Cooper torches Hilltoppers

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 7:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 7:20 p.m.

In his brief Florida career, Riley Cooper is already establishing a trend. Any team named Western, he dominates.

Last year, Cooper rolled up career highs against Western Carolina. On Saturday, Cooper began his sophomore campaign by terrorizing Western Kentucky during a 49-3 Florida win.

The speedy sophomore caught four passes for 122 yards, including touchdown receptions of 59 and 42 yards. Afterward, Florida coach Urban Meyer said Cooper may be seeing more balls thrown his way as the season goes on.

"He's definitely a deep threat," Meyer said. "He's big and he's extremely fast. He deserves a few more shots."

Cooper smiled when told his coach wanted to give him more touches.

"That's definitely good to hear," he said.

Cooper used his speed to torch Western Kentucky's secondary for a pair of long touchdowns. Fellow receiver Andre Caldwell said Cooper's quickness often catches opponents off guard.

"I think they do underestimate him," Caldwell said. "When he gets off the ball, he's not as fast as the rest of us (receivers). But once he gets moving, he's as fast as anybody. Then you see him running past defenders and into the end zone with the ball."

That was a familiar sight last year during Florida's 62-0 romp over Western Carolina. Cooper caught three passes all touchdowns for 82 yards in the win. His freshman season, however, was marred by a nagging foot injury that has only recently healed.

"It's been frustrating," he said.

Cooper got Florida going early when he caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow to put the Gators ahead 14-0. In the third quarter, Cooper caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Tebow.

"It's satisfying," Cooper said. "But whenever you have your number called you just have to go out and perform."

Cooper's big afternoon, coupled with Caldwell's 103-yard receiving game, gave Florida two 100-yard receivers in a game for the first time in two years. The last time the Gators had two players go over 100 receiving yards in a game was against Kentucky in 2005 when Jemalle Cornelius and Chad Jackson did it.

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