New Florida coach Dan Mullen has had offensive success in the SEC for the last 13 years, dating back to his time as the Gators’ offensive coordinator from 2005-08. Once a week, we’ll break down Mullen’s success, one year at a time.
The focus this week is the 2006 season.
The Gators finished 13-1 and won the second national championship in program history. Budding stars by the name of Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin made their presence known in their freshman seasons and Mullen’s offensive identity truly began to take form. Florida went 5-1 against ranked opponents, with the lone loss coming against Auburn before closing the season on a seven-game win streak capped with SEC and national championships.
- Total offense: 396.1 yards/game
- Passing offense: 236.1 yards/game
- Rushing offense: 160 yards/game
- Scoring offense: 29.7 points/game
- Yards per play: 6.3 yards
The key players
- Quarterback Chris Leak: 2,942 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
- Quarterback Tim Tebow: 358 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception; 469 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry, 8 rushing touchdowns
- Running back DeShawn Wynn: 699 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns, 4.9 yards per carry; 12 catches, 161 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
- Wide receiver Percy Harvin: 34 catches, 427 yards, 2 touchdowns; 428 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
- Wide receiver Dallas Baker: 60 catches, 920 yards, 10 touchdowns
- Wide receiver Andre Caldwell: 57 catches, 577 yards, 6 touchdowns
- Wide receiver Jemalle Cornelius: 34 catches, 523 yards, 3 touchdown
The key wins
- 21-20 over Tennessee: After opening the season with a pair of easy wins (34-7 over Southern Miss and 42-0 over UCF), the Gators came close to dropping their SEC opener against Tennessee. But behind a pair of clutch second-half touchdown drives led by Chris Leak — and ending with catches in the end zone by Dallas Baker — Florida found a way to leave Rocky Top with a win.
- 21-14 over Georgia: After losing by 10 points to Auburn two weeks earlier, Florida knew it would need to be perfect the rest of the way for a spot in the SEC Championship Game and beyond. First up in that back half of the season was the annual neutral-site rivalry game with Georgia. The Gators took a 21-0 lead early in the third quarter and held off a late Bulldogs rally to clinch the win.
- 41-14 over Ohio State: The SEC Championship was already in hand after a 38-28 win over Arkansas. Now, the real test awaited. No. 2 Florida vs. No. 1 Ohio State. In reality, though, it didn’t turn out to be much of a test at all. The Gators took a 34-14 lead at halftime and never looked back. By the end of the game, Florida had amassed 370 yards of offense. Chris Leak completed 25 of 36 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown, while Tim Tebow had a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown as the Gators won the national championship.
It took just two years for the Gators to get back into national championship contention — and the work was just getting started.