GAINESVILLE — The Florida offense is on a serious roll. In their past five games, the Gators have outscored opponents 243-57 and during the past month have averaged 51.3 points per game — second nationally.
Florida leads the SEC in scoring (42.8), pass efficiency (166.58) and red zone offense (95.0).
But is there a downside to these blowouts?
The last time Florida played a close game, the Gators lost 31-30 to Ole Miss. And with the exception of the Citadel, Florida's final four games don't qualify for no-chance-they-lose status. What happens if the Gators find themselves in a tight one?
"I worry about that a little bit," coach Urban Meyer said. "We had some (close games) early in the year. There's nothing you can do about it. Do I worry about it? Yeah, I worry about everything. That is something that you should be concerned about. I saw Alabama the other night win a close one in a tough environment (at LSU). I think that does make you more battle-ready. But there's only so much you can control. In our next four games, we're going to go against Coach (Steve) Spurrier, against Coach (Bobby) Bowden and against Coach (Nick) Saban, so we're loaded up pretty good here. We've just go to be ready to go."
The Gators simulate tight-game situations in practice.
"We have to make sure we're ready to be in tight games, too," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. "I don't mind winning the way we are now. But we put a lot of work into that, during two-minute drills and putting guys in pressure situations. I think our guys are ready to respond to those. Offensively, we were in a battle with Georgia until the defense opened it up for us. People will say 'you're just blowing people out,' but we've been in some tight games."
Tebow honored: QB Tim Tebow was named SEC offensive player of the week. He went 12-of-17 for 171 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 88 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-14 win at Vanderbilt. In his past three games, Tebow has seven rushing touchdowns and seven passing. He is fifth in SEC career touchdown responsibility with 95 and is tied for eighth in career touchdowns scored with 42. Other SEC honors: Alabama S Rashad Johnson and WR Julio Jones, Auburn KR Tristan Davis, Georgia C Ben Jones and South Carolina DE Jordin Lindsey.
Johnson cleared to play: Redshirt sophomore LG Carl Johnson's injury Saturday night is less serious than expected. Johnson suffered an MCL sprain, not a meniscus tear. He has played in nine games. "We're expecting him to be ready to go," Meyer said. "And that's great news."
Culliver to miss half: South Carolina S Chris Culliver will miss the first half of Saturday's game at Florida in accordance with NCAA rules because he was ejected against Arkansas last week. Culliver was kicked out with 1:18 left in a Gamecocks win for repeatedly punching Khiry Battle after an onside kick. Freshman Akeem Auguste, who one month ago was playing corner before converting, is expected to step in.
"We'll handle some punishment in-house," Spurrier said. "He feels bad about it. He doesn't know why he did it. He has no idea what caused him to throw a punch at the guy, and I don't have any idea, either. But we'll handle it the best way possible. It was embarrassing to all of us. We'll handle it and move on."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]