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Good enough for Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With defending national champion LSU scheduled to come into Gainesville this week, Florida coach Urban Meyer is still waiting for his team to play a complete game.

But what the Gators discovered Saturday is sometimes good enough is all you really need.

Despite a sporadic offense, more than 100 yards in penalties and a defense shredded for more than 300 yards, the No. 12 Gators held on early then poured it on in the second half for a 38-7 victory over struggling Arkansas in front of 70,072 at Donald Reynolds Stadium.

"We're very far from the finished product, but that's what happens in college football," Meyer said. "We're trying to get a little better.

"It's good to get out of here with a win."

Florida (4-1, 2-1 SEC) led 14-0 at halftime despite giving up 238 yards to the Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2). At times, Arkansas, which came into the game having been outscored 101-24 in its two previous games, moved the ball at will.

But it wasn't able to get into the end zone — hurt by missed fourth-down chances in field goal range and mistakes on the Gators' side of the field.

A 6-yard touchdown run by Michael Smith pulled the Razorbacks to within 17-7 with 5:50 remaining in the third. But a mistake by the Gators on the ensuing possession turned out to be their catalyst.

Tim Tebow was intercepted by Jerry Franklin at the Arkansas 26, ending a 10-play drive.

"Making a mistake is something I pride myself on not doing, and I did it," said Tebow, who was 17-of-26 for 217 yards. "And I was upset with that. After that, we just said, 'Shoot, we're going to spread it out, take some shots, go wing it around and just play.' So we did."

In a big way.

Florida scored on a 21-yard pass from Tebow to Percy Harvin, a 75-yard run by redshirt freshman Chris Rainey and a 48-yard run by freshman Jeff Demps — all during the fourth quarter — to put the game out of reach.

Demps also had a 30-yard touchdown run in the first half.

The Gators finished with 514 total yards and were 3-of-3 on fourth-down conversions after failing to convert late in last week's loss to Mississippi.

"It all starts with the quarterback position, and Tim played excellent down the stretch," Meyer said. "He had a couple of bumps in the road. We all did. Collectively, offensively, we're still not hitting this thing right. But when we do, it's a great thing to watch. But collectively, we're not there yet.

"But we better get there real fast with what's coming to town next week."

Florida earned the victory despite a multitude of mistakes.

The Gators were penalized 12 times for 110 yards, including a drive in which they lost 25 yards due to penalties.

An interception by safety Ahmad Black was negated by a pass interference call against Major Wright, and an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Brandon James was called back due to a block in the back by Chris Pintado.

The Gators defense, still trying to shore up mistakes from last week, was maligned but managed to keep the Razorbacks out of the end zone for most of the day.

Arkansas finished with 361 yards, including 133 on 20 carries by Smith. Florida will face an even greater challenge this week in LSU's Charles Scott, the SEC's leading rusher.

"We know we have to play much better," Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "We didn't play great, but we played just good enough. We kept them from scoring."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

No. 12 UF 38

Arkansas 7

Good enough for Arkansas 10/04/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 4, 2008 11:24pm]
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