1/1: Meyer, Black speak after Outback Bowl win

The Florida Gators defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 37-24 at the 2011 Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL on Saturday afternoon. Below are quotes from head coach Urban Meyer and game MVP senior safety Ahmad Black (as well as thoughts from freshman cornerback Cody Riggs and Penn State head coach Joe Paterno), all of whom spoke with the media immediately after the contest.

HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER

On Black winning the MVP: “I think that’s rather appropriate that Ahmad Black, the best safety in college football, won that [MVP] award.”

Opening statement thank yous: “I have a lot of people to thank. Obviously I want to acknowledge Penn State – that was a tough crew. That defensive line, our guys told me, was as tough and physical as anyone we’ve had to go against all year. Obviously Joe Paterno, the finest coach in all of college football history. And the Penn State University, that was a classy game. That was two teams going as hard as they possibly can. Not a bunch of nonsense going on. Just playing hard. It was a honor to coach in that game.”

On his halftime speech and turning the game around: “Our goal was to get to the second level somehow and they were doing a very good job. When you have three weeks to prepare, Penn State did a heck of a job. They made some adjustments on their defense. They did some stuff that they hadn’t shown, but we knew they would do that. I thought Coach [Steve] Addazio did a heck of a job. Jordan Reed is a hell of a player. Jordan Reed did a great job moving that offense. With it up-tempo, I think they wore out a little bit. I think possession time was substantial for the Gators in that second half and you could see them start to give a little bit. Our defense was hanging in there the whole game. We were awful in the first half on offense, but we came back with special teams and in the second half our offense played very good.”

On his letter to Paterno: “I’ve said that’s been the story all week and it’s all true. He will go down as the greatest football coach in the history of the game, and he should. Every young coach, in my opinion, should take a lesson from him, not some of this other stuff going on. If I ever start a coaching school, I am going to make everybody do a book report on Joe Paterno and say that’s the way you should act in coaching. That’s college football. And that’s what players should take away from a guy like him. You just don’t want to lose that man. You don’t want to lose what college football is. That was college football out there today.”

On singing the alma mater and fight song with the crowd: “My wife started crying, so she choked me up a little bit. You could obviously see what she was wearing and all of the kids, they love Florida. We have given six years – six equals about 40 years of your life – to Florida and we couldn’t have dreamed to do it anywhere else because this is our place. We love it. To sing that fight song one last time and to go salute the band – we have the best band in the country – and shake hands with our band director, that was real special.”

On Black: “Ahmad Black is one of my closest friends, and I can call him a friend now because he’s not my player. He’s family. Ahmad Black was not the Ahmad Black when we got him four years ago. Ahmad Black has turned into a grown man, a grown man who is going to pay taxes some day, a grown man who is going to have a family some day. He’s going to be a great father and a great husband because Ahmad Black is a grown man now. He has a great family. His relationship with Chuck Heater, and I made a comment about that, if it’s done right, the player-coach relationship is second only to that of your family. He’s can attest to that. Ahmad Black wasn’t what he is when we got him. Now that he’s leaving here, he’s everything and more. I’m very proud of him.”

Many more thoughts from Meyer, Black and Paterno…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/1: Meyer, Black speak after Outback Bowl win

Florida’s Muschamp looks to fill in coaching staff

With the hire of any new head coach there is usually extensive turnover on the previous coaching staff. According to various reports, things will not be much different for new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, who is expected to hire numerous coaches outside the current staff while only retaining a few members.

The Gainesville Sun reported Saturday that Muschamp has chosen to bring back running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton and linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin, though their responsibilities may be adjusted in the new staff.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, whose sources confirmed Weis’s interest in Florida on Friday, reported Saturday that Miami Hurricanes wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill has said he will leave Miami to coach under Muschamp even though new Hurricanes head coach Al Golden said 12 days ago that he would be retaining Hill.

A Miami, FL native, Hill is a Gators alum who played for head coach Steve Spurrier from 1991-94 when Florida won their first three Southeastern Conference Championships. He served as a graduate assistant under Spurrier from 1996-98 and has coached wide receivers since 1999 including stints at Duke (1999-2003), Elon (2004), Pittsburgh (2005-07) and Miami (2008-10). He served as the Hurricanes recruiting coordinator only for the 2010 season.

Though it has yet to be confirmed, Seattle Seahawks assistant head coach and defensive line coach Dan Quinn has emerged as the most talked about candidate to serve as the Gators next defensive coordinator. Muschamp noted that he wished to run a pro-style defense and was expected to find a candidate with NFL experience.

Quinn, who has coached in the NFL since 2001, served as defensive line coach when Muschamp was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins under then-head coach Nick Saban. That year Miami ranked 15th in total defense (19.8 points and 317.4 yards per game) but was second in quarterback sacks (49).

It is unknown what Muschamp plans to do with current Florida co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Chuck Heater or tight ends coach Brian White, both of whom were expected by many to be considered for roles on the new coaching staff.

Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio, who has been hired as head coach of the Temple Owls, will be replaced by Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis with an announcement expected for Monday. Associate head coach and defensive line coach Dan McCarney left the team before its bowl game to take the top job with the North Texas Mean Green

OGGOA will continue updating you on the Gators coaching staff situation as more information is made available.

Charlie Weis to be named Gators OC Monday

Updated Jan. 2 at 6 p.m.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has accepted the same position with the Florida Gators, and the University of Florida will officially announce the agreement on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Weis, whose Chiefs currently boast the No. 9 offense in the NFL, was the Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach from 2005-09 and has four Super Bowl rings including three with the New England Patriots. He is a terrific play caller and showed recruiting chops during his time at Notre Dame.

Beginning his career as an offensive assistant with the New York Giants under head coach Bill Parcells, Weis was a position coach until 1997 when he was hired as the New York Jets offensive coordinator. He held that job with the Jets and later coached the Patriots offense until 2004 when he left for Notre Dame.

New Gators head coach Will Mushcamp, who said at his introductory press conference that he prefers to run a pro-style offense and wanted an offensive coordinator with professional experience, fulfills both of his requirements with Weis.

With Kansas City set to participate in the playoffs one year after a 4-12 season, Weis will stay on as long as necessary. Some reports have Weis earning near $1 million in his new position with UF, though that figure is unsubstantiated at this time.

Notorious for his somewhat rough personality, it was rumored that Weis had a falling out with Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. However statements from Haley on Sunday after Kansas City’s regular season finale tell another story.

“Charlie Weis is moving on. He’s going to go to the University of Florida as a coordinator. There was obviously a lot of speculation on that. Charlie and I, the Chiefs, we had a bunch of real productive conversations this weekend – really productive. This is a bitter sweet deal for me, as the head coach, because Charlie was someone I was obviously really excited to have in here.

“With that being said, Charlie is a family guy. He has a situation, a family situation, where he can go to Florida and be with his son, who is going to get into coaching. Without talking personally about Charlie, this is a great situation for Charlie. And I respect it 100 percent and we respect it 100 percent. Again, I was really excited to get Charlie here. Charlie’s been a big part of what we’ve done this year and he’s going to continue to be a big part of what we do this year.

“Charlie is a professional. He’s been through a similar situation back a few years ago where there was some potential distractions that could have been distractions that he, being a professional, did his job to the fullest and helped the team win a Super Bowl. I have the utmost confidence that that’s what will go on.”

Weis’s son will be attending Florida perhaps as soon as this spring and will likely work as a student assistant on the football team with hopes of eventually earning a coaching job.

Muschamp and athletic director Jeremy Foley were both attendance at the 2011 Outback Bowl on Saturday to watch Florida prevail 37-24 over Penn State.

The Sporting News initially reported the agreement between Weis and the Gators.

Photo Credit: Bill Haber/Associated Press

Meyer exits with a smile as Gators pick off Nittany Lions 37-24 in 2011 Outback Bowl

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer wanted to go out with a bang and senior safety Ahmad Black – perhaps Meyer’s favorite player on the team – made sure that was exactly what happened. With the Penn State Nittany Lions threatening to score a potential game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Black intercepted quarterback Matthew McGloin and returned the ball 80 yards for a touchdown to ice a 37-24 win for the Gators in the 2011 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

Florida (8-5) defeated Penn State (7-6) on Saturday in Tampa, FL behind a defense that intercepted McGloin five times and an offense that did not commit a single turnover after giving up the ball twice in the first quarter. Redshirt junior QB John Brantley threw an interception on UF’s first play from scrimmage, and freshman QB Trey Burton fumbled into the end zone when the Gators were threatening to score from the one.

Rallying from a 17-14 deficit at halftime, Florida scored four straight times to end the game and did not allow the Nittany Lions to put up a single point in the fourth quarter. Meyer walked away from the Gators with a win over future Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno and a 5-1 record in bowl games.

Penn State jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when McGloin hit wide receiver Derek Moye with a five yard pass.

Sophomore tight end Omarius Hines tied the game at the start of the second quarter with a 16-yard end around run for a touchdown, and redshirt sophomore defensive end Lerentee McCray put Florida up 14-7 after returning a punt blocked by freshman WR Solomon Patton 27 yards for a touchdown.

WR Michael Zodrich evened things up for the Nittany Lions with a one-yard score just minutes later, and kicker Colin Wagner helped Penn State take a 17-14 halftime lead with a 20-yard field goal.

After Gators senior punter/kicker Chas Henry hit a 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 17, McGloin ran the ball in from two yards out to put PSU back put 24-17. Henry’s career-long 47-yard field goal near the end of the third reduced UF’s deficit to 24-20.

Sophomore RB Mike Gillislee helped Florida jump ahead 27-24 with a one-yard touchdown run to begin the fourth quarter, and Henry added a 20-yard field goal to put the Gators ahead 30-24 before Black’s game-sealing interception return.

Black also nabbed an interception off McGloin in the first quarter. Freshman cornerback Cody Riggs picked him off to start the second quarter, senior linebacker Brandon Hicks earned his first career interception at the end of the third quarter and redshirt junior CB Moses Jenkins grabbed a pick to end the game.

Henry, who helped Florida manage its field position all game and was clutch in his field goals, had an uncharacteristic 14-yard punt go out of bounds starting at the Gators 23 and failed in a fake punt opportunity. With over seven minutes to go in the third quarter, Henry had a fake punt called in which he was supposed to throw a pass to wide open junior safety Will Hill Instead he tucked it and ran four yards – one yard short of the first down. He also had a long of 58 and downed two inside the 20 (one to the one).

Penn State outgained Florida 350-279 in total yards, 211-101 in yards through the air and 32:49-27:11 in possession time. The Gators outrushed the Nittany Lions 178-139 yards. Both teams were inefficient on third down with UF going 4-for-15 and PSU connecting on 5-of-18 attempts.

Redshirt freshman QB Jordan Reed, who took the vast majority of snaps behind center for Florida, finished as the team’s leading passer and rusher. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 60 yards and rushed 24 times for 68 yards. Brantley was 6-of-13 for 41 yards and an interception in mostly third down work. Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey carried the ball six times for 66 yards (including a long of 51).

Hines was the team’s leading receiver with two receptions for 27 yards. Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson and Burton each caught two passes for 22 yards.

McGloin finished 17-for-41 for 211 yards with a touchdown and five interceptions for Penn State. Running back Evan Royster – the Nittany Lions’ all-time leading rusher – carried the ball 20 times for 98 yards and added four catches for 51 yards.

Moye caught the majority of McGloin’s passes, finishing with five receptions for 79 yards and a number of first downs. CB D’Anton Lynn caught Brantley’s early interception and recovered Burton’s fumble in the first quarter.

After Black’s interception, chants of “Urban Meyer, Urban Meyer” rained down from the Gators side of the stadium. Florida improved to 16-0 under Meyer when blocking a punt in a game, a statistic he has always been proud of as the team’s head coach.

Photo Credit: Rob C. Witzel/Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

2011 Outback Bowl Gameday Preview (Tampa, FL): Florida Gators vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Location: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 65,856]
Weather Forecast: 75°F, clear skies
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ABC/ABCHD
Sirius/XM: 120/140
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Joe Paterno
Record: 7-5 (4-4) Record: 7-5 (4-4)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -7; O/U 48

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is undefeated (2-0) against Penn State in the all-time series, beating them in the 1962 Gator Bowl (17-7) and 1997 Citrus Bowl (21-6). They are also 22-14-3 all-time in Tampa but only 1-2 in Outback Bowl appearances.
» Meyer is 4-1 in bowl games with the Gators and will be coaching in the Outback Bowl for the second time in his career. He and Florida defeated Iowa 31-24 in his first bowl game with the school in 2006.
» Meyer is one of nine coaches in college football history to compile multiple 20-game winning streaks and only one of two who remain active. The other is Paterno. Meyer is, however, the only active coach with three 13-win seasons on his resume.
» Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall was Florida’s head coach from 1984-89, compiling a 40-18-1 record with the Gators. UF defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was formerly a graduate assistant with PSU from 1991-92.
» Paterno was the Nittany Lions’ offensive coordinator when they lost to the Gators 17-7 in the 1962 Gator Bowl.
» Florida under Meyer is 53-3 when holding an opponent under 21 points, 57-3 when leading at the half, 62-6 when out-rushing an opponent, 49-2 when scoring first and 45-4 against unranked opponents.
» The Gators out-rank the Nittany Lions in three of the four major statistical averages. Florida is 44th in rushing yards (165.6), 48th in points scored (29.3) and 31st in points against (21.1) compared to Penn State being 75th in rushing yards (142.8), 81st in points scored (24.6) and 39th in points against (22.6). PSU, however, has the 52nd best passing game in the country (231.3 yards), while UF is 85th (191.3 yards). The teams’ only common opponent – Alabama – beat both of them handily.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has an 9-9 TD-INT ratio this season. He has completed 194-of-316 passes (61.4 percent) for 2,020 yards and has a passer rating of 118.8 on the year.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 12 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (73 carries for 347 yards). Reed has performed admirably in limited action, completing 18-of-33 passes for 192 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. He is also sixth on the team in rushing with 53 carries for 260 yards and five scores.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (531 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in seven others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey…who returned to action against Georgia after being suspended. He has been acting mostly as a rusher for UF since returning and has amassed 300 yards on 45 carries. Rainey has also caught 22 balls for 198 yards and has five total touchdowns this year.
» Redshirt freshman WR/kick returner Andre Debose…who set a school single-season record with two kickoff return touchdowns With an 88-yard return against LSU and a 99-yard return against South Carolina, he is the only freshman nationally with two in 2010 and one of only two players nationally with two in 2010.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry was named the nation’s best punter this season, and Meyer often uses his leg to improve field position after offensive lapses.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black, junior CB Janrois Jenkins, redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown, and junior S Will Hill have all picked off three balls and accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks this season.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles seven times this season: vs. South Carolina (career-high 16), LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 102 tackles, including nine for loss.

PENN STATE
» QBs Robert Bolden and Matthew McGloin…each of whom have completed 58 percent of their passes and have thrown for over 1,300 yards this season. McGlion – with a 142.6 QB rating and 13-4 TD-INT ratio – has been more productive offensively.
» RB Evan Royster…who is the Nittany Lions’ leading rusher taking 188 carries for 916 yards and six touchdowns. He also holds career-high running back marks for PSU with 3,834 yards and 29 touchdowns.
» Penn State’s receiving corps…which consists of four pass catchers with more than 25 receptions and three with more than 400 yards. Derek Moye leads PSU with 48 catches for 806 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

INJURIES

» Active: Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot)
» Inactives: Junior CB Janoris Jenkins (shoulder), redshirt senior OL Maurice Hurt (knee), redshirt senior DT Lawrence Marsh (hip), redshirt senior DT Terron Sanders (shoulder), redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks (neck), redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)
 

12/31: Urban Meyer’s final Outback Bowl presser

The Florida Gators are currently in Tampa, FL, preparing for the 2011 Outback Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. Below are quotes from head coach Urban Meyer, who participated in his final press conference before the event.

Opening statement: “It’s good to be here. Not much to say other than we’ve had excellent practices. I like the attitude of our players. We are obliged to the Outback Bowl to play our best. I feel that we amongst our teams we have to have a great day of preparation and get ready to go play a major January 1st bowl game. We’re excited about it.”

On how he will feel after the game: “I would rather just worry about the game. I always talk to our players about focus and four to six seconds. It wouldn’t be right for me to also start talking about what’s going to happen after. I would be lying to you to say it hasn’t crossed my mind but I also would be lying to you saying it has been consuming me, because it’s not. I got up early this morning and watched practice film, make about four pages of notes, and I’m going to meet with the coaches afterwards about how to go win this game. With all due respect, from this point forward, just complete focus on beating a very physical Penn State team.”

On a message for Gators fans: “We made a decision as a family to stay at Florida and that’s for a lot of reasons. I think it’s the greatest job in America. I’ve got the best bosses in America and we have fans, I call them Gator Nuts, and they are; they’re out of their mind. But that’s what makes Florida so appealing and that’s what makes it so fun to go to practice. I made a comment every first day of spring practice I was concerned there was an unemployment issue in Gainesville because they’re all at our practice. I’ve also coached at places where you had to go out and ride the rail system at six o’clock in the morning with a mascot trying to sell tickets, so I’ve done that at a couple places. Very appreciative. I love Florida; I just love what it stands for.”

Read the rest…including updates on Demps and Brantley…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/31: Urban Meyer’s final Outback Bowl presser

Florida wins, snaps Xavier’s home winning streak

An impressive offensive performance by junior point guard Erving Walker fueled the Florida Gators (10-3) to a close 71-67 victory over the Xavier Musketeers (8-4) in Cincinnati, OH on Friday. Florida’s win snapped Xavier’s 30-game home winning streak at the Cintas Center, a venue the Musketeers have not lost at in more than two years.

UF had never defeated XU in two tries going into Friday’s game but led 31-27 at the half and jumped out to a game-high 15-point lead with 13:23 left in the contest due to an electric 13-1 run while holding their opponent without a basket for 10 game minutes.

Xavier closed the gap in the waning minutes, using a full-court press to take off on a 12-3 run cutting Florida’s lead to four with 1:22 remaining. The Gators, however, went 12-for-14 from the line in the final two minutes to starve off the Musketeers’ comeback.

Florida out-shot (45.1%-40.3%) and out-rebounded (38-30) Xavier but committed eight more turnovers (16-8) in the contest. The Gators scored more than 70 points for the first time in their last eight games but allowed the Musketeers to be only the second team in that span to score more than 60.

Walker led Florida with a team-high 18 points, going 3-for-6 from downtown and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. He had trouble at times protecting the ball (as he has most of his career), committing six costly turnovers.

The frontcourt duo of redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior forward Alex Tyus was dynamite in the first half with Tyus scoring the team’s first six points. The pair combined for 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting in the contest; Macklin added seven rebounds but injured his shoulder in the second half and was limited.

Senior F Chandler Parsons chimed in with five points and game-highs in rebounds (11) and assists (7), while sophomore guard Kenny Boynton dished six assists and was 2-for-4 from downtown and 7-for-9 from the free throw line for 15 points.

Xavier’s star guard Tu Holloway led the Musketeers with a game-high 26 points on 50 percent shooting to go along with six assists. Center Kenny Frease came off the bench to play 31 minutes, score 16 points and grab seven boards.

UF will have the opportunity to celebrate the new year before facing Rhode Island on Jan. 3 in Gainesville, FL. The game will air live on ESPNU at 9 p.m.

Photo Credit: David Kohl/Associated Press

TWO BITS: Finley redshirted, Latsko signed

1 » Florida Gators linebacker Dee Finley announced via Twitter on Friday that he has been granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA. He is now a redshirt freshman instead of a sophomore and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Finley broke his collarbone early in the season and missed most of it while healing and recovering. UPDATE: The Gators have announced that Finley has yet to officially receive his redshirt exception from the NCAA – it is pending approval.

2 » After Placing tight end Antonio Gates on injured reserve, the San Diego Chargers decided to sign former Florida fullback Billy Latsko on Thursday and plan to play him on Sunday against Denver. Latsko, who spent two years with San Diego, has a good understanding of the offense already and will be able to contribute right away as two of the team’s starters – running back Mike Tolbert and FB Jacob Hester – are injured.

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