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Florida Gators football players motivated by speech from basketball coach Billy Donovan

JACKSONVILLE — It was a tough week for the Gators as they prepared for Georgia, so coach Urban Meyer felt like he needed to bring in a little extra motivation. He called on UF basketball coach Billy Donovan.

Donovan, who led his Gators to back-to-back national championships, spoke to the veteran leaders of the football team Thursday.

"He did a phenomenal job," Meyer said. "His message was 'Stick together. ' "

Donovan's message affected the players.

"It was great," QB Tim Tebow said. "And I think he motivated us a lot. … He was very inspiring and a great speaker, and obviously we all respect him for what he's done and who he is."

BIG-GAME ROOMMATES: It was a big day for Tebow and roommate WR Riley Cooper.

Tebow set the SEC rushing touchdown record with a 23-yard run with 1:32 remaining in the first half. He said it was the magnitude of the run, not the yardage, that was most important.

"Only being up seven going into the half, trying to do some kind of two-minute drill to get down there, and then it's third and 3," said Tebow, who later scored again to put the record at 51.

"It looked like nothing was there. I tried to go outside, and then I (saw a defender), and I tried to cut back inside. (Aaron) Hernandez and Mike Pouncey kicked him out, and I was able to run pretty much scot-free into the end zone."

Cooper, a senior, had a 29-yard, one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone. Cooper began talking about the Georgia game on the plane with Meyer after last week's Mississippi State game because he's so fond of the rivalry. He made the most of his last time against the Bulldogs.

"I pretty much knew I got a foot down inbounds," Cooper said of the catch. "But I looked back, and all the players were just looking at me, not really celebrating. I don't think they knew if I caught it or not. But once they realized, they all came over and starting celebrating, and it was really cool."

STURGIS' BIG KICK: Florida K Caleb Sturgis was 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts, including a career-long 56-yarder that gave the Gators a 17-10 lead with 4:47 remaining in the first half.

Sturgis was in a kicking battle with senior Jonathan Phillips last week.

Meyer said a reporter for CBS, which broadcast the game, asked him if he knew Sturgis would make the kick.

"No," Meyer said was his response. "But he does it in practice all the time. He's got a great leg."

CHANGE OF PLANS: In a series that has seen its share of motivational tactics in recent years, Georgia pulled out another one. The Bulldogs warmed up in silver and red, then came back for the kickoff wearing black helmets and black pants.

Georgia officials said it was believed to be the first time in program history for the black helmets.

"We actually had the black helmets a year ago and thought about using them sometime, but it never seemed the right time to do it, so they stayed on the shelf," coach Mark Richt said. "We thought it might give our guys a big jolt right before the game."

The Gators weren't that impressed.

"A new helmet and black pants aren't really going to make you win the game," Stamper said. "You've still gotta go out there and execute. It really didn't matter."

Florida Gators football players motivated by speech from basketball coach Billy Donovan 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 11:06pm]
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