Florida honored its 2008 National Championship team prior to the Gators’ 27-19 win Saturday over No. 5 LSU, with many former Gators and staffers making the trip back to Gainesville for the special occasion.
And the orchestrator of the offense, Tim Tebow, was at the center of it all. Tebow took the field following the first quarter against the Tigers to be inducted into Florida’s Ring of Honor, becoming the sixth former UF player to be bestowed with the honor. As the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium crowd roared, Tebow delivered an emotional speech expressing his gratitude to the Florida faithful.
“First and foremost, I want to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I want to thank my mom and dad for making me a Gator on Day 1. I want to thank all of my teammates and coaches who love me and had my back through everything, through thick and thin. I love you guys,” Tebow said. “And I want to thank Gator Nation. I love you guys. Thank you. I was born a Gator, I played as a Gator, and I’ll die a Gator.”
Recruiting – JD Bertrand, Keiondre Jones, 2020 commits
Florida expected four official visitors Saturday, and the group arrived as scheduled for the game with LSU. But the list of unofficial visitors grew in the final hours before kickoff.
Four-star linebacker J.D. Bertrand, who de-committed from Georgia on Friday, arrived in Gainesville earlier in the day for an unofficial visit with the Bulldogs’ SEC Eastern division rival. And Auburn offensive line commit Keiondre Jones, the cousin of Gators quarterback Emory Jones, opted to travel to Gainesville at the last minute to witness Florida’s victory. Florida’s end zone was also adorned with multiple 2020 commits, including Charlotte-based defensive end Kedrick-Bingley Jones.
UF snaps streak over ranked opponents
The Gators’ win over the Tigers was a reminder of Florida’s perceived dominance at home, but questions remained prior to Saturday about UF against ranked opponents. Florida entered the afternoon with a 5-9 record in the program’s 14 games against ranked opponents since 2015. So it was only fitting that Florida secured the victory over a top-five opponent in the team’s first sellout since hosting Florida State in 2015.
“I want to thank the Gator Nation and all the fans, our student body for the atmosphere,” coach Dan Mullen said after the game. “The Swamp was an intimidating place to come play. It gave us an incredible home-field advantage.”
Gators backfield impressive
Florida featured dominant play Saturday, but it was the backfield that was the catalyst Saturday afternoon.
The Gators gashed LSU for 215 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, although the Tigers’ running backs mustered 180 yards and two scores of their own. For a Florida team that gave up more than 300 rushing yards to Kentucky in its last home game, Saturday was an improvement from a defensive perspective, but UF coach Dan Mullen pointed to UF’s contingent of backs when identifying factors that decided the outcome.
“There were a lot of times we didn’t even control the line of scrimmage,” Mullen said, “but to come in and rush for over 200 yards against LSU is a pretty good day running the ball. So we toughed it out enough and we played as a team.”
It was Gators junior running back Lamical Perine leading the way for much of the game, providing both scores and nearly half of UF’s contributions on the ground. Rather than take the credit, Perine said the game plan with allowing the Gators to be successful against a stout LSU defensive line.
“I feel like it was the scheme that we prepared for, so we knew coming into the game that it was going to be a dogfight with their front seven that they have,” Perine said. “So we just had to scheme it up, man, and we had a great game.”