By Andy Staples, SI.com
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow did the math in his head.
"I think I have, literally, one bruise," the Florida quarterback said Saturday after the Gators opened the season with a 56-10 thrashing of a Hawaii team that has fallen off the face of the earth since last season's Sugar Bowl appearance.
The depleted Warriors didn't accomplish much, but they did manage to snap the reigning Heisman Trophy winner's NCAA-record streak of 14 games with a passing and a rushing touchdown. Tebow hadn't even thought about the streak until a reporter reminded him of its demise.
"Aww, shucks!" Tebow said, and it wasn't the Opie Taylor "Aw shucks" Tebow tossed out occasionally last season. This one had some stank on it, as if an offseason performing circumcisions and getting sucked up to might have imbued some cynicism in everybody's All-American. "I'm not too worried about that right now," he continued. "I'm worried about playing the U."
If Tebow posts a statline similar to Saturday's -- 9-of-14 passing for 137 yards and a touchdown with 37 rushing yards on nine carries -- and the Gators beat Miami next week, he won't care about those numbers, either. In fact, his quest to join Archie Griffin as the only repeat Heisman winner may get buried under a pile of yards racked up by Florida backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and touchdowns scavenged by 6-foot-6, 240-pound backup Cam Newton. Saturday, Rainey, a redshirt freshman, and Demps, a true freshman, proved their quickness translates from the dorm parking lot to the football field as they combined for 134 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Then, with the Gators knocking on the door in the third, Newton replaced Tebow and bludgeoned his way into the end zone.
Tebow's 23 rushing touchdowns in 2007 set an SEC record and helped him become the first sophomore to win the Heisman, but they also nearly got him killed. It's no coincidence that he played one of his worst games in a loss to Auburn a week after carrying 27 times against Ole Miss. Later in the season, playing with a severely bruised shoulder suffered in a 20-carry game at Kentucky, Tebow looked like a shell of himself in a 42-30 loss to Georgia.
Tebow, who always has said he'd prefer an SEC or national title to a Heisman, doesn't mind the inactivity. Gators coach Urban Meyer also would rather keep his star fresh, and the Gators might have the running back stable to pull it off. Also, let's not forget Percy Harvin, who can line up at tailback if he plays before the 2010 season.
Of course, it was just Hawaii. The Gators have a lot of football left to play before they prove they don't need the guy wearing No. 15 to carry them. But, when the time comes for Tebow to do the heavy lifting, Meyer wants his quarterback well-rested.
"We all know at the end of the day," Meyer said, "that one-five will carry the mail for us in critical situations."