Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lightning Strikes Gators Dominating on Opening Drive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lightning Strikes Gators Dominating on Opening Drive

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- William Gaines was the first and only University

of Florida football player to commit the error.

A couple of years ago against Vanderbilt, the star defensive

lineman went to midfield for the pregame coin toss. After

defense.

Big mistake.

"I think that was the last time he went out there for the

toss," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said jokingly. "Obviously,

that's not what we wanted."

What Spurrier and Florida's offense want, is to be on the field

first. First on, first to score -- especially this season.

Top-ranked Florida (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has

scored a touchdown on its opening drive every game this season.

Follow that with a three-and-out possession forced by the

Gators' defense, and there are times when it's 14-0 before the

other team gets into its game plan.

"Certainly it helps to sort of defuse the other team's

enthusiasm if you jump on them early," Spurrier said. "Everybody

talks about what they're going to do, and there's this plan and

that plan about how they're going to stop you. We score on the

first drive and it creates a question of, `Can we stop them?'

"Although it usually doesn't determine the winner or the loser,

there is some advantage to scoring first."

The advantage this season is it usually leads to a big first

half. Going into tomorrow's game at Florida Field against

16thranked Auburn (5-1, 3-1 SEC), the Gators have outscored

their opponents 202-26 (37-4 average) in the first half,

including 77-12 in its two biggest games to date: Tennessee

(35-6) and LSU (42-6).

The average time of possession for the six opening drives is 1

minute, 37 seconds. In the time it takes to read this far,

"Every team, in their pregame, talks about setting the tempo

early," said Auburn coach Terry Bowden. "Every coach talks about

it, but few teams can get it done. Florida has done it every

week that they get a chance to. Then the defense goes out and is

more relaxed, and takes more chances because they have a lot

less anxiety."

The reason for Florida's opening-drive success can be traced to

one player: Quarterback Danny Wuerffel. …

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