Special teams a bit more so
Kick and punt coverage teams in particular shine after two subpar performances.
By BRIAN SHAFFER
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 14, 2003
GAINESVILLE - After consecutive weeks of shaky special teams play, Florida used a game that was well in hand to sharpen skills it will need when the SEC schedule begins Saturday against Tennessee.
The Gators made big plays in almost every area of the game's often forgotten third phase.
In the first quarter of Florida's 63-3 win over Florida A&M, Jermaine McCollum blocked a punt, Keiwan Ratliff blocked a field goal and Andre Caldwell downed Eric Wilbur's punt on the FAMU 1-yard line.
"It's pretty amazing when that happens," Wilbur said of his punt. "It really feels like you're helping the team and the defense. You're that close to getting a safety, and that's the closest a punter can get to scoring."
The Gators showed better discipline in punt coverage. FAMU's fake-punt attempt failed when McCollum shoved punter Damon Miller out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.
McCollum, who blocked a punt in Florida's first game against San Jose State, broke up another attempt by FAMU. It resulted in a fumble, and the Gators' Reggie Lewis recovered.
"I've been blocking punts, kicks and everything since high school," McCollum said. "That was a major part of my recruiting; I wanted to be a big part of special teams."
The kickoff coverage team, which gave up a touchdown to Miami's Devin Hester last week, was helped by six touchbacks from kickoff specialist Matt Piotrowicz.
Freshman cornerback Dee Webb, who played in his first game after battling an ankle injury, was added to the kickoff team because of his speed.
"Running down on the kickoff team is not just running down there," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "There are things you have to do. You want to avoid blocks, you have to get off of blocks, and I think we're improving there. Plus, (Piotrowicz) did a great job of kicking."
Not everything the Gators did on special teams was positive. Freshman Chad Jackson fumbled a kickoff in the first quarter. The Rattlers' drive resulted in a missed field goal.
MLB acts the bully with Expos
AL: Chisox ride Colon's stamina
NL: Marlins thrill a packed house
Penny injury less serious than feared
BoxingSugar gets sweet win vs. De La Hoya
College football'Canes inconsistent but still cruise to win
Gators shake off doubt, slow start
Clarett expected to stay at OSU
'Canes contain big plays
Freshman Harris out until second trial
Special teams a bit more so
UF By the numbers
UF Game balls
'Noles seek new nonconference foe
Defense makes stand when it counts most
FSU By the numbers
FSU Game balls
Buckeyes extend streak by inches
Wolverines devour Irish
ConferencesBig East: Big third helps Pitt pull away
SEC: Georgia stifles South Carolina
State: UCF needs record day to rally, hold off FAU
Big Ten: Wisconsin stumbles, fumbles away game
Pac-10: Trojans click in all phases
Big 12: Hogs upset 'Horns
C-USA: Golden Eagles punish Tigers' errors
Nation: Air Force finds it can pass, rush
ACC: Boilermakers don't fall short this time
GolfDent's 65 within a stroke of his age
Sorenstam, Pettersen strike a blow at U.S.
Gotta minute?Rocco Baldelli
Horse racingCongaree frozen out in warmup
In briefeBay item has James agitated
MotorsportsM. Schumacher wins F1 pole
NASCAR remains a family business
NFLPicks, Week 2
Same Tuna, different diversion
Things make you go hmmm
OutdoorsDaily fishing report
Preparation vital ahead of a storm
PrepsKotchman, Quick can't catch King's Bowerman
Biladeau never looks back as Jesuit wins
DQ aids Plant girls at relays; Jesuit tops boys
Jesuit's Biladeau runs away with title
King's Bowerman cruises to victory
Lecanto has strong showing
PHU gets best of Seminole
Practice as targets pays as PHU wins at Keswick
SoccerThis won't be a party like it was in 1999
Letters: Ex-Seminole should have been kicked out
RaysRays detect no signs of a Yankees decline
Lou's worst club still inspires hope
In upside, this OF is peerless
BucsHitting the high spots
A shutout as only Rice can see it
Waitress's joke hard for Sapp to swallow
Carolina blueprint should look familiar
Kickin' back with Thomas Jones
Letters: Eagles fans reach the ultimate low
LightningLecavalier, Stillman highlight first day
Success depends on growth