Notebook: Spikes' speech

Published: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 5:52 p.m.

Quarterback Tim Tebow's emotional promise after the Ole Miss loss has been much-chronicled in recent weeks and could go down as one of the greatest inspirational speeches in college football history if the Gators win the national championship.

But he isn't the only UF leader who made a key speech early in the season. Junior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes also delivered one after the Gators' victory over Arkansas a week later, a game in which Spikes and the defense did not perform up to expectations.

"He stood up in front of his teammates after the game and said, 'We won, but I didn't play well today. I'm the leader of this defense and I have to play a lot better,' " defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "He apologized after that game like Tebow did after the Ole Miss game."

Spikes and the defense have been on top of their game ever since.

Strong said he predicted Spikes' poor performance before the Arkansas game.

"I always say to him I know how he's going to play," Strong said. "As a coach, we wake guys up (the day of the game). I went to his room and he was moving around all slow. I said, you've got to get up and get moving around.'

"Before the game, I told him, 'You're not going to play good today.' And he didn't. After the game, he said, 'You were right coach.' "

Spikes has been up and moving around well ever since.

Harvin off and running

Star wide receiver Percy Harvin cleared another major hurdle Saturday, practicing for the first time since sustaining a high ankle sprain against Florida State on Nov. 29.

"He did great today," UF coach Urban Meyer said. "He didn't finish practice, but he's right on schedule, probably a little ahead of schedule. He'll play (Thursday night) unless he has a setback."

Spikes-Tebow connection

Spikes and Tebow met each other for the first time when they were on a recruiting visit to Alabama for the 2005 Tide-Gator game in Tuscaloosa. Spikes confirmed a long-standing rumor that the two high school stars agreed on the trip to sign with the same school, which they did.

"That's where I first met 'T'," Spikes said. "I was coming out of coach (Mike) Shula's offense and he was sitting in a chair, and Coach Shula introduced us."

Where the wind comes sweeping ...

Florida outside linebacker Ryan Stamper admitted during interviews Saturday they he has a very limited knowledge of the state of Oklahoma.

When asked what he knew about the state, he said, "Nothing. I've never been to Oklahoma."

Stamper apparently doesn't get around much.

He's a Jacksonville native and this is the first time he's ever been to south Florida, he said.

Parcells visits

Among those allowed inside the gates during Saturday's closed practice was Miami Dolphins director of football operations and former NFL Super-Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells.

"He's just evaluating our players," Stoops said. "It was great to have him here and I've always been a big fan with the way he coaches."

Parcells addressed the Sooners before Saturday's practice.

"It's always important when you get a legendary figure and a guy that's a Hall of Fame coach you get a chance to be around him and say hello," Stoops said. "I just like our players to see and hear from those kind of guys. As always, he has a great message for them."

Bradford in splint

Oklahoma Heisman winning quarterback Sam Bradford practiced with a splint on his non-throwing (left) hand on Saturday.

Bradford suffered torn ligaments in his left hand during Oklahoma's regular-season finale against Oklahoma State. He took snaps with the splint during Oklahoma's Big 12 championship win over Missouri.

"The splint has been reduced each day but he's been taking snaps really the last two or three practices at home (in Oklahoma)," Stoops said. "It's not an issue."

Stoops said that Bradford will wear the splint Thursday night against the Gators.

"He's going to have a splint on, but (it will be) smaller than Big 12 championship game," Stoops said.

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