TWO BITS: Noah out 10 weeks, Greene’s mistakes

1 » It looks like the Chicago Bulls fright over center Joakim Noah‘s thumb was justified. One day after sources told ESPNChicago.com that Noah could miss at least eight weeks with a possible torn ligament in his right thumb, their suspicions became reality. After starting and posting a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in Chicago’s 110-93 victory over Toronto on Wednesday, Noah was notified that he will miss up to 10 weeks as he will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a torn ulna collateral ligament in the thumb. Noah, who signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension before the season started, is averaging 14.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this season. “I’ve had the exact same surgery before on my left hand. It sucks,” Noah said. “It’s not what I want, but you can’t … I’ve [played] through it for a couple weeks now and I got to get back to playing at a high level.” He has been playing with the injured finger since Nov. 27.

In related news… Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem will likely miss the entire season after tearing a ligament in his left foot back in Nov. The team recently received a salary exception for his contract this season. Teammate guard/forward Mike Miller is slowly on his way back to the Heat after breaking his thumb during practice in Oct.

2 » Former Florida Gators point guard and Gainesville, FL, native Orien Greene bleeped-up one too many times for the NBA. A staunch defender who is currently averaging 23 points (on 52 percent shooting, 48 percent from downtown), five rebounds and five assists per game for the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League, he is someone who should be playing on a prime time stage if not for a number of character flaws that have arisen over the years. Will a team give him chance? Can someone who has realized their mistakes get yet another shot at redemption? Perhaps in time. For now, Greene can only hope. “Lord willing, lord willing, somebody’s going to call me and I can get back in,” he told ESPN’s Henry Abbott, who wrote this feature story on a once very promising young basketball player.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

TWO BITS: Noah worries Bulls, Lee scares self

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who is currently playing through a right hand injury, is expected to continue starting until the team returns home on Thursday. However, team officials are concerned, according to ESPNChicago.com, that Noah may have suffered ligament damage in his right thumb. Should that be revealed as the reason for pain later this week, Noah will miss at least two months of playing time. Noah first hurt the thumb on Nov. 27 and has been playing through pain. He is averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds so far this year.

2 » As OGGOA recently reported, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee experienced a career-saving moment recently when he finally fought off an infection that had grown in his left elbow after New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler’s tooth punctured his skin. FanHouse takes a deeper (no pun intended) look into the situation as Lee finally looks to take the court again after missing an extended period of time. “It’s the toughest league in the world, and I’m basically out there playing with one arm,” Lee said. “It’s very, very tough. Any time I make contact with anybody on that side of my body, there’s pain that’s tough to describe. I’ve played through just about every injury possible, and this is the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Extra BIT » None of the Florida Gators first-year NFL players will likely win the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Nevertheless, both Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey are among the league’s top 10 rookies, according to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. and ESPN. Check out what Williamson had to say about Haden’s play. Hint: he says that, before long, Haden will be “an upper-echelon coverage man in any style defense.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 14 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 14 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 14th week of the season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Six tackles (four solo, one for loss), interception (17-yard return)

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Three solo tackles, three passes defended
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three solo tackles (two for loss), sack
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Eight tackles (seven solo, one for loss)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Six rec. for 59 yards, touchdown (targets: 11)

WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Reception for 11 yards, touchdown
S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Six tackles (five solo)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Five solo tackles
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Pass defended
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Team-high three rec. for 48 yds (targets: 8 )
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Three solo tackles (one for loss), QB hit
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two solo tackles, sack
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Two tackles (one solo)
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Two rec. for 19 yards (targets: 4)
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots: Three rushes for 16 yards (long: 10)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Sack, two QB hits
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two solo tackles
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: QB hit
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Reception for 11 yards, solo tackle
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Two solo tackles
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Tackle
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Reception for five yards, rush for two yards, solo tackle

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Oakland Raiders) – QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), LB Jermaine Cunningham (Patriots), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

INACTIVES
LB Andra Davis (Bills), WR Andre Caldwell (Bengals), WR Percy Harvin (Vikings), LB Brandon Spikes (Patriots), LT Max Starks (Steelers)

NOTES
– Haden ended a streak of four-straight OGGOA Player of the Week awards.
– Nelson’s touchdown was the second of his professional career after he caught his first last week.
– Spikes was suspended for the remainder of the regular season.
– Moss saw the field with Oakland for the first time this season.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

Muschamp’s excitement extended to the players

A handful of Florida Gators were available for comment after head coach Will Muschamp’s introductory press conference on Wednesday. Here is what they said:

Junior running back Jeff Demps

On his impression of Muschamp: “I think that helps out a lot to have that players’ coach. Guys that you want to be around, you want them to have that high-energy. The team feed off the coaches, and that’ll be great.”

On what Muschamp said to them an hour earlier: “Basically the same stuff, but he went into a lot more detail, obviously.”

On if he’s pumped for next year: “Yeah, I’m very excited. He’s a high-energy guy.”

On concerns about the offense changing: “It was a little concerning at first because we was just running around like a chicken with our head cut off not knowing what’s going on. But to sit down and actually talk with him, having a conversation with him, know he’s a real, great coach and he told us that it would be in his best ability to bring in the best guy he feels can help turn this offense around. So I’m not really worried anymore.”

On former head coach Urban Meyer remaining involved: “It helps out a lot because if we have a question that we feel like we can’t talk to coach Muschamp as soon as possible, we know we can still fall back on coach Meyer – he’ll maybe have an answer to it.”

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley

On meeting Muschamp for the first time: “We were real excited to have a chance to meet him. He approached the team like any other head coach would, with a lot of confidence. He told us our plans, how to finish out this season. I think he’s going to be a great fit for here, the University of Florida.”

Freshman QB Trey Burton

On the team’s excitement level: “Yeah, real excited. We’re all real excited as team, so we got to take it and ride with it.”

On if it is hard to have a new head coach so early in his career: “It’s tough but it comes with the job. You got to know when you’re going to a school that it’s possible you [won’t] know who your coach is the next day. Coaches change all the time.”

On winning the 2011 Outback Bowl: “He’s a Hall of Fame coach, one of the best coaches ever to play college football. That’s our main goal: to get him out here with a win, especially against coach [Joe] Paterno.”

On his thoughts about Mickey Marotti returning: “Coach Mick’s an awesome coach, he gets the best out of you. I think we’re all looking forward to him staying.”

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.

On Muschamp: “Everybody embraces him. I feel like he has a tremendous history at Florida, being from here. It gives you definitely a little more comfort knowing he knows the expectations, the traditions and everything that goes on in the university.”

On Muschamp’s speech: “As he was talking, I just found out that he had a lot of history at Florida. That definitely was a plus, him knowing the traditions and being at some of the games. That definitely made me feel a little more comfortable.”

On what the team is focused on: “It’s been kind of hectic, but we are just focused on the bowl game and sending Coach Meyer out the right way. You want to end on a positive note. [Having Coach Muschamp around[ probably might make practice – amp it up just a little bit – knowing that he’s out there. That definitely will help out.”

Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard

On being coached by Muschamp after he recruited him to Auburn: “I really wanted him to be my coach and now he’s my coach.”

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown

On Muschamp: “He’s definitely a very fiery coach. He’s very passionate about what he does. He loves football.”

Sophomore tight end Omarius Hines

On Muschamp: “I’m excited to see what Coach Muschamp has for us. We’ve got a new coach now, so we don’t have to stress about who we’re going to get.”

Thanks to the University of Florida, Gainesville Sun and Orlando Sentinel for the quotes from Hammond, Howard, Brown and Hines.

Nike unveils Outback Bowl uniforms for Florida

Debuting a second version of their Pro Combat uniforms for the 2010 season, Nike announced officially on Tuesday that the Florida Gators would be donning a re-designed uniform for the second time this year. Having first worn special uniforms for the Georgia game, Florida will wear these for the 2011 Outback Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions on Jan. 1 in Tampa, FL.

Take a look at some of the pictures below (click to expand) and see what the Gators will be wearing on the field in a few weeks. Though the uniforms look quite similar to Florida’s standard all-whites, there are tweaks to the pants, shoes, gloves and undershirt.

Transferring not Brantley’s only viable option

After new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp concluded his introductory press conference Tuesday, the media surrounded a few players – including redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley – to gauge their impressions of the new man in charge.

However, when it came to Brantley, the real question of the evening was whether or not he would transfer after the 2011 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

“I’m sure we will still talk about it,” said Brantley, giving an indication for the first time that transferring is a legitimate option for him. “We have a little relationship with coach Muschamp from when I was committed to Texas, so we’ll definitely see what happens. [Hiring Muschamp] definitely changes a lot, but we’re going to have some conversation and figure this thing out.”

Later Brantley did a quick interview with ESPN and gave a similar statement. “I’m still going to sit down with my family after this bowl game,” he said. “I think coach Muschamp is a great coach and he’s going to have a great staff come in here. But I’m still going to sit down with my family and talk about things.”

Though he did not mention it on Tuesday, Brantley has a third road he can go down in addition to returning to Florida or transferring to another school. That road goes to the NFL and will certainly be a consideration when he meets with his family.

Think about Brantley’s options for a second. He can start over with the Gators under Muschamp and a currently unnamed offensive coordinator who will ideally install a pro-style offense, transfer to a FCS program and try to raise his draft stock, transfer to another FBS program (he will graduate and be eligible to do so without sitting out), or simply head for greener pastures now and hope he performs well enough to be drafted in a later round or catch on somewhere as an undrafted free agent with upside.

Staying at Florida is probably Brantley’s best bet – give the new coach a chance and see what happens. He would have the inside track at the starting job and the ability to shine if one is to believe that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and the offensive schemes are to blame. (Obviously Brantley’s poor play was a lot of his own doing as well.)

Transferring could work, but for every Joe Flacco (went to Pittsburgh, transferred to Delaware, drafted No. 18 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft) there are dozens of quarterbacks who make the same decision and whom you either never hear from again or still end up going undrafted when their NCAA eligibility expires. Brantley has to consider whether he would be in the minority or the majority in that scenario.

The NFL, however, gives Brantley another option: forget college. He can wipe his hands of the spread offense or the spread-to-pro-style hybrid that may be in place with the Gators next year. He wouldn’t have to worry about starting fresh elsewhere for one year (Flacco had two years at Delaware). Instead he can concentrate on his mechanics, train hard and try to “wow” scouts into believing that his struggles were all his team’s fault.

Taking the later route may be the most difficult. Perhaps Brantley doesn’t great drafted until the third day – if at all. Maybe he has to work his way up from the practice squad. But a respite at another school could end up doing nothing for him – maybe his stats get inflated and he performs better, but will he actually improve as a player?

No matter what Brantley decides, head coach Urban Meyer stepping down provided him with more options than he would have had if he stayed. Sticking around at Florida is probably his best choice, but his opportunities are not limited as limited as they could be.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Florida Gators Press Conference: Will Muschamp announced as head football coach

High-energy and ready to get to work, Will Muschamp was introduced Tuesday evening as the Florida Gators‘ 23rd head football coach. He began his press conference with an obvious clear understanding of the job he has to do and a promise to perform his responsibilities to the best of his ability.

“I am certainly honored and proud to be the head football coach of the University of Florida. It’s a great day certainly for my family and Florida. The expectations at Florida are winning championships. And believe me, I understand that, and I understand what you’ve got to do to be successful in that situation.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING “THE RIGHT FIT”

Athletic director Jeremy Foley explained after head coach Urban Meyer resigned that the man he would hire to replace him would have to be the right fit – not necessarily the most experienced candidate. He expanded on those comments Tuesday.

“The more and more you researched [Muschamp], it was obvious he was the guy we wanted to go after. And we went after him,” Foley said. “It was very, very clear early on that this was the guy that we wanted to bring to Gainesville to lead our football program and build on the wonderful foundation that’s been left here by Urban Meyer.”

Muschamp understands some might be concerned about his lack of head coaching experiences but promises it will not be an issue. “I know there will be criticism about maybe not hiring a guy with head coaching experience. I certainly understand that,” he said. “But I do think, if you look at it, you can really look at all the examples across the board of guys who had no head coaching experience and did an outstanding job because they were the right fit for the right job at the right time.

“I feel like I’m the right fit for Jeremy. [Looks at Foley] I can certainly tell you, you’re not going to regret [hiring me].”

BECOME A BETTER PERSON, THEN BECOME A BETTER FOOTBALL PLAYER

Like Meyer before him, Muschamp plans to put a special emphasis on his players being successful off the field before they step foot on it. This effort begins in the classroom, translates to programs he will create and eventually comes to fruition on the gridiron.

“I want all of our student-athletes to come into our program to be a better person for having been at Florida. And I’m not just talking about from a football standpoint, from a strength standpoint. I’m talking about the off-the-field things,” he said. “Academically is obviously very important to me. We’re going to have programs set for our players that are going to help with leadership development, character development and the mental conditioning it takes to be successful. It’s all about making good choices and good decisions nowadays.

“There’s a lot of distractions out there. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong when you make a poor choice or decision. There’s nothing more frustrating to me then to see a young man make a poor choice and somebody said, ‘He must be a bad kid.’ He’s not a bad kid. He made a poor choice and decision. So we need to do a great job of conditioning our players to make good choices and decisions.

“You got to get a degree. I’m going to emphasize it. If our kids don’t want to get their degree, they don’t need to be here. If they’re not going to go to class and act the right way, they don’t need to be here. There’s a certain thing that I’m going to refer to as ‘The Florida Way,’ and that’s the way they need to act and that’s the way they need to represent our university.”

STAFF RETENTION AND HIRING COACHES

Muschamp made a concerted effort Wednesday to explain that he was the sole decision-maker and source when it comes to coaching hires and indicated quite clearly that nothing of the sort had been worked out yet – and may not be for quite some time. “The thing you need to trust – a little blind faith on my part – I’m going to make the best decisions for Florida. I’ve got zero timetable on hiring a staff,” he said. “It’s not about doing the easiest thing, it’s not about doing the quickest thing, it’s about making the best decision – and that’s what we need to do for the University of Florida right now. There has been no one offered a job in the coaching right now by the University of Florida to work on our football staff, regardless of what you read. There’s one source in this football program, and that’s me. And there’s one guy hiring coaches, and that’s me. So nobody’s been offered a job. Let me make sure everybody understands that before we walk out of here tonight.”

That being said, Muschamp did announce the retention of one staff member – strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti. “We’ve got to do a great job in our weight room. I’m really excited that Mickey is going to stay on and be a Gator. He’s outstanding; he’s as good a strength coach as there is in the country,” he said. “My first visit was to our weight room to visit with him and make sure he understood that he and I are on the same page with what we want for our athletes. I think he’s phenomenal.”

As for everyone else? They have to wait. “Nothing’s going to be done, in my opinion, right now before the bowl game as far as coaches that are going to be hired, retained, whatever. Right now, I’ve got absolutely no timetable with that,” Muschamp repeated.

“We’re going to work through the bowl game. Urban Meyer is the head football coach through the Outback Bowl. I’m strictly a spectator. I’m going to evaluate the players and make the best decisions for Florida as far as our staff is concerned. There’s some outstanding coaches on this staff and I’m just getting some input from people who are around the country and in talking to Urban.”

“…URBAN MEYER IS GOING TO BE INVOLVED IN THIS PROGRAM”

After Meyer stepped down exactly one week ago, Foley mentioned that he could very well remain a part of the Gators as long as the head coach they hired to replace him was amenable to that concept. Muschamp recounted a conversation he had with Meyer on Saturday – just before he decided to come to Florida – and how it affected him.

“Urban Meyer – what a phenomenal job he’s done. When Jeremy sat with me in my living room on Saturday and we talked about the job at Florida, we continued to talk [and] were having great discussions about everything as far as philosophically, what we believed in the program, what we believed was important,” Muschamp recounted. “As we kept talking, I felt like I needed to talk to Urban Meyer. And I said, ‘Do you mind if I call him?’ He threw the phone at me and said, ‘Here he is right here.’

“The more I talked to him, the more I liked him. And I can tell you this right now: As long as Will Muschamp is the head coach of the University of Florida, Urban Meyer is going to be involved in this program. And I’ve invited him to the weight room, I’ve invited him to the practice field, I’ve invited him to the meetings and whatever he wants to do. He will be a great sounding board for me, number one. And he needs to be involved in this program for our players – because he’s the one that recruited them all, and he’s still helping us in the recruiting class we’ve got going this year. And he’s a great sounding board for me and a part of this great tradition of Florida football. “

Admitting that allowing Meyer so much access to the team may be viewed as either weak or dangerous, Muschamp dismissed anyone else’s opinions of the situation bothering him even the least bit. “The perception can be whatever it is out there. I deal in real world; I deal in reality. I’ve got no ego. My agenda is the players and the University of Florida. And it’s about winning. That’s where the fun is. It’s about winning football games and doing it the right way,” he said.

COACHING PHILOSOPHIES

“We’re going to be a pro-style attack offensively and defensively,” Muschamp made clear from the start. “As far as special teams is concerned, I feel like our players will be exposed to cutting-edge schemes to make sure that they show their abilities. If they want to play on the next level, they certainly can have those opportunities.”

That being said, Muschamp realizes that defense is his specialty and plans on hiring a knowledgeable offensive coordinator to support him. “I want to hire an experienced play caller. I would like for him to have a background in both college and pro football. I think it’s important that we have some pro-style systems to what we want to do,” he said. “But I think the best coaches out there, they look at their roster and they evaluate who they are at this time. And then they recruit to who they want to be. […] Will there be more pro-style ideas in our offense? There certainly will be. We want to be balanced in what we do, regardless of who we hire. [That] will obviously be a big hire for me, me being a defensive coach. […] Hiring an offensive coordinator is a critical hire for me.”

Defensively, Muschamp has not decided whether or not he will hire a coordinator to call the plays or help him out in the role of an assistant. “There will be components of the 3-4, the 4-3. We like to be a man-pressure team,” he said of the defense. “But the big thing you got to do defensively nowadays, you got to be multiple in what you do. You got to be able to change week-to-week. […] Defense is my strength. I have not decided yet whether or not I will call the defenses or not. That will be decided based on who we hire and who we’re able to bring in.”

Regardless of how the offense and defense are formulated, the team as a whole will have some standard philosophies instilled in it from the get-go. “Our program is going to be based in a family atmosphere with three basic things: trust, respect and communication. Those are all two-way streets; it takes two to do it,” Muschamp said. “As a football team, I want to be known as a blue-collar, overachieving unit. We’re going to recruit good players here, but they need to take the talent they have – what God’s blessed them with – and stretch it to the potential that they’ve got. […] We will be a physically tough football team. And it’s not something you talk about; it’s something you live your life with.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Florida Gators Press Conference: Will Muschamp announced as head football coach

Chas Henry named 2010 first-team All-American

Florida Gators senior punter Chas Henry, winner of the 2010 Ray Guy Award given to the nation’s best punter, was named an All-American first-team member by the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated on Tuesday.

Henry, who was also selected as a to the 2010 Walter Camp All-America first-team and was picked as a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection, punted 44 times for 2,042 yards with a 46.4 average this season. That average was not only the best in the nation this year but also set a school record.

Florida senior safety Ahmad Black earned AP second-team All-America honors. He and redshirt freshman kick returner Andre Debose were given honorable mention by SI. Black was also a unanimous All-SEC first-team selection.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

 Page 455 of 661  « First  ... « 453  454  455  456  457 » ...  Last »