Jeff Demps broke loose for a 62-yard touchdown run to start the second half.
Florida’s team speed was overwhelming
Offense. Defense. Special teams. The Gators scored six touchdowns on gains of more than 30 yards
GAINESVILLE, Fla. » Hawaii cornerback Jameel Dowling was asked to sum things up. He did it in one word.
"Nasty," said Dowling, after No. 5 Florida used its overwhelming speed on offense, defense and special teams to crush Hawaii 56-10 yesterday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
"I give them full credit. I have no excuses, the trip, everything people make excuses about, didn't have anything to do with this. We were ready to play, our guys felt good, coaches felt good, we traveled well. We just didn't get the job done."
The Gators turned in big play after big play, with six of its eight touchdowns coming on gains of 32 or more yards. UF scored all kinds of different ways: long runs from scrimmage, pass interception returns, a punt return, and a pass from Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to speedy receiver Louis Murphy.
The one thing all the plays had in common is the Gators used their speed to run away from UH players and toward daylight and the end zone.
"We just let some big plays be made against us," UH coach Greg McMackin said. "You have to give Florida credit for that."
And the Gators did all this damage without one of their speediest offensive players, running back Percy Harvin, who was out with a heel injury.
But UF didn't break anything big until late in a first quarter that ended with no score. Tebow, with plenty of time to throw, connected with tight end Tate Casey for a 34-yard gain. That led eventually to a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon James.
James later broke four tackles on a punt return to take it 74 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 UF lead.
"Brandon James, I think, is the player of the game," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.
Brandon James gave the Gators a 21-0 advantage by taking a punt return 74 yards for a touchdown.
Jeff Demps, who nearly qualified as an Olympic sprinter, provided yet another big-play highlight with a 62-yard run for a TD to spark a 28-point third quarter.
"We kind of love fast people around here and Demps is fast. Jeff can really run," Meyer said. "He is not a track athlete playing football; he is football. And Chris Rainey is a fantastic athlete."
Rainey ran for a 33-yard TD in a 28-point second quarter for UF.
Ahmad Black put the finishing touch on the party with an 80-yard interception return (on his second pick of the day) to cap Florida's scoring frenzy.
McMackin was asked to compare Florida to the 2007 Georgia team that beat Hawaii 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl.
"Speed-wise," he said. "I have great respect for (Tebow). He kept some things alive. I know they really pride themselves that he can break contain. We have two real good ends, David Veikune and John Fonoti, and he broke contain on us several times. I have a renewed respect for him. On film he looked good, in person he even looked better."
UH linebacker Adam Leonard said the Warriors were aware of Florida's speed.
"We knew if we let them get in the open field they could flash their speed," Leonard said. "The main thing was control the line of scrimmage."
And the Warriors did not do that, allowing 255 rushing yards.
Meanwhile, Hawaii totaled fewer yards (241 rushing and passing combined), and its longest gain from scrimmage was 26 yards.