Blogs by the quarters
Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 1:23 a.m.
Coming into the stadium today on the media shuttle, it looked like a Gator home game. So definitely give Florida a home-field advantage even if it's nothing like it is in The Swamp. (By the way, just when I think I've heard sportswriters complain about everything, two of them today were bitching about the police escort not being good enough). It got chippy right away. After the coin toss, Louis Murphy started shouting at Oklahoma defensive back Nic Harris and Brandon Spikes was vocal as well. Like I said before, this almost feels like Florida-FSU. The combination of being in the baseball press box in the corner of Dolphin Stadium and Oklahoma's hurry-up offense is making it impossible to keep my play-by-play accurate. But no complaining, right? When Brandon Hicks sacks Sam Bradford for a 14-yard loss it was the first time in three games and only the 12th time this season Bradford has been sacked. But Florida gives the ball back when Tim Tebow throws the worst pass he has thrown since the interception he threw in Arkansas. When Florida keeps Oklahoma from scoring on its first two possessions, it's the first time this year that has happened to the Sooners. Last word: ACC officials. Do I need to say anything more?
— Pat Dooley
The way the Sooners and Gators have jumped on opponents early all season, many were expecting the first half — and maybe the game — to turn into a scoring blitz. It didn't happen. Even though the Sooners were in a position to establish the tempo — the fast tempo, that is — in the second quarter, they could not close out two potential touchdown drives, and the teams headed into the halftime knotted a 7-7, a score no one was anticipating. The Sooners cranked up their fast-break offense early in the quarter and tied the game on a 6-yard pass from Bradford to tight end/mismatch nightmare Jermaine Gresham. It was one of those lightning scoring drives that the OU offense has put together so often this season. A few minutes later, OU had a chance to take over the game after Tebow threw his second interception of the game, giving the Sooners the ball on the Gators' 26. The Sooners were quickly inside the 10. But on a fourth-and-goal from the 1, the Florida defense rose up and made a huge play, a tackle in the backfield by sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis for a 2-yard loss. While Tebow and the Gators were having some success against the maligned OU defense, they could not sustain a drive late in the first half. Following a UF punt, Bradford had the Sooners flying down the field again, moving to the UF 6-yard line with only 10 seconds remaining in the half. But once again, the Gators came up big, with strong safety Major Wright intercepting a tipped Bradford pass on the 3. The play allowed the Gators to get to the halftime tied. But the way the Sooners were sprinting up and down the field in the second quarter, there had to be some doubt on the Florida sideline heading into the third quarter.
— Robbie Andreu
Leave it to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to provide the wake-up call. With Florida sleepwalking through the first two-and-half quarters, Tebow turned a 16-yard scramble to near midfield into something more meaningful. Tebow pumped his fists toward the partisan Gator section of the crowd, which got both the team and fans fired up. Florida went on to score a go-ahead touchdown, taking a 14-7 lead on a 2-yard run from Percy Harvin. Carlos Dunlap blocked a field goal attempt to keep Florida ahead by a touchdown going into the fourth quarter. It was Florida's ninth blocked kick of the season, tying the school record for blocks previously set in 1995. Guess you can say this crowd leans to the right. Much of the sellout booed when former President Bill Clinton, attending the game, was shown on the JumboTron screen.
— Kevin Brockway
Gainesville Sun/Gatorsports.com photographer Doug Finger has a birthday synonymous not just with Elvis Presley, but also with Gator football.
You see, on Jan. 8, 32 years ago, Doug was born.
Like he was in 2007 on the exact same date (then, he was in Tempe, Az.), Doug was working instead of blowing out candles. No biggie (and this is when the orange and blue in him comes out).
"I don't mind at all," he said eight hours before kickoff. "As long as the confetti falling at the end of the game is for the Gators, I'm happy."
GAME STARS: Not sure if I have a vote, but I'd go Percy Harvin offensive MOP and Major Wright defensive MOP.
ETC.: This didn't make my notebook (deadlines, deadlines...), but these former Gators were in attendance: Trace Armstrong, James Bates, Alex Brown, Kevin Carter, Joe Cohen, Cris Collinsworth, Chris Doering, Jack Jackson, Chris Leak, Reggie Lewis, Ray McDonald, Drew Miller, Jeremy Mincey, Jarvis Moss, Reggie Nelson, "The Bachelor" Jesse Palmer, Steve Rissler, Tommy Shannon, Larry Smith, Max Starks, Fred Taylor, Lawrence Wright and Danny Wuerffel. Gator coaches here were Billy Donovan, Buddy Alexander, Jill Briles-Hinton, Tim Walton, Roland Thornqvist, Becky Burleigh, Andy Jackson and Amanda O'Leary. Other celebs in attendance included author Michael Connelly, MLB player A.J. Pierzynski, former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, senator Bill Nelson and oh yeah, former President Bill Clinton. ... Also, the drunkest guy in Miami somehow found Kevin Brockway and me and slurred to us through the press box glass throughout the final few minutes of the game. He was actually quite funny, though I'm not sure tomorrow's headache will be funny to him at all.
— John Patton
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