FOUR BITS: Wright, Harvin, Demps, volleyball

1 » When former Florida Gators safety Major Wright landed with the Chicago Bears, early expectations were that he would be starting for them right away. However, as training camp went on, Wright broke his left index finger (missing almost the entire preseason) and pulled his groin (losing another week of practice). Finally healthy again, Wright was in the rotation last Sunday but went down with his third injury this year – a hamstring strain. Apparently Wright got hurt on special teams while trying to catch fellow rookie Dez Bryant’s 62-yard punt return for the Dallas Cowboys. Early reports have Wright missing at least three weeks, meaning he will have to start all over again during week six of the NFL season.

2 » In other injury news, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was expected to be featured Sunday as his Minnesota Vikings took on the Miami Dolphins. Instead Harvin reinjured his hip while throwing a block and was forced to sit out much of the game. Though head coach Brad Childress has noted that he is not concerned with Harvin’s hip, he did miss practice Monday and Tuesday because of it. When Wednesday rolled around, Harvin stepped on the field for a short time but had to leave as he suffered another bout of migraines. His status for Sunday is questionable.

3 » Florida junior running back Jeff Demps has been added to the 2010 Paul Hornung Award watch list, a first-year honor being given to the most versatile player in college football. In three games this season, Demps has achieved 369 yards of offense and two touchdowns as well as a total of 590 all-purpose yards. Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey is also on the watch list.

4 » On the road Wednesday, No. 3 Gators volleyball (9-1) took down the rival No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (9-2) 3-0 (25-23, 31-29, 25-21) in Tallahassee, FL, at Tully Gymnasium. With the win, Florida is now 33-16 all-time against Florida State (26-2 under head coach Mary Wise). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy once again led the way with her 19th career triple-double (11 kills, 20 assists, 11 digs for 12.5 points), while junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel contributed 11 digs and nine kills. The Gators will next see action at home on Sunday against Ole Miss.

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

9/21-22: Gators players, coaches speak to media

A number of Florida Gators players and coaches spoke to the media on Tuesday and Wednesday as the team looks ahead to its game against the Kentucky Wildcats at home on Saturday (airing on ESPNU at 7 p.m.).

Check out what offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson, redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore had to say…after the break!
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Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

Seven former letterwinners, including Gator Greats Mike Peterson (football) and Bob Emrick (men’s basketball) will be inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame 2011 class. The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. announced the class on Wednesday, which will receive their honors at the Hall of Fame Banquet on April 8, 2011, in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

According to UF, “inductees are divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.” The remainder of the induction class includes Gator Greats Dawn Buth (women’s tennis), Judd Davis (football), Michelle Freeman (women’s track & field), Mimosa McNerney (women’s swimming>, Distinguished Letterwinner Keith Tribble (football), and Honorary Letterwinner Dr. Richard Shaara (team physician).

More about each inductee and their career accomplishments after the jump.
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Pouncey thinks Rainey will be back…eventually

Speaking with the media Thursday, Florida Gators senior center Mike Pouncey divulged his belief that suspended redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey will be back with the team at some point this season.

“He’ll be back,” Pouncey said. “We just don’t know when.”

Asked how Rainey is handling the situation Pouncey added, ‘He’s doing good. He made a mistake. I talked to him yesterday. He’s doing good. He just can’t wait to get back.”

Considering Rainey is indefinitely suspended after being arrested on a third-degree felony aggravated stalking charge, Pouncey’s comments certainly did not go over well with the coaching staff. Therefore it should be no surprise that a team spokesperson made it clear Pouncey’s words were his own and did not represent the position of head coach Urban Meyer or the Gators.

Chances are Rainey’s charge will eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor and he will be punished accordingly by the state. Should that occur, holding the opinion that he will be back on the team at some point over the next three months is nothing outrageous. However, when it comes to offenses that get Meyer’s craw, violence (or threatening violence) against women is at the top of the list.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

9/22: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from the event:

» Asked about what has changed in regards to the Kentucky Wildcats since he took over coaching Florida in 2005, Meyer said that the program has significantly improved personnel-wise and has been recruiting well over the last few years. He said he is impressed with where they are from a talent perspective and thinks they are one of the best teams in the SEC in that regard.

» Why hasn’t redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose seen the field much this season? According to Meyer, Debose’s learning curve is not progressing as quickly as others at his position. The coaching staff is trying to feed him as much of the playbook as possible, but it appears the retention and execution may not at the level to which they are comfortable with him on the field on a consistent basis. “It’s just a learning curve,” he said. “We’re force feeding at him as much as we can as fast as we can. It’s gotta happen pretty quick.”

» With sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returning as a starter against Tennessee, Meyer said the offensive line is finally showing more consistency during practice. He also noted that redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed is in the process of learning his position and is improving week-to-week. Additionally, he said one reason the Gators have not shown more versatility up front is because the team needs to “sure up” the TE position.

» Injuries: Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody missed practice once again Tuesday while recovering from a deep thigh bruise; Meyer hopes to get him on the field Wednesday. Reed has strep throat and will miss at least one day of practice.

» If Florida wins Saturday against Kentucky, it will be Meyer’s 100th victory as a head coach. Asked about the significant wins during his career, Meyer said he does not concentrate on the victories but rather the players who have helped him achieve those milestones. Though he did briefly mention the 2006 game against South Carolina as a stand-out moment, Meyer specifically pointed out former cornerback Vernell Brown and the impact he had on helping turn around the entire Gators program.

QUOTES

Opening statement: “I’m very pleased with the outcome of last week’s game. Obviously we gotta clear some things up. One thing about Kentucky the last few years they’ve had a cycle when those kids get early, those talented, talented players. I think Cobb’s one of the best players in the SEC.”

On Kentucky improving over the past few years: “I look at personnel, and I just think personnel-wise from 2005 to where they are now, they’re an upper echelon SEC team.”

On players looking ahead to Alabama: “Oh no. No, no. Not here. […] There is absolutely none of that right now.”

On first quarter struggles: “We try to build on the positives and fix the negatives. How do you fix the negatives? We’re going to really make an emphasis on coming out of the gate fast. How do you do that? Execute.”

On some of his memorable wins: “I’m more into the people than the wins. I remember so many of the great efforts and have been blessed to have so many great players. There’s the obvious ones, the South Carolina one when we blocked the field goal. But I’m more into some of these great young players we’ve had. For example, Vernell Brown wants to bring his son to the game this weekend. He was really the pioneer of our program. He was a guy who was really unheard of, came in and was the most loyal, dedicated guy that helped us turn the corner. Those are the things I remember more than plays, it’s the players and when they come back and see what they’ve built. I really admire those guys.”

Haslem: “I’m always going to be a Hurricane”

From 1998 to 2002, Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem attended the University of Florida and played basketball for the Florida Gators. He was so instrumental to Florida’s success, in fact, that upon graduation he was the winningest player in school history, the first player in team history to play on four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams and only the second UF player to be named to the first three Associated Press All-America teams.

For Haslem, though, his time playing in Gainesville, FL was a business decision – one made to further his athletic career. When it comes down to loyalty, for the Miami native, it is apparently all about The U.

“A lot of people are probably going to be mad at me, but at the end of the day I only know one thing and that’s loyalty,” Haslem said Tuesday on the Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in South Florida. “In my house growing up, you were a Hurricane or you were homeless. I went to the University of Florida, which was a business decision. You have business decisions in life. And I love the Gators, I love coach [Billy] Donovan, I love the opportunity that they gave me. But I’m always going to be a Hurricane in my heart and I’m always going to root for the Canes.”

When pressed on the subject, Haslem admitted that his love for the Hurricanes stemmed from growing up as a big fan of the football team. As far as basketball goes, he still apparently bleeds orange and blue.

“[To] be honest with you, growing up, I was a football player. I played football all the way up to 10th grade. So the only thing that mattered to me was Hurricane football,” he said. “Basketball? I’m going with the Gators. I played for the Gator basketball team.”

Haslem also recounted a story about bumping into former teammate Teddy Dupay immediately after the Heat won the 2006 NBA Title. He said while the entire team (players, coaches, trainers) was celebrating on the court in Dallas, TX, he turned around and saw Dupay right beside him and had no idea how he got there.

“That’s my boy. Me and Teddy go back to high school where we played against him all the way to the state championship. We beat him pretty bad. Ted’s a great guy and we still keep in touch.”

College thoughts aside, Haslem has now set his sights on a second NBA title, which he will pursue with the triumvirate of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

9/20-21: Florida footballers speak to the media

A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media on Monday and Tuesday as the team takes a look back on its 31-17 road victory over the Tennessee Volunteers and ahead to its match-up against the Kentucky Wildcats at home on Saturday.

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown, redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders, senior defensive end Duke Lemmens, senior linebacker Brandon Hicks, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman QB Trey Burton all had plenty to say…which you can read after the break!
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Grading the Florida Gators at Tennessee game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Tennessee Volunteers in the third game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has not had a stellar start to the season; however, in the same respect, he hasn’t played poorly either. A week after seeing his completion percentage fall by 10 points, Brantley once again hovered around 60 percent, going 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also showed his mobility Saturday, rushing four times for 19 yards. For a second-straight week Brantley did a better job finding open receivers and even spread the ball around a bit more to seven different pass catchers. Most notably was his efficiency on third down, in which he completed six passes to keep drives going. However, Brantley also made a number of mistakes during the game including poorly managing the play clock and tripping over himself. For that reason, his grade remains the same as last week.

RUNNING BACKS: B
No, the Gators did not rush for 267 yards like they did last week and the unit certainly wasn’t as efficient either (three players averaged over 7.3 yards per carry). Even so, junior Jeff Demps (26 carries for 74 yards) and sophomore Mike Gillislee (eight rushes for 27 yards) were impactful and an important reason why their team emerged victorious. Demps will not be able to shoulder such a load game-in and game-out, especially as the schedule gets tougher, and the unit as a whole gets an “A” for effort.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Tennessee game after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators at Tennessee game

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