Gators finally feature the lethal rushing attack they envisioned (cont.)
After getting such limited productivity the past two seasons from tailbacks DeShawn Wynn and Kestahn Moore, Florida fans eagerly awaited the arrival of Moody, who ran for 459 yards (5.8 per carry) as a freshman for USC in 2006. Then they got only further teased during the Gators' spring game when Moody ran for 111 yards and a touchdown (though he also found himself in Meyer's doghouse for fumbling in the end zone) and Rainey broke a Tebow pass for 63 yards.
Yet in Florida's SEC opener at Tennessee, Rainey netted just 37 yards on nine carries, Moody ran nine times for 55 yards and Demps didn't see the field. A week later, the Gators ran for just 124 yards -- 89 of them by Harvin and Tebow -- in the loss to Ole Miss. Florida faithful, still smarting from a disappointing 9-4 season, began panicking that nothing would change.
Then came the Arkansas game.
"It's an awful lot easier deal to do it in a closed practice than in an SEC stadium," said Mullen. "Those guys made some big plays in the game. Seeing them do it in bigger games, and seeing how fast they grew and the acceleration of their growing process, allowed us to put them on the field."
Thursday night against Oklahoma, Florida's fast freshmen will play in their biggest game yet. While veterans Tebow and Harvin remain the unquestioned glue of the Gators' offense, they can't do it alone, as evidenced by last year's Capital One Bowl loss to Michigan.
And with the Gators' young defense unlikely to stifle Sam Bradford to nearly the same degree their 2006 team did to Ohio State's Troy Smith, Florida will attempt to win the same way as so many champions have before them: By running the ball down their opponent's throat.
The only difference will be the size of the guys doing the running.