One of the rare question marks for the Gators coming into the season was the depth at receiver -- and at the top, who would step up to replace Louis Murphy as Tim Tebow's go-to guy?
The Charleston Southern game was revealing:
Riley Cooper was the big hit, with a team-leading 5 catches for 105 yards, including that 68-yard bomb on the first drive. Cooper has gotten a lot of publicity this week.
(The Tebow-Cooper connection reminded me of the Western Carolina blowout in 2006, when Tebow and Cooper were freshmen and got significant playing time. Tebow was 10-of-12 for 200 yards and 2 TDs rushing to go with 2 TDs passing, both to Cooper, who made 3 catches, all for TDs. I was in Gainesville for the game, and it felt like a preview of Tebow's 2007 Heisman season.)
Aaron Hernandez was every bit the key receiver folks had him pegged as -- if Cooper is Tebow's favorite target, Hernandez isn't far behind. He caught 4 passes for 79 yards, including that 28-yard TD catch from tebow.
Deonte Thompson was a non-factor, going catch-free, including a muffed bomb early that mentally seemed to take him out of the game (and make Tebow look elsewhere). The impressive news: Thompson was on the field after the game, replaying the sequence with Tebow -- and making the catches.
David Nelson, who was such a go-to TD-maker late last season, only caught one ball from Tebow, for 4 yards. (David gets an exemption: As long as he's catching clutch TDs in the big games, he can do whatever he wants in early September.)
No catches for Brandon James, who was expected to be part of the "Percy Position" rotation with Jeff Demps (0 receptions) and Chris Rainey (0 receptions).
Omarius Hines was a pleasant surprise -- catching 3 from John Brantley during the extensive mop-up time. He was a non-factor in the spring; it will be interesting to see if he earns his way into reps in "real" game action -- let alone being thrown to by Tebow.
Looking ahead to Troy -- when the first-team offense is expected to play a bit more extensively, using more of the playbook -- expect plenty of passes to Cooper and Hernandez, with Thompson getting another chance to make big plays -- it is fair to expect him to pull one off. Look for Brandon James to see a few passes, after being shut out last week. One other play to look for: The swing pass to Demps circling out of the backfield, where he can ID some blockers, find some seams and just...go.
And, of course, as much as anything, it will be intriguing to see how the pieces all fit together as Tebow pulls the trigger on the "Bonzai" no-huddle schemes. (Probably just enough to scare the bejeezus out of Lane Kiffin.)
Two days 'til Saturday....