No. 4 Gators keep finding ways to win

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor


Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida has finally established an identity under second-year coach Urban Meyer. "We're a bunch of scraping, fighting guys that find a way," Meyer said Sunday, a day after his fourth-ranked Gators beat rival Florida State 21-14 to end the regular season.
Florida (11-1) has found a way to win several close ones this season, including Saturday in Tallahassee, and the late-game heroics have kept the team in the national championship picture.
Against the Seminoles, senior Chris Leak directed a 74-yard drive to start the fourth quarter after FSU tied the game at 14. Leak was 7-of-8 for 79 yards on the game-winning drive, including a 25-yard TD to Dallas Baker.
"You've got to maintain focus and whatever happens, whatever adversity comes your way, you just stay focused," Leak said. "Just try to make plays when they're there to be made."
The Gators have made plays to win several other close games this season - the main reason they won the Southeastern Conference East Division and will play in the league title game Saturday against No. 8 Arkansas.
Against Tennessee in September, Leak came up a yard short on third down. But freshman Tim Tebow entered the game and picked up the first down on a gritty run. Leak connected with Baker a few plays later for a 21-yard score that put Florida up 21-20. Reggie Nelson sealed the victory with an interception.
Against Alabama two weeks later, the Gators were ahead 21-13 in the fourth quarter when Nelson intercepted a pass from John Parker Wilson and returned it 70 yards for a score.
The following week against LSU, Florida opened the second half with a forced fumble that resulted in a safety and a 16-7 lead. On the ensuing possession, Tebow faked a run and completed a 35-yard TD pass to Louis Murphy. The Gators sealed the victory by picking off JaMarcus Russell on consecutive possessions.
There were tighter finishes, too.
Against Georgia last month, DeShawn Wynn sealed a 21-14 victory when he picked up 6 yards on a third-and-4 play - an aggressive run that followed Wynn's near-demand of the ball.
And few will forget what happened against South Carolina, when Jarvis Moss blocked an extra point attempt, then Leak and Tebow combined to put the Gators ahead 17-16. Moss ended a potential comeback by blocking a 48-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
"What we do have is very good chemistry and guys that believe in each other and fight to the end," Meyer said. "If you had a choice, that's the kind of team you'd like to be around."
The Gators have been able to eek out wins, but they haven't been able to make up ground in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Florida remained fourth behind Ohio State, Southern California and Michigan. The Trojans leapfrogged the Wolverines, meaning the Gators need to beat Arkansas and have UCLA upset USC to have any shot at playing the Buckeyes in the national championship game.
"I think the BCS has done the best they possibly could in a very difficult situation," Meyer said. "For anybody who thinks logically, it's not the best system, but it's probably the best at this time."
Meyer also said he wished everyone was on an equal playing field, referring to the Big Ten and the Pac-10 not having conference title games like the SEC, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12.
"The right thing to do is have every conference have a championship game and then the winner of that championship game go play for the national championship," Meyer said. "I don't believe that will happen, though, not for a while."
On the injury front, Meyer said freshman receiver Percy Harvin (neck) should be able to play against Arkansas. Wynn might not be as fortunate. "A little more concerned," Meyer said. "He's been battling that basically the entire year. It's a significant injury, and every time he gets contact on that shoulder, there's a problem."