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Florida Gators honor Sept. 11 victims, first responders

GAINESVILLE — On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Florida dedicated a portion of its pregame and all of its halftime ceremonies to remembering the event.

Six Gators with family military ties ran out of the tunnel carrying American flags. Local first responders were honored, and members of the school's chorus sang God Bless America following a video and moment of silence for those who lost their lives.

Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis donned an FBI baseball cap.

During that week in 2001, college football officials wrestled over what should be done about the games. They eventually postponed them. Florida coach Will Muschamp said he finds it difficult to think back to that day and what it was like for himself and everyone else in America.

"That's a tough deal," Muschamp said. "Obviously, it was an attack on our country, and then to go through what I know a lot of people close to me went through with that, it's just a tough deal. And to have to think back through all of that happening, it seems like it was yesterday to me."

Muschamp, who was the linebackers coach at LSU in 2001, said football was far from coaches' minds during that week.

"Getting your team ready really was an afterthought after that happened," he said.

"It was more about circling the wagons and understanding why it happened, explaining it to young men why something like that happens. And you can't think rationally with irrational people. And what happened was totally irrational."

MAKING HIS MARK: Following the Gators' season opener against Florida Atlantic, Muschamp had high praise for FB Hunter Joyer, a graduate of Wesley Chapel High, for his blocking. Saturday, Joyer made his mark in a different way.

On his first career carry, Joyer scored from 3 yards to give the Gators a 13-0 lead.

Joyer became the fourth Gator since 2008 to score a touchdown on his first career carry, joining Javier Estopinan in 2008 and Trey Burton and Jordan Reed in 2010.

BACK IN STRIDE: After missing nearly all of last season with a back injury, Florida K Caleb Sturgis connected on field goals of 24, 35, 28 yards during the first half. It was the first time he kicked three in a game since Mississippi State in 2009.

FINALLY: Florida scored 54 points, had 41 first downs, went 7-for-8 in trips to the red zone and forced eight opponent punts over two games before former walk-on David Lerner finally got his opportunity to punt Saturday night. Lerner's 32-yarder midway through the second quarter was the first of the season for the Gators.

Florida Gators honor Sept. 11 victims, first responders 09/10/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 11, 2011 12:20am]

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