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Fake punt fires up offense for Florida Gators

Florida’s Omarius Hines runs for a first down on a fake punt in the third quarter. The play set up the go-ahead touchdown.

GARY W. GREEN | Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s Omarius Hines runs for a first down on a fake punt in the third quarter. The play set up the go-ahead touchdown.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Urban Meyer knew his team was on the ropes.

After the Florida defense surrendered a long, tying touchdown in the third quarter against Tennessee, Meyer's offense managed just 4 yards on three plays.

Facing a potential three-and-out and hearing the noise from 102,455 fans at Neyland Stadium rise, Meyer felt control of the game was slipping away. So, on fourth and 6 from the UF 39-yard line, Meyer called for a fake punt.

Before the season, the Gators coach said fakes were a sign that a team needs more than just typical plays to pull out a win.

"When momentum shifts, you have to get it back somehow," Meyer said. "When you have experienced offensive players, you don't have to do that kind of stuff. When you have inexperienced players, you've got to somehow create a play. Somehow, someone has to make a play."

The ball was snapped directly to wide receiver Omarius Hines, who was lined about 5 yards behind and to the right of long snapper Chris Guido. Hines looped left behind the line and, when a wall of Gators blocked two Volunteers defenders outside, he cut up the field, slipped a tackle and gained 36 yards.

Earlier, with Florida in punt formation, Gators coaches noticed that they had three players on the left side of the line and Tennessee only had two. With both teams in the same formation in the third quarter, Meyer called for the fake.

In the six seasons Meyer has coached Florida, the Gators are 8-for-8 on fake punts. Florida had not attempted a fake since 2008, and Tennessee had not allowed one since 2007.

"It was a big play," Volunteers coach Derek Dooley said. "I take responsibility for that one. … They hadn't run a fake in a long time on a punt."

Hines hauled in just two catches for 15 yards, but his run was Florida's longest play from scrimmage.

"It felt real good," he said. "I was trying to compare myself to Jeff Demps."

Six plays later, a 7-yard touchdown from quarterback John Brantley to receiver Frankie Hammond gave the Gators the lead for good at 17-10.

"Whenever you run a trick play or a fake of some kind, if you don't capitalize that's as bad as not making it," Meyer said. "For our offense to take it down and score after that obviously was a momentum-change in the game."

Fake punt fires up offense for Florida Gators 09/18/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 18, 2010 10:44pm]
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