Hines was Ready to Execute

Omarius Hines

The time spent on the practice field eased Omarius Hines' nerves. When the fake punt was called in the third quarter of Saturday's win over Tennessee, Hines knew the Gators spent enough time on the practice field to convert the first down. After lining up to take the snap, he knew what was about to happen. Florida was about to steal the momentum again.

"We really needed that," Omarius Hines said. "We were down in the first half, and I was just trying to help the team get the momentum back."

After scoring a touchdown to tie the game, the Volunteers forced a three-and-out from the Florida offense. Tennessee dropped into their punt return formation, expecting to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead.

Instead, the ball was snapped to Hines, who lined up a few yards behind the long snapper.

"I wasn't nervous for it," Hines said. "We've been practicing it too much. I was ready for it."

The practice repetition of the play began at the beginning of fall camp. The Florida coaching staff put the fake punt into the playbook, knowing there would come a crucial moment where converting was the only option.

That came Saturday.

With Neyland Stadium about to explode with excitement over the thought of Tennessee taking a second half lead, Florida head coach Urban Meyer pulled the rug out from under 102,455 fans.

"Today was my chance to get the first down," Hines said. "I was determined to do what I had to do to get the first down. I knew (the fake punt call) had to come sooner or later."

When Hines came set for the play, he immediately looked at the personnel Tennessee had on the field. There was no doubt in his mind that he would convert for the first down.

The blocking gave him a hole to run through, and after one tackler bounced off Hines, he was into the open field. He called it his best impression of Jeff Demps, but the bruising running style is something unique to Hines.

"I saw it because there were only two people out there," Hines said. "We had three people to that side, so I knew it was going to work. Whenever they rushed on the outside, I just cut inside and got the first down."

The focus now turns to improving the Florida offense so that fake punts aren't necessary. The offense sputtered out of the gates in the first half, just as they have in every game this season.

"We just go into the second half with a different mindset," Hines said. "We're going to start doing better in the first half."
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