Notebook: Sturgis keeps booming 'em for UF
Published: Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 7:09 p.m.
Senior kicker Caleb Sturgis prevented a nail-biter in The Swamp on Saturday.
Sturgis hit two field goals from 34 and 51 yards out, the latter coming in the fourth quarter, to help Florida to a 27-14 win over Bowling Green. Sturgis has made his last six attempts of 50 yards or more to extend his UF record.
Without Florida's lone first-team All-SEC preseason selection, UF coach Will Muschamp would have had only a one-score lead in the closing minutes.
“It's huge,” Muschamp said of Sturgis' impact. “I think he's the best kicker in the country. I got tremendous confidence (in him) and when we hit the 35-yard line I feel comfortable about Caleb.”
Sturgis could not connect on his 27-yard attempt with 44 seconds left in the game, but Muschamp said his kick might have been tipped.
Fowler a force in the fourth
Dante Fowler Jr. played more than any other true freshman Saturday and came up big for the Gators late in the fourth quarter.
Inside Florida's 30-yard line with under five minutes to play, the former five-star recruit got in the Falcons' backfield on their fourth-down attempt and forced a turnover on downs to seal the win.
Fowler, playing the Buck position, finished with three tackles and was one of only three Florida defenders to hurry the quarterback.
Muschamp said the 6-foot-3, 277-pounder still needs to get in better shape after reporting to UF late because of academics, but he has a bright future ahead of him.
“He made a nice play on fourth down on the draw play,” Muschamp said. “He's going to be a good football player. He's got to continue to learn the game and play himself into shape because he's not in the best of shape right now.”
Attendance low for opener
The announced attendance for Saturday's game was 84,704, which was one of the lowest for season openers in the past two decades.
However, much of that was due to Bowling Green purchasing just 660 tickets. A UF official said opponents usually buy between 4,000 and 8,000.
The only game in recent memory where the Gators had lower attendance numbers was last season against Furman (84,674).
Redshirt sophomore Neiron Ball started at strongside linebacker after junior Darrin Kitchens was banged up on the opening kickoff. It was Ball's first game back since his non-invasive radiation surgery last year to stop the bleeding in his brain. … Florida extended its opening-game winning streak to 23, which leads the SEC and is second in the nation. Nebraska's steak is at 27 after its 49-20 victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday. … Muschamp did not announce any new injuries in his post-game news conference.