GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida doesn't have a quarterback
controversy. It's more like a quarterback coalition.
Florida's evolution under Meyer
Reputed as an offensive guru, Urban Meyer is showing Gator Nation where he got that reputation. After enduring some growing pains during his first season at the helm in Gainesville, Meyer has Chris Leak and the Florida offense humming along so smoothly that even LSU's vaunted defense allowed 23 points to Leak & Co. on Saturday. Here are Florida's offensive stats under Meyer.
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Backup quarterback Tim Tebow threw two touchdown passes,
including one on a play that could have came from basketball coach
Billy Donovan's playbook, and ran for a score to give the
fifth-ranked Gators a 23-10 win against No. 9 LSU on Saturday.
"You've got to be creative in this league," Gators coach Urban
Florida improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1996 -- the
school's lone national championship season -- and extended its home
winning streak to 13 games. The Gators (4-0 Southeastern
Conference) also beat the Tigers for the first time in three years
and won their 18th straight homecoming game.
Tebow made it look relatively easy.
The highly touted freshman, who teams with starter Chris Leak to
give Meyer maybe the nation's best quarterback combo, ran nine
times for 35 yards, including a 1-yard plunge on fourth down that
evened the score at 7 in the first quarter.
"He's a rock 'em, sock 'em kind of runner," LSU coach Les
Miles said. "Florida used him to their advantage."
Said Meyer: "I want the ball in his hands right now. I know
he's going to hang onto it."
Leak did the bulk of the work with another steady performance,
going 17-of-26 for 155 yards. Tebow grabbed the highlights,
unveiling another side of his game.
Although he threw nine passes in mop-up duty against Central
Florida, Tebow had rarely used his left arm since -- aside from an
occasional stiff arm.
That changed against the Tigers (4-2, 1-2).
Florida at home since 1990
Facing a second-and-goal play with less than a minute remaining
in the first half, Tebow took the snap and ran toward the line of
scrimmage. He pulled up -- much like a jump-shooter would -- double
clutched to allow tight end Tate Casey to get open, then kind of
flipped the ball over several defenders.
Casey caught it as he fell backward.
"We'd rather our tight end not fumble around and fall down and
do six push-ups and then get up and try to catch it," Meyer said,
adding that the jump-pass was a throwback play to the early 1900s.
"He's supposed to block-release and catch the ball, and he didn't.
He kind of stumbled about. It's supposed to be much easier than
"That's one of those ones you don't want to drop," he said.
The catch capped a 72-yard scoring drive that followed the first
of three interceptions thrown by JaMarcus Russell. On the drive,
Leak found Andre Caldwell over the middle for a 17-yard gain on
third down and later connected with Jemalle Cornelius for 26 yards.
"We've got two great quarterbacks," Casey said. "We can do a
lot with them, and it showed."
LSU's quarterback has had better days. Russell finished 24-of-41
for 228 yards with a touchdown. But he also had four turnovers.
Tebow's passing performance continued after halftime.
The Gators got a safety on the second-half kickoff. Early Doucet
fumbled at the 3-yard line, gathered the loose ball briefly, but
lost it again after he got leveled by Riley Cooper. The ball
trickled into the end zone, and LSU teammate Trindon Holliday
recovered for the safety.
Five plays later, Tebow was at it again. He took a step toward
the line of scrimmage to fake a run, pulled up and found Louis
Murphy wide open down the middle for a 35-yard score.
"You found out tonight that Tim can throw," Casey said.
Florida essentially turned a tie game into a rout in a little
more than three minutes and even shredded LSU's top-ranked defense.
The Gators, playing without starting running back DeShawn Wynn,
finished with nearly 300 total yards.
They got plenty of help from LSU, too.
The Tigers got a boost before the game when Arkansas upset No. 2
Auburn, opening the door for LSU to get back into the SEC West
race. But LSU didn't take advantage of the opportunity.
Instead, the Tigers self-destructed.
Jessie Daniels fumbled a punt in the second quarter that led to
Florida's tying touchdown. Russell fumbled a snap on the 2-yard
line to end a 17-play drive. Instead of possibly going up 14-7, the
Tigers later trailed by a touchdown at halftime.
"The fumble was a big turn of events," LSU coach Les Miles
said. "It really swung the momentum. We would've never thought we
would go into the half behind."
LSU also had the fumbled kickoff to open the second half, then
had a punt blocked on the next possession. The Tigers also missed a
41-yard field goal.
"We're on cloud nine," Gators defensive tackle Ray McDonald
said. "But we know we can't be on cloud nine too long because
we've got Auburn next week."