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The Orange and Blue Debut

"We talkin' about practice.  Not a game, not a game, not a game.  We talkin' about practice.  Not a game.  Not a game that I go out there and die for, and play every game like it's my last.  Not the game.  We talkin' about practice, man." - Allen Iverson, NBA Star

The Answer, in a way, describes my consistent feelings towards the Gators' annual Orange and Blue game, as well as all Spring scrimmages across the country for that matter.  I just can't fathom getting all that hyped over a team scrimmaging against each other, quarterbacks not getting sacked, or hit at all for that matter, coaches stopping the game to make a teaching point and kickers practicing field goals in between plays (I'm pretty sure I remember teams doing this in the past, at least).

I can sympathize with a lot of football fans that do find themselves treating the Spring scrimmages just the same as your regular season college football game, though; I mean, college football is the greatest sports in the world, and these far too long breaks from the National Championship game to the kickoff of the opening game can get overwhelming.  Seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, and getting a partial feel of being at one of these events is a soothing remedy for the everyday college football junkie.

For me, though, I just can't get into it.  I've tried to really pay close attention to Spring practice over the last few weeks, but to no avail.  Sure, I'm interested in hearing about crucial injuries and how a few of the freshman are performing against top-level competition, but beyond that I base all of my judgements on the Gators football team as soon as they get real game action in late August.  Perhaps that's just me not wanting to put effort into it, or perhaps it's just something I'm clearly not interested in doing.

Anyways, the Orange and Blue game took place today with a few intriguing storylines for Gator fans to follow:

  1. Quarterback Tim Tebow's first Spring scrimmage of his era as the Gators' starting signal-caller.
  2. Who would have the best game at running back and get an upper hand for touches in 2007.
  3. The possible emergence of impact players on a defense that lost a giant majority of their 2006 production.
  4. Who will be the starting kicker to try to erase memories of a poor 2006 performance in that regard?
In case you're wondering, the Blue squad won the game 27-21 after racing off to a 27-0 lead over the fledgling Orange squad.  It's not like anyone ever remembers these results, though, as the Spring scrimmage is really all about individual performances and premature evaluations of guys who could make impacts four months from now when the regular season starts.

Tim Tebow, as expected, was the story of this game today.  Sure, we had seen him throw the ball around against Western Carolina last year to go along with a few passes here and there throughout the season; But we had never actually seen him take consistent snaps and lead an offense for an extended period of time against non-D1AA talent on defense.  This was going to be our first real glimpse into the future of Florida football in terms of the quarterback position and what it held.

And I don't think anyone who saw this game came away with any disappointment in regards to Tebow's performance at BHG Stadium today.  In the end he went 17-27 with 216 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Blue squad; He also ran for 41 yards, including gaining 4.5 yards per carry (this could be deceiving; he had a red jersey on, meaning a defender only had to touch him to declare him down.  If he had the opportunity to break some tackles, who knows).  But while the numbers look fairly impressive, you would have had to see the performance to really respect it. Tebow made a ton of pretty good plays by avoiding pressure in the pocket and finding open receivers, getting the ball there quickly and with some pretty good accuracy.

On the other side, Cameron Newton didn't do too badly either -- He went 20-30 for 275 yards and one touchdown on the game.  While he didn't look nearly as comfortable in the pocket for the Orange squad, I think we all saw some very good things out of a future impact-type player for this Gators team.  I still think that Newton could be used in other capacities on this offense, and I do believe that is an avenue Meyer may go down at a later time.

So many guys touched the ball today -- all guys who could easily find a ton of playing time in 2007.  Overall we saw 10 receivers make receptions for both squads, including guys like David Nelson and Louis Murphy, two guys really trying for PT, leading their respective teams.  Guys like Jarred Fayson, Cade Holliday and Justin Williams also pitched in very well and showed us some explosiveness today.

At running back, Chevon Walker made the biggest impact, which could have been expected if you've been reading any practice reports over the last few weeks.  Walker has really been making a push to get a ton of carries next season by busting his butt on the practice field.  Today he rushed for 75 yards on 14 carries, gaining over three-times more than any of the other backs on the day.  He probably came out looking the best from the day, but I'd expect Kestahn Moore to continue to get strong looks after he returns from surgery.

That's about all I have for now from this game...did anybody reading this attend the Spring game today?  Any thoughts on certain players who you may think will make an impact?

Go Gators!