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September 3, 2011

Florida unleashes dynamic duo

MORE FLORIDA FOOTBALL: Class of 2011 who played | Florida Football Approval Ratings | In the Alley - Game Day Thread | Starting DT Floyd ineligible | VOTE: Alley Gator of the Game | Chomp Talk: At the half notes

It's once again good to be Chris Rainey - and Jeff Demps, too.

The Gators' pair of talented speedsters ignited Florida's offense Saturday in the team's season-opening 41-3 win against Florida Atlantic.

The duo combined for 184 rushing yards, 88 receiving yards and five total touchdowns as Florida unveiled its new-look pro-style offense to the public.

"We have other weapons beside that," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "[Florida Atlantic] gave us a lot of opportunities to get those guys the ball and let those guys make some plays."

While Florida may have other playmakers, Rainey and Demps proved to be enough Saturday, especially early on when the two combined for 13 touches on offense in the opening quarter.

Rainey, who led the team with three receiving touchdowns last season, scored the Gators' first touchdown of Muschamp's and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis' tenure in the first quarter when he snagged a pass from John Brantley along the right sidelines. Rainey scampered 14 yards for the touchdown - the fifth scoring reception of his career - to give Florida what proved to be an insurmountable 10-0 lead.

Rainey tacked on two more touchdowns for the night - one rushing and one off a blocked punt return - to become the third player since 1996 to score a touchdown three different ways.

In the second quarter Rainey took a hand off from Brantley before putting a highlight-reel spin move on an FAU defender and prancing into the end zone.

"That's a God-given gift, so I can't explain that," Rainey said of the spin. "You got to ask God."

His final touchdown came in the third after Solomon Patton blocked a punt - his second in as many games dating back to the Outback Bowl in January - and Rainey scooped it up for a 22-yard return.

Rainey finished the night with 11 rushes for 79 yards, and a team-leading six receptions for 67 yards.

"He's just a talented young man," Muschamp said. "He works extremely hard in everything he does. He loves competing and he's a lot of fun to coach because he really enjoys the game of football. Very talented catching the ball, running the ball, and on our block units he does an outstanding job."

Demps, meanwhile, put on a show of his own in his first game since turning down a lucrative track contract during the summer. The world-class sprinter had 12 rushes for 105 yards and two scores, and two catches for 28 yards. It marked the fifth time in his Florida career that he recorded a 100-yard rushing game.

He also returned the opening kickoff to the house, but it was nullified by a holding penalty.

"It felt so good for me to take it back," Demps said. "I knew that depends on the ten guys that were blocking for me and they did a phenomenal job of doing that. I couldn't be mad, because I already knew that the great effort that was put into the play, I couldn't be mad about that. So we just shake it off and battle back to fight another play."

So he did - fifteen minutes later.

Demps opened the second quarter with a 35-yard touchdown run to put Florida up 17-0 before tacking on another, this time for 20 yards, in the fourth quarter to bookend the Gators' offensive outburst started by Rainey in the first.

"It's fair to us, it depends on who you're talking to," Demps said when asked if it's fair for him and Rainey to be on the field at the same time. "It feels good. It takes pressure off of us, pressure off of me that some guys might try to double Rainey and leave me free, or vice versa. So it definitely feels good. I can count on him."


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