Gators ride momentum on offense


The Orlando Sentinel

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brandon Spikes’ eye-gouging drama masked the reason Urban Meyer had to verbally shake up his team last week.

The residue of a bad offense isn’t far away.

Florida was marred in a 2-for-15 touchdown slump in the red zone that created a frustrated locker room.

So on the Friday before the 41-17 win over Georgia, the Gators coach breathed fire into the team hotel on how true teams don’t tear apart.

“I had hair standing up in the back of my neck,” said defensive line coach Dan McCarney, whose No. 1 Gators play Vanderbilt tonight at 7:15 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on ESPN2. “There were goosebumps on my arms.”

Eight days later, Florida’s national title hopes still hinge largely on whether the Gators sustain offensive momentum from the Georgia game or resort to their turnover-prone ways of previous weeks. Meyer’s speech worked after Florida notched 374 offensive yards on the Bulldogs, but Spikes got a one-game suspension for attempting to gouge the eyes of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey.

This is a new week of theatrics for the Gators (8-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference), so Meyer might have to get creative once again with his pre-game speeches. Spikes, Meyer and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong decided to remove Spikes from today’s game with the Commodores (2-7, 0-5).

As if Florida wasn’t already concerned with fighting complacency after clinching the SEC East a month early, now the Gators must adjust without their All-American middle linebacker.

But the offense can worry about thriving off playaction, bootlegs and more trust in the running backs.

Quarterback Tim Tebow finally looked comfortable last Saturday while spreading the ball around and rolling out of the pocket to make plays.

“You just have to build on it,” wide receiver David Nelson said.

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