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Tebow back in Heisman chase

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Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 12:00 am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Gators had such a dominating night on offense that coach Urban Meyer decided to take quarterback Tim Tebow out of the game before the third quarter was complete.

Backup quarterback John Brantley finished off No. 4 UF's 42-14 victory Saturday night, but Tebow had a productive evening before being replaced.

Tebow had not been replaced that early since UF's season-opening contest against Hawaii.

"Tim Tebow played tremendous in the first half," Meyer said.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more in the first half, including a career-long touchdown run of 26 yards on the Gators' third drive.

When he came out of the game, Tebow had 171 yards through the air on 12-of-17 passing and 88 yards on the ground on just 11 carries.

"We came out, and we knew some of those option plays (I would) probably get some keeps," Tebow said. "I got 'em, and I tried to make the most of 'em."

His hard-nosed running caught his coach's eye.

"He was very aggressive tonight," Meyer said. "A couple of them he just dropped his pads and went. Those weren't designed runs."

He also had a great pocket presence against the Commodores. On one touchdown in particular, a 41-yard strike to reserve wideout David Nelson with eight seconds left in the first half, Tebow stayed planted in the pocket so long, Vanderbilt's secondary started running back to the line of scrimmage.

Instead, Nelson was wide open in the end zone for the score.

Putting up numbers like he did could have him in the thick of Heisman talk for the second straight year.

Still, Tebow's chances were hindered by stout performances from other Heisman front-runners from the Big 12 Conference on Saturday.

Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell had six touchdowns and 456 passing yards in the undefeated Red Raiders' victory against Oklahoma State.

Texas gunslinger Colt McCoy racked up 300 yards and five touchdowns in the Longhorns' beatdown of Baylor, but he also threw two interceptions.

Oklahoma signal-caller Sam Bradford tossed four touchdowns and tallied 320 yards in his team's 66-28 victory at Texas A&M.

Always humble, Tebow deflected any talk of him competing for the Heisman.

"It's really cool, and I'd love it, but it's not a focus at all," Tebow said. "It's not even something I worry about or think about."

Heisman talk would not be unwarranted.

After starting the season slow, Tebow has hit his stride in the last few games.

Tebow had five total touchdowns against Georgia last weekend and picked up four the previous week against Kentucky.

His career high of seven total touchdowns - five rushing and two passing - came last season against South Carolina in Columbia. The Gators take on the Gamecocks on Saturday.

UF will need Tebow to continue its winning ways, as Brantley's three drives resulted in three completed passes for 20 yards and an interception.

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