GAINESVILLE — When Florida gathered for its pregame meal Saturday morning, CB Jeremy Brown was on crutches and wearing a boot on his right foot.
And praying as hard as he could.
Brown, sidelined the past two seasons with back problems, was finally healthy and ready to play his first collegiate game when he sustained a freak injury during Thursday's walk-through practice.
"It was a simple route, and I went up and made a play. And then I was walking away, and I stepped on somebody's foot," Brown said after the 34-12 victory over Miami (Ohio). "I thought I broke it at first. The pain was really bad."
Brown was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, and after two days of rehab, Brown still wasn't sure he'd be able to play.
"Even (Saturday) morning at about 8:30, I didn't think I could play," the redshirt sophomore from Orlando said. "I still had my boot on. Everybody kept saying maybe you should just let it go and sit out this game. But I've worked so hard to try to come back. I had worked so hard for this moment. And here it was, and I'm thinking I'm not going to be able to play."
Brown had two tackles and an interception. How was it possible?
"Faith," he said. "I just had faith. I did a lot of praying. And then when it got closer to game time, I just said I have to go. I have to do what I can to help my team. It was unbelievable. It really was. It was just a great feeling, especially after I've been through so much."
HILL, JOHNSON SUSPENDED: S Will Hill and senior OL Carl Johnson were suspended for Saturday's game. Coach Urban Meyer said they failed to fulfill certain obligations and "were not ready to play."
"One thing about that first game, we expect certain things in the classroom," Meyer said. "We expect good behavior off the field. We expect a lot of things, and if you don't fulfill that, you won't play."
ANOTHER DROP: Senior WR Deonte Thompson hoped to ditch his reputation as the king of dropped passes. But he had another one Saturday. Late in the second quarter, Thompson dropped a pass that would have been a 44-yard touchdown from John Brantley.
"(The defender) pulled my right arm back, so I only had one hand on it," Thompson said. "I've still got to come down with it. I've got to get better. Everybody's got to get better. We didn't play good at all."
INJURY UPDATES: CB Moses Jenkins suffered an injury to his left elbow with 8:47 left in the third. Meyer said he's unsure of the extent of the injury or how long Jenkins will be out. OL James Wilson's left knee injury does not appear to be serious, and he is expected to play next week.
HE SAID IT: "We won. There you go. … I'll say that slowly. We won. There's a bright spot for you." — Meyer when asked about bright spots of the victory
OF NOTE: Former St. Petersburg Catholic standout Jon Halapio got his first start. … Trey Burton became the first true freshman QB to score a touchdown on opening day since Tim Tebow in 2006.