SIX BITS: Wrapping up Florida vs. Arkansas

By Adam Silverstein
October 18, 2009

1 » There is plenty to look at following the No. 1 Florida Gators 23-20 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday afternoon. Perhaps most important are the injuries that occurred throughout the game and how they will impact the team in the future. Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes injured his groin and limped off the field in the first quarter. He would never return, coming out for the second half in street clothes and standing alongside defensive coordinator Charlie Strong for the remainder of the game. Cornerback Joe Haden left the game in the beginning of the third quarter after playing in coverage on special teams, but returned just a few plays later. There is no update on his specific injury. Wide receiver Riley Cooper suffered a hip pointer early in the game, came out late from the locker room and was able to contribute down the stretch with some clutch catches and first downs. Finally, defensive end Justin Trattou, who abused Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett all day, injured his shoulder Saturday. No information was given on his status after the game, either. Starting defensive tackles Jaye Howard (knee) and Lawrence Marsh (ankle) never even dressed for the game as both are still recovering and hoping to return sooner than later.

2 » You will probably never see this one immortalized outside of the stadium, but senior quarterback Tim Tebow gave a rousing speech to his teammates at halftime of the game. You may call it “The Promise II,” but that would only be because he used the word. “It wasn’t like a fiery speech. His face wasn’t red,” wide receiver David Nelson said. “He was just like, ‘I promise you, we’re going to do our thing. I trust you, you’re my brothers.’ It was more like he was reiterating his confidence in us. Don’t get too nervous about the situation, don’t start thinking we’re going to lose. Just believe in yourself, believe in each other and we’ll come out victorious.”

3 » Cooper started the afternoon off poorly, dropping three passes (one which could have been for a touchdown) and looking sloppy. Nevertheless, his clutch play in the fourth quarter was one that perhaps won the game for the Gators. On 3rd-and-10 on the Arkansas’ 40, Cooper caught a falling-down pass from Tebow that led to a first down and got Florida in field goal range. Another unsung hero of the contest was defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, who had four tackles for a loss.

4 » The Gators had two impressive streaks going into the game – the team’s 15-game winning streak and the secondary’s 17-game interception streak. Luckily for Florida, the winning streak remained, but the interception streak fell. Couple that with atrocious play on the part of cornerback Janoris Jenkins (who allowed two long gains, one a 75-yard touchdown) and you have a secondary that, when facing its biggest test of the season, played poorly overall.

5 » For a Florida team that has earned its keep in the running game this season, Arkansas was able to stifle it throughout the game. Most impressively, they dominated the dive play, where Tebow makes a decision to hand the ball off to a running back or tight end Aaron Hernandez up the middle of the line. For most of the game, the Gators were averaging 1.2 yards per carry. In the end, RB Jeff Demps was able to come through with some nice runs and finish with 54 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

6 » With the Gators’ win Saturday, head coach Urban Meyer tied former Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Frank Thomas as the SEC coaches to reach 50 wins the fastest – doing it in 59 games.

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