April 22, 2006

Tebow steals show at UF spring game

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Despite the non-contact jersey, Florida freshman Tim Tebow played the part of the dual-threat quarterback.

Not only did he force a tweak in the rules, he stirred a little quarterback debate at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Tebow, an early enrollee who graduated from high school in December, was 15-of-21 for 197 yards in his first spring game as a Gator.

His Blue team defeated the Orange team, led by three-year starter Chris Leak, 24-6 on Saturday.

Leak was 17-of-33 for 145 yards and an interception on a day when 14 projected starters were held out of the scrimmage.

Florida coach Urban Meyer quickly squelched any talk of a Leak-Tebow battle for the starting job.

"There's not a quarterback controversy in-house," Meyer said. "It's Gator fans and college football fans. That's a great water cooler story. It's a great discussion around the coffee thing in the morning. But Chris Leak is our quarterback. We're going to let (Tebow) grow as a quarterback."

Tebow got a little help from some lobbying of an official by Meyer.

On a fourth-and-10 late in the first half, Tebow found wide receiver Kenneth Tookes in the end zone for a touchdown. Problem was, Tebow was about a yard beyond the line of scrimmage.

Meyer, listed as a neutral coach, got into the ear of an official to let the first touchdown of the game stand.

"Did 45,000 see that?" said Meyer, referring to the reported attendance of 45,200. "I looked at the score and said 45,000 needed to see a touchdown. I'm glad to see Tim step up and make that play."

Ending an otherwise standout spring, Leak was hobbled by a limited running game and dropped passes in the final scrimmage.

Walk-on Anthony Gay was the Blue team's leading rusher with seven carries for 22 yards. Markus Manson led the orange with 10 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown.

"I think I've done real well," Leak said. "Coach Meyer tells me I've had a great spring and that I've done all things right. . Since the first day, Coach Meyer has said I'm his quarterback. I have a lot of confidence that this is my team."

Both offenses were helped by facing a defense with only two projected starters - cornerback Reggie Lewis and safety Tony Joiner - participating in the scrimmage.

With Florida's top three wide receivers out of action Saturday, Louis Murphy (seven catches, 79 yards), David Nelson (three catches, 90 yards) and converted quarterback Cornelius Ingram (seven catches, 58 yards) joined Tebow among second-teamers who took advantage of their time.

"It's great to see your second team and backups do well," Leak said. "In the SEC it's important to have depth at every position. It gives you a lot of confidence."

For more coverage on Florida, check out GatorBait.net.



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