It was 45 years ago and I was already in my second real job at the Jacksonville Journal covering Jacksonville University and Georgia (go figure).
But they sent me back to my alma mater for Homecoming (Gabe Kaplan was the Growl headliner) to cover what should have been an easy win for the mighty Gators.
Or not. This was a team in turmoil, players and coaches disagreeing and it showed in their 4-3-1 record heading into the game against Utah.
This was the only other time the Utes have played a football game in Gainesville.
Believe me, that Utah team was not ranked No. 7 in the country. Still, Florida struggled despite being a 31-point favorite.
In the end, the Gators won 38-29. The High Five today takes a look at five interesting things from that game:
* Florida’s backfield was considered the fastest in the country with Terry LeCount, an eventual NFL receiver, at quarterback. They called it the “woosh-bone” and the Gators would run the wishbone sprinkled in with some I-back veer concepts. By this time of the year, Nov. 19, everyone knew that you could play nine guys at the line of scrimmage to stop the Florida offense.
* But Utah was terrible on defense. The Utes came into the game with a 3-6 record and had given up an average of 51.7 points a game in their six losses. But Florida fumbled at the Utah 1 to kill one drive and trailed 20-10 going into the fourth quarter. Luckily for coach Doug Dickey, Florida scored four touchdowns on four drives in the fourth.
* LeCount ran 74 yards for a touchdown on an option play just 1:14 into the game. But the passing game was almost nonexistent. LeCount and John Brantley Sr. combined to go 5-for-9 for 45 yards.
* The Gators turned to Wes Chandler to save the day. He did the same thing against Georgia two weeks earlier, moving to tailback because Florida had to find a way to utilize the best player on the field. Chandler ran 31 yards for one touchdown and 34 for the game-clinching touchdown with 1:43 to play. He finished the game with 10 carries for 132 yards.
* Utah had scored on its penultimate drive to make it 31-29 and went for two to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Didn’t get it. So, it looked like the difference would be a 54-yard field goal by Berj Yepremian, younger brother of Garo. But Utah failed to recover the onsides kick and the Gators drove to Chandler’s second TD.
A note: This is the last High Five for a bit. Starting next week, we’re back to Grading the Gators. The High Five will return on the bye week. I hope you are enjoying these.