10/25: Weis on transfers, bye week, rivalry

As the Florida Gators prepare for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against the No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 29 at a neutral site in Jacksonville, FL, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the bye week and his team’s upcoming contest.

TRANSFERS WERE A SURPRISE

When he learned this week that sophomores tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark have officially decided to transfer, Weis said that he was quite surprised not only with their decision but the timing of it as well.

“We didn’t lose them. They decided to go,” he said of the duo. “You wish them well and you move on. I think that you can’t ever look at that with young men that are making decisions, that’s the decision they make. You wish them well. You don’t wish bad on anyone. You move on.

“Both of them surprised me, to tell you the truth. They practiced last week every day. You think if you’re going to quit, you quit last week. Why would you go through bye week practice? I know one thing, if I’m bagging it, I’m not going through practice in the bye week. That caught me off guard, let me just say.”

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE BYE WEEK

Weis said the bye week came at a good time for the Gators because the loss at Auburn was relatively unexpected and psychologically deflating. Unlike the previous two weeks, Florida had an opportunity to win the game and simply could not come through.

“Alabama and LSU, they whooped us pretty good. I’m a very straightforward person. Those games really turned out fairly lopsided at the end of the game. That wasn’t the case at Auburn,” he said. “Psychologically it was a good time for a bye. It’s always a good time for a bye physically because you have the walking wounded and then a week later everybody but one guy is listed as a go. Physically a bye is always good, but psychologically I thought it couldn’t come at a better time.”

The Gators should be rolling into Jacksonville with a new motivation this week, something Weis said the coaching staff tried to instill in the team over the last few days.

“In the big picture, you can’t play like you’re a team that is floundering around .500. You got to play like you’re a team that’s looking to run the table. That’s how you got to play,” he said. “Running the table starts with one at a time. The bye week gives you a chance to regroup and to set that mentality along those wavelengths. That’s the way they’re thinking, ‘Let’s just go beat Georgia.’”

OPENING UP THE OFFENSE…IF POSSIBLE

Assuming redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley returns this week, Weis said that he will be able to open the offense back up, which will in turn give the running game a better opportunity to be more consistent. “They’re complimentary. If all of a sudden you’re making some more throws, if they have to start worrying about that more, obviously what you get in return is a lot less guys up front in the running game,” he explained.

Even though Brantley was out of action against Auburn, Weis noted he was pleased with the run-pass distribution even if it seemed like the team did not toss the ball much.

“Actually we threw the ball 30 times the last game. It was about 50-50. The breakdown in the game against Auburn was about 50-50 run-pass. I like to play games about 50-50. At the end of the day, that’s where I’d prefer to be,” he said.

“Usually when you run the ball a whole bunch of times more than you throw it in the game, it means you won by a lot. I think that the last game was about that margin. I would just like to run more plays and make more plays. Making more plays is really what it’s all about because we just haven’t been making enough plays.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the Florida-Georgia rivalry and 2007 incident: “I just remember watching that game a few years ago when the 9,000 guys were partying in the end zone. That caught me off guard. I wasn’t here, but I’m sure there’s a lot of people that might remember that. I think I might have seen it once or twice.”

» On winning the Super Bowl at what is now known as EverBank Field: “I can’t go into recruiting stories, but I was on the road I was at a high school that’s looking at that stadium – looking across the river at that stadium. I’m sitting there looking at it and, as I was waiting my hour and 15 minutes for practice to start, I was actually doing a little reminiscing to that time where I thought about that stadium. That was a good day. I would like to have another good day though. That day is history, and I don’t like to live in the past.”

» On his friend and New Orleans head coach Sean Payton’s sideline injury: “What a whimp. [Laughing] Sean’s a friend of mine. I watched his [hit]. In my case, it was on a special teams play and I never would be anywhere near the sideline until after the gunners were past me. The gunners were past me about 10 yards before I stepped up. One of my guys was getting handled pretty handily, and I got hit by guys that were 20 yards behind the play. Usually you have enough common sense to keep your eyes on where the action is so you can avoid most issues. What he did was what we all do…once we call a play, the play is in place. When we see what the outcome of the play is going to be, you’re immediately getting ready to dial up your next play. He was just getting ready to make his next call. He wasn’t expecting to all of a sudden get rolled up on the sideline. It’s dangerous for everyone because there’s not a lot of room on those sidelines. Anyone who is getting ready to make a call is zeroed in on what’s happening next. A play hasn’t even finished yet and you’re getting the next play ready.”

10/24-25: Florida discusses Georgia rivalry week

With the Florida Gators preparing for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Saturday against the No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs, a number of players were made available to the media early in the week to discuss how the team is progressing heading into the neutral site game in Jacksonville, FL.

GEORGIA (AND THE ST. JOHN’s BRIDGE) ON THEIR MINDS

All of the players were asked about what Georgia week feels like and if they are especially pumped up for this particular contest.

Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey: “[It’s] a big game, big week. I’ve been in the game twice and have seen what can happen in this game. It’s fun, exciting. […] This is a big one. This determines if we can still go to the SEC Championship and stuff like that. It’ll be big.”

Junior linebacker Jon Bostic: “It’s a big game. It’s another SEC game. We don’t really look at it as ‘Georgia;’ it’s another big SEC game.”

Redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio: “I didn’t realize the stories that they were telling me until I went to an actual Florida-Georgia game my first year. It’s probably one of the best games to play in all year. We’ve been waiting all year for this game, so it’s going to be a good experience this year.”

They also discussed what it is like to cross over the St. John’s Bridge on game day and see the festivities already ongoing and awaiting their arrival.

Bostic: “Going across that bridge – when you see it split down the middle, it really doesn’t get better than that. It’s crazy how it’s split right down the middle. When I first got here as a freshman, I really didn’t know too much about it. A lot of the older guys were telling me. As soon as you go across the bridge, that’s when you really start feeling it. Most of the time it’s when you step in the stadium as soon as you get out of the bus, but there it starts as soon as you cross the bridge.”

Halapio: “That’s when it hits you that it’s the Florida-Georgia game, when you cross over that bridge and all you see is red-and-black and orange-and-blue, RVs everywhere, Georgia flags, Florida flags everywhere. That’s when it really hits you that it’s the Florida-Georgia game.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.: “[My older teammates] broke it down, but until you experience it yourself, you can’t really know what to expect. You hear about it and, when it finally happens, you’re like, ‘OK. This is more than what they were saying.’ You take it all in. It’s a rivalry game, and you wouldn’t expect nothing less. Once you go over that bridge it’s game time. It’s time to focus and get ready for the game.”

REMEMBERING BEING DISRESPECTED IN 2007

Many of the players also felt strongly about the Bulldogs rushing onto the field after scoring in the first quarter of the 2007 game. To this day they feel it was disrespectful and still want some sort of revenge.

Rainey: “All I can remember of this team is when they were dancing on us. That’s embarrassing and we lost that game, too, at the same time. […] It stays in my head when people do something like that to me.”

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard: “I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything like that. I had never witness that in a football game before. Just to see it was like they don’t care about Florida really. It’s respect. You don’t do anything like that. Total disrespect. We went out there and made a statement the following year. Just keep the tradition alive and get a win this year.”

Hammond: “That definitely plays a role. I was in high school when that incident happened, but I came that following year. I feel that and I know what some of the players went through that are actually still here that actually experienced that. It definitely makes that rivalry game have that intensity. […] Every week we play against Georgia they replay it. We’ll probably end up seeing it today. They replay it just as a reminder of how that team – obviously it was unnecessary – and they went ahead and did that. Just stay professional and just play football the way it’s supposed to be played and move forward.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd on what his unit worked on during the bye week: “We didn’t just focus on what the D-line had to fix. As a defense we worked on fundamentals, tackling and form and everything over the bye week. We knew it was going to be tough going into it, so we just got our minds right, dealt with it and did what we had to do. We prepared well and did a good job as a whole during the bye week.”

» Floyd on Georgia’s offense: “I really didn’t see nothing outstanding. I’m just ready to go, do my job, worry about the offensive line first and play everything else after.”

» Rainey on the team’s mentality heading into the UGA game: “It’s hard that we lost three games, but all we can do is keep our head up, stay focused, stay positive and just get ready for a big game and hopefully we can pull out with a win.”

» Rainey on how Tim Tebow looked this week: “It’s just like he did back here. He’s a leader, works hard, never gives up.”

Bostic on what his unit worked on during the bye week: “The whole bye week we just worked on fundamentals. Everything – hand placement, tackling, playing smart, trying to focus on not getting as many penalties as we’ve had in the past.”

» Bostic on needing to create turnovers: “We’re just trying to play hard, do our job. Turnovers are going to come. They may not come as much as we like every game, but we just got to keep playing like we’re playing knowing they’re going to come.”

» Howard on the defense needing to create turnovers: “We need to get turnovers badly. We haven’t had a turnover since the Kentucky game, and we have to get that back going to be successful and give our offense a chance.”

» Howard on how sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell is playing: “He’s doing fine. He’s playing well. He wasn’t able to travel with us last week, but he’s growing each week. He has three sacks on the year so far, so the production is there, but he’s young and still learning the game. He’s just going to keep getting better the more he plays.”

TE Christian, WR Clark to transfer from Florida

The Florida Gators announced Tuesday that sophomores tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark plan to leave the program and transfer.

“Both of these players have expressed a desire for more playing time and felt that it would be in their best interests to transfer,” head coach Will Muschamp said in an official release from the school. “We wish them both the best of luck and appreciate their contributions to the program.”

Christian, who moved between tight end and linebacker in the spring before returning to his primary position this fall, had caught four balls for 72 yards and a touchdown this season. He played mostly on special teams as a freshman.

“I’m looking for an opportunity to play more,” said Christian in the same release. “I have no bad feelings about Florida or the coaching staff, I just want to get a fresh start and see the field more.”

Clark has barely played in 2011 after seeing brief playing time one year ago, catching seven passes for 69 yards and a touchdown in 2010.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Gator program but at the same time I’m excited about future opportunities to play more,” Clark said. “I will have nothing but good memories from my time in Gainesville.”

Christian and Clark committed to Florida in 2010 along with sophomore safety Matt Elam; all three players were graduates of Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL with Christian and Elam the most highly recruited of the trio.

Elam played extensively as a freshman and is arguably the Gators’ most consistent defensive starter this season. He is second on the team with 43 tackles (3.5 for loss) and has two interceptions as well as a forced fumble.

The duo are the eighth and ninth players to leave Florida since Muschamp took over the team. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed following two marijuana rests in less than 90 days. Defensive end Chris Martin, WR Chris Dunkley, WR Javares McRoy, running back Mike Blakely, TE Michael McFarland and LB Dee Finley transferred.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 7

With the 2011 NFL season underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 7 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the seventh week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 13/27 for 161 yards, two touchdowns (QB rating: 91.7), two-point conversion [game-tying], eight rushes for 65 yards (long: 21)

Story (with four videos): Tim Tebow keys Broncos victory on Gator Day

THE REST

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Played as a reserve
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Bye week
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Bye week
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Bye week
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Bye week
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Bye week
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Five tackles (four solo, one for loss), pass defense
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two solo tackles
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three solo tackles (two for loss), sack
C MIKE POUNCEY*, Miami Dolphins: Played as a starter
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Two receptions for 15 yards (targets: 3, long: 9), two rushes for eight yards (long: 6), two kickoff returns for 55 yards (long: 28)
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Bye week
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Bye week
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Bye week
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Bye week
G COOPER CARLISLE, Oakland Raiders: Played as a starter
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Two solo tackles
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Four targets, solo tackle
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Bye week
P CHAS HENRY*, Philadelphia Eagles: Bye week
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a starter
OT MARCUS GILBERT*, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a starter
OT MAX STARKS, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a starter
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Bye week
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Two carries for 13 yards (long: 9), reception for -2 yards
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Washington Redskins: Four receptions for 68 yards (targets: 8, long: 32), fumble
OG MAURICE HURT*, Washington Redskins: Active

INJURED / INACTIVE
S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Hip
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Denver Broncos: Inactive
LB BRANDON SILER, Kansas City Chiefs: Torn Achilles (season)
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: Pneumonia

NOTES
– Harvin missed most of the game after reinjuring his sore ribs.
– Graham ruled out for the season with a torn Achilles.
– Hurt was signed from the practice squad and active for the first time this year.

PRACTICE SQUAD PLAYERS
DE Justin Trattou* (New York Giants), SS Ahmad Black* (Tampa Bay)

NOTABLE FREE AGENTS
DE Alex Brown, DE Bobby McCray, CB Lito Sheppard

* Rookie

2011 WEEK: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

10/24: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meets with the media each week to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Florida had a bye this week and planned for their contest with the Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 29. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availability.

OPENING STATEMENTS

“We had a good open week, really worked hard on fundamentals and worked on Florida. We needed to improve our football team on both lines of scrimmage, working on offense, defense and special teams. I thought our players had a great attitude. [We] went out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in full gear, and I thought we had really good work and we started our prep on Georgia with the players on Thursday; we started as a staff last Sunday. I thought we got a good head start on where we need to go. We’ll be in full gear [Monday and Tuesday] and then work in shells on Wednesday and Thursday as we prep to go to Jacksonville.”

He also spoke about Florida’s next opponent on Oct. 29, Georgia.

“Georgia has got a good football team. Three seniors on the offensive line. I said it last week, Aaron Murray is playing well for them and completing over 60 percent of his passes. He’s very mobile in what he can do directing this offense as second year being a starter. Isaiah Crowell is playing really well for them. Orson Charles is a threat at the tight end position; he’s a really good athlete and a guy that does a nice job vertically down the field. Malcolm Mitchell has played really well for them as a freshman at the X position; he was out last week versus Vanderbilt with a hamstring and they expect him back. Their defense is playing really well as the season has progressed as far as their points per game allowed, and they’re doing a nice job on third down mixing some different packages as far as over-and-under and what they’re doing with their fronts. Got a good football team and look forward to this.”

WEEKLY INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

Muschamp said redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) is the only one definitely out for the game because he “just continues not to respond to treatment” on his injury. Every previously injured player will practice on Monday.

Other players who were listed as injured last week include redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg), sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (shoulder/neck), senior running back Jeff Demps (ankle), redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (knee), junior RB Mike Gillislee (ankle), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) and redshirt senior left guard Dan Wenger (foot).

BREAKING NEWS: MUSCHAMP PLAYED FOR GEORGIA

By now most fans are keenly aware that Muschamp used to play for the Bulldogs, and he is tired of being peppered with questions all season about his relationships with certain programs and their coaches. Muschamp tried to put that to rest Monday. “I know there will be a lot of wasted ink on the fact that I played at Georgia and am coaching now at Florida. This is not the first time I’ve coached against Georgia. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of taking the Gators to Jacksonville,” he said.

Nevertheless, he wound up talking about it when questions were posed later in his availability. “Wherever I played has no bearing on this game at all. They’re all important. They’re all really, really important games. They’re all very important games. It’s a SEC East opponent, it’s a big rival and it’s important to the University of Florida, so it’s important to me,” he said.

“This profession is different from a lot of professions in that you do your job for the school you’re working for, and that’s my job – to do a great job for the University of Florida, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, but I’m loyal to people not places. The people you work for – and I work for Jeremy Foley and Dr. Bernie Machen – those are the people that I need to do a good job for – and this football team and this staff. That’s how I view things. I’ve worked at Auburn. I’ve worked at LSU. I’ve worked at Texas. I’ve worked at a lot of places, and this is not the first time I’ve played against Georgia.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville: “You get charged when you come over that bridge and you see all the RVs and the passion and the tradition of the game. Growing up in the south, you understand the impact of that game. There’s no question that when you come over that bridge, it charges you up. You get goose bumps talking about it.”

» On using the bye as a teaching week: “When you have an open week, you can approach it several different ways. We took the approach of we needed some time off and we gave them Sunday and Monday off. We came in Tuesday and we had a very physical practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I thought we improved fundamentally on the things I have identified that we needed to work on. I thought we got better. I thought we improved. I thought we had a great attitude. I thought the guys went out and worked. And then we had a team lift Friday morning and gave them Saturday and Sunday off coming back last night. I thought we took a step forward. You either get better or worse when you step on the field, and I thought we improved our football team and continued to take the steps forward in what we need to do to be successful.”

» On Powell’s status with the team: “He’s good to go. He’s back off his injury, and he practiced Thursday full-go, so he should be fine.”

» On if there will be changes to the lineup: “Not significant changes. We looked at some guys at some different spots, and we’re going to continue to move forward with that at this point.”

» On the SEC East still being an “open” race: “When you come to the University of Florida, you play to go to Atlanta. That’s part of the deal here. I understand that. Each week, that’s what I’m trying to remove is all the external circumstances of why you want to play hard. You ought to want to play hard because you play for Florida and you play for your teammates. That, to me, ought to be motivating enough. Certainly winning the SEC East, yeah that’s great. That’s what we want to do, and we want to beat Georgia. In order to do that, we’ve got to take care of business this weekend.”

» On not getting enough turnovers: “We’re minus-7 for the season, so we’re last in the SEC. We’ve got to create some positive momentum for our team whether it’s in special teams or on defense. [We have to] continue to eliminate turnovers offensively and get some turnovers on defense.”

Tim Tebow: Everything In Between DVD out 11/8

Fiction, the company that produced the documentary Tim Tebow: Everything In Between, announced Monday that a DVD and digital copy of the film will officially be released on Nov. 8 online and at retailers nationwide.

Amazon.com is already taking pre-orders for the physical DVD (Buy Tim Tebow: Everything In Between), which will also be available digitally online via iTunes.

Below is an outtake reel from the documentary:

From the press release:

In the winter of 2009, Winter Park, Florida production company Fiction approached long-time friend and aspiring NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, as his storied career was coming to and close at the University of Florida. The idea was to document Tebow’s evolution from college superstar and national celebrity to NFL rookie. He accepted, and Fiction began rolling the cameras at the end of his final college game, all the way through the NFL Draft, four months later. At home, on the road, in the glaring public spotlight and out of it, the result was an unprecedented in-depth look at an American icon during a period of huge professional and personal transition — Tim Tebow: Everything In Between.

Praised for it’s untethered access into the life of Tim Tebow, Everything In Between has repeatedly aired to massive audiences on ESPN and ESPN2 since it’s broadcast debut in January 2011, but acclaim hasn’t been the only response. We have received countless requests for a DVD release since it’s first air, and the time has come for us to answer.

OGGOA Review: Tim Tebow: Everything In Between
“The viewer has the opportunity to see Tebow do everything from participating in interviews with Sports Illustrated and ESPN to conducting one of his own with his future agent Jimmy Sexton in a board room at the University of Florida. … Both his physical and mental toughness are tested continuously throughout his journey.”

Florida QB Brantley “probable” for Georgia

After two weeks on the shelf, it appears as if redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley is on track to return for the Florida Gators as they take on the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

During his weekly press conference on Monday, Florida head coach Will Muschamp declared Brantley “probable” for the game, noting that rehabilitation from his ankle injury is going well and that the team does not expect any setbacks when he officially returns to practice this week.

“He will practice [Monday] in a limited role. We feel like John will be ready to go for the game,” Muschamp said. “As we progress through the week, we will know more about his status, but we plan on him practicing today.”

The Gators’ offense is in dire need of a boost. Since Brantley went down with a high ankle sprain one month ago, Florida has been outscored 72-17.

Muschamp said Monday that Brantley was able to throw the ball during the bye week as part of his rehab, but he did not technically practice with the team.

“He didn’t necessarily practice, but through his rehab with the ankle – doing some drops and some different things – he did throw some there on the practice field,” he noted. “As far as partaking in practice, he didn’t do any, but he was on the practice field, did some throwing motion stuff and worked on a couple drops here and there just to see how the ankle took and how it felt the next day.

“I’m very pleased with his progress. He’s worked extremely hard to get back.”

Prior to his injury four weeks ago at home against Alabama, Brantley was arguably playing the best he has as a starter at this point in his career. He was 11/16 for 190 yards with a 65-yard touchdown in the game; however, he also through a pick-six early in the second quarter that put Florida behind 17-10.

“He was really playing well against a very good defense. He threw for close to 200 yards in the first half,” Muschamp said.

“On third-down conversions, I think we had two dropped passes that would have been conversions for third downs. He had hit some deep balls and was really playing very well, managing our team, getting us in-and-out of the right runs. If you look at the first four ballgames, he certainly played very well. Getting him back is going to be a huge psychological shock for our football team; I really believe that.”

With Brantley set to return as the starter, the two freshman quarterbacks previously competing for playing time in his stead will now fight for the backup job.

Jeff Driskel, who also injured his ankle when he replaced Brantley during the Alabama game, missed the following contest but started the second half against Auburn on Oct. 15. Jacoby Brissett saw the field for the first time in his college career as a starter at LSU on Oct. 8 and held that job during the first half of the Auburn game.

Driskel was 9/18 for 75 yards versus Auburn, while Brissett’s combined line was 13/24 for 139 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions over six quarters.

Muschamp said that both Driskel and Brissett will get reps on Monday considering Brantley will be worked back slowly.

He does not expect to make a decision on the No. 2 quarterback until the end of the week but said he was pleased with how both players performed during the bye.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Tim Tebow keys Broncos victory on Gator Day

Inefficient for three-and-a-half quarters on Sunday in South Florida, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow engineered two touchdowns drives in just over five minutes to tie the Miami Dolphins 15-15 and force an overtime that saw Denver complete an improbable comeback 18-15 victory.

Miami scored the first 15 points of the contest and led late in the fourth quarter before punting the ball away with just over five minutes left in the game.

Though Tebow struggled mightily for most of the game save a few dynamic runs, he engineered an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that cut the Broncos’ deficit nearly in half with over two minutes remaining.

Denver recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, and Tebow once again led his team on a 10-play, 56-yard drive that ended in his second-straight passing touchdown and a two-point conversion that he ran in on a quarterback draw.

Tebow combined to go 9/13 for 121 yards on those two drives for and also ran the ball twice for nine yards not counting his game-tying conversion. He finished 13/27 for 161 yards with eight carries for 65 yards and a quarterback rating of 91.7.

All of this occurred as the Dolphins hosted Gator Day at the stadium, a special celebration that honored the 2008 national championship team at halftime of the game. Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer was in attendance and spoke during the celebration, calling his team “one of the greatest in college football history.”

The occasion also featured a performance from the Pride of the Sunshine marching band and an appearance by more than two dozen former players. Miami handed the University of Florida a $25,000 check for their scholarship fund, and the band even played the Dolphins’ fight song as halftime was coming to a close.

Meyer was on Denver’s sideline before the game and stood on Miami’s sideline for the duration of the game, including in the waning minutes of the contest.

Following the contest, Tebow, Meyer, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and the other former UF players in attendance had the opportunity to meet briefly on the field and exchange pleasantries (picture).

Tebow and the Gators got a mixed reception throughout the course of the afternoon. He was booed early by the crowd but chants of “Tebow, Tebow” were audible both late in the fourth quarter and at the end of the game. Meyer and the former Florida players were booed heavily during the halftime celebration, which lasted approximately six minutes.

While the crowd was obviously made up of mostly Dolphins fans, thousands of Tebow jerseys could be spotted in the stands. There were, of course, other fans wearing non-Tebow Broncos jerseys and others donning non-Tebow Gators jerseys.

Some of the players in attendance (in alphabetical order):
Markihe Anderson, Brandon Antwine, Tate Casey, Lorenzo Edwards, Javier Estopinan, Brandon Hicks, A.J. Jones, Bobby Kane, Kestahn Moore, Kyle Newell, Jonathan Phillips, Butch Rowley, Terron Sanders, Ryan Stamper

Thanks to Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson for sending along the photos.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Tebow: “You can’t lose confidence in yourself, or you’ve lost already. When you get knocked down, you’ve got to keep getting back up.”

Pouncey: “It’s tough to say, but man, Timmy did a great job. Hopefully the critics will get off him about what he can’t do and talk about the things that he can do, and that’s figure out a way to win the game, no matter what.”

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