9/7: Florida reflects on Miami, looks ahead to USF

The Florida Gators make a selection of coaches and players available to the media each Tuesday, many of whom reflect about the previous game while simultaneously looking ahead to the upcoming contest. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

BROWN READY TO STEP UP AS A STARTER

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown, who has the second starting CB role all to himself after senior CB Moses Jenkins hyperextended his elbow last Saturday, is confident but realizes it is now up to him to keep his side of the secondary secure.

“It definitely puts a little pressure on me to step up because behind me and Janoris [Jenkins], we got three freshmen,” Brown said. “I know how that is. It’s a little tougher as a true freshman.” Brown is speaking about Josh Shaw, Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins, all of whom are his and Janoris Jenkins’ reserves for the foreseeable future. “I’m definitely stepping up and taking the leadership role in that secondary because those are some talented corners. I’m trying to help them mature as fast as I can,” he said, “because one of them is going to have to step up and play.”

TOMLIN WANTS BOTH POUNCEYS (NO KIDDING)

Senior center Mike Pouncey knows he had a terrible game. He knows he needs to improve his snapping. He knows his brother – Pittsburgh Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey – was watching. But what Mike found out in the last few days was that he was not the only guy in Pittsburgh paying attention. “[Maurkice] said the guys up there were joking on my snaps,” Mike said. “He told me [Steelers head coach Mike] Tomlin said, ‘Just tell him to keep playing like that, we’ll take him by the end of the first round.’”

However, Maurkice did end up offering some advice. “He told me when he first started at center two years ago, he did the same thing,” Mike said. “His wasn’t as bad but he had high snaps – snaps were everywhere. He said just get back to work, and that’s what I’m doing.”

HOLTZ KNOWS FLORIDA IS STILL TOUGH

South Florida Bulls head coach Skip Holtz, a close friend of Gators head coach Urban Meyer, is well-aware that UF’s performance on Saturday was more an aberration than the norm for one of the best programs in the country over the last few years.

“Everybody right now is saying Florida is broke after last week’s performance,” Holtz said. “They won by 22 points. Their quarterback was 17 of 25. Their two tailbacks averaged 12 yards a carry and nine yards a carry. Defensively, they didn’t give up a touchdown. They gave up 0.2 yards per rush. [Miami (OH)] had 22 rushes for four yards, not four rushes for 22. They did not give up a touchdown. And that’s a bad day.”

QUOTES

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio on Pouncey’s struggles: “No one’s got more focus or attention on that than Mike Pouncey. Those things weren’t all Mike Pouncey. Let’s get that clear. I’m not the least bit concerned about Mike Pouncey. Not even a little.”

Pouncey on his own snap problems: “It’s something I wished I had worked on before but I’m glad it happened at game one, rather than up at Tennessee or this week.”

Sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic on playing well as a starter last week and the defense’s performance: “Mainly [the coaching staff was] concerned about me taking charge out there – making calls for the whole defense and telling everybody what to do. Most of the time I was out there worried about my assignment. [Defensive coordinator Teryl] Austin the last couple of weeks has been getting on me about that. [...] You really can’t be satisfied. They still got yards on us. We wanted to get a shutout. We know the field position was bad, but that’s what sudden change is for. We’ve got to go out and pick the offense up when the offense isn’t moving right.”

Gators fall in second USA Today, AP Top 25 polls

Just three days after defeating the Miami (OH) Redhawks 34-12 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, the Florida Gators fell three and four spots, respectively, in the latest USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls.

Ranked No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll going into the season, the Gators dropped three places and lost 115 voting points in the process. The AP voters had Florida ranked No. 4 in their preseason poll, but knocked them down four spots, taking away 172 points from their total.

Even though the Gators won their opener by 22 points, sloppy play as the result of over a dozen fumbled snaps and the inability to consistently move the ball on offense found them much criticism over the weekend. That, combined with the more refined play of some of their competitors, led to Florida’s fall in the rankings.

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

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

*Numbers in paranthesis represent first-place votes.

FOUR BITS: Addazio, volleyball, soccer, Harvin

1 » When things do not always go as planned for the Florida Gators, the fan base seems to freak out. Like last year, fans’ frustrations have already been pin-pointed on offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio. But as both the Orlando Sentinel‘s George Diaz and The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley will tell you, it was only one game and Addazio may indeed deserve a break. “I wasn’t happy with some the play calls Saturday, especially the screen pass from the 1-yard line that should have been ruled a safety,” Dooley wrote in particular. “But with Addazio as coordinator, Florida is now 14-1. I think that has to count for something. Let’s see what happens the rest of the way. Off the ledge, people. Like I’ve said a million times, nobody suffers winning like Gator fans.”

2 » Facing a top-15 opponent for the third time in their first five matches of the 2010 season, No. 4/6 Florida volleyball (5-0) defeated the No. 13/15 Colorado State Rams (5-1) in four sets – 25-22, 25-19, 25-27, 25-21. The victory, which won the Gators the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational emanating from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, featured another brilliant performance from junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy. She, along with senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe, recorded 13 of Florida’s 10 kills. One day prior, in matches that took place earlier in the invitational, volleyball swept the both the Bowling Green Falcons (25-12, 25-11, 25-16) and Albany Great Danes (25-8, 25-21, 25-14) in three sets.

The Gators will host another tournament, the Nike Big Four Classic, beginning Friday. The other three teams participating in the event are No. 1 Penn State, Texas and Stanford, and all game information is available via OGGOA’s Upcoming Schedule table at the top right of your screen.

3 » Also running through the competition this year is No. 7 Florida soccer (5-0), which had six different players score while shutting out the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-3) 6-0 on Friday at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Junior forward Lindsay Thompson (27’), junior F/midfielder Tahnai Annis (30’), freshman F/MF Maggie Rodgers (45’), redshirt sophomore MF McKenzie Barney (50’), freshman defender Mary-Ann Krlin (80’) and sophomore F/MF Natalia Torosian (90’) all punched goals through. As a team, Florida had 30 shots on Jacksonville, 14 of which were on goal. UF is set to face Florida State next on the road Friday at 7 p.m.

4 » Though he missed most of training camp grieving two deaths and suffering from another severe bout of migraine headaches, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin says he is “ready to play ball” for the Minnesota Vikings beginning Thursday night in the NFL’s 2010-11 season opener against the New Orleans Saints (including former Florida defensive end Alex Brown and running back DeShawn Wynn). Harvin, who will be on of quarterback Brett Favre’s primary pass catchers along with the team’s kick returner, believes he is finally getting his migraines under control with the help of numerous doctors. “There’s no miracle solution for them,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “The people I talked to had them for 40-plus years. My mom had them for 35 years and is just now growing out of them. It’s just something you got to hope to maintain. [...] I think we have a great plan.”

Wuerffel’s Words: “Don’t be too alarmed…”

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.

As I watched the Gators game Saturday, I couldn’t help but remember the countless times in my career I heard a coach harp on us about “the fundamentals” of football. Usually, though, that would be an admonishment about blocking and tackling – the two most basic fundamentals of tackle football.

For the Gators this week, I guess we were all reminded there is one more basic level that comes even before that: the snap – the fundamental exchange between the center and the QB. Without that, blocking doesn’t much matter.

But don’t be too alarmed Gators fans. The first game is often a little sloppy. This problem will be remedied quickly, and we’ll get the chance to see how our new group of athletes can truly play in the coming weeks.

My worst game my senior year was the first one but fortunately for me, no one remembers that one.

As for me, I’m still optimistic about this group of guys and the season ahead. The defense should have a very solid year, and I’m excited to see Johnny Brantley develop as our QB. I think he’s got all the tools to have a great season.

And in case you missed it…Jeff Demps is FAST!

Lots of excitement to come!

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.

9/6: 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.

PLAYERS SET TO RETURN SATURDAY

Meyer plans to have redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., junior free safety Will Hill and redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson back with the team for next Saturday’s game against South Florida after all three served suspensions during Florida’s opening game against Miami (OH). Though it is known that Hammond’s punishment came as part of his DUI arrest earlier in the summer, Meyer did not disclose the particular reasons for sitting Hill and Johnson.

On the injury front, Meyer believes redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (knee) and sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) will be able to play on Saturday. However, he is not as optimistic about redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist), who is still recovering.

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR MOSES

After three years of mostly playing special teams, senior cornerback Moses Jenkins was finally able to see the field as a starter on Saturday. Unfortunately for Jenkins, he hyperextended his left elbow while in action and will be out for at least six weeks. Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown, with whom Jenkins was competing with for the job during summer and fall practice, took over for him during the game even though he was nursing a sprained ankle. He is expected to be the starter this week.

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson was also injured during the game, but he will be fine to play on Saturday.

WEEK ONE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that eight Gators graded out as Champions after the Miami (OH) game. As indicated by the contest itself, seven were defensive players while only senior tackle Marcus Gilbert earned the honor on offense. The defenders who were awarded include Brown, junior CB Janoris Jenkins, senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard, senior defensive end Justin Trattou, sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic and redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE SNAPPING?

After reviewing game tape, Meyer said he and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio discovered that senior center Mike Pouncey was not locking his wrist while snapping the ball, causing it to come out at any number of different angles. It was also mentioned that redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, in his first game as a starter, was not paying as much attention to the snap as he should have been, leading him to mishandle some bad snaps that nevertheless should have been corralled.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 9/6: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miami (OH) 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 Miami (OH) RedHawks in the first game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: C+
Starting off with perhaps the most difficult position to grade after Saturday, we have redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who did some things right but also had a role in a number of miscues throughout the game in regard to the team’s snapping issues. If you look strictly at his numbers, going 17-of-25 for 113 yards and two touchdowns is a pretty solid day, but a few of his incompletions were bad misses and his second touchdown was basically a wounded duck he threw up on a fourth down that was luckily brought down by redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey in the end zone. Though it is tough to tell not being on the field, Brantley did not seem to show much leadership and even mishandled some bad snaps that he certainly could have corralled in. The offensive play calling did not help him either.

RUNNING BACKS: B-
Speaking of not getting a lot of help, the offensive line seemed unable to open up a single hole for the running backs at the start of the game. Aside from his 72-yard TD run, junior Jeff Demps carried the ball seven times 26 yards. The same goes for sophomore Mike Gillislee, who only notched 14 yards on five carries if you take away his 41-yard breakaway. But the truth is, both players did have those nice long runs and the rushers showed flashes as the game went on. We will also include freshman QB Trey Burton’s Wildcat snaps here, one of which went for a TD. Overall, the unit could have played better, but you have to give them some credit for putting the game out of reach.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the season opener after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miami (OH) game

NFL cuts deliver good and bad news for ex-Gators

NFL teams were required to trim their active rosters to 53 men on Saturday, which meant a number of former Florida Gators were on the fence about whether or not they would make their respective teams going into the 2010-11 season.

GOOD NEWS

» As expected, all nine Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft made it through training camp and the preseason.

» Former Florida wide receiver David Nelson, who signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills after the draft, was told Saturday afternoon that he made the team. “Officially a Buffalo Bill,” Nelson wrote to his Twitter account. “Thanks to everyone for the support and prayers through this long but rewarding process!”

» Though it is not believed he was in complete danger of making the cut, former Gators safety Reggie Nelson got what he will likely consider his own form of good news Saturday, as the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to trade him to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, in need of safety help after losing Gibril Wilson to a season-ending injury, decided to trade cornerback David Jones and a conditional draft pick to the Jaguars. Nelson will be reunited with wide receiver Andre Caldwell and defensive end Carlos Dunlap in Cincinnati.

BAD NEWS

» Tight end Cornelius Ingram has faced plenty of adversity since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during his senior season with Florida. Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 153 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Ingram proceeded to tear the same ACL again as a rookie during training camp. Finally back at near full speed, he had been playing well for the Eagles this offseason until a baker’s cyst in his knee kept him out of action. Ingram was released by Philadelphia on Saturday but will be a candidate to land on the team’s practice squad should he go unclaimed.

» Even though he scored three touchdowns in the Indianapolis Colts‘ final preseason game, former Gators kick returner Brandon James did not make the cut with one of the top teams in the AFC. Instead, the team elected to sign Devin Moore for that job. James did muff a punt that was returned for the touchdown during the preseason and will likely be picked up as a practice squad player with either the Colts or another team.

» One of the team’s most valuable defensive players throughout the 2009 playoffs, former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, just over a month after the team brought him back (they originally let him go on June 21). In the offseason, the Saints signed fellow former Florida DE Alex Brown, who will be a starter for New Orleans this season.

Week 1: Gators post-game notes and quotes

Putting forth a lackluster showing in their first game of the 2010-11 season, the No. 3/4 Florida Gators edged the Miami (OH) RedHawks 34-12 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 on Saturday.

POUNCEY STRUGGLES AT CENTER

Senior center Mike Pouncey stayed in school rather than declare for the 2010 NFL Draft for the sole purpose of improving his stock while taking over for his brother in a position more highly coveted by scouts. In his first action at his new position, Pouncey had more than a dozen miscues, snapping the ball too low – or too wobbly – or just plain poorly. One mistake early in the game led directly to a turnover, but a number of others killed offensive momentum or put Florida in a hole early in their series.

“I take full credit for messing up the whole offense,” Pouncey admitted after the game. “It was all on me. I’m the leader of the offense and I let the guys down. I’m going to work my ass off and it won’t happen again. The ball just kept slipping out of my hand. I don’t know how the hell, but it just kept slipping out. We’ll have it fixed by next week. We’ve got USF so we’ll be looking forward to it. […] When we did get stuff going, I f—ed up the snap. And then when we did get stuff going again, s–t, we just kept fumbling. It won’t happen again. [...] It was my fault. I’m going to get in here in the morning to fix it. The ball kept slipping out. [...] I’m glad it happened in this kind of game – a game that we could have just went out there and won – but if we do it next week we won’t win the game. We weren’t worrying about [Miami] beating us.”

STARTERS SIT FOR DISCIPLINARY REASONS

Prior to the game, it was known that at least four starters and two others players would be out of action Saturday. However, it came as a surprise to some to see neither junior safety Will Hill nor redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson on the field to start the game. As first noted by OGGOA on Twitter, both players were held out of action for disciplinary reasons. “We expect certain things in the classroom. We expect their behavior off the field. You expect a lot of things and if you don’t fulfill that you don’t play,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “Those two guys didn’t fulfill expectations.”

Sophomore S Josh Evans started in Hill’s place, and the Gators were forced to re-shuffle an already misaligned offensive line, putting redshirt junior right guard James Wilson in Johnson’s place at LG and starting redshirt freshman Jon Halapio at his RG spot. Sophomore linebacker Dee Finely (groin) was a late scratch as well.

PAGING ANDRE DEBOSE…COME IN ANDRE DEBOSE

Conspicuous by his absence was redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. After missing his true freshman season recovering from a hamstring injury, Debose had been performing well in practice and was deemed ready to go for the season opener. But even with Florida’s offensive struggles, Debose was nowhere to be found. Meyer mentioned that there was no intent to keep Debose off of the field, but he would certainly speak with WR coach Zach Azzanni about the situation.

NEW INJURIES OCCUR WHILE OTHERS HEAL

Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins, who earned the starting nod Saturday, appeared to injure his left elbow and forearm after landing on it awkwardly, was put in a sling on the sidelines and iced the area while walking to the locker room during the game. Wilson seemed to injure himself during the fourth quarter, but walked off of the field mostly under his own power. Though no updates were available on those two, Meyer said after the game that sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders and redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed (all of whom have knee injuries) should be active next Saturday against South Florida.

MOORE BLANKED WHILE HINES AND BURTON STEP UP

Meyer was not blowing smoke this fall when he said that sophomore WR Omarius Hines would be an important piece of the puzzle this season. With redshirt senior WR Carl Moore held catchless, Hines played his new hybrid tight end role and reeled in three catches for 49 yards and the team’s first offensive touchdown on the season on a 10-yard slant from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley.

Also contributing the entire game was freshman QB Trey Burton, who played five offensive positions (QB, WR, TE, fullback, H-back) and got some work on special teams. He even notched a touchdown on a two-yard run from the wildcat formation. “I imagine he graded out a winner because he seems to do everything right,” Meyer commented. “Trey Burton is going to be a major impact [player] on this team.”

QUOTES (after the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 1: Gators post-game notes and quotes

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