Receiving trio gives Gators a spark
Jemalle Cornelius, Andre Caldwell and Dallas Baker make big catches during the second half.
By IAN FISHER
Published October 1, 2006
GAINESVILLE - After the Gators offense sputtered in the first half, someone needed to step up.
And who better than Florida's big three receivers?
With freshman Percy Harvin out with a high ankle sprain, Jemalle Cornelius, Andre Caldwell and Dallas Baker made big catches to help lead Florida to a 28-13 victory against Alabama.
"Every time a big play is needed, those guys step up, so we weren't surprised at all," running back Brandon James said.
On Florida's second drive of the second half, Cornelius had two catches for 48 yards. Caldwell finished the drive with a 16-yard touchdown from Chris Leak.
Caldwell caught a short screen pass, made a move on a defender and dived over the goal line. From there, the Gators did not relinquished the lead.
"We went into halftime and made a couple of adjustments," said Caldwell, a standout at Jefferson High in Tampa. "They told me they were going to throw me the ball when I was one on one with the safety and to just make him miss."
Cornelius led the receivers with 79 yards on four catches, but the other two also caught touchdowns.
Baker finished Florida's offensive scoring with a 21-yard fade pass in the right corner of the end zone. Baker tipped the ball before keeping his eyes on it, hauling it in and running over the goal line.
"We have been working on those jump plays in practice," Baker said. "I just told Chris to throw it up there and that I would go up and make the play."
Coach Urban Meyer said Baker didn't play one of his better games. He was held to 42 yards. But Baker demonstrated "competitive excellence," which is when you make the most out of your opportunities in a game, Meyer said.
No one was surprised by their big games.
"They played phenomenally," quarterback Tim Tebow said. "Every game, all game, you can count on them to step up and make a play."