in the ’40s who initially panned It’s a Wonderful Life.
The fact is, the Gators are now more productive on offense than last year’s team that finished No. 1 in the SECand third nationally in scoring. Through seven games last year, the Gators averaged 40.4 points per game. Through seven games this year, they are averaging 42 points per game.
And it’s not like Florida is doing this against chump competition. The Gators have scored a combined 114 points in their last two SEC games against LSU and Kentucky. Say what you will about the overall strength of Kentucky’s team, but you cannot deny the strength of UK’s defense. The Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the SEC and seventh nationally in points allowed.
The most points Kentucky had given up all season was 24. The Gators had 28 before the first quarter was even over. The 63 points Saturday were the most points the Gators have ever scored in an SEC game underUrban Meyer.
Tebow’s stats aren’t as gaudy as they were last year when he won the Heisman, but maybe they don’t have to be. If the Gators keep winning and stay in the thick of the national championship race, Tebow — the defending Heisman winner — will be a serious contender based on name and reputation alone.
Case in point: Former Ohio Staterunning back Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman winner in history. Griffin’s stats decreased significantly in the season he won his second Heisman. You want to take a guess on how many rushing touchdowns Griffin had in the year he repeated as the Heisman winner? Answer: Four.
Tebow has more than that now. He rushed for his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the season Saturday to tie Emmitt Smith for No. 1 on Florida’s all-time list. He also threw for two scores — a 61-yard catch-and-run to freshman flash Jeff Demps and a perfect 33-yard strike to Percy Harvin.
“We’re ready for Georgia,” Harvin declared. “We want to win the SEC and they’re in our way.”
When asked how hard he took last year’s loss to Georgia, Tebow just shook his head and replied bluntly: “Hard.”
The message to the Bulldogs was loud and clear: Hunker down because the Gators are looking to turn this week’s game in Jacksonville into the World’s Largest Outdoor Payback Party.