GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Tim Tebow was a little more sore than usual this week, and understandably so.
Florida's star quarterback ran 27 times for 166 yards last Saturday at Mississippi, setting a school record and causing teammates, coaches and most Florida fans to cringe with every hit.
``All we needed was one slip on a block and they could have taken out his knee caps,'' offensive tackle Carlton Medder said. ``We were a little concerned about that, but hopefully we won't have to go through that again.''
Coach Urban Meyer wants to make sure it doesn't happen again.
He plans to limit Tebow's touches in the future, beginning Saturday when the fourth-ranked Gators (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) host Auburn (2-2, 0-1).
``Our plan, first of all, is to win the game,'' Meyer said. ``You've got to win the game, whatever means necessary. However, we have to have intelligence about us and not put our players at risk.''
Especially not Tebow, the sophomore sensation who has accounted for 17 of the team's 27 touchdowns this season.
Tebow's toughness is not a question. After all, he's been known to lift more weight than some of his linemen. He's dived head first on concrete to win a sprinting drill. He's taken on linebackers and defensive linemen with reckless abandon. He even once finished a high school game on a broken leg.
This season, Tebow has 70 carries for 358 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with 1,096 yards passing, 10 TD passes and an interception.
``The kid is unbelievable,'' receiver David Nelson said. ``He's the toughest person I've ever met in my life, physically and mentally. I'm 100 percent confident in him. If it's fourth-and-6 and we run a quarterback sneak, I know he'll carry seven guys on his back to get the 6 yards. Whatever it takes, I'm confident he'll get it done.''
He did against the Rebels.
Tebow ran 12 times for 71 yards in the fourth quarter, picking up key first downs, keeping the clock running and literally carrying Florida to victory after Ole Miss cut the lead to 27-24.
Most of his runs came on passing plays as Tebow recognized that the Rebels were dropping seven, sometimes eight, defenders into coverage and leaving huge holes underneath.
So Tebow tucked the ball and scrambled. But all the extra hits were cause for concern since the Gators know how important Tebow is to the spread-option offense - and their success this season.
``Tim is my worst enemy and his worst enemy,'' Meyer said. ``He's screaming at me on the sideline, 'Give me the ball to win the game.' I'm somewhat intelligent, so, 'OK, Tim.'
``We'll put a little more thought into it (in the future).''
Tebow brushed off all the talk about his carries this week, saying he's probably run more times in high school and often does the same in practice. But he also acknowledged that this was considerably different.
``I was maybe a little more sore overall,'' said Tebow, who set a school record for carries by a quarterback. ``It's just the nature of the beast. Carrying the ball that many times, your body is going to have a few more bruises.
``Obviously, we don't want to have that many carries in a game. But if we need to run that clock out, I guess we're going to do what we need to do. But that's not the game plan.''
The Tigers, who rank third in the conference in total defense, seem eager to face the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Tebow.
``He's not going to run through me,'' defensive tackle Pat Sims said.
Added defensive end Quentin Groves: ``Tebow is a guy I want to hit. He's the key to their offense. That's why he's so attractive. If you stop Tebow, you stop their offense.''
That might be the case more than ever Saturday. The Gators will be without receiver Andre Caldwell (knee) and probably will have speedster Percy Harvin slowed because of a hip pointer.
Still, they don't expect Tebow to carry the load - at least not like he did against Ole Miss.
``If the game is on the line, he wants the ball in his hands,'' Nelson said. ``I like that in a quarterback. But hopefully that won't happen again.''

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