11/8: Straight from the Gators’ mouths…

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior safety Ahmad Black answered questions for the media on Monday about a variety of topics concerning the Florida Gators and their win on Saturday over the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

RAINEY MAKING MOST OF SECOND CHANCE

Ask an outsider about redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, and they will likely tell you head coach Urban Meyer’s concern about fielding a winning team was the reason he allowed the troubled athlete back on the field two weeks ago. Talk to his close friends, teammates and brothers and you will get a completely different story.

“It’s his attitude about the game,” said Pouncey on Monday when asked how Rainey has changed the second time around. “He appreciates it more just because it was almost taken from him. I’m glad to see that he’s doing well. We need him to play good every week. I’m just glad he’s back out there. All Chris has is football. He’s had a rough life. I think Florida has given him a second opportunity to do well at this sport.

“I was [worried about him]. Chris really doesn’t have any family outside of me and my family. It was tough on him because he obviously had a lot of time on his hands without being a part of the football team. He’s just glad to be back. He doesn’t say anything at practice. He just goes hard, and that’s how it should be.”

Meyer has been criticized for being “easy” on players who make mistakes with his detractors saying he has no control of behavior. However, to Meyer, giving a kid a second chance at a meaningful life has always been of primary importance. “Coach Meyer knew [about Rainey’s issues],” Pouncey added. “Him and coach Meyer have a special relationship. He knew Rainey’s past and his whole life story, so he understood the fact that this [is] all he has.”

BRANTLEY NOT BOTHERED BY REDUCED ROLE

With a lacking run game and struggling offense, Florida’s coaching staff has been utilizing freshman Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed along with Brantley behind center. According to the player, he’s perfectly fine with taking fewer snaps as long as it helps the team win. “We had to get our running game going and, no matter what it takes, we’ll do it. I’ll do it,” he said. It doesn’t matter to me as long as we win games and as long as we fight for that spot like we’re doing for the SEC Championship.”

Meyer and Pouncey both gave Brantley their vote of confidence on Monday, calling him “the” quarterback of the Gators. “I guess that means I’m the leader of the ship – that’s the role I’ve taken on this offseason and all summer, coming into camp and everything,” Brantley said. “That’s the way I look at it – that I still need to lead this team. Even though I’m not taking all the snaps, that’s fine with me, I just got to be able to lead the troops and keep this thing rolling.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/8: Straight from the Gators’ mouths…

11/8: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

SUNDAY FUNDAY = BLUE-OUT SATURDAY

During his weekly Florida Football with Urban Meyer post-game program on Sunday, Meyer looked back at the team’s victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores with great pride – especially for the fans. “Gator Nation covered that stadium. We came rolling in there at 9:00 in the morning – orange and blue everywhere,” he said. “I even heard one of our players say, ‘You know you took over a stadium when they’re doing the wave’ – the orange and blue people. It was great, and I want to thank them.

“This team – we’re not a great team – but we’re getting better, getting better in all areas. I admire guys that fight, show toughness, come together as a team and give everything for their university. I’ve never really done this, but I want to make this the most intense stadium in the history of Florida football this Saturday. This is for the SEC [East] Championship. Get there early. I want everybody to wear blue – head-to-toe – including our players. Let’s make this one of those ones, when you get those great books about Florida Gator history, let’s put this down in there as one of the great weekends in Florida football history.

“November in Gainesville playing for a championship, this is why we’re all here. Once again, I’m going to go on record – I want this to be the most intense week in Florida football history. Let’s wear blue, let’s make this place nuts, let’s have a lot of fun with this, and let’s show up and make this one of the ones you put this right in the history books as one of the great days in Florida football history.”

STATUS / INJURY UPDATES

Discussing Saturday that freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley was basically in the coaching staff’s doghouse and did not travel with the team to Vanderbilt, Meyer said Monday that he is still with the team but “has got to do things we ask him to do” in order to get back involved. He is confident that everything will be worked out in the end.

» Junior running back Jeff Demps – will play Saturday, how much is not yet known
» Redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard – “promising” that he will be able to play
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan – seeing a specialist on his wrist due to an ongoing problem, likely out for the season
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis – out

CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced Monday that 18 Gators had earned the designation of Champions after Saturday’s win over the the Commodores. Offensively, Meyer named redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed as his most valuable player along with redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, freshman quarterback Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, redshirt senior tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt senior guard Maurice Hurt, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee, freshman TE Gerald Christian and redshirt freshman G Jonotthan Harrison as his champions. On the defensive side of the ball, freshman DT Sharrif Floyd won the MVP award, while redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins, redshirt senior DT Terron Sanders, redshirt sophomore defensive end Lerentree McCray, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior LB Brandon Hicks were champions.

Rainey also earned the Southeastern Conference‘s Special Teams Player of the Week award for his two blocked punts against Vanderbilt.

LEAK > SPURRIER?

When discussing redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley on Monday, Meyer said as an aside that former starter Chris Leak was one of the top three signal callers in school history. Asked to evaluate that statement later, Meyer said, “I go champion – champion – champion,” when judging quarterbacks, rather than worrying about who has won the Heisman Trophy. That puts Leak over current South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier…at least in Meyer’s book.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/8: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Tebow’s memoir to be published in April 2011

Publishing house HarperCollins announced via press release on Monday that it will release Through My Eyes, “an inspirational memoir by one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time: the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national champion at the University of Florida and current Denver Broncos first round draft pick, Tim Tebow” in April 2011.

Like most do, Tebow’s memoir will cover his extraordinary life ranging from his unique berth and life growing up as a home-schooled son of missionaries to his career with the Florida Gators and introduction to the NFL with the Broncos, Through My Eyes will be co-written by Nathan Whitaker and edited by Matt Harper.

From the press release:

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to share my story of faith, family and football,” said Tebow, ‘”and look forward to taking readers inside my life, both on and off the field. As a kid, you always dream of becoming something great. Whether that dream is to become an astronaut, a famous musician, the CEO of a large company, the President, an NFL Quarterback or anything else, you will undoubtedly face all kinds of adversity on your journey. This is my story about how I was able to fulfill my dream and I hope it can inspire people of all ages that are aspiring to fulfill their dreams.”

“It goes without saying that Tim has inspired a generation of fans with his accomplishments on the football field as well as his devout faith and family values,” said Lisa Sharkey, Senior Vice President and Director of Creative Development who acquired the book for HarperCollins. “We are incredibly proud to help him communicate his powerful message of hope,” said S.V.P. and Publisher of HarperOne, Mark Tauber. “Tebow’s story is one that will find a wide audience for years to come.”

FOUR BITS: Weekend filled with wins for Gators

1 » The Florida Gators’ No. 18 pairing of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Sofie Oyen captured the 2010 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championship in women’s doubles over the weekend, defeating the Clemson Tigers’ No. 5 duo of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Complex in Flushing, NY, on Sunday. Will and Oyen got revenge over Bek and Wong, the only team to defeat them this season in their 11-1 campaign. Bek and Wong were victorious in Will and Oyen’s opening match of the season; since the loss they have won 11-straight contests.

2 » Having a more difficult time over the weekend was No. 1/1 Florida volleyball (22-1, 15-0 SEC), which remained undefeated in Southeastern Conference play after squeaking out a five-set victory (25-23, 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11) on the road against the Auburn Tigers (17-11, 8-8 SEC) at the Student Activities Center in Auburn, AL. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers sparked the Gators offense with a double-double on a season-high 15 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy contributed another double-double (her 10th in a row) with 11 kills and 25 assists; junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel added nine kills and 10 digs, and senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe accounted for season-highs in kills (12) and blocks (9).

3 » Gators sophomore tennis player Bob van Overbeek won the Texas Invitational singles title on Sunday, defeating Oklahoma’s Peerakit Siributwong in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) in Austin, TX.

4 » On this day 80 years ago, Florida Field opened to the public with Florida taking on on Alabama. Though it would be re-named Ben Hill Griffin Stadium just under 59 years later, the traditions all began on this day. Here are just a few other things that happened in 1930: the Great Depression, Mickey Mouse was invented, Scotch Tape was created, Mahatma Gandhi protested the British monopoly on salt, Constantinople became Istanbul, Twinkies were invented, the first night game in baseball history was played, and George Washington was added to Mount Rushmore.

Florida soccer tops USC for SEC Championship

Defeating the No. 20 South Carolina Gamecocks (14-5-4, 8-3-1 SEC) one week ago for the Southeastern Conference regular season title, the No. 7 Florida Gators soccer team (18-2-2, 10-1-1 SEC) took them down once again on Sunday, this time by a score of 1-0 to capture the 2010 SEC Championship in the conclusion of the SEC Tournament at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, AL.

With the win, Florida earned an automatic berth to compete for the 2010 NCAA Championship later this week. The Gators lead all league teams with nine SEC Tournament titles; Saturday’s win marked their first since 2007.

Florida out-shot South Carolina 16-11, with their sole score coming via an own goal from the Gamecocks at 69′. UF crossed the ball into the penalty area, but a deflection off a defender from USC was sent into the net for the goal.

The Gators now await seeding in the NCAA Tournament; their spot will be officially announced on Monday, Nov. 8 at 4:30 p.m. live on ESPNU. First-round action in the event is set to begin on Friday, Nov. 12.

Photo Credit: Southeastern Conference

Gators return to Top 25 after rout of ‘Dores

Ending a three-game loosing streak last week that had previously knocked them out of every Top 25 poll, the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) continued their progression upward with a 55-14 beat down of the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN. On Sunday, Florida reentered both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls. Out of the top 25 for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer after their loss to Mississippi State, the Gators did receive votes in both polls last week.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Oregon (51), Auburn (4), Boise State (3), TCU (1), Alabama, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, LSU, Stanford, Arizona, Missouri, Michigan State, Iowa, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Baylor, Nevada, Florida State, North Carolina State
*Florida received four votes.

This Week 1-25: Oregon (50), Auburn (4), TCU (2), Boise State (3), Wisconsin, LSU, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Iowa, Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Arizona, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Central Florida, Florida, Texas A&M

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Oregon (49), Boise State (7), Auburn (2), TCU (2), Alabama, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford, Oklahoma, LSU, Arizona, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan State, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Baylor, North Carolina State, Florida State, Nevada
*Florida received two votes.

This Week 1-25: Oregon (49), Auburn (2), TCU (2), Boise State (7), LSU, Wisconsin, Stanford, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Arkansas, Utah, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida, Central Florida

BCS
Last Week 1-25: Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise State, Utah, Alabama, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, LSU, Ohio State, Missouri, Stanford, Michigan State, Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Florida State, North Carolina State

This Week 1-25: Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise State, LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Alabama, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Florida, South Carolina, Kansas State, Texas A&M

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Week 10: Gators post-game news & notes

Winning their second-straight game, this time in dominant fashion, the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) toppled the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) 55-14 in Nashville, TN, at Vanderbilt Stadium. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

RAINEY’s REDEMPTION PART II

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey has been one of Florida’s best performers in back-to-back games. With two blocked punts and a 40-yard touchdown reception in which he came back for an under-thrown ball, Rainey is quickly proving to head coach Urban Meyer that he has his head on straight and is ready to be a valued member of the team. “He hit rock bottom and he had one way to go,” Meyer said after the game. “Good for him. To even be on football, good for him. He’s doing much better in school and the thumb is on him real hard, so his whole work ethic has changed and everything.” He also discussed Rainey’s punt blocks. “You talk about a momentum shift. [Chris] Rainey’s a very unique, skilled athlete that can come off that edge that’s skinny like that,” he said. “Ninety percent of the time we win or are undefeated when we get a hand on a punt. Great momentum change.”

TEAM CHEMISTRY AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH

Having won their last two contests, the Gators are feeling good – especially considering one was an overtime thriller and the other was a shellacking. Meyer is pleased with how the team is currently assembled and thinks, now that most everyone is healthy, they can continue their progress. “I just like the chemistry of our team right now. The way they hang out with each other at the hotel. You see a gelling right now,” he said. “You take some good players out of your team and you don’t look as good. I’m very excited about the chemistry of our team right now. We needed this.”

Florida is feeling so good these days that, before the game was even over, players on the sidelines were talking about playing South Carolina next week for the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title. “[They were talking about it] a lot. I tried to encourage them to. I wanted the focus,” Meyer said. “We’ve learned some great lessons around here in the past of a team being ready to play a big-time game and maybe a team not being ready to go play a big-time game. So that was my whole message to them. I like the look. If they’re talking about next week’s game obviously when this one is over, it’s real clear what the focus is. [...] I think we’re finishing strong and obviously it’s championship week in Gainesville, Florida. So we’re going to get back to work as soon as we can and everybody’s excited about it.”

REED-IRECTING OFFENSE

Saturday saw the emergence of redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed as a legitimate offensive option for the Gators as he accounted for 120 yards through the air, 84 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Meyer was complimentary of Reed after the game and hopes to utilize him more as the season goes on. “He’s a freak athlete. I think we did it right. Hindsight is 20-20 how we’re pushing him into this offense,” he said. “Obviously you can see what a dynamic runner [he] is, he’s got a nice arm. We don’t have that big runner – and he gives us that. […] He’s tight end and quarterback. He’ll be a single-wing quarterback and a tight end for us.”

PLAYER STATUS UPDATES

» Freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley: “He’s not on the travel team – just not a part of the team right now. Lot of reasons. […] He’s not part of the travel team.”
» Freshman running back Mack Brown: “He’s been having hamstrings all year, so we just didn’t want to risk it. But his attitude has been fantastic.”
» Junior RB Jeff Demps: “Jeff was available, but we wanted to be smart. He didn’t practice much this week. It was very painful on him this week. We’ll know more this week, but I’m planning on him being ready for South Carolina.”
» Redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard: Meyer expects him to return next week after having nursed a serious ankle injury for 2-3 weeks.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 10: Gators post-game news & notes

Gators knock down ‘Dores 55-14 in Nashville

It may have been cold in Nashville, TN, Saturday afternoon, but no one was hotter than the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC), who piled up 41 points in the first half on the way to a rout of the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) 55-14 in Vanderbilt Stadium.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey stole the show early, blocking two punts and catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who finished the day 11-of-18 for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Rainey also had a career-high and game-high 75 yards receiving.

With junior running back Jeff Demps out of action as a precaution, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee led Florida on the ground with nine rushes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed, added to the Gators’ quarterback rotation last week, also shined in the contest completing 11-of-19 attempts for 120 yards, a touchdown and an interception while also rushing 16 times for 84 yards and a score.

As per usual this season, Florida started off slow but got on the board with 8:47 left in the first quarter on Gillislee’s first touchdown run. The second quarter saw the Gators post 34 points including a 31-yard pass from Reed to redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, Rainey’s 40-yard touchdown catch, a 45-yard fumble return touchdown from redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders, a 39-yard touchdown reception by redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and a 42-yard punt block return touchdown from freshman WR Solomon Patton.

The Commodores finally got on the board in the beginning of the third quarter when Sanders missed a block on a punt; Vanderbilt knocked down the ball and cornerback Javon Marshall returned it four yards for a special teams score. They would also score on a six-yard reception from QB Jared Funk to WR Jordan Matthews made possible after a Reed interception.

Florida took its foot off the gas at halftime, substituting almost every starter and still scoring 14 more points in the third quarter on a 43-yard run by Gillislee and a six-yard rush from Reed. The Gators’ 41 first-half points were its most in a Southeastern Conference game since 2005, it’s 55 points on the road were the most since 1997 (Kentucky), and its 88 plays and 480 total yards of offense were both season-highs.

Defensively, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins notched a team-high eight tackles, while freshman DT Sharrif Floyd had a breakout performance with a career-high seven tackles (three for loss) and some monstrous hits. Redshirt sophomore LB Lerentree McCray and senior safety Ahmad Black each forced fumbles, sophomore S Josh Evans grabbed an interception, and UF’s seniors also accounted for four sacks with one each from linebackers Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones and defensive ends Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou.

Florida’s win Saturday set them up for a showdown with South Carolina next week in Gainesville, FL, in a de facto SEC East title game with the winner advancing to the 2010 SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA. The game will air at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

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