A special tribute to Urban Meyer

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
7:30
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida football team gave one final tribute to former coach Urban Meyer on Monday. The Gators made a couple big plays on special teams to beat Ohio State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

Andre Debose returned a kickoff 99 yards and Chris Rainey blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown in the Gators' 24-17 victory at EverBank Field.

"Special teams is huge," UF coach Will Muschamp said.

That was Meyer's view, too, and he coordinated UF's units until the final season of his tenure, when he turned the job over to linebackers coach D.J. Durkin. The Gators blocked 32 kicks during Meyer's tenure in Gainesville.

Muschamp kept Durkin from Meyer's staff and UF has blocked six kicks this season. Rainey has a school-record six in his career, and the one he blocked on Monday was eventually scooped up by freshman Graham Stewart and returned 14 yards for a touchdown. That came in the third quarter and gave Gators a 21-10 lead.

Debose's kickoff return in the second quarter was the third of his career, which also is a school record. It also was the longest play in Gator Bowl history, eclipsing a 96-yard touchdown run by Texas Tech's Mikell Simpson in 2008.

"Coach Durkin just called the play and I just followed [Jeff] Demps and he just kind of led me to the promised land for the touchdown," Debose said.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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