Ga­tors eager to feed young play­maker Toney

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

GAINESVILLE —

caught the pass and juked a pair of de­fend­ers.

It was a fa­mil­iar play on Satur­day.

Toney, a ver­sa­tile fresh­man play­maker, earned sig­nif­i­cant play­ing time dur­ing Florida’s first home game of the sea­son and took ad­van­tage of it. He made Ten­nessee de­fend­ers miss nearly ev­ery time he touched the ball, us­ing an ar­ray of moves to elude would-be tack­lers in the open field and help the No. 24 Ga­tors earn a 26-20 win over No. 23 Ten­nessee.

“There’s some­thing pretty cool about hav­ing a hu­man joy­stick out there,” UF coach said of Toney.

Af­ter catch­ing two passes for 27 yards dur­ing Florida’s sea­son-open­ing loss to Michi­gan, McEl­wain said he wanted to get Toney more touches. Toney was tar­geted more on Satur­day, catch­ing four passes for 40 yards and rush­ing one yards.

“They couldn’t tackle him at all,” UF re­ceiver Bran­don Pow­ell said. “He does the same thing in prac­tice, so it doesn’t sur­prise us at all.”

Toney’s first touch came in the se­cond quar­ter. He caught a pass from Florida quar­ter­back Feleipe Franks along the right side­line, sidestepped a de­fender and time for five juked an­other be­fore be­ing tack­led af­ter a 19-yard gain. Soon af­ter, he gained eight yards on a slant across the mid­dle of the field.

Florida even lined him up at quar­ter­back in the first half, and he gained five yards on a rush up the mid­dle.

“He’s gotta still learn and learn how to play, but he was a guy that we felt needed to get touches,” McEl­wain said. “He’s an elec­tric guy, man.”

There was no one in front of

He al­most reached the end zone, but just as he was about to com­plete his 72-yard touch­down run, Ten­nessee line­backer

swiped at the ball from be­hind, forc­ing a fum­ble. The ball bounced out of the back of the end zone, giv­ing pos­ses­sion back to Ten­nessee.

And Florida’s rush­ing prob­lems con­tin­ued.

The Ga­tors have gone eight games with­out a rush­ing touch­down, the long­est streak in the na­tion.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing,” run­ning back said. “It pisses me off.”

Florida’s run­ning backs also fum­bled twice — one from Davis and one from sopho­more to start the third quar­ter.

“We can’t do that,” McEl­wain said. “Es­pe­cially next week on the road.”

Even though they didn’t score, Florida’s run­ning backs were ser­vice­able on Satur­day. The group com­bined for 179 yards on 22 car­ries, with Thomp­son and sopho­more Per­ine re­ceiv­ing a bulk of the touches. Both Thomp­son and Per­ine had im­pres­sive mo­ments, like Thomp­son’s seven-yard rush through sev­eral Ten­nessee de­fend­ers in the se­cond quar­ter and Per­ine’s eight-yard run in the first quar­ter.

But both failed to reach the end zone.

“[We need to] play with some con­sis­tency. Play with some en­ergy,” McEl­wain said of the of­fense. “When they do that, they go play pretty good.”

Davis led Florida with 94 yards on four car­ries, while Per­ine had 55 yards on 11 car­ries and Thomp­son had 30 yards on seven car­ries.

“We need to get a rush­ing touch­down,” Thomp­son said. “To not have a touch­down in eight games, it’s dis­ap­point­ing.” SATUR­DAY’S BOX

SCOTT HALLERAN/GETTY IMAGES

UF’s Kadar­ius Toney (17) caught 4 passes for 40 yards against Ten­nessee, part of a con­certed ef­fort to get him the ball.

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