9/15: Florida Gators week three practice notes

Florida Gators assistant coaches and players met with the media after practice on Wednesday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s third game Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HAVE HILL WILL TRAVEL

It came as no surprise to us here at OGGOA when, on Wednesday afternoon, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater told the media that junior safety Will Hill will travel with the team to Knoxville, TN, over the weekend. Though the coaching staff still contends that Hill’s participation in Saturday’s contest will be a game-time decision, OGGOA has been reporting since early in the week that he will be active and playing against Tennessee.

PEE ON THE “T”

According to a some players, the Gators’ coaching staff placed the Volunteers’ “Power T” symbol in all of the urinals in their facilities this week as a means of motivation. There were also plenty of photographs and quotes uniquely positioned to remind players of the importance of Saturday’s game. Let’s just hope there wasn’t a lot of splash back.

QUOTES

Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio on redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley: “We’ve seen really good development over the course of two weeks. He’s done a great job, really worked hard. I just really like where he’s headed now. I like his mind set. I think without a doubt, like anything else, there is no substitute for experience, and experience is gained. He’s gained throughout these first two games. You can see the growth. We’re really happy about that. That’s what we’re striving for with the whole offense.”

Brantley on his confidence: “My confidence has grown a lot. I’m starting to figure out how the game works, instead of staying on the sideline and watching. I’m just trying to learn each game and just keep getting better each game. [Being the starter is] completely different. Your adrenaline is pumping and you’re trying to make plays and help the team out. It’s tough seeing all the different kinds of defenses. You have to be locked in every play. You can’t take a play off. It’s been a great learning experience. I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far. We’re just going to try and get better every week.”

Brantley on Tim Tebow reaching out to him: “That was huge. Tim and I had such a great relationship when he was here. To know that. [...] He was one of the best college football players of all time. To know he has confidence in me is a great feeling. He knows what it’s like. He knows how everything works and he knows the SEC and how tough it is. With him having confidence in me, it gives me confidence knowing I’m able to do this.”

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders on playing Tennessee: “Everybody loves a rival game. The energy level is a little bit higher. The focus is a little bit higher. You can tell that everybody is ready to play. Of course, last week they tried to count it as a rival, that was our first time playing them. This week you can definitely tell the difference. There was more pictures, more slogans, more this, more that.”

Senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert on getting sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back: “Having Xavier back, I think that brings a lot of stability to our offensive line. That will increase our play. Having him back puts everyone back to their normal positions, like Maurice back to [right] guard, me back to the right [tackle]. I think it will be pretty good.”

Wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni on a heads-up play by freshman WR Robert Clark: “We always talk about getting to where you’re supposed to be. You’re supposed to go in motion and end up where he was [on his reception Saturday]. Instead he just took off from where he was, got where he was supposed to be, affected the area he was supposed to affect. He was right there for Brantley where he was supposed to be in the first place [after Brantley forgot to put him in motion]. He was just there a different way. The play ended up working. It was just a heads-up play by a young kid who’s done that in practice before. It was really nice to see.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and the Palm Beach Post for the above quotes.

FOUR BITS: Trattou, Gaffney, Lochte, Tennessee

1 » Junior running back Jeff Demps ran rampant over the South Florida Bulls. Senior safety Ahmad Black flew back-and-forth in the secondary making hits an intercepting balls out of the sky. But a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive end Justin Trattou may very well have been the play of the game – or at least the play of his career. “It is definitely up there with my biggest plays,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “It is my first touchdown as a Gator. It’s a great feeling. […] I saw a lot of green in front of me and I was not going to let anyone catch me from behind, that is for sure. I didn’t get caught last year [against South Carolina] either, I tripped over my own guy.” Classmate, linemate and friend Duke Lemmens was just as excited. “Anytime one of us bigger guys gets in the end zone – it is awesome,” Lemmens said. “I got almost as tired running all the way down to celebrate with him as I did the whole game.”

2 » Trading star WR Brandon Marshall, the Denver Broncos had some shuffling to do at the receiver position this offseason. Head coach Josh McDaniels drafted one in the first round but mostly stuck with guys already on the team to fill in the blanks – and that includes former Gators WR Jabar Gaffney, who enters the 2010 season after a career-year in both receptions (54) and receiving yards (732). Scoring a touchdown in his team’s first game of the season last Sunday, Gaffney is feeling at home in Denver and ready to become a big-time producer. “I know what I can do, and my teammates and my coaches, they all have confidence in me,” Gaffney said recently.

3 » Michael Phelps may get the recognition, but as far as the title of best swimmer in the world is concerned, that distinction currently belongs to former Florida student-athlete Ryan Lochte, just ask longtime coach of Phelps, Bob Bowman. “Obviously, Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world this year. No question,” he told the Associated Press. “That will be a huge challenge for Michael going forward..

4 » With the Gators heading to Knoxville, TN, on Saturday, fans of the Tennessee Volunteers used the opportunity to take a shot at Florida by releasing “(352): Time to Die” shirts, making fun of the arrest of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey this week. While jokes and mockery are fine, especially in the Southeastern Conference, perhaps doing so while referencing a third-degree felony aggravated stalking charge is a bit distasteful, no? This isn’t exactly former guard Lee Humphrey falling of his scooter or a misdemeanor alcohol offense (which we’ll take a look at later).

Austin Rivers – finally – drops Florida from list

Just over five months after decommitting from the Florida Gators, the team which he promised to play for as a freshman in high school, five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has completely dropped them from his recruitment list.

At the time of his decommitment, Rivers called attending Florida “still a very possible option for me,” noting that he made the decision in order to open his eyes to other choices. When Rivers made it clear a day later that he wanted to go to a “program where it’s the big stage,” explaining that he committed to the Gators “right after they won two national championships when they were prime time,” it became obvious his eyes had wandered elsewhere.

Especially considering, just six months earlier, Rivers was not even wavering in his commitment, at least according to his father and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “[Florida is] where he wants to go. He’s going to Florida,” Doc said at the time. “There’s no doubt about that. He’s committed there. He’s a Florida kid.’’

From the get go, word was that Rivers had fallen in love with the Duke Blue Devils. This became apparent a month after his decommitment, when he raved about Duke’s ability to develop players, calling the Blue Devils “the lead school for me right now.”

In a conversation with Scout.com on Wednesday, Rivers officially ruled Florida out. “I have my three schools: It’s Kansas, North Carolina and Duke,” he said. “I’m planning to visit all three of them. Some of them I’ll go alone and some I’ll go with my family. […] Basically those are the three schools that I really like. I like their style of play, their success and that they win and they get guys to the next level.”

Photo Credit: ESPN Rise

TWO BITS: Hammond ticketed, Shands Chomps

1 » Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., whose DUI case came to a close Wednesday after he reached a resolution with Alachua County court, was ticketed for a traffic violation on Aug. 31, according to court records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. Per the records, Hammond was late for an appointment with a therapist he was seeing to meet the conditions of his DUI case and, after his planned ride fell through, hopped on a moped or motorcycle to make it on time. Police cited him for not wearing headgear during the ride, which he took with a suspended license. Hammond’s original punishment – a year of probation, 50 hours of community service (and a $500 fine) – has been adjusted to a year of probation and 20 work-crew days, as Hammond has already completed 15 community service hours.

2 » Shands at the University of Florida is currently running a Chompetition for Gators fans to get their very own music video on the scoreboard at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the team’s last home football game of the season on Nov. 20. Listen to the song below and Do the Chomp with instructions found here!

Do the Chomp!

And here is the latest Shands commercial featuring the Gator Chomp:

9/15: 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:

» Meyer added to what offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said Tuesday regarding the status of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, noting that is currently not a part of the team. “He’s not with the team,” Meyer said. “I think it’s just further evaluation as we go. The immediacy of it is: he’s not with the team.” As far as the minimum amount of time Rainey will be out of action? “I can’t do that. I don’t know,” he said.

» Rather than start redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose or freshman WR Robert Clark in Rainey’s slot position, Meyer said the Gators will instead go with sophomore WR Omarius Hines, who had been playing a hybrid WR/tight end position during the first two weeks of the season. Redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed will also be moving to Hines’ previously occupied hybrid role. “We haven’t had a lot of production in the first two games from [Rainey],” Meyer said. “The good news is that Omarius Hines is a very talented guy that we’re moving in. And also Jordan Reed will be going to Omarius’ spot so we got some guys who will still make plays.”

» Meyer also noted that sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon will return to the starting lineup after being held out of the first game with a knee injury and sparingly playing blocking TE against South Florida. With redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson back in his role last week, Florida’s offensive line is back to normal for the first time all season. More on that below.

QUOTES FROM MEYER (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 9/15: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

Wuerffel’s Words: Talent is “cream of the crop”

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.

“The victory usually goes to the one who can keep his head clear when everything seems to be falling apart.” — Mike Ditka

Actually, I heard Coach Ditka say those words in person, and the quote above is actually my paraphrased version of what he said – his language was a bit more colorful.

As I’ve watched this very young and talented Gator team play two games, there are plenty of things that seem troubling. But there are a lot of things that I’m very impressed with as well. The athleticism and the raw size and speed of the players clearly show how effective the recruiting has been – these guys are the cream of the crop.

While the defense has given up some yards, they are making big plays. Turnovers are game-changers, and Florida has forced a lot of them. Johnny Brantley continues to impress me with his decision-making and accuracy. Jeff Demps is outstanding, and I think the Gators have several other skill players ready for breakout performances.

But, in line with the quote from my first NFL coach, I’ve been most impressed with UF’s ability to NOT PANIC when things have looked really bad.

I can’t stress how important this is, especially for a young team. While many of us fans have cringed, hollered or maybe even used some of our own colorful language during the first two games, Urban Meyer and this team seem to have kept their focus – and it really showed in the second half on Saturday.

I’m looking forward to the Tennessee game this weekend, and I’m especially excited to see this team come together. Let’s hope Coach Ditka is right.

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.

Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida 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 South Florida Bulls in the second game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley played better Saturday than he did last week against Miami (OH), so why only a half-grade improvement? Following up a performance in which he completed 68 percent of his passes, Brantley’s accuracy fell 10 percent even though he gained almost 60 more yards through the air and once again passed for two scores. Brantley did do a better job finding open pass catchers and spread the ball around a bit more, but he has plenty to improve on in the coming weeks.

RUNNING BACKS: A
As a team, the Gators rushed for 267 yards on Saturday, and three running backs with multiple attempts averaged over 7.3 yards per carry. Junior Jeff Demps was the star of the game, rushing 11 times for 139 yards and a touchdown with a long of 62 and average of 12.6. Take away his breakaway run, and Demps still averaged 7.7 YPC. Redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody put on a respectable performance (especially in the second half) with 14 carries for 54 yards (3.9 average), sophomore Mike Gillislee had four powerful carries for 29 yards (7.3 average) and a score, and freshman Mack Brown even saw some action with three rushes for 23 yards (7.7 average).

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the USF game after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida game

Florida WR Chris Rainey arrested for stalking

Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking by Gainesville Police early Tuesday morning.

According to the police report, Rainey contacted a local woman he had been dating sporadically for approximately three years and allegedly visited her home when she did not answer a phone call. When she did not come to the door immediately, Rainey began calling and texting her, eventually allegedly saying, “I’m here and I will bust out the window.” After speaking to him for about 10 minutes, she asked him to leave, later receiving a text message from Rainey which read, “Time to die, b—h.”

Fearing for her sibling’s safety, the woman’s sister called the police, who instructed her to call Rainey to tell him that the officers wished to speak with him. Upon receiving that call, Rainey allegedly told the woman, “Wait and see what happens when they leave.” He was subsequently arrested when officers visited his on-campus residence.

Rainey, charged with a third-degree felony, admitted to sending the text message but not to making the latter statement. After spending the night in jail, he was released on his own recognizance by Alachua County Judge Denise R. Ferrero just before 11 a.m. with a warning not to contact the woman. Ferrero also ordered Rainey to maintain a curfew of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with an exception for school or work.

“I don’t think this is a felony for sure,” Rainey’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday afternoon. “I think that we can come to a resolution that will minimize any long term consequences for Mr. Rainey. I don’t think the lady was ever in any danger, and I know Mr. Rainey and I think he’s a hell of a nice young man and I assure you that he would never hurt this woman.”

“It’s not near as bad as it looks,” Johnson said separately to the Palm Beach Post. “I think that this is going to end up being a minor bump in the road for Chris. In the long run, it would be appropriate, based on what I know, for him to be back on the team at some point this season. I’d be surprised if he’s not. I think it means an awful lot to him to be a student at Florida and it means a hell of a lot to be a player. He’s still a student at Florida, but he’s not on the team, so he has mixed feelings.”

Johnson also spoke to the Associated Press about Rainey, calling him a “terrific kid who works his rear end off” both academically and athletically. “My early sense is this will be something less than a third-degree felony,” he said. “I think this will turn out to be what I think this is, which is something minor. I don’t think that the statute was intended for this kind of thing. [...] I think this is something that will pass. He never intended for this to happen nor would he ever hurt this woman. He cares deeply about this woman. He didn’t handle it like he should have. He knows that. Hopefully this will end up being a bump in the road.”

In court on Tuesday, the woman said she neither feared for her safety nor intended to have Rainey arrested when she called the police. “We just needed someone to diffuse the situation. I did not want to have him arrested last night. When the police came, I signed papers to not press any charges,” she said. “I don’t fear for my safety. I think he should be released on his own recognizance. [...] People all over the country have been calling my cell phone. I’m not afraid of him. I’m more afraid of all the repercussions.”

Aggravated stalking, as defined by Florida state law, is charged to “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury of the person.”

Under the Florida statute, a third-degree felony aggravated battery charge carries with it a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine (plus court costs).

Tuesday afternoon, Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio spoke about the player’s status. “Chris Rainey is not a part of our team right now,” Addazio said.

OGGOA will continue updating this story. Last update: 7:45 p.m.

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