Balanced Florida routs Hawaii

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow had one big play against Hawaii. That was enough. His teammates had the rest, a welcome change for No. 5 Florida and an early indication of just how potent the Gators could be this season.

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Florida safety Major Wright picks off a pass from Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander. Wright had one of the Gators' two scores on interception returns.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Florida safety Major Wright picks off a pass from Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander. Wright had one of the Gators' two scores on interception returns.

Florida scored on offense, defense and special teams -- getting big plays from six different players -- and routed Hawaii 56-10 in the season opener for both teams Saturday.

Even without injured speedster Percy Harvin (heel) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (toe), the Gators dominated and handed Greg McMackin a lopsided loss in his debut as Hawaii's head coach.

"Big plays take the wind out of your sails," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "Can you expect that from us? I don't know. There's some guys that, when they touch the ball and if you make a mistake, they can score on you. Fun to watch."

Not much fun for opponents, though.

After getting shut out in the first quarter, the Gators exploded with 56 points in a span of 261/2 minutes. And big plays were the key.

Major Wright returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown. Brandon James returned a punt 74 yards for a score. Chris Rainey got loose for a 33-yard TD run. Jeff Demps followed with an even more impressive 62-yarder. Tebow hooked up with Louis Murphy for a 48-yard score. And Ahmad Black returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown.

And here's the most encouraging part for Florida: Tebow was just a supporting player after carrying the offense for much of last season.

He finished Saturday's game with the fewest completions, attempts and yards of his career. He was 9-for-14 passing for 137 yards and a touchdown. He ran nine times for 37 yards, most of them scrambles behind spotty protection. He also snapped his NCAA-record streak of having at least one touchdown rushing and one passing at 14 games.

"Aw, shucks," Tebow said. "I'm not too worried about that right now."

Tebow didn't have to do much against Hawaii, which played a two-deep defense designed to double receivers and force the Gators to run.

Starter Kestahn Moore finished with 33 yards on seven carries. Rainey had 58 yards and Demps 76.

"It feels good," Demps said. "We have a little thing coach says: 'In practice, you put the money in the bank. In games, you get to take it out.' Today was payday."

Greg Alexander started at quarterback for the Warriors, filling in for Brent Rausch, who missed several recent practices because of a sore right throwing arm. Alexander threw two early interceptions that Florida turned into touchdowns and fumbled twice.

He got benched in the third quarter, but Rausch didn't last very long. He threw an interception and then gave way to Inoke Funaki.

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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 08/31/08 - 05:33 pm
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Florida did exactly what they

Florida did exactly what they were supposed to do...well, almost. Actually, I guess for Florida, they did what they've always done. First of all, they SHOULD have beaten Hawaii like a drum, and they did. After all, Hawaii lost their great quarterback (and he was very good, despite his terrible game against Georgia), AND their head coach. They hired a terrible coach...an assistant coach that would not have been hired anywhere else but his current team. But, I don't want to take the win away from Florida and make it seem really insignificant. However, I do want to also add that Urban Meyer kept Tim Tebow in the game well into the 4th quarter, even after the game was well, well, well in hand. All football fans know that Meyer's reason for this was to just pile on the points. That is just a greedy coach who is trying to suck up to the pollsters and a coach who does not give a damn about his player's welfare or that of the other team.

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