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

SIX BITS: Florida-Kentucky, Rainey, UT violations

1 » It has been more than 30 years and 15 games since the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Florida Gators in The Swamp, and while head coach Urban Meyer has been tempering expectations noting his upcoming opponent’s recently blossoming offense, Kentucky is looking to make a statement this year. “[People are going to be skeptical] until we start beating quality opponents,” Wildcats running back Derrick Locke said Monday. “Even if we do beat some, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to beat the teams we haven’t beat, and then we’ll get respect.” Head coach Joker Phillips agrees. “[Games like this are] what you come to Kentucky for,” he said. “This team will not be a team intimidated by The Swamp or playing in a game like this.”

2 » The last time Florida played Kentucky, the Gators dominated the contest 41-7 on the road in Lexington, KY. But the emotion most took away from that game was fright, not excitement, due to then-quarterback Tim Tebow being knocked out cold with a concussion. Wildcats defensive end Taylor Wyndham was responsible for the initial hit that knocked Tebow out but hopes he is not seen as a villain. “Hopefully [I get treated] just like anybody else,” Wyndham said of walking into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. “I’m sure I might get a couple boos, but it’s not a big deal.”

3 » Gainesville, FL, attorney Huntley Johnson, who is representing redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey for his aggravated stalking charge, told the Palm Beach Post that his client has been overcharged. He will likely have some idea of where Rainey stands by the end of the week. “It doesn’t fit the elements of the crime,” Johnson said. “This kid was never going to hurt her. She knew he wasn’t going to hurt her. The fact that he misspoke in the text is not something to crucify this kid for. […] He’s devastated. He cared and cares tremendously for this woman and he cares about being a student at the University of Florida and he cares about being on the football team. […] This is not the kid to draw the line on. I’ve represented a lot of kids over the years. It’s an easy statement to throw stones at, but this kid is a great kid. Period.”

4 » As the Gators offense continues to progress week-to-week, one important factor that must grow is redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley’s trust in his receivers. After Saturday’s game against Tennessee, Brantley says that is as high as ever. “I didn’t put the ball in the best spot, but they made me look good, that’s for sure,” he said at a media availability Monday. “I trusted them before the game and now I really trust them. If I don’t make a perfect throw or anything like that, they’re going to make up for it, they’re going to make some great catches.”

5 » Documents obtained by ESPN on Monday revealed that the Tennessee Volunteers have “self-reported several NCAA violations involving its men’s basketball team, including nearly 100 impermissible phone calls to various recruits” over a two-year period. Additionally, the documents revealed that assistant coach Jason Shay “approved lodging expenses for the parents of three recruits [who] were allowed visits that extended beyond the NCAA mandate of 48 hours.” Though the Volunteers are chocking these mistakes up to “poor record keeping or miscommunication,” Tennessee’s subsequent punishments while they await a NCAA ruling may prove otherwise.

6 » OGGOA’s thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of former South Carolina Gamecocks WR Kenny McKinley, who was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound suicide late Monday evening. He was 23. Head coach Steve Spurrier spoke about McKinkely and recently meeting with him. “I saw him here – he came to the Georgia game,” Spurrier said. “He seemed in good spirits. Great smile like he always had. I don’t understand it if it happened the way they say. It’s hard to comprehend. Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players. He was a wonderful guy. It’s hard to figure out why this happened. It’s a sad day.”

Wuerffel’s Words: “See what you’re looking for”

For the entire month of September, 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 attended an event a few weeks back and heard Amy Grant perform a song with a very thought-provoking line: “You see what you’re looking for.”

After three games this season, there are enough troubling occurrences for some to get discouraged about Florida’s play, and yet there are plenty of encouraging things as well. As I talk with fellow Gator fans, I can quickly discern where they fall on the spectrum, and I can understand both sides of the equation.

On the one side, we are the mighty Gators, and we basically expect that we’ll be playing in the SEC Championship game every year. (I don’t know about you, but I already planned my weekend of Dec. 3-4 in Atlanta, GA, around the game.) We’ve even gotten to the point where not playing in a BCS game is a disappointment. Couple these incredibly high expectations with the first three games this year, and it’s understandable that many Gators are feeling troubled with the team’s start.

On the other hand, Florida is 3-0 and just won a huge SEC East game on the road in a really tough environment. Trust me, I’ve been there and know how loud it can be. But, as I recall, all the noise died down after we put up a quick 28 points my senior year. :)

The Gators’ defense continues to force turnovers. John Brantley keeps impressing me with his decisions (no interceptions) and passing ability. The receivers are making some big-time catches, and Florida has tons of speed all over the field.

We can watch, celebrate, criticize and even debate about who this team is and how it is performing. But at the end of the day, it’s up to these young guys to define who they are.

So what do you see when you look at the Gators so far this season? Most likely, you see what you’re looking for.

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.

9/20: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets 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.

WILSON TO MISS MORE TIME

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson, injured on Sept. 4 against Miami (OH), recently had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. Wilson’s injury comes at a time when Florida’s offensive line is as solid as its been all year with sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back in the starting lineup for the first time on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist) remains out of action but is close to returning, perhaps as early as Oct. 2 against Alabama.

Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks told the media Monday that, contrary to the belief that it was dislocated, he has actually been playing with a heeling broken thumb over the last three weeks. He will continue to get major time on the field and should continue to impact the game as he has been thus far.

Though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson went down at the end of the game Saturday, he will be fine. However, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody‘s bruised thigh will continue to be monitored throughout the week.

WEEK THREE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that nine Gators graded out as Champions after the Tennessee Volunteers game. Redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore and senior defensive end Duke Lemmens were singled out as Players of the Week.

Offensively, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt seniors right tackle Marcus Gilbert and right guard Maurice Hurt were all honored. Four players on defense – senior DE Justin Trattou and LBs senior Hicks, sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins – shined throughout the game. Jenkins was also named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday for his career-high six tackles and first career sack.

BRANTLEY TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISCUE

As OGGOA noted in both our game story and tweets during Saturday’s contest, Pouncey’s bad snap early in the first quarter appeared to have occurred due to Brantley rushing to get a snap off when he realized the play clock was ticking down. The signal caller said the same thing Monday, taking the blame for the poor snap. Though not on him specifically for that mistake, Meyer noted that Brantley must progress and get better.

“I think he’s got to get better,” he said. “There’s one way we evaluate quarterbacks here. He’s 3-0 as a starter at Florida, so that’s pretty good, going on the road and winning a game. To say we’re thrilled with where we’re at offensively, and he’s the focal point of the offense, that would be a false statement. To say that he’s handled himself very well, to say he’s managing the team, to say that he does throw a very nice pass and hit five third-and-longs against Tennessee – those are all very good. We just need to improve. We’re pleased with where we’re at, we just need to keep improving.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 9/20: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 2 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 2 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 second week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Six receptions for 101 yards [team-highs] (targets: 6, long: 46)
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Six solo tackles, one TFL, two passes defended, QB hit, interception

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: One tackle
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Seven tackles (five solo)
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: One target
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Four tackles (three solo)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Two rec. for 15 yards (targets: 5, long: 9)
DE JARVIS MOSS, Denver Broncos: Three tackles (two solo), one sack
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: One solo tackle
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two solo tackles
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Five receptions for 32 yards (targets: 7, long: 13), two kick returns for 44 yards
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings Two solo tackles
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Two solo tackles
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Nine tackles [team-high] (five solo)
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots Five rushes for 11 yards (avg.: 2.2, long: 6)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots Two solo tackles, two sacks
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two solo tackles
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Six receptions for 91 yards [team-highs] (targets: 10, long: 27), touchdown
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: One reception for 20 yards (targets: 3)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers One tackle
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Three carries for one yard, five receptions [team-high] for 33 yards (targets: 6, long: 14), touchdown

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), LT Max Starks (Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) — S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), S Reggie Nelson (Cincinnati Bengals), QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), DT Joe Cohen (Detroit Lions), DE Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), RB DeShawn Wynn (Saints), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins),

INACTIVES
DE Carlos Dunlap (Bengals), LB Channing Crowder (Miami Dolphins)

NOTES
- Cunningham and Cooper recorded their first NFL statistics.
- Harvin re-injured his hip and may miss some action.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1

FOUR BITS: volleyball, soccer, cross, golf, tennis

1 » Continuing their stellar play to open the season, No. 3 Florida Gators volleyball (8-1, 2-0 SEC) followed the football team in defeating the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers (9-2, 1-1 SEC) 3-1 (28-26, 25-23, 19-25, 25-17) on the heels of another triple-double from junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy. The performance was Murphy’s 18th career triple-double (19 kills, 25 assists, 14 digs), which helped the Gators defeat their sixth Top 25 opponent this season. Florida is next set to dig their heels into No. 15 Florida State on the road Wed. at 7 p.m.

2 » The volleyball team may have been victorious, but No. 5 Gators soccer (6-1-1) was dealt its first loss of the young season on Sunday. Facing the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-0-1) on the road at the Duke Nike Classic, Florida fell 2-0 to the two-time defending NCAA National Champions. North Carolina’s Alyssa Rich (61’) and Elizabeth Burchenal (75’) each scored in the second half as the Tar Heels got 10 total shots on goal throughout the contest. UF will remain on the road but hopes to get back on track against Kentucky on Fri. at 7 p.m.

3 » Florida’s cross country teams begin each season by participating in the same event and, for the sixth straight year, the Gators took home the 2010 Mountain Dew Invitational on the heels of great performances by juniors Josh Izewski and Genevieve LaCaze. Izewski’s career-low 24:39:52 in the men’s 8K provided him with the overall individual title for the event, which was hosted at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, FL.

4 » Fifteen men’s golf teams took part in the Olympia Fields Invitational in Chicago, IL, over the weekend, but Florida finished top after recording a three-round total of 845 to defeat Oklahoma State and Augusta State (852) for the event tile. Senior Bank Vongvanij came in second-place individually with a three-round score of 207.

EXTRA BIT » Also in action over the weekend was Gators men’s tennis, which took home a 24-2 overall record (9-0 in doubles matches) at the 2010 Gator Invitational in Gainesville, FL. No. 9 senior Alexandre Lacroix won the event’s singles championship, going 3-0 over the weekend, and also combined for the doubles title with teammate junior Nassim Slilam. The duo is ranked No. 20 in the country.

Gators even out in USA Today, AP Top 25 polls

After dropping in rankings back-to-back weeks following wins, the Florida Gators were steady in the fourth edition of the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls. Just one day after defeating the Tennessee Volunteers 31-17 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN, the Gators fell one and rose one spot in the respective polls.

Ranked No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll going into the season, Florida was moved down to No. 6 two weeks ago, losing 115 points in the process; voters also dropped them last week to No. 7, taking away 22 more points. For the third straight week the Gators fell in the poll; they are now listed at No. 8 after losing 16 more points.

The AP voters had Florida ranked No. 4 in their preseason poll, but knocked them down four spots after the first week, taking away 172 points from their total. The Gators lost more 201 more points last week, falling to No. 10. However, UF rose this week – one spot to No. 9 – gaining eight points in the process due to Iowa’s loss to Arizona.

USA TODAY
Last Week 1-10: Alabama (55), Ohio State (4), Boise State, Texas, TCU, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa

This Week 1-10: Alabama (55), Ohio State (3), Boise State, Texas, TCU, Oregon, Nebraska (1), Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-10: Alabama (52), Ohio State (5), Boise State (1), TCU, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Florida

This Week 1-10: Alabama (53), Ohio State (5), Boise State (1), TCU, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Florida, Arkansas

*Numbers in paranthesis represent first-place votes.

Week 3: Gators post-game news and notes

Starting slow for the third consecutive game, the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) once again pulled out a double-digit win against their opponent, taking down the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. With so much to discuss, OGGOA first presents some of the most important notes and quotes.

EIGHT FOR EIGHT IS GREAT

In his six years coaching the University of Florida, head coach Urban Meyer has run eight fake punt plays. And all eight times that decision has paid off for the Gators. On Saturday, Meyer said he did not hesitate to call a fake punt in which sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines took a direct snap up the field 36 yards for a first down in what would eventually become a touchdown scoring drive. “We’ve been working on that since the beginning of the year,” Meyer said after the game. “We tried to get the numbers, and we got the numbers, and they executed well. As soon as I heard from the press box we had numbers, I knew all we had to do was execute it.” Hines was just as prepared for the play call. “We’ve been practicing it every day in practice,” he said. “It was my chance to get the first down. I wasn’t nervous. We’ve been practicing on it too much. I was ready for it. [Tennessee] had two guys, and when they went outside, I cut inside and got the first down. I knew it was going to work. We really needed that. We were down in the first half. I just tried to help the team get the momentum back.”

SUSPENDED PLAYERS RETURN, CONTRIBUTE

Three Florida players missed the first two games of the season not due to injury but instead because of team suspension. Junior safety Will Hill (most prominently), redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and sophomore linebacker Dee Finley all returned Saturday, each contributing in one way or another. While Hill was in on some blown coverages in the secondary, he made a few big tackles on special teams, which was also populated by Hammond and Finley. Hammond was also able to make his first catch of the year in the third quarter for a touchdown. “It felt good,” Hammond said. “I just go out there and try to make plays and do what I can for the team. I’m just trying to stay humble. I got another chance at it [after getting arrested]. I made a mistake and I learned from it. Whatever they want me to do, special teams or offense, I’ll do what I need to do just to get back on the team and help them out. I’m trying to move on now.”

GILLISLEE MAKING HIS CASE FOR PLAYING TIME

Sophomore running back Mike Gillislee, like any player, wants to get on the field as much as possible. Stuck behind junior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody, Gillislee appears to be on a mission this season to prove to coaches that he deserves more playing time. Though Demps once again led the Gators in rushing Saturday, Gillislee’s two powerful touchdowns once again proved he is as much of a spark plug as anyone on the team.

HEALTHY OFFENSIVE LINE STICKING TOGETHER

For the first time all season, Florida was able to begin the game and play with its starting offensive line – consisting of sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt and redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert – healthy and intact. On a rushed snap in the first quarter, Pouncey rolled the ball on the ground to redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, almost causing a turnover. At the end of the game, Johnson appeared to suffer an arm injury, but trainers believe he will be fine.

SECONDARY ROLLS BUT FLAWS EMERGE

Nabbing two more interceptions against the Volunteers, the Gators’ defense continues to lead the nation with 10 grabs on the season. The secondary itself is responsible for seven of them, with redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown bringing down his second of the year on Saturday. However, a unit that was the model of consistency for Florida throughout the first two games showed some flaws against Tennessee, allowing three big catches and two long touchdowns in the contest. Brown was victimized a few time, Hill was out of position on another throw and even junior CB Janoris Jenkins (who muffed a punt for a fumble as a returner) may have blown an assignment.

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN STEPS UP

While the secondary dealt with a few issues, the defensive linemen and linebackers did whatever they had to in order to get pressure on QB Matt Simms and stifle Volunteers star RB Tauren Poole (10 carries for 23 yards). Senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens, redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman DE Ronald Powell all achieved sacks, and sophomore LB Jon Bostic pulled down his second interception of the season.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 3: Gators post-game news and notes

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