9/23: Florda Gators week four 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 fourth game Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

DEBOSE GROWS

With Florida’s offense putting forth less than stellar performances over the first three games of the season, one of the most heavily discussed topics by fans and the media has been the development of redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. Though he did not play in the team’s opener against Miami (OH), Debose did see limited time against South Florida and Tennessee but has yet to record a reception on the season. That is a fact that might change this week.

“Andre Debose has had a great week of practice,” Meyer said Thursday, noting he had a “really good practice” on Wednesday. “[He hadn't been practicing well] not because he’s not trying, just [because of] the complication of the offense. Really good day yesterday. That was really encouraging. But that was normal growth. Everybody wants them to be something they’re not. He didn’t play a snap last year.”

Meyer also noted that he is developing at a normal pace, citing that the limited time he has been able to practice at full speed is what hindered him the most. Debose completely tore his hamstring off the bone last season and, while he has been perfectly healthy this year, did miss a lot while being out of commission.

TIGHT ENDS DEVELOPING

The Gators have been using six offensive linemen at times this season instead of putting a tight end in the game; this was most notable last week against Tennessee when sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon played one more spot out wide. The reason for this? Florida has a very young group of players at the position with Meyer’s preferable starter still coming along from a training camp injury.

Jordan Reed’s getting close to full speed. A guy named Gerald Christian is getting a little better,” Meyer said. “At the end of the day, you gotta block SEC defensive ends to play tight end at Florida. We’re getting better. We need that position. If you put an offensive lineman there, there’s no threat of pass.”

QUOTES

On the offense’s execution this week: “The pitch-and-catch has been much better. The receivers are starting to get healthy and their legs back. I think they were blown out a little bit during training camp. We’re getting a little bit of depth. You’re seeing Stephen Alli, you’re seeing Andre Debose starting to get going.”

On who shined this week: “Our receivers had their best day Wednesday, which is real encouraging.”

On redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey’s status: “He’s not part of the team. That’s all I got to say. […] Nowhere near the team. […] I’m not even thinking about that. I’m letting everything will be handled and at some point we’ll have to address it and that point’s not now.”

On freshman quarterback Trey Burton switching numbers (from 13 to 8): “Switching numbers? Is that right? I have no idea, I’m not the numbers coach. I delegated that.”

On offense starting slow each September: “When’s that? Every year? September won-loss record is OK though.”

On redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan‘s health: “I love Patchan’s intensity, emotion – we need him in the lineup. [..] He’s doing all condition and he’s still two [games] away.”

On eventually winning 200 games: “I hope we can tackle Randall Cobb, man.”

On coaching until Bobby Bowden’s age: “I don’t think I can do that.”

On not scoring a point in the first quarter yet: “A lot of urgency to get that corrected. Because we certainly have the scheming and players to do it.”

Florida Hall of Famer J. “Papa” Hall passed

Former Florida Gators running back, track & field athlete and University of Florida Hall of Fame member J. “Papa” Hall passed away on Sept. 15. He was 79.

Hall, who along with Rick Casares and Buford Long was a member of perhaps the most powerful group of running backs in school history, was the Gators’ leading rusher in 1952 with 671 yards. He was “recruited by every major Southern college” (according to the Tallahassee Democrat), but chose to play in Gainesville, FL, because it was close to home.

The winner of two national collegiate high jump championships (1951, 1953) during his time at Florida, Hall also set a national indoor high jump record (6’11″) while in school. He helped lead the Gators to their first-ever bowl game victory, a 14-13 win over Tulsa in the 1953 Gator Bowl. Described by author Buddy Martin as “swift with long legs and a big stride,” Hall rushed 17 times for a team-high 94 yards in that game and caught two passes for a team-high 60 yards, accounting for almost half (154 yards) of Florida’s total offensive output (334 yards) that day.

He was picked up by the New York Giants after college but instead chose to attend law school and pursue a career as a judge.

Elected to the Leon County Circuit Court in 1980, Hall presided there for 18 years, serving 10 more years as a replacement judge before retiring. Fair skinned, he was diagnosed with melanoma a few months ago and skin cancer spread throughout his body eventually leading to his demise.

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Hall family.

FOUR BITS: Wright, Harvin, Demps, volleyball

1 » When former Florida Gators safety Major Wright landed with the Chicago Bears, early expectations were that he would be starting for them right away. However, as training camp went on, Wright broke his left index finger (missing almost the entire preseason) and pulled his groin (losing another week of practice). Finally healthy again, Wright was in the rotation last Sunday but went down with his third injury this year – a hamstring strain. Apparently Wright got hurt on special teams while trying to catch fellow rookie Dez Bryant’s 62-yard punt return for the Dallas Cowboys. Early reports have Wright missing at least three weeks, meaning he will have to start all over again during week six of the NFL season.

2 » In other injury news, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was expected to be featured Sunday as his Minnesota Vikings took on the Miami Dolphins. Instead Harvin reinjured his hip while throwing a block and was forced to sit out much of the game. Though head coach Brad Childress has noted that he is not concerned with Harvin’s hip, he did miss practice Monday and Tuesday because of it. When Wednesday rolled around, Harvin stepped on the field for a short time but had to leave as he suffered another bout of migraines. His status for Sunday is questionable.

3 » Florida junior running back Jeff Demps has been added to the 2010 Paul Hornung Award watch list, a first-year honor being given to the most versatile player in college football. In three games this season, Demps has achieved 369 yards of offense and two touchdowns as well as a total of 590 all-purpose yards. Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey is also on the watch list.

4 » On the road Wednesday, No. 3 Gators volleyball (9-1) took down the rival No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (9-2) 3-0 (25-23, 31-29, 25-21) in Tallahassee, FL, at Tully Gymnasium. With the win, Florida is now 33-16 all-time against Florida State (26-2 under head coach Mary Wise). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy once again led the way with her 19th career triple-double (11 kills, 20 assists, 11 digs for 12.5 points), while junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel contributed 11 digs and nine kills. The Gators will next see action at home on Sunday against Ole Miss.

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

9/21-22: Gators players, coaches speak to media

A number of Florida Gators players and coaches spoke to the media on Tuesday and Wednesday as the team looks ahead to its game against the Kentucky Wildcats at home on Saturday (airing on ESPNU at 7 p.m.).

Check out what offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson, redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 9/21-22: Gators players, coaches speak to media

Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

Seven former letterwinners, including Gator Greats Mike Peterson (football) and Bob Emrick (men’s basketball) will be inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame 2011 class. The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. announced the class on Wednesday, which will receive their honors at the Hall of Fame Banquet on April 8, 2011, in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

According to UF, “inductees are divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.” The remainder of the induction class includes Gator Greats Dawn Buth (women’s tennis), Judd Davis (football), Michelle Freeman (women’s track & field), Mimosa McNerney (women’s swimming>, Distinguished Letterwinner Keith Tribble (football), and Honorary Letterwinner Dr. Richard Shaara (team physician).

More about each inductee and their career accomplishments after the jump.
Continue Reading » Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

Pouncey thinks Rainey will be back…eventually

Speaking with the media Thursday, Florida Gators senior center Mike Pouncey divulged his belief that suspended redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey will be back with the team at some point this season.

“He’ll be back,” Pouncey said. “We just don’t know when.”

Asked how Rainey is handling the situation Pouncey added, ‘He’s doing good. He made a mistake. I talked to him yesterday. He’s doing good. He just can’t wait to get back.”

Considering Rainey is indefinitely suspended after being arrested on a third-degree felony aggravated stalking charge, Pouncey’s comments certainly did not go over well with the coaching staff. Therefore it should be no surprise that a team spokesperson made it clear Pouncey’s words were his own and did not represent the position of head coach Urban Meyer or the Gators.

Chances are Rainey’s charge will eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor and he will be punished accordingly by the state. Should that occur, holding the opinion that he will be back on the team at some point over the next three months is nothing outrageous. However, when it comes to offenses that get Meyer’s craw, violence (or threatening violence) against women is at the top of the list.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

9/22: 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:

» Asked about what has changed in regards to the Kentucky Wildcats since he took over coaching Florida in 2005, Meyer said that the program has significantly improved personnel-wise and has been recruiting well over the last few years. He said he is impressed with where they are from a talent perspective and thinks they are one of the best teams in the SEC in that regard.

» Why hasn’t redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose seen the field much this season? According to Meyer, Debose’s learning curve is not progressing as quickly as others at his position. The coaching staff is trying to feed him as much of the playbook as possible, but it appears the retention and execution may not at the level to which they are comfortable with him on the field on a consistent basis. “It’s just a learning curve,” he said. “We’re force feeding at him as much as we can as fast as we can. It’s gotta happen pretty quick.”

» With sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returning as a starter against Tennessee, Meyer said the offensive line is finally showing more consistency during practice. He also noted that redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed is in the process of learning his position and is improving week-to-week. Additionally, he said one reason the Gators have not shown more versatility up front is because the team needs to “sure up” the TE position.

» Injuries: Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody missed practice once again Tuesday while recovering from a deep thigh bruise; Meyer hopes to get him on the field Wednesday. Reed has strep throat and will miss at least one day of practice.

» If Florida wins Saturday against Kentucky, it will be Meyer’s 100th victory as a head coach. Asked about the significant wins during his career, Meyer said he does not concentrate on the victories but rather the players who have helped him achieve those milestones. Though he did briefly mention the 2006 game against South Carolina as a stand-out moment, Meyer specifically pointed out former cornerback Vernell Brown and the impact he had on helping turn around the entire Gators program.

QUOTES

Opening statement: “I’m very pleased with the outcome of last week’s game. Obviously we gotta clear some things up. One thing about Kentucky the last few years they’ve had a cycle when those kids get early, those talented, talented players. I think Cobb’s one of the best players in the SEC.”

On Kentucky improving over the past few years: “I look at personnel, and I just think personnel-wise from 2005 to where they are now, they’re an upper echelon SEC team.”

On players looking ahead to Alabama: “Oh no. No, no. Not here. […] There is absolutely none of that right now.”

On first quarter struggles: “We try to build on the positives and fix the negatives. How do you fix the negatives? We’re going to really make an emphasis on coming out of the gate fast. How do you do that? Execute.”

On some of his memorable wins: “I’m more into the people than the wins. I remember so many of the great efforts and have been blessed to have so many great players. There’s the obvious ones, the South Carolina one when we blocked the field goal. But I’m more into some of these great young players we’ve had. For example, Vernell Brown wants to bring his son to the game this weekend. He was really the pioneer of our program. He was a guy who was really unheard of, came in and was the most loyal, dedicated guy that helped us turn the corner. Those are the things I remember more than plays, it’s the players and when they come back and see what they’ve built. I really admire those guys.”

Haslem: “I’m always going to be a Hurricane”

From 1998 to 2002, Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem attended the University of Florida and played basketball for the Florida Gators. He was so instrumental to Florida’s success, in fact, that upon graduation he was the winningest player in school history, the first player in team history to play on four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams and only the second UF player to be named to the first three Associated Press All-America teams.

For Haslem, though, his time playing in Gainesville, FL was a business decision – one made to further his athletic career. When it comes down to loyalty, for the Miami native, it is apparently all about The U.

“A lot of people are probably going to be mad at me, but at the end of the day I only know one thing and that’s loyalty,” Haslem said Tuesday on the Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in South Florida. “In my house growing up, you were a Hurricane or you were homeless. I went to the University of Florida, which was a business decision. You have business decisions in life. And I love the Gators, I love coach [Billy] Donovan, I love the opportunity that they gave me. But I’m always going to be a Hurricane in my heart and I’m always going to root for the Canes.”

When pressed on the subject, Haslem admitted that his love for the Hurricanes stemmed from growing up as a big fan of the football team. As far as basketball goes, he still apparently bleeds orange and blue.

“[To] be honest with you, growing up, I was a football player. I played football all the way up to 10th grade. So the only thing that mattered to me was Hurricane football,” he said. “Basketball? I’m going with the Gators. I played for the Gator basketball team.”

Haslem also recounted a story about bumping into former teammate Teddy Dupay immediately after the Heat won the 2006 NBA Title. He said while the entire team (players, coaches, trainers) was celebrating on the court in Dallas, TX, he turned around and saw Dupay right beside him and had no idea how he got there.

“That’s my boy. Me and Teddy go back to high school where we played against him all the way to the state championship. We beat him pretty bad. Ted’s a great guy and we still keep in touch.”

College thoughts aside, Haslem has now set his sights on a second NBA title, which he will pursue with the triumvirate of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

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