Sophomore John Brantley threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores as the Orange team beat the Blue 31-21 before an announced spring-game-record crowd of 65,000 Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. No defensive starters played, and by the midpoint of the third quarter, Blue quarterback Tim Tebow (7-for-9, 83 yards, one TD, 21 rushing yards) was done and Brantley quarterbacked both teams. "If we didn't have all those minor dings, you would've seen a hell of a team jog out there today," coach Urban Meyer said.
Home sweet home
Though WR Louis Murphy's playing days are over, he wasn't ready to say goodbye to the Swamp.
The St. Petersburg native soaked in the atmosphere from the sideline. He caught up with former teammates, spent quite a while after the game signing autographs and then ducked into the locker room.
"It feels good to come back and see a '08 national championship,'' he said, referring to the lettering on the stadium's upper deck. "I'm just glad to be back home."
Brantley to Hammond
It may have been a glimpse into the future: John Brantley to Frankie Hammond.
Brantley, the only scholarship QB besides Tebow, was 14-for-23. Hammond, a redshirt freshman, caught four of those passes for 131 yards and two TDs, including a 50-yarder on the second play of the second half in which he made DBs Corey Henderson and Adrian Bushell miss before scampering into the end zone.
"Johnny's biggest question mark coming in was his management skills," coach Urban Meyer said. "To be able to call the huddle, to be able to get guys up and get set and go, and just manage the game and not pout when he has a bad play.
"I've seen a great development."
Brantley's stat lines could have been gaudier. On the Orange team's first play from scrimmage, Hammond beat CB Moses Jenkins down the right sideline, but Brantley's pass escaped his outstretched fingertips. Brantley went back to Hammond on the first play of the second drive, connecting for a 47-yard gain.
"On the first one, when I went back to the sideline, (receivers coach Billy) Gonzales told me I should've laid out for it," Hammond said. "So the second one, I made sure I ran a little bit faster so I could just run up under it."
"He made up for it," Brantley said of the first miss. "I'll tell you that."
Recognizing No. 1
Players received their national championships rings (silver with orange crystal on top, a blue "1" in the middle and their names engraved on the side) and are schedule to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama on Thursday.
At halftime, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson presented university president Bernie Machen with a framed copy of the proclamation acknowledging Florida's championship.
"I've never been to Washington, D.C., or anything like that," quarterback John Brantley said. "I'd love to go see the (White) House. I think it's going to be a great experience to go up there and meet the president and walk around the House just so I can say I did it."
And if he caught the president one-on-one in a hallway? "Shoot, I don't know. 'Hi' "? he said, laughing.
So you want tickets?
Monday, 250 season tickets go on sale to current and potential boosters. A Gator Booster club contribution is required to purchase tickets: $2,000, which is the Fighting Gator club level. That gives contributors the ability to purchase two season tickets at $224 each. Go to GatorZone.com/tickets or call the ticket office toll-free at 1-800-344-2867.