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October 10, 2011

The Silver Lining: 10/10 Orange & Blue News

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In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.

Leading the Denver Broncos to a near come-from-behind victory on Sunday was quarterback Tim Tebow, who took over behind center in the second half and proved once again that he deserves to be the starter in Denver. After stalling on his first three drives, Tebow led consecutive scoring drives and accounted for both touchdowns. He ran the first in from 11 yards out and completed a 28-yard screen pass to running back Knowshon Moreno for the second. Tebow's two-point conversion pass (that would have tied the game at 26) was dropped by wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, and the San Diego Chargers added a field goal on the next possession to go up five. With 24 seconds left and the ball at his own 20, Tebow completed consecutive passes of 20 and 31 yards before throwing a hail mary with one second left from San Diego's 29 that fell in complete in the end zone. Chants of "Tebow, Tebow" rained down from the crowd as he was being interviewed on the field, and it appeared as if the entire team was energized by his entering the game.

The Broncos are on a bye next week and head coach John Fox has a decision to make before his team takes on the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 23. Miami will be honoring the Florida Gators 2009 BCS National Championship team during the game with a special on-field ceremony and former head coach Urban Meyer (along with a bunch of players) will be in attendance.

Instead of hanging on to a spot in at least one poll like Auburn did, Florida fell out of the USA Today Coaches and Associated Press top 25 rankings on Sunday. The Gators were the first team out in both polls after falling to a pair of top-three teams in consecutive weeks. It is the first time since Dec. 6, 1982 that no team from the state was in the AP Top 25 (Florida State was knocked out and Miami was already gone). Florida did, however, hang on to a No. 25 ranking in the Harris Interactive Poll, which is used as part of the BCS standings. The first BCS rankings will be released next Sunday.

Not picked up after having been cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the NFL lockout ended, former Gators offensive tackle Max Starks was finally brought back by his former team due to them having suffered numerous injuries along the offensive line. Head coach Mike Tomlin is reportedly not a fan of Starks, but QB Ben Roethlisberger, a number of the Steelers players and most of the front office are - hence why he was brought back. Starks not only started at left tackle for Pittsburgh after just three days of practice, he played quite well, too. Three former Florida players started on the team's offensive line Sunday - likely the first time in NFL history that has happened for this school. Center Maurkice Pouncey (knee) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (shoulder) both went down with injuries during the game. Pouncey returned but Gilbert did not as he aggravated an injury he had suffered a few weeks earlier.

Irritated Gators fans may have been angered even more on Saturday when they saw the LSU Tigers run the jump pass play made famous by Tim Tebow used against Florida, but after the game a number of Tigers players and coaches insisted that it was not installed to insult the Gators. "It was something that we always had," tight end Mitch Joseph, the player who caught the pass, told the Times-Picayune. "But I couldn't believe that we called it this game. It just happened to be Florida." Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard wasn't so sure about that. "That was cold," he said. "They did it against us. I looked at Billy [Gonzales, LSU's passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach] on the sidelines, and he was laughing. I figured he had something to do with that."

Not every Gators team caved to the Tigers over the weekend. No. 12/13 Florida volleyball (13-3, 6-1 SEC) swept LSU 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-8) on Sunday in Gainesville, FL. Senior outside hitters Stephanie Ferrell and Kristy Jaeckel each registered 11 kills, and Jaeckel smacked a season-high three aces in the contest, too. The Gators also defeated Arkansas 3-0 on Friday, capturing a second key win before heading off for a three-game road trip spanning Oct. 14-19 at Ole Miss, Alabama and South Carolina.

Gators can rest a little easier if they are still concerned about Meyer jumping to another head coaching job in 2012. A story from veteran college football writer Jeff Rapp on Friday stated that both Ohio State and Penn State had been in contact with Meyer about replacing their coaches at year's end and that there was mutual interest from Meyer in both jobs. The Philadelphia Inquirer caught up with Meyer on Saturday before the Penn State-Iowa game, and Florida's two-time national title-winning coach shot down the report. "I'm not going to say anything. There's no truth to" the report," Meyer said. Penn State president Graham Spanier agreed, telling the paper that Rapp's story was "inaccurate."

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