Week 1: No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Miami RedHawks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 91°F, 30% chance of precipitation
Time: 12:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Sirius/XM: 220/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 3 FLORIDA GATORS MIAMI (OH) REDHAWKS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Michael Haywood
2009 Record: 13-1 2009 Record: 1-11
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -38; O/U 54

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is returning 43 letterwiners and 11 starters from the 2009 season – six on offense (junior running back Jeff Demps, redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson, senior center Mike Pouncey, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt seniors guard Carl Johnson and right tackle Marcus Gilbert) and five on defense (senior safety Ahmad Black, junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, redshirt seniors linebacker A.J. Jones and defensive tackle Terron Sanders, redshirt sophomore DT Omar Hunter).
» The Gators have a SEC-best opening day winning streak of 20 games and are 76-27 all-time to start the season (62-6 in Gainesville). Teams coached by Meyer at any point in his career are 18-5 to begin the season; he has 16-straight opening day victories.
» Florida is also sporting a 10-game home winning streak and has won 20 consecutive regular season games. The Orange and Blue has a .897 (113-13) winning percentage at Florida Field since 1990, good for best in the nation.
» Miami (OH) leads the all-time series against UF 1-0, defeating the Gators 16-7 in The Swamp in the 1973 Tangerine Bowl; Florida is 10-3 all-time against the MAC.
» The Gators are the only team in the nation to finish the season in the top three in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls in three of the past four years; Florida is also the only school in the country to be ranked in the top five of the preseason coaches’ poll in each of the last four years.
» The RedHawks’ passing offense and passing defense each ranked 23rd in the nation in 2009, respectively throwing for 273.2 and giving up 190.4 yards per game.
» UF committed a nation-low 81 turnovers since 2005 and has had 23 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation).

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who will be starting the first game of his Florida career. In 2009, he went 36-of-48 for 410 yards and seven touchdowns. Brantley tossed 75 percent of his balls for completions and finished the year with a QB rating of 194.9. He has thrown 61 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 10-1 TD/INT ratio for his Gators career.
» Florida’s veteran offensive line…which has combined for 87 career starts and is led by Pouncey (32). That total is the highest among returning offensive linemen since Meyer’s first season as coach in 2005.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey…who is moving to the slot after playing running back for two seasons. Rainey will be explosive while playing a modified “Percy Position” and could very well be the team’s best offensive weapon this season.
» Linebackers sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins…who are each trying to win the starting role in the middle but will likely split snaps Saturday. The same goes for cornerbacks redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins, each of whom hope to win the job opposite junior Janoris Jenkins.
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose…who missed the entire 2009 season with a hamstring injury but remains a five-star recruit expected to make an immediate impact.
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis…who set a UF record for field goal attempted in a season (30) in 2009 and had the second-highest total of field goals made in school history (22).
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who has been receiving extra attention at tight end during practices and is one of Meyer’s favorite youngsters. With other TEs injured and developing, Burton may see action early and often.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries (All out)
Senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders (knee), redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed (knee) left tackles redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist), sophomore Xavier Nixon (knee), sophomore LB Dee Finley

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. (indefinite suspension), junior S Will Hill (team decision)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The host of the first game to air Saturday on ESPN, Florida will be profiled in part during the network’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. The main feature on the Gators will be a report from Tom Rinaldi focusing on Meyer’s decision to unretire one day after resigning from his job before the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Additionally, ESPN will feature a sound bite from Meyer talking about Florida’s offense, which will then be discussed by analysts Desmond Howard and David Pollack.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Miami RedHawks preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 1: No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Miami RedHawks

Gators Gameday Grub: Kickin’ Chicken Kickoff Dip

Janah Adickman of Delish Your Dish has returned for the 2010-11 football season with her weekly Gators Gameday Grub segment here on OGGOA. Like last year, Janah will submit a Florida-themed recipe each week that is easy to make, fun to create and absolutely delicious. Whether you are hosting a party, going to someone else’s or tailgating on-site at the big game, this grub is for Gators ONLY!

Be sure to check out Janah’s website – a one stop shop for vegetarian recipes (she breaks that rule for us), product and restaurant reviews. She creates simple recipes (appetizers, entrees, desserts) for the non-chef with simply delish results!

Kickin’ Chicken Kickoff Dip

What You Need
1.5 cups shredded chicken (pre-cooked) – 8 oz. cream cheese – 3/4 cup spicy buffalo wing sauce – 8 oz. sour cream – two green onions chopped (white and green parts) – 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese – four slices sharp cheddar cheese

Directions
1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, wing sauce and onions in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir until smooth. Next, add in the shredded chicken. Fold ingredients together until mixed well. Add additional wing sauce if needed.
3. Spread dip into a shallow pie or casserole dish. Spread evenly and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Then, lay the sliced cheddar cheese on top of dip and place dish into the oven. Allow dip to bake for about 20 minutes or until it is bubbling.
4. Remove dip from the oven and serve with blue corn chips and veggies.

TWO BITS: Tebow, James stand out; Leak ready

1 » A number of former Florida Gators turned NFL rookies were taking part in their final 2010 preseason game Thursday, but two in particular – Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Brandon James – stood out from the pack. After fumbling a bad snap in his first series (which was returned for a touchdown), Tebow went 12-of-16 for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He had a QB rating of 102.9 and also carried the ball four times for 21 yards. James was the star of his team’s game, catching four balls for 56 yards and three touchdowns and even converting the two-point conversion on his own second score. OGGOA will have a more complete and detailed rookie post later.

2 » As OGGOA reported a few days ago, former Gators QB Chris Leak will be making his first CFL start Friday night filling in for Montreal Alouettes starter Anthony Calvillo. For the first time in his career, Leak practiced as the team’s starter for the week rather than being thrown into the game in a back-up role. “This is a game I’ve played my entire life, since I was 8. I want to go out and have fun,” Leak told The Montreal Gazette. “I’m going to play the game and be myself. Whatever that is, you’ll see it. But I know there’ll be adversity. Someone’s still got to throw, run, catch and kick. That’s the game of football. I’m always anxious to play; I guess you could say nervous. I’m focusing on my responsibilities. I want to be accountable, protect the ball, stay on course and play through adversity.”

9/2: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s first game Saturday against the Miami (OH) RedHawks. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HAMMOND OUT INDEFINITELY

Meyer announced that redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who was arrested earlier in the summer for driving under the influence and possession of alcohol by a minor, would not be active for Saturday’s game. In OGGOA‘s opinion, there is a good chance he is also out next week against South Florida. Hammond was indefinitely suspended from the team upon his arrest and had his scholarship pulled by Meyer; he has earned his way back onto the team but will not be eligible for a scholarship until spring or summer (at the earliest).

“It’s week-to-week. I said that months ago,” Meyer said. “He’s being evaluated the same way on the scholarship. The reason why I let you know that is because it was a public deal and a very serious deal. The good news about Frankie is he’s doing everything we ask, which you’d imagine he would.”

ELAM, PATTON, ALLI AVAILABLE

Unlike Hammond, freshmen safety Matt Elam and WR Solomon Patton are not being held out for Saturday. Each player was arrested in July and August, respectively, for underage drinking. The matters were handled internally and they’ll be able to play.

Redshirt freshman WR Stephen Alli, who has been limited all fall with a groin injury, will be playing on special teams Saturday, according to Meyer. “We have to get him on the field,” Meyer said. “He’s a talented guy, but he’s been limited so much.” He was initially listed as probable and is hoping to earn a role in the pass catching rotation now that he is getting healthier. That could come sooner than later.

BOSTIC TO START IN THE MIDDLE…”PROBABLY”

At this point, everyone just wants Meyer to name a starting middle linebacker, and the closest he came to doing so was Thursday when he said that sophomore Jon Bostic would “probably” be the starter (at least for the first defensive snap of the game). Then, he qualified it: “I think [he'll start]. … Don’t be shocked if he’s not.”

QUOTES

Meyer on the Nike Pro Combat uniforms: “I love Nike. I don’t like new uniforms, but I’m a team player so I understand the value of it.”

TWO BITS: RedHawks on Gators, volleyball excels

1 » When out-of-conference opponents speak about the Southeastern Conference or the Florida Gators specifically, speed is usually one of the factors that noticeably separate them from the pack. Miami (OH) RedHawks head coach Michael Haywood has noticed it on video, calling the Gators’ speed “unbelievable” and a major factor on Saturday. “Most people look at it as skill positions,” Haywood said, “but when you watch their defensive front and you watch their defensive ends come off the ball, I mean they are exploding off the ball, dipping and ripping and turning that corner, and that poses a problem for you. You get less people out in the passing game because you have to [block] with backs, you have to leave the tight end in to help out.”

Miami sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert adds that even watching Florida on film is scary. “We don’t really get a chance to practice [against that kind of speed] out here,” he said. “You’ve just got to be ready for everything they’re doing. If you know everything they’re doing, you know where they’re going to be. Speed’s going to be a factor and you’ll have to make quick decisions. You can’t be late on anything.”

2 » Featured on the front page of ESPNU.com the No. 6 Gators volleyball (2-0) are set for three matches (Albany, Bowling Green and Colorado State) in two days this weekend after defeating two top-10 opponents (No. 9 Iowa State, No. 2 Nebraska) last week. “We’re encouraged by how hard the team played in that atmosphere,” head coach Mary Wise told ESPNU, “but we know we have a long way to go. The words ‘a work in progress’ were stated before the weekend and that hasn’t changed after the weekend.” Florida’s two victories were led by junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy, the AVCA Player of the Week and SEC Offensive Player of the Week, who shined even though the Gators playing in front of a large group of people. “We’ve had some great wins, but we’ve never played in front of a crowd like that before,” Murphy said. “It definitely gives us a lot of convidence. It reassured us that everything we’d been doing over the summer and everything we’ve been doing so far in preseason has been working.”

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

SIX BITS: Austin, Hines, Moore, Okine, Jones

1 » New Florida Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is confident, so much so that he has won over players like junior safety Will Hill. “He came in and was very direct and straightforward,” Hill said, according to The Miami Herald. “He has a lot of high expectations. We come out ready, he tells us what to do and we just do it. Nobody is bumping heads or anything.” Even though Austin lost a lot of playmakers from Charlie Strong’s unit last year, he knows Florida’s defensive prowess is not being ignored. “I don’t think anyone will overlook us,” Austin said. “They may because we did lose so many quality players, but we had quality players [behind them] in the program.” His philosophy? “Guys are going to be aggressive and take the fight to the other team. That’s the mentality. On defense, you never want to sit back. You want to dictate the offense, not have the offense dictate to you.”

2 » In case you didn’t know, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines is a beast. So much so, in fact, that the 224-pounder is taking snaps at a hybrid tight end role that he will be featured in this season. “I will play tight end and some slot receiver,” Hines said of his position. “It will create mismatches because I’m fast and strong and stuff, so the linebackers won’t really be able to catch me. He has plenty of fans on the team, too. “He’s one of the strongest guys on the team,” redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody admitted, per the Herald. “I don’t know if you’ve seen his physical physique, but they call him the Greek [god].”

3 » Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore, who has been up-and-down since transferring to Florida, feels he is ready to take on the challenges of being a primary pass-catcher this year. “I can say that when I first got here, I was a little more selfish. I didn’t understand the system and how it had to be. Now I understand everything and I’m all in.”

4 » As OGGOA noted briefly yesterday via Twitter, redshirt sophomore Earl Okine, who was previously a defensive end but was moved to TE during fall practice, is back working at DE now that the team feels more comfortable at the other position. Okine played some TE in high school but is better suited on the defensive front.

5 » Freshman running back Malcom Jones, a preferred walk-on who led his high school team to a 2009 District Championship on 1,449 yards and 14 touchdowns, chose to try his luck with the Gators rather than take a scholarship to Florida International, Jacksonville, Toledo or Tennessee-Martin, according to Clay Today.

6 » Interesting column published by The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley on Thursday, taking a look at how everything seemed to change for Florida football 20 years ago in 1990. As he notes, the Gators were “a bit of a joke” before then, producing top-level talent but never actually winning anything substantial. “No team in college football has won more games the last two decades than Florida. A program that could not get to 10 wins in a season [prior to 1990] has averaged 10 wins a season over the past two decades. Gator teams have won almost 80 percent of their games, 83 percent if you don’t count the Ron Zook years.” Read the rest…

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

TWO BITS: Noah golfing, Spikes not endorsing

1 » The good news: Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah participated in his team’s charity golf tournament on Monday. The better news: The picture above shows exactly what the former Florida Gators star wore to the event. At least this picture is funnier than a few taken of him earlier this offseason.

2 » Speaking of unflattering media coverage, New England Patriots rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes unfortunately made a poor decision before becoming a professional, one that has come back to bite him in the form of an adult-themed video being passed around on a number of websites. The NFL, which began looking into the matter almost immediately, may not even be his biggest concern; as Spikes’ agent points out, the player was not trying to knowingly break the personal conduct policy and the actions he took occurred before he was selected by New England in the 2010 NFL Draft. Nevertheless Reebok, which had offered Spikes a marketing deal, has reportedly pulled that offer according to his agent Terry Watson. According to The Boston Globe, which cited a Patriots fan blog, “the deal was worth $60,000 with on-field achievement incentives that could increase its value.” Watson noted that Spikes was dejected and apologetic for his actions. “He’s OK,” Watson said. “There’s nothing he can do about it now but continue to be the person he is, and the kind of leader he will be on and off the field. He can’t rewind what occurred, but he’s been through adversity with football and off the field, like we all have, and knows how to deal with it.”

9/1: 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 Meyer’s media availability (full transcript later):

» Meyer answering OGGOA’s question about redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey’s importance to the offense: “It’s his year. He’s gonna perform. He’s ready for it. He’s up to almost 180 – 178 he told me yesterday. He’s stronger than he’s ever been. He’s now focused on a position that really his body is more trained to be. And he has to give us the home run shot, and he’s got the ability. There’s really not an offense who can function without a home run hitter. And he’s either one or two on our list of guys that can take it to the distance.”

» Asked about whether or not he was concerned about junior running back Jeff Demps returning kickoffs, Meyer said the team is being “very cautious” but “hopefully we don’t return many kicks.” He also noted that Demps getting injured is one of the team’s main concerns; he no longer participates in “non-essential running” drills during practice and the team is “very cautious” with him throughout the week. “He just goes 40 yards every time he touches it at warp speed.”

» Meyer refused to pick either redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown or senior Moses Jenkins as the team’s No. 2 cornerback, saying the duo is both competing in practice and will split time.

» He went out of his way to give shout-outs to freshmen quarterback Trey Burton and safety Matt Elam, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins and sophomore LB Jon Bostic as four players who will soon become household names among Florida fans.

» Read the rest of what Meyer had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 9/1: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

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