Brindise bought the idea immediately. Johnson was skeptical. "But then I saw what Coach was trying to do," Johnson said. Last Friday in their room at the Holiday Inn West in Gainesville, Brindise and Johnson stayed up an hour after the 11 p.m. curfew and went over the rotation. "We were in the room, so we didn't miss curfew," Brindise said. "We thought everything through."
Spurrier had been doing the same. "I didn't know if we could get them in and out of the game," he said of his quarterbacks after it was over. "I had to think quickly tonight. Always think a play ahead."
The Gators would get only one flag for delay of game, and the one glitch their offense experienced came from an unlikely source. In the first quarter, after Taylor scored to give the Gators a 6-0 lead, he fumbled twice deep in Florida territory. The first fumble was returned for a touchdown; the second led to a Florida State field goal. Soon the Gators trailed 17-6.
"One of my teammates, Alex Willis, suggested I say a little prayer," Taylor said. "Every time I came off the field, I would say, 'Give us strength. Let us continue to play our hearts out.' " Not exactly the Song of Songs, but it seemed to work. Taylor's four-yard touchdown in the second quarter gave Florida an 18-17 halftime lead. His 61-yard burst off right tackle early in the third quarter put the Gators ahead 25-20.
Florida didn't score again until it got the ball with 2:38 to play, trailing 29-25. The Seminoles' Sebastian Janikowski had just kicked his third field goal of the game, a 20-yarder, and for the sixth time in seven kickoffs he forced the Gators to start from their 20. Johnson came to the line expecting to see the Florida State secondary in a zone. Instead he saw cornerback Samari Rolle and rover Shevin Smith lined straight up against Green and Darrell Jackson. Johnson didn't hesitate. He switched out of a slant over the middle to Green and signaled him to go deep. When Green blew past Rolle, Johnson hit him at the Seminoles 45. Green cut behind free safety Dexter Jackson and raced across the field to the 17. Taylor got the rest in two carries.
The win will probably put Florida in the Florida Citrus Bowl, which is something of a shotgun wedding. Spurrier has ridiculed the bowl ever since 1992, when it took 9-2 Georgia instead of the 8-4 Gators. He has joked often about Tennessee's two straight appearances in the Citrus while Florida was playing in more prestigious venues. Now, though, it's Tennessee that's within two victories of going to the Orange Bowl while Florida seems destined for what Spurrier has referred to as the "rinky-dink" Citrus.
After Saturday all will be forgiven, if not forgotten—a lesson that Dougie Johnson has learned well.