ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s a news flash: Tim Tebow was pretty good.
It’s clear the Florida football program hasn’t been the same since he left after the 2009 season. There’s so many ways to measure Tebow’s impact, but here’s one that must really sting Florida fans: The Gators are winless against former coach Steve Spurrier without Tebow.
UF went 4-0 against Spurrier in Tebow’s tenure, outscoring the South Carolina 148-67. That includes a 51-31 victory in 2007 and a 56-6 victory in 2008.
In the other three games UF has faced Spurrier, the Gators are 0-3 and have been outscored 83-48. And those games have not been pretty, either.
Florida’s next chance to snap its Tebow-less losing streak to Spurrier comes when the Gators play host to South Carolina on Oct. 20.
A look at how UF has fared against South Carolina and Spurrier -- with and without Tebow.
Florida won 17-16 when Jarvis Moss blocked Ryan Succop’s 48-yard field-goal attempt as time expired, but Tebow delivered two critical plays on the Gators’ game-winning drive. He ran for 6 yards on fourth-and-1 from the UF 29-yard line and he scored the game-winning touchdown on a 12-yard run with 3:03 to play. Tebow’s stats: five carries for 29 yards and one touchdown; 0-2 passing.
This is the game that essentially won Tebow the Heisman Trophy. He accounted for seven touchdowns -- five rushing, two passing --and 425 total yards in the Gators’ 51-31 victory. Tebow finished with 26 carries for 121 yards and five touchdowns and he went 22-of-32 passing for 304 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
The Gators won 56-6 and Tebow was efficient in the blowout. He ran 14 times for 39 yards and one touchdown and completed 13-of-20 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
This game turned on Justin Trattou’s interception on the first play of the fourth quarter. The turnover set UF up at the South Carolina 26-yard line. Four plays later, Tebow scored on a 1-yard run to provide the final 24-14 score. He ran 16 times for 26 yards and the one touchdown and completed 14-of-25 passes for 199 yards and another touchdown.
In his first game against Florida, Spurrier outsmarted Urban Meyer by running the football -- over and over and over again. The Gamecocks had just 246 yards of total offense, but they threw the ball only 17 times and ran it 36. Meyer never adjusted and South Carolina won 30-22.
South Carolina came into the Swamp and embarrassed the Gators. The Gamecocks had 395 yards of total offense, including 212 yards rushing by Marcus Lattimore, and limited Florida to just 226 yards of offense. UF managed just 35 yards rushing in the 36-14 loss.
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw ran all over the Gators in the first half and finished with 88 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 17-12 victory. UF made a huge mistake late in the game when defensive tackle Dominique Easley jumped offsides on a third-and-2 play at the South Carolina 28-yard line. That allowed the Gamecocks to run eight more plays and time off the clock, and UF didn’t get the ball back until there were just 42 seconds remaining.