Fresh perspective


Published: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tim Tebow will be buzzing with nerves when Florida and Ohio State meet Monday night in the BCS title game.

That shouldn't come as a surprise. Tebow always gets nervous before games.

"I'm sure I'll have a few nerves," Tebow said. "I feel nervous before every game. I was nervous before Western Carolina."

The bright lights of the BCS title game can be a blinding force for true freshmen. Florida, of course, plays a lot of them.

The freshmen's ability to handle the anxiety of playing in college football's biggest game could affect the outcome.

But the Gators aren't concerned.

"I don't think it should be a factor," senior Dallas Baker said. "Our freshmen have been through the Tennessee game, the Auburn game, Georgia in Jacksonville. So I don't think it should be an issue."

Don't forget the SEC title game. All told, Florida's freshmen are more like seasoned sophomores.

"There may be some jitters but I don't see it going any further than that," junior tight end Tate Casey said. "When you play in The Swamp all season you've got to get past that."

Gators coach Urban Meyer, who was here two years ago with Utah in the Fiesta Bowl, said he is taking measures to ensure his freshmen don't lose focus this week.

"I have warned them and been very leery of that," Meyer said. "We will take all measures to make sure the guys don't lose focus."

Senior receiver Jemalle Cornelius said the big-game experience of Florida's freshmen precedes their time at Florida. Freshmen like Tebow, Jarred Fayson and Percy Harvin played in big games in high school like the U.S. Army All-Star game.

"They've been in the spotlight their whole careers," Cornelius said. "They'll be fine."

But nerves can often rise to the top, especially with inexperienced players. Florida already saw it happen once this year.

Freshman receiver Riley Cooper was so anxious after dropping a touchdown pass in Florida's win over Western Carolina, he vomited on the field and then was flagged for an illegal formation penalty.

Tebow said it is important to relax and contain your emotions when they begin to accelerate out of control.

"You just have to balance it out and be calm," Tebow said.

That goes for all the Gators — sophomores, juniors and seniors alike.

"None of us have been here before," Casey said. "There may be some jitters for everybody until the game kicks off, then we'll be ready to go."

Some Ohio State true freshmen who saw action this year are linebacker Ross Homan, defensive end Robert Rose and running back Chris Wells.

Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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