GAINESVILLE — Throughout fall preseason camp, Florida's defensive coaches kept insisting it was imperative to get their coveted freshmen in the secondary ready as quickly as possible. With so few veterans returning, the freshmen would represent much-needed depth — just in case.
Just in case came Saturday. With S Will Hill suspended, CB Moses Jenkins out for six weeks with an elbow injury and CB Jeremy Brown out of the game with body cramps, the Gators turned to their freshmen. Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins, along with talented sophomore Josh Evans, responded.
"I thought those guys did well," defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "We've really been putting the pressure on them, and Cody made a couple of good plays, Jaylen made good plays, and Josh made good plays when he was in there. I told them … 'Hey, guys. You're all going to play because we've got to find out which one of you guys can go.' And I'm pleased they all did well. That's really good; we needed to have it from those young guys."
"I think the freshman class is really coming on," coach Urban Meyer said.
"We had six of seven true freshmen on kickoffs, too. I think that's a good class."
Make Daniels throw: While reviewing film of USF, the Gators realized quickly how good QB B.J. Daniels is, particularly when he's scrambling.
"The thing we went in this game with was, let him try to beat us running the ball because we knew for a fact he wasn't going to beat us throwing the ball," said S Ahmad Black, who had two of UF's four interceptions in the game. "If he put the ball in the air, it was on."
Black said he should have had three interceptions. On a pass from Daniels to WR Evan Landi, Black made a play on the ball but whiffed, and Landi gained 51 yards.
"I saw it all the way, then I just zoned out," Black said.
Not this time: The last time DE Justin Trattou had an interception, he tripped over his own teammate as he tried to make it to the end zone.
So staying on his feet was of utmost importance Saturday when the senior intercepted Daniels and returned it 35 yards untouched. It was the first touchdown of his career and third interception.
"I saw a lot of green in front of me, and I was not going to let anyone catch me from behind, that's for sure," he said. "I didn't get caught last year, either; I tripped over my own guy."
Tebow's talk: Tim Tebow returns to Florida today when his Denver Broncos play the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Gators QB John Brantley said he spoke with Tebow on Friday, and his friend and former mentor had this advice:
"Just keep going, man; forget about last week," Brantley said Tebow told him. "(He said) just play your game, just like he'd always say to me. I've been around him three years now, and he's told me everything. He's just excited to watch us play again. He misses Florida; he misses the alumni."
Injury, missing report: Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey missed the second half with a concussion, but Meyer said he expects Rainey back this week. Three players, Hill, LB Dee Finley and freshman DT Dominique Easley, all missed the game. Meyer said the three "were not ready to play." Hill missed the season opener with the same explanation from Meyer.