Week 9: Gators post-game news and notes

By Adam Silverstein
October 31, 2010

Snapping a three-game losing streak, the Florida Gators (5-3, 3-3 SEC) snuck a 34-31 overtime win by the Georgia Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, at EverBank Field. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

OH HENRY!

By now everybody knows what happened Saturday – after missing his initial field goal attempt wide left in the first quarter, Florida senior punter Chas Henry nailed two in a row including a 37-yarder in overtime to ice the game. However, what is not known is how much that one kick meant to Henry. “It was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” he said. “The main thing that went through my mind was how I let my team down two weeks ago against Mississippi State. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. I got so much support through the coaches, my family and friends, and my brothers in the locker room. The internal family we have is as strong as you can get. I let them down one time. I was never going to let it happen again. It felt great. Unbelievable.”

Henry’s field goal was so emotional that it caused head coach Urban Meyer to immediately drop to his knees according to those on the scene. Why exactly did he do that? “After he hit that field goal? It was Chas Henry hitting a damn field goal. Think about that for a minute. That’s not easy,” Meyer said. I didn’t realize I did that. It was a good moment.”

Meyer gave Henry three opportunities to kick field goals Saturday because he had confidence in the young man after seeing how he played in practice on Thursday. “He’s got a strong leg; he just has not majored in that,” he said. “We thought we were going to have Caleb [Sturgis]. Caleb came out Wednesday and kicked beautifully. Then his back, he could’ve pushed it but we’re not going to do that – it could hurt him for a long time if he hurts it more. On Thursday, Chas came out and hit every field goal. We always go right-left, right-left, right-left, right-left, and he went right up to 42 yards, I think he was seven-for-seven.”

THRICE IS NICE FOR WILL THE THRILL

Though only two of his three interceptions will count when looking at the box score 10 years from now, senior safety Will Hill’s performance will be remembered for some time. Following in the footsteps of some of the Gators’ other terrifying free safeties, Hill came through when it counted by saving a two-point conversion and starting Florida’s celebration early with an 89-yard interception return (that did not go for a score) in overtime. He had been struggling all season and even failed in protection on an early Georgia touchdown, but Hill got some of his mojo back by the time the whistle sounded.

“[Ahmad] Black had good coverage on A.J. [Green],’’ Hill said of the overtime interception. “He tipped the ball and it just fell in my lap. I just saw an opportunity and made the best of it. I was struggling earlier in the season and coaches never gave up on me, teammates never gave up on me. And for me to come out and playing like this, it’s just like paying the team back.’’

“Big play of the day,” Meyer said of Hill’s overtime pick. “And from what [defensive coordinator] Teryl Austin mentioned in [the locker room], he said it was Will Hill’s best game. We’ve been waiting for that all year. Will Hill played very well tonight.” Austin had his thoughts as well. “You saw it today. He played. He played like a Florida safety plays,” he asid. “He made some wonderful plays out there today. He was physical, he hit guys, he intercepted the ball, he did a great job for us today. Really proud of him.”

FLORIDA FINDS A LONG-LOST “EDGE”

Aside from injuries and execution, one of the main reasons the Gators’ offense has been so vanilla this year is because the team found it difficult to find an edge. Meyer believes Florida found exactly that over the last two weeks and wishes he would have identified it and installed it earlier this year. “I could kick myself for not doing that more this summer,” Meyer said of using a steady two quarterback rotation. “I did not anticipate…Trey Burton’s one of those guys, I didn’t know he was that good as a runner. I thought he was pretty good and then he was dynamic. Jordan Reed did a nice job, came in and gave us some two-plus yardage plays. We’re going to do more of that. We have to find that edge. Florida’s always had the edge.

“In ’05 we really didn’t really have one, and then ’06 we had some edge when we recruited Percy [Harvin] and then Dallas [Baker] came on. Then obviously Tim [Tebow] went crazy in ’07, ’08 you had a bundle of them – there’s edges all over the place. […] We’re just still trying to find what that edge is. You can’t play offensive football without it. You can sit and run between the tackles, you can run perimeter plays or you can throw, and if you don’t have that edge than it’s just a mess. And that’s kind of where we’ve been. We’re looking at tempo as an edge, multiple quarterbacks as an edge and development of players. You want to get that speed back with [Chris] Rainey and [Jeff] Demps, that helps us a lot as well.”

RAINEY’s REDEMPTION

Ask any of his teammates or the player himself, and it is obvious Rainey has had a tough few weeks after being suspended indefinitely following his arrest. In addition to being scolded by the coaching staff, administration and the media, Rainey has been hard on himself and made a concerted effort to turn his life around. Saturday’s game was the first he had played in more than a month, and Rainey made the most of it going off for 241 all-purpose yards including 84 rushing yards.

“Rainey stood up after the game and thanked God for giving him a second chance. He’s taking full advantage of it,” said senior center Mike Pouncey, one of Rainey’s best friends. “He thanked the whole administration – [athletic director] Jeremy Foley and the president [Bernie Machen] – and he thanked God as well. He thanked everyone for giving him a second chance because without Jeremy Foley and President Machen, it wouldn’t be possible for him to play right now. I love Chris like a brother. […] He’s been living with me since high school, and we have a special relationship. I felt his pain those weeks he was out. He loves football. He’s a great person, and I know that was one of the happiest moments of his life just to be out there with us playing.”

Meyer attributes Rainey’s presence to many of the other big plays made during the game. “The threat of a perimeter issue opens up – the Trey Burton touchdown, that was a lot of the Tim stuff we used to do when you had Percy,” he said. “If you have a threat of this [holds arms out], it sometimes opens that [em>points arms to middle] up. That’s the mix of perimeter and interior rushing. That’s a direct result of having a perimeter.”

QUOTES (After the break…)

Meyer’s opening statement: “The team that we just beat played their hearts out. That’s a much better team than their record, and I think we’re a much better team than our record. This is obviously one of the great venues to come play at and, wow, that was just a great football game. Two teams that were just fighting, so I would never want to disrespect our opponent and I thought they played hard.”

Meyer on his team’s performance: “Our guys, wow, that was one of the great efforts. It wasn’t as pretty…We had a lead and then put your face in a bunch of guys that will be playing in the NFL. That receiver [A.J. Green], to have Janoris [Jenkins] keep him somewhat under control was a heck of a job. He played him basically the whole day. I’ve not seen anyone better than that as a receiver. Trey Burton played phenomenal. We had five big plays, which is something that’s been nonexistent. It was great to see Chris Rainey back. It was great to see Demps – still was not 100 percent – but to see him battle like he did.”

Meyer on why he has to single out redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley: “The one guy I want to mention [who] I thought did phenomenal was Johnny Brantley. Just his last name – it’s rather appropriate to have his uncle being [inducted] into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame – you can tell where that kid’s from. He’s a tough nut. He got hit – I mean, he got whacked a few times today – stood up, made some plays and helped us win that game.”

Meyer on the play calling and offense: “I thought Steve Addazio did a heck of a job with the in-and-out. 450 total yards of offense, we have to get this thing going and we’re still not done. Obviously we got a lot of football left to play and we got a lot of improvement to do because we still have penalties with that no-huddle stuff. But we’re going to continue obviously to do that, because we need an edge. If that’s our edge, which I’m kind of a fan of that right now, so we’re going to go even harder at that.”

Meyer on kicking the field goal to go up eight: “I’m managing the game, and I consider it a two-score game when you’re up by eight. We wanted to get the ball right where it needed to be and knock it through the uprights – and that’s what we did.”

Meyer on Demps: “Dempsy we hoped to play him more, but he was not…we all know Demps very well and, my gosh, we got to get him back.”

Meyer on if Rainey surprised him: “No, because he’s been back for a while. He’s been practicing three weeks. That’s a far cry from where we were when I got the message 15 minutes before kickoff [that] we don’t have a healthy tailback. We had a few of them today.”

Meyer on if he is no longer down on the offense: “Heavens no. Changes my opinion for this game, but we’re going to come back. I can name seven stupid penalties because of the no-huddle, the up-tempo. The thing I did like: the physical-ness, the fact that we had big plays, and the fact that we wore that team down – and that’s a good team.”

Meyer on why it took him so long to run the no-huddle after Oklahoma impressed him with it in title game: “[WR] coach [Zach] Azzanni did a great job helping us install this. I made the decision we’re doing it. We started this about three weeks ago, but it looks awful if you’re not having time to get going with it. So we’re committed to it.”

Meyer on who he was jawing with and doing the Gator Chomp to in the stands: “Someone real important – real important. [Laughing]”

Meyer on the importance of the win: “This is as big of a win as we’ve had. We’ve had some great wins around here, some people would say more important. I’d probably argue that one. This is the biggest win that I can remember I’ve coached in a long time. From demeanor, from recruiting, from just those guys in that locker room. That was an emotional locker room now afterwards. These guys [have] been through hell and back in the last three weeks, man.”

Meyer on why the win was so important: “Because we got our brains kicked in the last three weeks and we needed to get the ship righted. We really didn’t get our brains kicked in; we came away from two games just like this. Resiliency of these young players to experience it, our young players haven’t experienced a win like that. The older guys have – they’ve had a bunch of wins, but our young players haven’t. Sometimes what I don’t want to do is all of a sudden you have a team saying, ‘What is this really worth? As hard as we go?’ I mean, our practices are ridiculous. At some point, you better get the reward. And that’s why [the win] was critical.”

Meyer on being caught smiling: “I just felt good. We needed that. My family needed that. Everybody needed it. A bunch of families in there needed it. Awfully grateful.”

Addazio on using multiple quarterbacks: “We need all three of them. There were all kinds of things going on that add different elements. We wanted to fatigue [Georgia’s defense] out.’’

Pouncey on the win: “It felt great. I’ve been around here a long time and that was one of the best feelings of my life.”

Pouncey on Henry’s game-winning field goal: “It meant a lot to this team. We were behind Chas 100 percent even when he missed them. He’s part of our team. He’s one of our brothers. He played one of his best games and made the winning field goal.”

Hill on his overtime pick: “I thought I scored.”

Redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. on the hurry-up offense: “It’s effective, because it will slow down a defense. We got a W with that. We’ll go from there. It’s a work in progress. They just put that in a few weeks ago.’’

Burton on the speedsters returning: “[Rainey and Demps] are unbelievable. Those are real special guys and we missed them a lot the last three games.”

16 Comments

  1. Aligator says:

    That was the offense we have been waiting for all year!

  2. Aligator says:

    Now let’s go out there and win the next six straight!

  3. SaraGator says:

    I would love to know who that important person was!

    Coach Meyer finally showed some passion. Can’t really say we’re back… Georgia is also having a down year. I’m just glad we beat ’em.

    Go Gators!

  4. Gatorgrad79 says:

    Great effort – no quit in this team. They have always done what they are asked to do – Saturday they were asked to do something that worked. One game at a time – need lots of snaps against Vandy to get proficient in the no huddle hurry up – we will need it against the ‘ole ball coach!

  5. Scooterp says:

    I’ve been as critical as anyone about this years team, as ugly as it was some times yesterday, they played their asses off. Win or lose, I like this team much better than the one that showed up for the first 7 games. Alot of passion on the field and the side line. Bravo Gators…….thats how you go after it.

  6. John S says:

    Brantley, Deonte, Chaz, Burton, Jenkins and Maurice Hurt all deserve huge praise for Saturday. Please don’t forget Hurt, his fumble recoveries saved the game for us.

    The hurry up was very smart. I wonder if Azzani is the next OC?

    Good job guys…Great job. That was crazy…I will remember that one forever, Go Gators!

  7. Escambia94 says:

    @John S: Azzani for next OC? I think we are stuck with Addazio as OC. Forever. I am just going to learn to love him. I suggest everyone else do the same.

    That was one of the most memorable games. It even kept my kids glued to the TV. Go Gators!

  8. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    Improvement for sure but still many warts on this win….hurry up brought some life but it also brought a few extra penalties…one thing I think should be a staple is Reed in short yardage situations…he is the big back we are clearly missing….he’s a beast and probably 95% of the time is going to get the extra yard after contact cause of size and speed…..Will Hill made some big plays but also gave up some as well…the one big play was a two deep zone and they didn’t even bring someone else into his zone and he got beat deep by 10 yards at least…..congrats to Henry…I never blamed him for either of the close losses but am glad he got some personal redemption….do we have a punter lined up for next year? He will be a huge loss for sure!!!

  9. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    And the catch by DT was incredible….to come back….take that ball and get hit and hang on…some how stay in bounds might have been the best catch of his career

  10. npgator says:

    Best game by far this year. Rainey, Hines and Henry were unbelievable Saturday.

  11. Jesse C says:

    This was a great win for a struggling team. We own Georgia. When are we going to have to start paying taxes there?

  12. Mr2Bits says:

    When was the last time we played in an OT game?

  13. Mr2Bits says:

    Guess it would be Vandy led by Cutler back in 2004?

  14. ziggy says:

    Mr2Bits – I think that was 2005? I know Meyer was coaching that game and I think that was his first year right?

  15. i am trying not to get too excited…..this game could have gone either way. our defense has to be more consistant……but i like the new “edge” but i hope we don’t get too predictable again……the O line has to improve also……but a win is a win…..vandy could be a trap game…..yeah, i said that……and i still have my theory that the gators don’t play well at night this year….dumb yes, but all of our losses came at night…..

  16. Gatorgrad79 says:

    A little shocked that meyer admitted he “should have done more of that (no huddle) over the summer, and he “didn’t know Trey was a good runner?! What the hey? Was he in a coma at the O&B game? Trey ran so well against our No 1 defense, I went home and used his name as a password I was setting up – impressive way back then. I still think these are adjustments that should have been made when we played poorly the first 2 games and had no stinkin offense! Hopefully they continue to run more of the same at vandy, and get some rhythm before SC comes to town. Use Jordan reed as a big back, God knows we need one. If they were trying to redshirt him, it’s time to burn it.

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