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.

9/13: 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.

RAINEY, BROWN SHOULD BE ABLE TO RETURN

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey left Saturday’s game with what is believed to have been a concussion. Nevertheless, Meyer believes he will be able to play Saturday at Tennessee. Rainey was held out of what was a light practice on Sunday for precautionary purposes but looks to be a full go the rest of the week.

Also leaving the game early was redshirt sophomore starting cornerback Jeremy Brown. Meyer said after the contest that Brown suffered a “full body cramp,” but Brown related Monday that he actually had a strained hamstring and should be fine for the weekend. Even so, he noted that freshman CB Cody Riggs, who got a lot of playing time in his stead, did well and even complimented his exceptional speed.

In other injury news, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returned Saturday from a knee injury but played as a reserve. He will likely return to his starting role against Tennessee, moving the rest of the line back to their original positions.

WEEK TWO CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that ten Gators graded out as Champions after the South Florida Bulls game. Junior running back Jeff Demps, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior strong safety Ahmad Black were all singled out as Players of the Week. Offensively, redshirt seniors offensive linemen Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt and RB Emmanuel Moody were all honored. Four players on the defense – junior CB Janoris Jenkins, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens – shined throughout the game.

Additionally, Demps and Pouncey were each honored by the Southeastern Conference, respectively, as the organization’s Special Teams Player of the Week and Offensive Lineman of the Week. Demps returned two kickoffs for 95 yards, and Pouncey had a 95 percent efficiency at center.

GAME BALLS FOR EVERYONE!

For the second time in three days, Meyer pointed to the home crowd at The Swamp for its amazing passion and support throughout what he believes is one of – if not the – hottest game played at the stadium in years. He even joked that he wished he could buy game balls for all 93,000+ fans as they severely impacted South Florida’s ability to move the ball in the second half.

A BUNCH OF COMEDIANS

Redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson is apparently a jokester, aiming some one-liners on Monday at Tennessee players, fans, former head coach Lane Kiffin and those who insist on comparing redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley‘s leadership to that of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Johnson quipped that it was funny the players had problems bathing (staph infection issues) and said Kiffin left for USC because he would prefer probation for two years rather than the humiliation of being beat by Florida again. “I mean, let me ask you a question,” Johnson said. “What would you prefer…to lose to Florida or can’t go to a bowl game for two years? I think we already defeated him in our minds.”

Also cracking wise Monday was Pouncey, who related a story from a trip to McDonald’s on Sunday night. “I heard it all. I was going through the drive-thru last night at McDonald’s, and as I was leaving the guy told me, he said, ‘Don’t mess up the snaps,’ and I said, ‘Hey, don’t mess up my sandwiches no more.’”

Perhaps Black was right when he said early Monday, “I just may be on the funniest team in America,” because he’s one of them, noting later in the day that his last memory about visiting Tennessee was “a bunch of drunk old people.”

QUOTES (More coming soon…)

Meyer on his team’s first away game: “We’re going to have a bunch of new players get on that plane and head to Knoxville. So much of what we do around here is routine and that is a major concern. I’m trying to fight myself right now on how to get that done and not take away from preparation time. The worst thing that happens is someone’s late walking in, forgets their tie. Someone doesn’t show up. Someone forgets their ID on the plane and goes to the room when we’re not supposed to go to the room. That just messes everything up as far as routine and we take that real serious around here. We’ll have several meetings about it and try to get that ready.”

Meyer on Florida’s upcoming opponent, Tennessee: “It’s SEC personnel from top to bottom. [They have] some dynamic players, some young players. They’re dealing with some of the same issues we have as far as lack of experience, but make no mistake about it – they’re every bit as talented as most teams in the SEC. And obviously [Neyland Stadium] one of the most difficult environments to play in.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel for the player quotes above.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 1 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 1 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 first week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Six tackles (four solo), interception
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots 14 rushes for 71 yards (avg: 5.1, long: 24), two receptions for six yards (targets: 2, long: 7)

LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Eight tackles (two solo)
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Three receptions for 22 yards (targets: 6, long: 9)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Two solo tackles
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Two solo tackles, pass defended
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown (targets: 7, long: 15)
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: Two rushes for two yards
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two solo tackles
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two solo tackles, pass def., QB hit
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Pass defended
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: One reception for 12 yards, one rush for two yards, two kickoff returns for 41 yards (avg.: 20.5, long: 22)
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings Three solo tackles, three passes defended
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: One reception for 45 yards
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Three tackles (one solo), pass defended, QB hit
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Tackle
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Four rec. for 28 yards (targets: 7, long: 16)
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Six carries for 10 yards (avg.: 1.7, long: 6), one reception for eight yards

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), LT Max Starks (Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) — DE Jarvis Moss (Broncos), S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), DT Joe Cohen (Detroit Lions), LB Jermaine Cunningham (Patriots), DT Gerard Warren (Patriots), RB DeShawn Wynn (Saints), WR Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles), DE Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins), LB Brandon Siler (San Diego Chargers)

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

NOTES
- D. Nelson, Haden, Tebow, Hernandez and Spikes all recorded their first NFL statistics.
- Starks suffered a high ankle sprain during the Steelers game and will miss a month.

TWO BITS: Volleyball splits, soccer wins in OT

1 » Hosting the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, over the weekend, No. 4 Florida Gators volleyball squared off against two of the best teams in the country – the No. 1 Penn State Nittany Lions and No. 5 Texas Longhorns. The Gators (6-1) were able to split their two games, falling 3-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-23) to the Nittany Lions (7-0) but winning 3-2 (25-11, 27-25, 16-25, 20-25, 16-14) against the Longhorns.

In the two matches, junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy posted a total of 27 kills, 37 assists and 20 digs, earning her a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Joining her on the team was senior outside hitter Callie Rivers, who posted 16 kills and 16 digs combined in the two matches. The schedule does not get any easier for Florida, which will take on No. 16 Kentucky to begin Southeastern Conference play on Friday.

2 » Just behind volleyball rankings-wise is No. 6 Gators soccer (6-0), which utilized an overtime victory to top the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (4-2) 2-1 on Friday at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, FL. Well into the second half, Florida sophomore midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak gave the Gators an early lead with a deflected goal at 62’. Things were looking bleak for FSU until Janie Cayman knocked one through at 89’ just before regulation time expired. However, UF redshirt sophomore MF McKenzie Barney obviously had somewhere important to be, because it only took her 15 seconds into the overtime period to turn a serve from senior defender Nicky Kit into a golden goal for the Gators.

Extra BIT » President Barack Obama may be doing a Gator Chomp on Monday as Florida’s 2009-10 NCAA National Championship-winning men’s track and field and women’s swimming and diving teams will be recognized for their accomplishments at the White House. The Gators will be joined by 31 other NCAA title teams who will have the opportunity to honored by the President on the White House lawn.

Gators fall again in third USA Today, AP Top 25

For the second straight week, the Florida Gators have won a game by more than 20 points yet still fallen in the latest USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls. Just one day after defeating the South Florida Bulls 38-14 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, the Gators fell one and two spots in the respective polls.

Ranked No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll going into the season, Florida was moved down to No. 6 last week, losing 115 points in the process. Voters were obviously not impressed with their performance once again, dropping the Gators another spot to No. 7 while taking away 22 more points.

The AP voters had Florida ranked No. 4 in their preseason poll, but knocked them down four spots last week, taking away 172 points from their total. The Gators lost more 201 more points this week, falling to No. 10.

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

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

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-10: Alabama (47), Ohio State (4), Boise State (8), TCU, Texas (1), Nebraska, Oregon, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma

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

*Numbers in paranthesis represent first-place votes.

Week 2: Gators post-game news and notes

Bouncing back from a lackluster showing during the first game of the 2010-11 season, the No. 6/8 Florida Gators ran down the South Florida Bulls 38-14 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss following the contest, OGGOA presents some of the most important notes and quotes coming out of The Swamp.

RAINEY OUT WITH CONCUSSION

Named by head coach Urban Meyer before the season as one of the Gators’ primary offensive weapons, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was knocked out of the game Saturday with a concussion. Rainey had only touched the ball three times prior to heading off the field, and his status for next week’s game at Tennessee is unknown, though Meyer seemed optimistic.

SNAPPING OUT OF “DISASTER MISTAKES”

After a week in which Florida struggled with one of the simplest aspects of the game – snapping the ball – senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley were back in sync and playing well together. Pouncey did have some errant snaps during the Gators’ first two series, one of which Brantley mishandled and fumbled, but overall the problems were corrected and UF’s offense was able to proceed free of easy miscues.

YOUNGSTERS SEE THE FIELD

Offensively, Florida made it a point to get redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose and freshman WR Robert Clark in the game – something the coaching staff failed in doing the previous week. On the defensive side of the ball, youth was all over the Gators’ secondary with freshman cornerback Cody Riggs getting extra time in place of redshirt sophomore starting CB Jeremy Brown, who went down with full body cramps in the second half. Fellow freshman CBs Jaylen Watkins and Josh Shaw also saw action, and freshman safety Matt Elam played as much as he did last week.

MEYER NOT HAPPY WITH HILL, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER

After the game, Meyer explained that junior safety Will Hill was benched for a second straight week because he was “not ready to play.” Earlier in the week, it appeared as if Hill was going to see the field in his normal staring role, but it is being made to look as if there was a change of heart as the game approached. As OGGOA reported last Saturday, Hill was out not because of his preparedness but rather as a team punishment; we are of the belief that he sat for the same reason this week.

Also held out were redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely and freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who Meyer also gave the “not ready to play” tag to. Finley, like Hill, was dressed; Easley was not. Like he said last week with his suspended starters, Meyer expects all three to play against Tennessee.

THOMPSON AND MOORE STEP THEIR GAMES UP

One week after redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson barely contributed and redshirt senior WR Carl Moore did not catch a single ball, both players played a major part of the Gators’ offense. The duo combined to catch 11 passes for 123 yards, though Thompson did drop another touchdown (which was well-defended) and bobbled a few of the passes he ended up bringing in. Each will have to remain consistent throughout the season, and Saturday was a good first step toward that end.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 2: Gators post-game news and notes

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