FOUR BITS: Harvin, Boynton, Parsons, Spikes

1 » Breaking news Wednesday has future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss being traded from the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings for a third round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. One of the players his arrival in Minnesota will help most? Former Florida Gators WR Percy Harvin, who has had a slow start to the season as the team’s primary pass catcher with WR Sidney Rice out of action for more than half of the year. Harvin could flourish in intermediate routes from the slot or opposite Moss on the outside, so keep an eye out for him as the season progresses.

2 » Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton was named to the John R. Wooden Preseason Watch List on Monday. The list showcases 50 collegiate basketball players who Wooden Award Committee believes are frontrunners for the group’s player of the year award at the end of the season. Left off of this year’s initial list was Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons who was unquestionably the team’s best player last season and will be an integral piece should the team make the deep NCAA Tournament run predicted for them. Discounted by the committee, Parsons was recently profiled by Dime Magazine, which called him the “leader of the best starting five in America.” Check out this interview with Parsons that covers a number of topics.

3 » Three former Florida stars turned NFL rookies – tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes – have been getting major playing time (most of the time as starters) this season with New England. Cunningham had to overcome injuries during the offseason, but Hernandez and Spikes each had to deal with a different personal matter that cast doubt about them in the eyes of fans and the media. For seemingly the first time in years, Spikes spoke with reporters and tried to clear the air. “I definitely was embarrassed,” he said about the online video released of him. Now his focus is on football, which is getting easier for him week-to-week. “It’s kind of been a big learning process, but I think it’s coming along,” Spikes said. “Every day is a step I need to take to try to get better.”

4 » It has been five years since former Alabama Crimson Tide WR Tyrone Prothro’s career was basically ended when he shattered the lower part of his leg while attempting to make a catch in the end zone at home against the Gators. The best game of Prothro’s career ended up being his last, something he will always remember as being a life-changing event. “I definitely think that if I didn’t get hurt, I’d be in the NFL right now,” Prothro told AOL FanHouse. “I’m not sure if I would have come out early or not, but I might have. I was a junior. Though he is able to walk – and run – again, Prothro’s physicality is not where it needs to be to play professionally. Now he is working as a bank teller at Regions Bank across the street from his former team’s football complex. “People don’t believe it’s me,” he said. “I’ve got a name tag and a nameplate. They look down, then they look back up, and I’m like ‘It’s me.’”

10/5: Addazio defends Brantley, Pouncey, option

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio along with redshirt senior left tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders and senior punter/kicker Chas Henry players spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its crushing loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide and ahead to its match-up against the LSU Tigers at home on Saturday.

BRANTLEY IS “GREAT” AND READY TO PLAY

With Las Vegas odds-makers pulling down the LSU-Florida line for Saturday’s game due to redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley‘s “questionable” status, his health was a topic of conversation on Tuesday. Even though Brantley said Monday that his rib injury was “nothing major” and that he was just “a little sore…just like every game,” concerns arose. Addazio did his best to squash those rumors, saying Brantley was “doing great” and would be starting as scheduled this weekend.

POUNCEY THE “BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN IN AMERICA”

Questioned Tuesday about senior center Mike Pouncey’s status on the interior of the line and whether or not moving him out of that role has been considered, Addazio was slightly agitated when considering his response. “Change for what? Absolutely not. Are you kidding me? We’re talking about a first-round draft pick, the best offensive lineman in America and a phenomenal football player and the leader on this football [team],” Addazio said. “Unequivocally [that concept has] never even entered the realm of possibility.” He was also asked whether or not Pouncey is more talented as a guard. “When you say ‘play better,’ are you talking about actually playing the game? He grades out a Champion every week. Absolutely not. […] You won’t want to play against him.”

Pouncey’s snaps have also been an issue of contention with fans and the media, but Addazio noted that they are much better than publicized. “I went through the film like a fine-tooth comb for us and we had one low, one wide, one high out of 60 whatever-odd plays there were. You don’t want any. You never want any. But that’s no different from last year at any given point. It really isn’t,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of focus on that right now … but that’s just the truth. You don’t want any, but there’s no more. There was opening day, we all know that. From that last game? That’s all there was.”

THE OPTION REMAINS EFFECTIVE AND WILL BE USED

Another point of contention after Saturday’s loss was the offense’s continued use of the option with Brantley as a less-effective signal caller in the formation comparative to former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Addazio, like head coach Urban Meyer insisted that the option is effective and will continue to remain a part of Florida’s offense. How big of a part, however, remains to be seen.

“You’re not going to major in it. We’re always going to operate percentage-wise a little differently based on who our guys are,” Addazio said. “Right now, just so you know in the option game right now with John Brantley, we’re averaging five yards [per] carry. You need to know that. That’s a fact. You need to have an element, an option, in your game so you can keep the defense balanced and keep the defense honest and it’s a part of who we are. That won’t change.

“How many calls…that’s going to be dictated by what we see and what’s happening. You take that element out, however many snaps that element is, you take that out and they no longer have to line up their pressures, their blitzes and you’re in a whole different kind of ball game. As Coach [Meyer] spoke about, that’s a part of who we are. That won’t change. […] It’s like everything else: Get a little better, operate a little better. The element is there, the element will always be a part.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/5: Addazio defends Brantley, Pouncey, option

Wuerffel’s Words: “Getting up after a tough loss”

Through the first week of October, former Florida Gators national championship- and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel will be contributing his post-game thoughts about how the team performed the previous Saturday exclusively here on OGGOA at the beginning of each week.

The 1996 winner of eight football and academic awards, Wuerffel has a unique perspective as a four-year player at Florida who passed for 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns in his college career. Enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006 and set to be immortalized in a statue outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in 2010, he is now the executive director of Desire Street Ministries, which works to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

I’m generally a very positive person. My close friends know I can usually find the silver lining in just about any situation. We lived through Hurricane Katrina, lost our home and all our possessions, and still my wife and I saw many blessings in the midst of the tragedy. In fact, the name “Katrina” actually means, “cleansing” or “purification.”

Sometimes, though, I have to be a little more creative than others to stay positive.

Alabama is a great team. They are solid in every phase of the game, they will be a tough team for anyone to beat, and they certainly deserve the No. 1 ranking. I knew going into this game that Florida would have its hands full.

The frustrating part is that the Gators actually played well enough to be in the game. We moved the ball well, had several opportunities in the red zone and basically shut down their offense in the second half. But the silly mistakes and turnovers kept the game far out of reach. We had our opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize.

Florida lost a big game against a great opponent. So where does that leave them?

Well, I think the defense should come away with some confidence. This growing group of young players is developing into a great unit.

In general, the offense moved the ball fairly well. It just didn’t capitalize on opportunities and made costly turnovers, both of which can be fixed. I still feel Johnny Brantley is an outstanding player, he just made a couple of bad decisions. (I’ve been there.)

The Gators are a good young team that is off to a solid start to the season, and we still have the opportunity to have a great year. Getting back up after a tough loss is part of the deal, both in life and in football. There is a lot of football to be played, and I’m ready for another big game this weekend against LSU.

Go Gators,

By joining together people from all walks of life who are interested in redeeming the inner-city, Desire Street Ministries believes that they are bringing together leaders who actually move into the neighborhood, indigenous leaders who already live there, and neighbors who “move in” spiritually through prayer, encouragement and financial support. Please take a moment to visit Desire Street Ministries online or in person and find out how you can help support and/or donate.

10/4: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Updated Oct. 5 at 1:15 p.m.

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

DEMPS REMAINS PROBABLE, GILLISLEE TOO

The last thing Florida needed after having junior running back Jeff Demps at less than 100 percent on Saturday was another one of its top rushers to go down; unfortunately, that is exactly what happened as sophomore RB Mike Gillislee badly bruised his ankle against Alabama. Meyer noted that both players are Probable (read: 75 percent) for Saturday night’s game against LSU. Expect them to play.

In addition to limiting him in the backfield, Demps’ injured foot kept him off of special teams with Gillislee handling kickoff returns. As long as both are able to play Saturday, expect that to continue until Demps is completely healthy and able to practice at full speed for an entire week without “sharp pains” in his foot.

RED ZONE REVERSE

Entering the Alabama game Florida had gone 14-for-14 in the red zone over the previous two games with 13 touchdowns and a field goal. In fact, the Gators’ red zone efficiency on the season was 89.5 percent including 16 touchdowns. That changed for the worse Saturday as Florida went 1-for-4 in similar opportunities, something that has certainly gotten Meyer’s attention.

WEEK FIVE CHAMPIONS

Meyer did not announce any Champions for the Alabama game because, let’s face it, there was little to be proud of when the game was over. In lieu of his accolades, OGGOA has decided to name senior punter/kicker Chas Henry our week five champion for his top-notch performances during the contest. Henry averaged 62.3 yards per punt with a career-long of 75 and, filling in for injured junior K Caleb Sturgis, knocked through field goals of 39 and 22 yards for the Gators’ only points of the game.

He also received a honorable mention from the Southeastern Conference on Monday and this statement from Meyer: “If we had won the game, his contributions would have probably been player-of-gamish.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/4: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

FOUR BITS: volleyball, soccer, swimming, lax win

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators volleyball (12-1, 5-0 SEC) continued its dominant 2010 season over the weekend with back-to-back home wins against the No. 16 LSU Tigers (13-1, 4-1 SEC) on Friday and Arkansas Razorbacks (9-8, 3-3 SEC) on Sunday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida took down LSU 3-1 (25-16, 20-25, 25-22, 25-18) and swept Arkansas 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-17) with the help of juniors right-side setter Kelly Murphy and outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel. Murphy logged 10 aces and 21 kills combined in the two matches, while Jaeckel bested her with 22 kills (11 per contest). The Gators are now 8-1 against ranked opponents this season.

2 » No. 6 Florida soccer (10-1-1, 4-0 SEC) also kept its winning ways going on Sunday, defeating the Ole Miss Rebels (5-7-1, 1-3 SEC) 3-0 at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville to win their 10th match of the season. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine played the full 90 minutes and notched two saves as the Gators scored as the result of an own goal (21’), shot into the near post by senior defender Nicky Kit (74’) and one-touch strike from redshirt sophomore midfielder McKenzie Barney (90’).

3 » Florida’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won the All Florida Invitational over the weekend. In the first-ever instance of the event, the Gators won the men’s and women’s team categories by 259 and 184.5 points, respectively. Senior captain Connor Dwyer won eight men’s events both as an individual – 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard freestyle, and member of a team – 200-yard freestyle relay, 400-yard freestyle relay, 800-yard freestyle relay and 200-yard medley relay.

4 » Also in action Saturday was Florida lacrosse (2-0), which began its second fall season in team history with two wins over the Jacksonville Dolphins (23-5) and Rollins Tars (25-8). 2009 star sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns along with junior A Caroline Cochran and sophomore midfielders Caroline Chesterman and Kitty Cullen each scored four goals during the contests with Bruns also posting four assists.

Extra BIT » Every Monday is “Music Monday” on Twitter, but this week that is true for OGGOA as well. Check out the song and music video: “Gator Like Me” by Big Uly.

Bulls, Noah agree to five-year, $60M extension

Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, agreed in principle to a five-year, $60 million extension with the Chicago Bulls over the weekend.

The winner of back-to-back national championships at the University of Florida, Noah’s new deal includes a number of added bonuses, according to ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher who spoke with Dan Fegan, one of Noah’s agents.

“Joakim is such an integral member of our team, and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement with him,” team general manager Gar Forman said in a statement on Monday. “His presence, both on and off of the court, is immeasurable and we look forward to him to continue to improve and develop his game.”

Only playing 22 minutes per game during his first two seasons in the league, Noah posted averages of 6.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, leading many to believe he may have been overrated coming out of college.

That all turned around last year as Noah averaged 10.7 points, 11 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game while playing through a nagging plantar fasciitis injury.

The Bulls now covet him as the team’s literal centerpiece for the future. In fact, Chicago turned down overtures for Noah from the Denver Nuggets, which hoped the team would include him as a piece in a trade for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Loss drops Florida in USA Today, AP Top 25 polls

Trounced 31-6 to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on the road at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Saturday, the Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) fell in both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls.

Ranked No. 7 in both polls last week, the coaches dropped Florida five spots to No. 12 leaving them as the highest-ranked one-loss team. The AP voters obviously disagreed, placing the Gators at No. 14 behind one-loss Arkansas (No. 11) and Miami (No. 13).

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 1-10: Alabama (57), Ohio State (2), Boise State, Oregon, TCU, Nebraska, Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, LSU

This Week 1-15: Alabama (57), Ohio State (1), Oregon, Boise State, TCU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Auburn, LSU, Utah, Arizona, Florida, Arkansas, Miami, Iowa

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-10: Alabama (57), Ohio State (2), Boise State (1), Oregon, TCU, Nebraska, Florida, Oklahoma, Stanford, Auburn

This Week 1-15: Alabama (58), Ohio State (1), Oregon, Boise State (1), TCU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Auburn, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, LSU, Miami, Florida, Iowa

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Week 5: Gators post-game news and notes

After a slow start to the season, the No. 7/7 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) performed spectacularly against Kentucky last week, only to play their worst game of the season Saturday in a 31-6 loss to the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) on the road at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes.

SECOND-WORSE LOSS SINCE…ALABAMA

The 31-6 beat down by the Crimson Tide on Saturday was Gators head coach Urban Meyer‘s worst loss since his team fell in similar fashion 31-3 in Tuscaloosa in 2005. In addition to both games having been road contests in Alabama, each were the only times under Meyer that Florida has failed to score a touchdown in a game.

BURTON THE HERO ZERO; BRANTLEY’s FAILURES

No, freshman quarterback Trey Burton did not play awful. In fact, as a receiver he caught four solid passes for 33 yards. But one week after being absolutely everything for the Gators, Burton was comparatively nothing, especially when throwing an interception on the goal line on 4th and 1 to conclude the Florida’s first offensive series of the game.

He was not alone as, one week after the best starting performance of his career, redshirt junior QB John Brantley was also brought back to Earth. Brantley completed just over half of his passes for 202 yards but threw two costly interceptions including one which was returned for a touchdown to ice any chance of a comeback by the Gators. Brantley also injured his ribcage in the fourth quarter trying to evade pass rushers and gain a 4th down on a pretty inconsequential play. He is expected to be fine.

TIDE’s RUSHERS STIFF-ARMED

Florida’s defense made it their primary goal to contain Alabama running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, one of the few things the Gators actually accomplished Saturday night. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Ingram was limited to 47 yards on 12 carries, though he did get into the end zone on two short-yardage touchdowns, and Richardson rushed 10 times for 63 yards with a long of 30 that inflated his statistics.

BETTER BUT NOT IMPROVED IN SECOND HALF

Of note is that the Gators actually outplayed the Crimson Tide in the second half, especially when you look at yards gained on offense. However, Florida was unable to gain large chunks of yardage, had too many plays fail and made costly mistakes that did not allow them to take advantage of their improved play. Alabama’s only score of the half was Brantley’s interception return, and Tide QB Greg McElroy was held to 84 yards the entire game (though he did complete 11-of-17 passes).

MVP FOR HENRY

Filling in for injured junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (who was 2-of-4 this season on field goals), senior punter Chas Henry was perfect on the night knocking through both of his attempts. Henry kicked a nice 39-yarder to end the first half and a 21-yard field goal in the beginning of the third quarter. He also punted the ball three times for 187 yards (62.3 average) including a long of 75 and two inside the 20.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 5: Gators post-game news and notes

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