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Florida QB Tebow apologizes after falling short

GAINESVILLE — Tim Tebow's news conference ended, but he wasn't ready to stop talking.

Dejection shone through his bloodshot eyes and weak voice, but he replied to each and every question after Saturday's 31-30 loss to Mississippi.

He answered the last one. But he didn't leave the podium.

"I just want to say one thing," he began.

"To the fans and everyone in Gator Nation," he trailed off.

He paused.

Then he launched into a passionate promise.

"I'm sorry, extremely sorry," he said. "We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal. It's something that's never been done here. But I will promise you one thing. A lot of good will come out of this.

"You will never see any player in the country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless."

For three seasons, fourth and 1 was almost automatic for Florida. Tebow lined up in the shotgun, took the snap and pushed through the pile for the first down.

Down by one in the final minute Saturday, Brandon James' 9-yard run left the Gators with a fourth and 1 at the Rebels 32.

It was a similar situation two years ago in Knoxville, when Tebow first became a household name. Under the lights of Neyland Stadium, the then-freshman converted a fourth and 1 in the fourth quarter against Tennessee. The Gators went on to win 21-20.

Saturday, though, Jerry Peria stopped him short, clinching the victory for Mississippi.

"That's something very, very rarely we get stopped on," Tebow said. "It's kind of been a little bit like our swagger; that we can convert always on fourth and 1."

Most teams attempt sneaks with the quarterback lined up under center, but Tebow always runs out of the shotgun.

"He's usually much better when he has had a full head of steam … instead of (being) stationary," offensive coordinator Dan Mullen said. "(Under center) would be a lot more (pressure) on the center than it would be on Tim. And we kind of wanted to put the ball in Tim's hands to do it."

Coach Urban Meyer said he considered a go-ahead 49-yard field goal but hadn't seen enough consistency from his kickers at that distance during practice.

"I thought our best chance would be to try and get the first down," Meyer said. "(Tebow) ran into a brick wall."

Florida QB Tebow apologizes after falling short 09/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 3:18pm]
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