The crowd was roaring even though Florida had a 38-0 lead and the game had long been put away.
And then it got louder.
It has been a rare sight over the last five years to see the Gators block anything that wasn’t a basketball or volleyball. Still, the Florida faithful hoped.
And Zachary Carter delivered.
The redshirt freshman was playing in his first game as a Gator and already he has a special memory.
A special teams memory.
He blocked the field goal attempt with a meaty paw and it spun harmlessly away as the crowd went to another level of loud.
“It was a good feeling,” Carter said. “When I felt it hit my hand, I was like, ‘Wow, this is what we’ve been practicing for.’ ”
The blocked field goal had no real impact on Florida’s 53-6 win over Charleston Southern, but Florida coach Dan Mullen later singled it out as his “proudest” play of the game.
It came after Charleston Southern’s Ronnie Harris ripped off a 70-yard run late in the first half (the Buccaneers’ only first down of the half). A 2-yard run and two incomplete passes followed and CSU decided to try to avoid a first-half shutout.
But Carter intervened.
“Coach Mullen has put an emphasis on special teams,” Carter said. “He said it’s the most important part of the game. He has really pumped up the special teams, telling us any play made by the special teams is just as important as a play by the offense or defense.”
It was one of two blocks for the Gators in the game. Florida had only four blocked kicks in the last five seasons. The second came on a blocked extra point by Jeremiah Moon that was returned for two points by walk-on defensive back Austin Perry.
It’s part of a new emphasis on playing on kick teams and Carter said it can lead to more playing time on both sides of the ball. In the Gators’ opener, Carter had two tackles and a quarterback hurry.
“Special teams are going to be special,” he said. “Punt, kickoff return, field goals. Everything.”