Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators' Tim Tebow closer to repeating as Heisman Trophy winner

GAINESVILLE — A few weeks ago, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was fairly certain that if he had to cast his Heisman Trophy vote then, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was his leading contender.

He's not so sure anymore.

After a slow start to the season, at least by Tebow's previous standards, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has come on strong the past few weeks. Over the past three games, Tebow has rushed for at least two touchdowns, and his seven rushing touchdowns during that span lead all quarterbacks in the nation. During the Gators' five-game winning streak, he has accounted for 19 touchdowns — he was responsible for eight in the first four games.

Is there a chance Tebow, the only sophomore to win the award, might cast a vote for himself?

"I don't know, there's a chance," he said. "There's a chance. The last few weeks have been good. … I feel I'm getting more in the mix of it now. Just being honest, I've had a few good weeks in a row, so I'm just going to keep trying to put a few more together."

While the general consensus is that McCoy, the junior from Texas, and fellow quarterbacks Graham Harrell, a Texas Tech senior, and Sam Bradford, an Oklahoma sophomore, are the leading candidates, several Heisman voters agreed this week that Tebow is back in contention.

"There's no question he is," said Matt Hayes, Sporting News national college football writer. "He has three games on national television still to play, and what could be the biggest game of the season — BCS No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the SEC Championship Game — as the last show voters see. … Two weeks ago, Colt McCoy was a lock. Now it's the winning quarterback in the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game. A majority of the votes will be cast on the last weekend, so Tebow certainly is still in it."

Not long ago, the question was: What's wrong with Tebow? Three games into this season, he was 38-of-64 for 489 passing yards and five touchdowns, with 118 yards rushing on 34 carries and no touchdowns. Through the same period in 2007, he had 835 passing yards, eight TDs, and 193 yards and five rushing TDs. At the time, Tebow and his coaches dismissed the comparisons, but he said this week that it's possible the pressure took a toll.

"I feel like the beginning of the year we might have been pressing a little bit," said Tebow, who insists the self-imposed pressure was to win a championship, not another Heisman that would make him only the second player to win the award twice (Archie Griffin, 1974-75). "We wanted to be too perfect an offense. I wanted to try to make every play and try to do everything 100 percent right instead of just letting plays come to me and going out there, having fun, making plays and … being a great decision-maker."

In other words, he was living in a pressure cooker.

"A guy like Tim lives that pressure," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. "And then the expectations that he put on himself, I think some of that early on, it can get to you. Early in the season he had a lot of pressure on him, but it took a lot of that pressure off once he realized he was still just playing football. I think he's really grown and gotten more comfortable with his role. … I think as it went on and we kind of got into the flow of the season, it really came naturally again. He was able to get back to being relaxed and normal.''

Over the past three games, he has accounted for 14 touchdowns (seven rushing, seven passing). He leads the SEC in passing efficiency (214.5) and points responsible for. His childlike excitement on the field is back. So, too, is that familiar bulldozer running style.

"He looked like a very aggressive runner (vs. Vanderbilt),'' coach Urban Meyer said. "The designed runs and the option plays, I thought he ran like he did as a freshman. He looked good."

"Tebow is playing like the Heisman Tebow right now," offensive guard Mike Pouncey said. "He's running hard. He's got back his groove. It's going to be hard to take him out of that."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Today's state games

USF vs. Rutgers

Noon, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

TV/radio: Ch. 28; 970-AM

Line: USF by 8

Weather: 80, partly cloudy

No. 3 florida vs. No. 24 S. Carolina

3:30, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville

TV/radio: Ch. 10; 620-AM

Line: UF by 221/2

Weather: 76, 40 percent chance of rain

UCF at Marshall

4:30, Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, W.Va.


Line: Marshall by 7

Weather: 48, 60 percent chance of rain, wind 15-19 mph

NO. 20 Fsu vs.

Boston college

8, Doak Campbell Stadium,


TV/radio: Ch. 28; 1470-AM, 1040-AM

Line: FSU by 6

Weather: 55, mostly clear

Florida Gators' Tim Tebow closer to repeating as Heisman Trophy winner 11/14/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 16, 2008 5:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cubs down Dodgers 3-2; force NLCS Game 5 Thursday


    CHICAGO — Javier Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, former Ray Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and the Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

  2. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. Signs point to Jameis Winston dressing vs. Bills


    TAMPA — The Bucs didn't sign another quarterback Wednesday, which would suggest they are confident that Jameis Winston can be active as a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday at Buffalo if he doesn't start.

  5. FSU doesn't feel need for ongoing reminder of last year's beatdown at Louisville


    Of course Florida State remembers what happened against Louisville last year. The 63-20 loss was one of the worst defeats in Seminoles history.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson looks back at the action from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Murray State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)