Florida fans figured it was their day when freshman sensation Brandon
James returned a Tim Mayse punt 77 yards for a touchdown especially with a
flag that actually went against the opponent. One play later it was
confirmed when sophomore reserve Jonathan Phillips had his PAT blocked-
but somehow the ball found its’ way through the uprights.
With the return, James had eclipsed the Florida single game punt return record for return yardage and it wasn’t even halftime. The old record was 144 yards set by Jacquez Green against Kentucky in 1996. James finished with 155 yards on just six returns.
Florida dismantled Western Carolina 62-0 in a game that was not as much a celebration of the past as it was a preview for a very promising future.
It was a game of firsts. Many firsts. It was the first time since a Florida defense had allowed less than five first downs in a game. Western Carolina only mustered four. It was the first time since 2003 that three quarterbacks accounted for touchdowns- Leak via the air, Tebow and Fayson on the ground. It was Fayson’s first career touchdown at Florida. It was Riley Cooper’s first touchdown. Actually his first of three touchdowns…
Noseguard Brandon Antwine- He received plenty of playing time, which was needed. He has a terrific first step. Antwine recorded just one tackle, but he battled. There were some plays where he was moved out of the way and played like a freshman. But, at times, he played through the blocks and continued running to the ball. He was doubled up on several plays.
Wide receiver Riley Cooper- The Clearwater Central Catholic graduate became the first freshman to catch three touchdown passes in a single game since Jabar Gaffney. He would have broken that record, but dropped a certain touchdown pass. He said the drop upset him so much that he went to the sidelines and threw up afterwards. Each of Cooper’s three receptions went for scores.
Outside linebacker Dustin Doe- The freshman from Suwannee was the Gators third leading tackler today with four. Does also recorded a tackle for loss. He runs very well. He wrapped up several ballcarriers and for awhile was seemingly always around the football. He missed a couple of tackles, but seemingly played pretty well.
Quarterback/receiver Jarred Fayson- Quarterback, receiver, running back, return man. Who cares? He’s a playmaker. He has battled through injuries this season and really finally got an opportunity to turn some heads despite still nit being 100%. Fayson had seven rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown. He also had
Defensive end Daryl Gresham- He did not record a tackle, but played. The Gators desperately need some depth at defensive end and they would have loved to see him making plays. It will be interesting to see what the coaches see after reviewing this tape.
Tight end Cornelius Ingram- The former Hawthorne star was the leading receiver in the football game with four receptions for 59 yards. Once again, he demonstrated that he can flat run after the catch. However, Ingram needed to use that big body to and run full steam ahead to get not the endzone. Had he not hesitated- he too would have scored.
Return specialist Brandon James- Electric. What more can be said? If you aren’t on the edge of your seat when the opposing punt team takes the field…you’re in the minority. 155 yards on six punt returns. He returned the second half kickoff 12 yards. Meyer said in the postgame that once he bulks up a bit and is able to pass protect, you’ll see him get some reps in the backfield.
Safety Dorian Munroe- The true freshman recorded three tackles and came up with a pretty big hit inside on a Western Carolina running play. He committed the costly block in the back penalty on Brandon James punt return.
Wide receiver David Nelson- The former U.S. Army All-American caught three passes for 47 yards and have a few moves to free up from the coverage. He dropped a ball that was dead on target, but came back one play later and hauled in a pass for a first down.
Kicker Jonathan Phillips- His blocked PAT was low. He came back and hit the others though.
Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes- The true freshman led the Gators with six tackles. He also broke a pass up. Spikes blew apart a couple of plays early in the game that the Catamounts tried to run inside with running back Darius Fudge. Western Carolina had limited success later in the contest when the Gators had several reserves in the contest. He and fellow freshman Dustin Doe said they motivated each other this week and throughout the game. This was an opportunity and they seemingly made the best of it.
Outside linebacker Ryan Stamper- Very assertive. He finished with three tackles on the day, among them ½ tackle for loss. He moved very well. One time too well. He jumped the gap on a blitz before making a key stop in the backfield. Unfortunately, he was a little too quick on the draw.
Quarterback Tim Tebow- He hit 10 of 12 for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for two more. He is the Gators leading rusher for touchdowns with seven. He needs one more rushing touchdown to tie former quarterback Jimmy Fisher who holds the single season record with eight in 1976.
What a gorgeous pump fake and 55 yard pass to fellow freshman Riley Cooper. Threading the needle in the fourth quarter to Cooper once again with a defender draped all over him for yet another touchdown. He tried to force one pass to Tookes when he probably should have run. That was one mistake in an outstanding performance.
Running back Mon Williams- Elusive. Powerful. Fast. That pretty much sums up the performance by Mon Williams today. Williams had nine rushes for 95 yards. He did the one thing that head coach Urban Meyer has hoped for since his arrival at Florida- a back who can make people miss.