Pouncey adds Pro Bowl to stellar rookie season

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey became the second Florida Gators rookie in as many seasons to be named to the NFL Pro Bowl.

He was selected as the back-up for the AFC to Nick Mangold of the New York Jets, who was tabbed for the third-straight season.

Pouncey follows in the footsteps of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who earned a Pro Bowl nomination last season as a rookie out of Florida. Harvin started for the NFC as a kick return specialist.

Barring injury, Pouncey will have started every game this season for Pittsburgh at center. He is a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, an award that will likely go to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and was also won by Harvin last season.

Pouncey is the 20th former Gators player to be picked for the Pro Bowl and only the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Harvin).

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Teryl Austin hospitalized with mild gastritis

Florida Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was hospitalized on Monday after complaining of severe abdominal pain, according to the University of Florida. Austin was admitted to Tampa General Hospital for a variety of tests and evaluations and was diagnosed with mild gastritis Tuesday evening.

According to the Mayo Clinic, gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach which is often the result of a mild infection. It may occur suddenly or over time and, for most people, is not serious and can improve quickly with treatment. Though it is generally caused by bacterial infection, gastritis can also be triggered by the regular usage of aspirin or pain relievers or even excessive use of alcohol.

Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and severe indigestion.

Austin was released from the hospital Tuesday evening and will likely be available for the 2011 Outback Bowl on Sat., Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

12/28: Meyer and Paterno Outback Bowl presser

The Florida Gators are currently in Tampa, FL, preparing for the 2011 Outback Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. Below are some notes from head coaches Urban Meyer and Joe Paterno, who held a combined media availability on Tuesday.

STEPPING DOWN IS SACRIFICING FOR HIS FAMILY

Since announcing his decision to resign, Meyer has cited the primary reason as the ability to spend more quality time with his family. Tuesday he said that his family’s commitment to him over the past few years has allowed him the opportunity show dedication back to them.

“I have a great family, as close as you can imagine, and we asked them… at one point in a five-year period we lived in four different states bouncing kids in and out of school, not by choice but just with that in mind that we’re going to go as hard as we can and then at some point pull away,” he said. “They’ve sacrificed for us now we’re going to sacrifice for those kids. It’s kind of a humbling feeling to do that. Not many people have that opportunity to step away and give back to the people that have given so much to us. The people are those kids. They deserve to have their dad go watch the games and be around. I think last December was kind of a frontal blow and let’s evaluate this whole thing for a minute, and we did.”

STATE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL COULD BE IMPROVED

Asked about the college football landscape, Meyer was quite critical about how things have changed since he first got into the profession decades ago.

“College football, I don’t know if this is the appropriate time, I’m very concerned about it,” he said. “I can’t speak for Coach Paterno. I got into coaching 25 years ago for guys like Joe Paterno, Bo Schembechler, the Earle Bruces of the world, the unselfishness, the teamwork, the struggle. […] I’m concerned, but I’m sure I’m not the only one, and it’s part of life right now. I hope to see it come back to the way it was, and that was a team sport that a bunch of good guys doing it the right way and guys getting education, graduating from college and looking at their college experience as the greatest experience they’ve ever had. That’s what I love college football for.”

Citing Paterno in particular, Meyer heaped praise on one of his idols in the profession. “I’ve known Coach Paterno longer than he’s known me. I was one of those guys that knew I wanted to be a football coach,” he said. “Obviously, whenever you know that, you pick your idols and pick the guys you want to pattern, you like to do it their way. Obviously Coach Paterno is at the top of the list.”

Paterno shared some warm thoughts about Meyer as well. “I have said this privately and publicly, and that’s why I hate to see him go, I think that Urban has been one of the innovators with some of the things they’ve done on the field,” he said. “I haven’t been to his practices, but some of my coaches have had some experience with him. My son, Jay, worships the guy. I keep telling him, ‘Your old man’s a head coach too you know.’”

JENKINS’s INJURY HAS BEEN SEASON-LONG

Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, arguably Florida’s most consistent and talented defender this season, played basically the entire year with a torn ligament in his right shoulder. Jenkins played quite well through the injury but will be missing the Outback Bowl after undergoing surgery to repair it after the Florida State game.

“He had a labrum tear in I want to say the second week or third week of the year,” Meyer said. “He was strapped down all year. He fought through it. He’s a competitor. He never missed practice, he never missed anything, and it got really bad near the end. He’s doing great and he’s a great competitor. Obviously you saw the way he played. He played like an all-conference player.”

Meyer admitted that he had not yet spoken to Jenkins about playing professionally and does not know if he plans to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft.

DEFENSIVE REPLACEMENTS

With Jenkins and and redshirt senior defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders all out for the game, Meyer went over who would replace each player on defense. Redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown will start in place of Jenkins with redshirt junior CB Moses Jenkins and freshman CB Cody Riggs splitting time on the other side. Redshirt sophomore Omar Hunter will play on the punt team and is slated to start inside along with redshirt junior Jaye Howard for Marsh and Sanders. Also getting playing time will be freshmen DTs Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley as well as redshirt senior DT Brandon Antwine.

ESPN CERTAINLY AN OPTION FOR MEYER

Meyer has worked as a college football analyst on two occasions: in 2007 during FOX’s broadcast of the BCS Championship game and last week during ESPN’s broadcast of the Las Vegas Bowl. Though some have criticized him as being a bit dry and fidgety during his appearances, Meyer looks relatively comfortable as a commentator and would likely fill such a role nicely. He admitted Tuesday that he may actually have a future with ESPN.

“They called and said, ‘Why don’t you drive up for the day?’” Meyer said of contact he had from the network while he was on vacation in New York. “So I brought my son and he loved it. What I found out is… What a place. Great people.”

Meyer said he will not think about working in television until after the bowl game on Saturday but that it is certainly an option. “Some guys are really good at that,” Paterno said of doing TV work. “Urban’s going to be great at it. […] I hope he never becomes ‘Dr. Urban.’ We can only have one doctor at a time.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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12/27: Florida’s Outback Bowl practice notes

The Florida Gators are currently in Tampa, FL, preparing for the 2011 Outback Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. Below are some notes from the players after practice on Monday.

NO CHANGES FOR THE OFFENSE

Florida will once again play three quarterbacks in its offense according to a number of players who were asked Monday about the team’s plans on that side of the ball. Redshirt junior starter John Brantley reaffirmed those statements. “We’re still working Jordan Reed and Trey [Burton] in there. That’s what we’re going to stick with. Who knows what the defense will give us, but we’re going to stick with that and keep practicing and keep trying to execute.” Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will remain the play caller for the Gators in his final game with the team before leaving to lead Temple as head coach.

BRANTLEY REMAINS UNDECIDED ABOUT FUTURE

Speaking of Brantley, the Gators starting QB has yet to decide one way or another whether or not he will stick around next season. Brantley admitted for the first time after new head coach Will Muschamp’s introductory press conference on Dec. 14 that transferring was a consideration. “I’m still going to sit down with my family after this bowl game,” he said at the time. “I think coach Muschamp is a great coach and he’s going to have a great staff come here. But I’m still going to sit down with my family and talk about things.” His tune did not change Monday. “I haven’t really discussed it with my parents yet,” he said. “I’m really concentrating on playing this bowl game and playing the best against Penn State as I can. […] I’m a Gator. That’s what I am right now. I’m just giving all my effort to the bowl game and just acting like it’s any other bowl game or any other game.”

Asked the same thing numerous other times, Brantley repeatedly said that he would “weigh the pros and cons” of returning and playing in a new offense under Muschamp. He did, however, admit that the fact UF is going pro-style is appealing. “Pro-style offense is what I was looking for,” Brantley said. “And I’m still just gonna go home and talk and weigh the pros and cons with what Coach Muschamp wants to do and everything and go from there.”

For what it’s worth, his teammates do not think he is going anywhere. “I think Brantley’s going to say,” redshirt sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I really think so. … [Transferring] went through everybody’s mind because I know it went through mine.”

DEMPS STILL NOT SURE-FOOTED

Junior running back Jeff Demps has yet to fully recover from the stress injury in his foot and probably will not see extensive playing time on Saturday. Nevertheless, he says his foot feels “85 percent” healthy, and he will certainly try his best to give it a go.

FOUR PLAYERS, MCCARNEY WILL BE MISSED

With four players who play extensive minutes set to miss the Outback Bowl, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Omar Hunter said the team is not overly worried about them being out. “We got some young guys who are going to step up. I got trust in them,” he said. “Some guys got to step up, myself included.” However when it comes to defensive line coach Dan McCarney no longer being with the team (he is now the head coach at North Texas), Hunter feels the void. “I miss coach McCarney. I do,” he said. “It’s just a different voice in your head. I’m not used to not hearing his voice in my head every play, every snap. ‘Omar, get going. Get going. Do this, do that.’”

Florida once again dropped from Top 25 polls

Taking a step forward last week, the Florida Gators (9-3) completely fell out of the latest ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls after being upset by the Jacksonville Dolphins 71-68 in overtime on Dec. 20. A 11-point win over Radford two days later did not help Florida’s case as it is once again on the outside looking in even after taking down the then-No. 6 team in the country just over a week ago.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Kansas State, Michigan State, Purdue, Kentucky, Baylor, Minnesota, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Notre Dame, Illinois, Texas, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Louisville

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Purdue, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Louisville, Central Florida, Memphis, Baylor, Wisconsin, Illinois
+ Florida received 33 votes, good for 32nd overall

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (64), Ohio State (1), Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Kansas State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Baylor, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Central Florida, Texas A&M

This Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, MIssouri, Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Central Florida, Michigan State, Memphis, Louisville, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Temple
+Florida received 35 votes, good for 32nd overall

FAIRFIELD GAME CANCELED
Due to severe weather in the northeast, UF’s scheduled game against Fairfield on Tuesday has been canceled. It will not be rescheduled this season. Florida will next face Xavier in Cincinnati, OH, on Dec. 31. “We’re certainly disappointed for our fans that the game had to be canceled but it wasn’t for any lack of effort from Fairfield trying to get here, it was conditions that were out of everyone’s hands,” Gators head coach Billy Donovan said in an official statement.

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Injuries force four Gators to miss Outback Bowl

Four Florida Gators upperclassmen – including starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins – will be unable to play against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to injuries suffered during the 2010 season.

In addition to Jenkins (right shoulder), redshirt senior offensive lineman Maurice Hurt (right knee) and redshirt senior defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (right hip) and Terron Sanders (right shoulder) will not play for the Gators in Tampa, FL on Jan. 1. All had surgeries to correct their injuries after the season and are still in recovery.

For Hurt, Marsh and Sanders, the trio of veterans have played their last game in the orange and blue. Jenkins’ situation is not as settled. He is expected to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft but could very well return to Florida next season if he so chooses.

Jenkins may or may not be healthy enough to participate in the NFL Combine. If he is not of complete health, he could still attend for interviews and general evaluations with workouts delayed for Florida’s Pro Day.

The University of Florida confirmed the players would miss the game on Monday.

Tim Tebow rallies Broncos to win at Mile High with two touchdowns in fourth quarter

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow scored two touchdowns in his second straight start on Sunday including a game-winning six-yard rushing score that propelled his team over the Houston Texans 24-23 at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.

Tebow, who passed for 100 yards in the first half and threw an interception into the end zone on his team’s first offensive series, eclipsed that mark in the third quarter alone and finished the game 16-for-29 for 308 yards.

He tossed a 23-yard touchdown to running back Correll Buckhalter mid-way through the fourth quarter and added his rushing TD in the closing minutes.

Houston, which had a 13-point lead over Denver going into the fourth and has the NFL’s worst secondary statistically, allowed Tebow to orchestrate two 12-play touchdown drives to end the game – one for 74 yards and another for 76 yards.

Tebow also completed a career-long 50-yard pass coming out of the half to wide receiver fellow former Florida Gators star Jabar Gaffney.

In his two career NFL starts, Tebow has combined to throw the ball for 446 yards, rush for 108 yards and score four touchdowns including two through the air and two on the ground. His 308 passing yards are the most by a Denver rookie since Hall of Fame signal-caller John Elway (1983).

Sunday marked Tebow’s home debut as the Broncos’ starter. He will lead the team in its final game of the season next Sunday in Denver against San Diego.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Meyer, Foley speak on Addazio taking Temple job

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio was officially announced as the new head coach of the Temple Owls on Thursday. Excited and thrilled to earn his first head coaching job in the collegiate ranks, Addazio was his usual passionate and emotional self at the introductory press conference. After it concluded, the University of Florida released a story that included statements from two of his former bosses.

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m happy for Steve Addazio and his family. Steve has been extremely loyal to me and the University of Florida and I will be forever thankful for his unwavering commitment. His energy and passion have been well-documented and he is a tremendous recruiter and motivator. He is well respected by his peers and his players and I wish him nothing but the best.”

University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley: “Steve has been a big part of our success. Everyone that knows Steve knows what a loyal and passionate coach he is. He cares deeply about the players he coaches and he was a great motivator in the locker room. He has the ability to relate to players, but still maintains their respect. He was one of our top recruiters and his ties to the Northeast will be a good fit for Temple. More than anything, Coach Addazio is a good man with a good family.’’

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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