2012 Florida Gators’ football season superlatives: The best of one of the nation’s best

Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins returns a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns to secure a victory for the Gators. (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

Best momentPunt block touchdown against Louisiana: This was never really a contest. Many will point to the opponent and disqualify this play. To those people I say this: A blocked punt that shot straight up in the air, into the outstretched arms of  Jelani Jenkins, who then proceeded to run un-impeded into the endzone with two seconds left on the clock is one of the most unbelievable things many of us have ever seen on a football field. It was also a shrewd coaching move; coach Will Muschamp called a timeout to stop the clock instead of letting the game go to overtime. What could have been bone-headed turned out to be brilliant. I’m not old enough to say this, but never, in all my years, have I seen a play like that. Given the circumstances – a BCS bowl berth on the line every week – it has to be the play of the year.

Best winUF 14-LSU 6: Silencing Rocky Top was awesome, spoiling the party was legendary, and taking the Ol’ Ball Coach behind the wood shed were all memorable, but the best win of the season had to be at home against LSU. When you look at the way Florida beat the Tigers you see how impressive it was. The Gators won old-school, with a stingy defense (holding LSU to eight first downs and 42 yards rushing) and a dominant run game (176 yards total). The win showed Florida was for real after silencing critics that weren’t impressed with road wins against an overly hyped Tennessee squad and a Texas A&M team playing their first game of the year.

Best Jack of all tradesLouchez Purifoy: No. 15 makes Florida’s special teams go. He blocked punts in consecutive weeks, against Missouri and Louisiana. The latter was the miracle that Jelani Jenkins caught and returned for a touchdown. He also makes plays on defense. As a blitzing cornerback he set the tone for the 44-11 rout of South Carolina when he forced Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw to fumble on the first play of the game. His aggressive play set up an easy Florida touchdown and the beginning of the end for the ‘Cocks. Fun fact: Purifoy was also was listed as the starting running back and cornerback on Saturday against Florida State, becoming the first player to do so since Keiwan Ratliff in 2002.

Best legsCaleb Sturgis and Kyle Christy: It’s a tie really. Sturgis is 23-of-26 on the season when lining up for field goals and 32-of-33 on extra points (the one he missed was blocked). Muschamp said he looked like an idiot against Florida State when he called a failed fake field goal because he knew he left three points on the field — Sturgis is just that good. When Florida was out of field goal range, sometimes fans wondered why they didn’t just punt on first down with someone like Kyle Christy. The guy is unconscious, flipping the field time and again. With a net average of 46.1 yards, including a season high net of 54.3 against dangerous South Carolina. The booming punts neutralized all-world return man Ace Sanders, and eventually the poor starting field position became one of the main reasons the Gamecocks never got going on offense in the 44-11 Gators blowout win.

Best quote: During a press conference before the Florida State game, Will Muschamp delivered this gem to the media:

“We don’t win sexy, but my wife thinks I’m sexy”

Well coach, your team is 11-1, the sixth team to win 11 or more games in Florida football history, and that’s pretty sexy to me.

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