GAINESVILLE — When Florida sophomore Andre Debose looked past the man in front of him, he was surprised by what he saw: nothing.
Debose split out wide with 1:02 left in the third quarter, ready to run a go route (straight down the field) against Furman cornerback Derrick Murray. At the snap, he took off and beat Murray. Still, no safety moved toward him.
The Paladins were playing him one on one for the second time Saturday afternoon. And for the second time, Debose beat his man, jumping over Murray to catch an underthrown pass and taking it 64 yards for a touchdown during the Gators' 54-32 victory.
The catch put Florida up 37-25 over I-AA Furman in a game that was tighter than anyone expected. It also helped him record career highs in yards (151) and touchdowns (two).
"As long as they give you the right coverage and you throw a decent ball, just give him a chance," Florida quarterback John Brantley said. "He's coming up with it more times than not."
Florida coaches noticed early in the game Furman was playing man-to-man defense against Debose when the Gators lined up with a tight end and two running backs. Brantley did not take advantage, however, until midway through the second quarter.
Down 22-14, Debose ran a go route past Ryan Steed, hauling in a career-long 80-yard touchdown and swinging the momentum.
Florida's defense then forced a three-and-out. Sophomore Dominique Easley blocked a punt, and Brantley found Quinton Dunbar in the end zone to give the Gators the lead for good.
Debose has shown game-breaking ability in the past. He scored on go routes against Alabama and LSU, the two best defenses in the nation entering Saturday. Debose leads Florida with 423 receiving yards and four touchdown catches this season.
But coach Will Muschamp wants Debose to be consistent. Last season, he rarely played because he couldn't learn the playbook, according to coaches.
This season, Muschamp says Debose doesn't bring the same effort each day. Before Saturday, he had caught only 12 passes all season.
But consistent or not, Debose has flashed potential, and that alone fuels his confidence.
"I come out to the field, and I feel like no one can stop me," he said. "That's just the way I've been playing since I was in high school. Once the ball's in the air, I just attack it. That's my mentality."