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Florida DT Jaye Howard honors late friend, Gator Lamar Abel

Back at it: Florida running back Jeff Demps dodges Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw for 4 yards in the first quarter.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Back at it: Florida running back Jeff Demps dodges Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw for 4 yards in the first quarter.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Florida DT Jaye Howard switched from No. 6 to No. 62 on Saturday night in honor of his late friend and former Gator Lamar Abel.

Abel was a former walk-on and part of Florida's 2008 BCS title team who died of a seizure May 22. He was 21. Abel became ill while doing volunteer work with his fraternity.

The defensive lineman played in 2007 and 2008. He dressed for the 2008 title win against Oklahoma and played in one game, against Citadel in 2008.

Double duty: Senior P Chas Henry was forced to pull double duty after the Gators lost starting K Caleb Sturgis, who has a fractured back.

Henry scored the Gators' only points, making a 39-yard field goal with 36 seconds remaining in the first half and adding a 21-yarder early in the third quarter. He had three punts for 187 yards, including a 75-yarder late in the second quarter, which tied for fourth longest in school history with Eric Wilbur (2003 vs. Tennessee).

Demps' return: After a week of speculation, RB Jeff Demps started but was limited in the first half. Demps (sprained foot) received a carry on Florida's first play from scrimmage, taking a sweep right for 4 yards. Demps finished the first half with three carries for 15 yards and had 11 carries for 47 yards overall. His kick-return duties were transferred to RB Mike Gillislee and WR Andre Debose.

By the way: Florida's 24-3 halftime deficit was the same as the halftime score the last time Florida played in Tuscaloosa — in 2005. The Gators went on to lose that game 31-3 on Oct. 1.

Mark Ingram? Just fine: After missing the first two games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was back in full force for Alabama. The running back had surgery Aug. 31 then returned for the Sept. 18 game against Duke.

Ingram said he has no regrets about returning so soon, and his performance seems to prove he made the right decision. He rushed for 151 yards on nine carries against Duke, then in last week's come-from-behind victory over Arkansas, he had 148 of his 157 yards at halftime.

Florida held Ingram to 47 yards on 12 carries, but he had two rushing touchdowns — moving him into second on the Crimson Tide's career rushing touchdown list.

"It is really just such a blessing that I could come off of surgery and have the two strong performances that I've had," Ingram said earlier in the week. " … My main focus coming back into the first game was not to have any hesitation in my step whatsoever.

"I wanted to have 100 percent confidence in my ability of what I could do out there on the field, and that's the way I practice; I just push it to the limit, so I wouldn't have any hesitation. I haven't had any so far. I'm really happy with how things have gone since the surgery."

Times correspondent Tyler Jett contributed to this report.

Florida DT Jaye Howard honors late friend, Gator Lamar Abel 10/02/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 3, 2010 1:21am]

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