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Gators Harvin, Spikes make season debuts

GAINESVILLE — Florida WR Percy Harvin and LB Brandon Spikes started Saturday night after missing last week's season opener with injuries.

Spikes, who was nursing a foot injury, also served as a captain.

Harvin's first play was an electrifying 9-yard run that set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow to Aaron Hernandez (the first catch of the season for Hernandez, who also did not play last week).

Harvin, who was nursing a heel injury, had two carries for 16 yards in the first half while Spikes had a team-leading five first-half tackles.

Former Middleton High standout A.J. Jones also started at outside linebacker.

A RARE VISIT: Florida fans who were giddy about having the Hurricanes at the Swamp won't get that opportunity again any time soon. As it turns out, the next time there will even be an opportunity for the two to meet in Gainesville is more than a decade from now.

The athletic departments at both schools agreed to play in Miami in 2013, prior to the time the 12th game became permanent in college football. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has said he'll consider scheduling any future games with the Hurricanes only when the college football season has 14 weeks (to give the Gators two open dates in one season). And the earliest opening the Gators have to schedule Miami is 2019. (The 2014 season is already filled with nonconference games.)

MUTUAL ADMIRATION: Despite years of battles on the football and recruiting fields, Miami coach Randy Shannon and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong have a mutual respect.

Both were long considered hot prospects as coaches before Shannon finally was hired at Miami. And both have long been proponents of hiring more black coaches.

"Charlie and I have known each other for years, since I first started coaching," Shannon said. "He's a tremendous defensive coordinator, tremendous coach. I thought he would be a head coach long before I ever became a head coach because he's done such a nice job running his defense. He's done a tremendous job for the University of Florida and wherever he's been.

"I don't think he gets the credit for what he's been doing all these years coaching. He deserves a chance."

WHO has GOT THE CALL? Under usual circumstances, road teams are allowed to have games called by officials from their league. But after several controversial calls in previous meetings between the Hurricanes and Gators, Florida negotiated with Miami to have SEC officials work Saturday's game. That didn't sit well with Shannon.

"When you travel, you take your conference officials," he said last week. "I don't know when this happened. I wasn't the coach when the deal was cut.

"It is what it is. I can't do anything about it."

MARSHALL HONORED: Former LB Wilber Marshall was honored during the first timeout of the second quarter. Marshall, who played from 1980-83 and is in the Gators' Ring of Honor, was recognized as part of an on-campus salute to his upcoming induction into the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame.

Gators Harvin, Spikes make season debuts 09/06/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 7, 2008 12:18am]
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