Florida plays rocky, still tops Tennessee 31-17

Head coach Urban Meyer improved to 6-0 against one of his team’s greatest rivals as the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) overcame a rough start to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN, on Saturday.

Florida started slow in the first quarter when a poor snap by senior center Mike Pouncey on third-and-long forced the Gators to punt. On the next offensive drive, UF stalled after failing to convert a one-yard run on two consecutive plays, turning the ball over on downs on the Tennessee 46.

With good field position, the Volunteers took advantage of the miscue, drove 25 yards and allowed kicker Daniel Lincoln to curve in a 49-yard field goal to put UT up 3-0 going into the second quarter.

The Gators’ offense was kick-started on its next possession when redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson helped out redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley with a 16-yard catch for a first down on 2nd and 11. Freshman WR Robert Clark kept the drive alive with an eight-yard reception for another first down, allowing sophomore running back Mike Gillislee to score a touchdown from two yards out.

Tennessee was in the process of going three-and-out on its next drive, until junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins muffed a 43-yard punt giving the Vols the ball at Florida’s 40. However, sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic would bail Jenkins out four plays later, intercepting a pass from QB Matt Simms in the end zone on 3rd and goal.

Going into the half with a tight 7-3 lead, the Gators were hoping to dominate the second portion of the game just as they had their two previous contests. Things seemed to be going well early in the third quarter, when junior kicker Caleb Sturgis connected on a 44-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 54-yard drive and give UF a 10-3 lead.

That advantage would be short lived as Simms found a wide open WR Denarius Moore for a 49-yard touchdown early in Tennessee’s next possession. Coverage of Moore was blown by redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown, who gave up a 15-yard reception one play earlier and did not receive any help from junior safety Will Hill (starting his first game of the season) on the subsequent play.

With the score tied at 10 and the Gators on the verge of punting from their own 39, Meyer called a game breaking fake punt to turn the tide. Sophomore WR Omarius Hines took a direct snap 36 yards to the Volunteers’ 25, turning the game around. Redshirt senior Carl Moore made a leaping first down catch to keep the drive going, and Brantley competed a seven-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. six plays later to give the Gators a 17-10 lead.

“The momentum switched in this stadium. Once that momentum goes, it’s hard to get it back,” said Meyer after the game about the call. Hines noted the impact of the play to ESPN. “That was a big boost because we really needed that,” he said. “We were struggling in the first half, and I’m glad I could boost the team back up.”

Hoping to redeem himself for his earlier gaffe, Brown intercepted Simms on Tennessee’s next drive. Florida handed the ball back to Gillislee who, five plays and 41 yards later, tumbled into the end zone to give the Gators a 24-10 lead.

UF achieved back-to-back sacks on Simms courtesy of redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine and redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins, knocking the Vols back to the one-yard line. Though a safety call was overturned by video replay, Tennessee punted the ball to midfield. The Gators failed to capitalize as junior RB Jeff Demps was stripped by LB Austin Johnson on 2nd down, keeping the Volunteers alive.

Backed up with a 3rd and 25, Simms completed a 19-yard pass to WR Luke Stocker giving his team the opportunity to go for it on 4th down. Stocker’s reception became integral for Simms, who found WR Justin Hunter wide open in Florida’s end zone for a 35-yard touchdown on blown coverage by Hill.

With their lead reduced to seven, the Gators struck again on the very next drive. Thompson caught a 24-yard pass to get the series going, and Moore once again saved the effort by pulling down a 12-yard catch on 3rd and 9 at the Vols’ 27. From the Wildcat formation, freshman QB Trey Burton rushed for a two-yard touchdown four plays later to give Florida a 31-17 lead.

After struggling to get going, the Gators posted 317 total yards of offense, were 8-of-14 on third down and controlled the clock for 36:46. Brantley finished 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a score, Demps took a career-high 26 carries for 74 yards and Gillislee touched the ball eight times for 27 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson led Florida with four catches and 55 receiving yards.

Florida’s defense held Tennessee star running back Tauren Poole to 23 yards and a fumble (recovered by freshman S Matt Elam on 10 carries, but Simms did well through the air, going 19-of-31 for 259 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Gators hope to continue building momentum next week when they return home to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.; the game will air live on ESPNU.

Game Notes:
- Five-star freshman defensive end Ronald Powell had the first sack of his career.
- Meyer is 6-0 against Tennessee in his Florida career.
- Meyer is now eight-for-eight in fake punt calls with the Gators.
- Hammond’s touchdown was also his first reception of the season.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Week 3: No. 7 Florida Gators at Tenn. Volunteers

Location: Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN [Capacity: 102,459]
Weather Forecast: 87°F, 0% chance of precipitation
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 122/143
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 7/10 FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Derek Dooley
Record: 2-0 Record: 1-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -14; O/U 45.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida has won 22 consecutive regular season games, 12-straight on the road and 14 regular season SEC games in a row.
» Under Meyer, the Gators are 5-0 against the Volunteers and 2-0 on the road. This is the 40th all-time meeting between Florida and Tennessee, with UF leading the series 20-19; however, the Vols have an 11-9 advantage when playing at home.
» The Gators lead the nation with eight interceptions in two games. That total is twice as many as any other SEC school and two more than any other team in the nation. Florida has recorded four interceptions in back-to-back games this year; Saturday’s game was the fourth time the defense has picked off four balls under Meyer.
» UF has committed a nation-low 84 turnovers since 2005 and has had 24 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation).
» The Gators went 4-for-4 in the red zone against South Florida with three touchdowns and a field goal. Florida’s red zone efficiency is 77 percent on the season including six touchdowns in nine chances.
» Florida has had a kickoff return of 50-plus yards and a rush of 40-plus yards by a player in each game this season. Sophomore running back Mike Gillislee accomplished it against Miami (OH), while junior RB Jeff Demps hit the mark against South Florida.
» UF’s RB coach Stan Drayton held the same position with UT in 2008.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who is looking to rebound from a rough outing in which he started his first collegiate game. He has thrown 117 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 14-1 TD/INT ratio while playing for the Gators.
» Demps…who had a career-long 72-yard rushing TD in the opening game and totaled 255 all-purpose yards last week. Demps leads the nation in rushing yards per touch (8.1) since 2008 and yards per carry (12.5) in 2010.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson…who had career-highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (83) last week. As Brantley’s primary pass catcher, eight of Thompson’s nine catches this season have been for first downs.
» Tennessee RB Tauren Poole…who has rushed 40 times for 272 yards and three touchdowns this season. Poole is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and ran the ball 23 times for 162 yards (7.0 average) and one touchdown last week against Oregon.
» Sophomore WR Omarius Hines…who made his first career start last week but is moving to slot receiver for the remainder of the season. He had 49 yards on three catches with a touchdown against Miami (OH).
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose…who missed the 2009 season with an injured hamstring but hopes to make an impact with redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey gone. Debose did not play against Miami (OH) and saw limited time against South Florida.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted six balls – three in each of the last two games. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) are leading the way for the unit with their performance and leadership. Black is also tops in the SEC with 20 tackles on the year and is the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233). Junior starting S Will Hill is expected to see the field for the first time this season.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Doubtful – Redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh (stitches), freshman WR Chris Dunkley (hamstring)
Out – Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist)

Inactives
(Will update closer to game time)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators are not set to be featured in particular during ESPN’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. However, the analysts will certainly be discussing the Florida-Tennessee game at various points during the broadcast.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 3: No. 7 Florida Gators at Tenn. Volunteers

Track the Florida Gators en route to Knoxville

The No. 7/10 Florida Gators are on their way to Knoxville, TN, to face the Tennessee Volunteers in their first road contest and Southeastern Conference game of the 2010-11 season. An ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive EXCLUSIVE, the following is the flight information for the Gators, who are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 twin-jet. You can also track the flight live while it is in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport (KTYS)

DURATION: 1 hour 20 minutes

DEPARTURE: 4:26 p.m. EDT [scheduled 4:15 p.m. EDT]
ARRIVAL: 5:32 p.m. EDT [scheduled 5:26 p.m. EDT]

FOUR BITS: Tennessee, Burton, violation, Haslem

1 » In a piece published by ESPN Insider on Wednesday, KC Joyner notes that the Tennessee Volunteers are primed to upset the Florida Gators, even though the talent gap between the two teams is wide. Joyner’s 10 reasons why Florida may fall victim to Tennessee include: 1 – Passing game numbers (5.1 yards per attempt for redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley), 2 – Vertical passing game (7.8 yards per attempt), 3 – Fumbles (10, three lost), 4 – Near interceptions (five, plus 10 fumbles = 15 possible turnovers), 5 – Penalties (14 for 107 yards), 6 – Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (1/3 on field goals with a sore back), 7 – Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (not playing), 8 – Brantley’s first road start, 9 – Tennessee’s pass defense (top 25), 10 – Close game in 2009. How can the Gators win, according to Joyner? “Florida may finally start hitting on more of its cylinders offensive, and if that happens, the talent difference between these two squads is probably too great for the Vols to overcome.”

2 » Gators head coach Urban Meyer is enamored with freshman QB Trey Burton. Where have we heard that before? Don’t jump on the Tim Tebow comparisons too soon because, as the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser points out, Burton is his own man. “Rare – mater of fact, does not exist,” Meyer said when asked about Burton’s versatility. “Somehow we just hit a home run on that one.” Burton, who has played a handful of positions already in Florida’s first two games, is all about “letting your game speak for you,” something he did in order to achieve his dream – earning a scholarship to UF. “he’s a huge asset,” running backs coach Stan Drayton pointed out. “We’re going to keep piling on his plate until he says enough’s enough. He hasn’t shown us enough’s enough yet, so we’re going to keep giving it to him.”

3 » The NCAA is currently taking an extremely close look at the Volunteers’ football and basketball programs for a number of potential violations mostly stemming around recruiting top student-athletes. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the NCAA believes that former QB coach David Reaves knew that Tennessee hostesses had improper contact with recruits and knowingly decided not to alert the school, a major violation. You can read more about the issue here.

4 » As OGGOA reported via Twitter early on Thursday, Florida state prosecutors have dropped all marijuana possession charges against Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem. Cited for possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana on Aug. 16, Haslem was originally pulled over for speeding and having window tints darker than the legally allowed level. The case against him was dismissed because prosecutors could not prove his knowledge or possession of the cannabis beyond a reasonable doubt; however, the police did have probable cause to cite him in the first place. “I am really looking forward to getting back to basketball and focusing on the upcoming season,” Haslem said in an official team statement.

Extra BIT » Senior safety Ahmad Black speaking to CBS about the Gators’ first two games, the “ugly orange” sported by Tennessee and how “Rocky Top” makes him sick.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Gators Gameday Grub: Orange & Blue Cake Pops

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!

This week: Orange & Blue Cake Pops

What You Need
Vanilla cake mix – blue and orange food coloring – 2 containers of vanilla frosting – lollipop sticks – 1/2 bag chocolate chips – wax paper

Directions
1. Mix the cake according to the instructions. Split the batter into two bowls.
2. Dye each bowl, one orange and one blue. Pour the cake batter into separate cake pans and cook according to package directions.
3. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool. Then, crumble each into separate bowls. Add a half container of icing into each bowl and combine until the cake is moist. (Add more icing to moisten more.) Place in the fridge to cool and firm up.
4. Take a little of the orange cake and a little of the blue cake and roll into a 1-2 inch ball. Dip one end of the stick into the frosting and stick it into the ball. Place the balls onto a tray covered in wax paper. Once you have rolled all the cake into balls, place tray into the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, microwave the chocolate chips in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Then, remove the cake from the freezer. Dip the cake pops into the melted chocolate. Cover about 3/4 of pop with the chocolate and then place it back on the wax paper. Finally, place the tray in the fridge to cool until ready to serve.

9/16: Florida Gators week three 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 third game Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HILL WILL PLAY, LIKELY TO START

Early this week OGGOA exclusively reported that junior safety Will Hill, who has missed the last two games due to team discipline, will be traveling with the team to Knoxville, TN, and playing against the Volunteers on Saturday. Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater told the media Wednesday that Hill will indeed travel with the team, and Meyer fully confirmed our report during a media availability Thursday, saying that Hill will play this week and will likely do so as a starter. “Hill’s gonna play,” Meyer said. “I’m not sure [if he'll start]. I think he will.”

MARSH, DUNKLEY SITTING SATURDAY

One week after being cleared to play, redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh will be forced to miss Saturday’s game against Tennessee. However, Marsh is not being held out due to an injury; instead, he will sit because he severely cut his arm during a freak accident in which he leaned on a sink and accidentally broke it. Marsh had approximately 20 stitches and should be able to return against Kentucky. He will still travel with the team as one of its captains.

Freshman wide receiver Chris Dunkley, who has yet to play this season, continues to have hamstring problems and will remain out of action while recovering. It was originally thought he might see the field this week as he was supposedly coming along nicely.

QUOTES

Meyer on taking his team on the road: “We can’t mess up the routine. All great players, all great teams have routines. When they’re disrupted, that’s usually when you get lack of concentration on your job.”

Meyer on how rivalry games stand out: “The intensity is a little different. […] We plan all summer, we talk about them. […] It’s not that I made this rivalry; this was a rivalry years and years ago. It’s the first SEC game, the third game of the year. I was educated about it six years ago.”

Meyer on redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey: “I did speak with him, and he’s very angry and disappointed that the whole thing happened. But you gotta move on.”

Meyer on how Rainey can get back on the team: “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. He’s not on the team.”

Meyer on redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose: “He’s more of an outside guy. When we recruited him, we thought he could be that inside [guy]. [...] Debose is a receiver. He is more of an elongated receiver that can go make plays. So he’s going to stay outside. He’s just got to learn at that same speed he’s been playing at. [...] He’s got a lot of speed – more speed than I thought.’’

Meyer on if Dunkley might redshirt: “No, no. He’s actually had this since November of his senior year in high school. He went through and banged it again in June. Hamstrings are tough injuries. We thought we had it, because we shut him down for a while, that’s exactly what we did. He was 100 percent the last two weeks. We were getting him ready to play and then he tugged it again.”

Meyer about all of the arrests under his watch: “I try to evaluate everything about our program. I’m real upset about that. After a while, enough’s enough. If there’s something that we can improve on, we’re certainly looking into that. It’s like if our graduation rate stinks, then we’ve got to improve that. If there’s other issues in the program, that’s our job to get it better. People making stupid mistakes – that’s something we’ve gotta correct.”

Meyer on the perception that his program is “dirty” because of the arrests: “I don’t care. We do our best to win games. Dirty program? It’s not a dirty program. We follow the rules and some guys make some mistakes and we gotta correct those mistakes. But we follow the rules and we do it the right way at Florida and we have to do a better job of correcting some of the people making mistakes.”

911 call released in arrest of Gators WR Rainey

The Alachua County Sherrif’s Office on Thursday released the 911 call that eventually led to the arrest of Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey. The call features the voice of the sister of Rainey’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, who recounts the events of the night and requests help from the Gainesville Police Department.

You can listen to the full audio below:

Chris Rainey 911 Call

CHOMPING: Florida’s 30 arrests under Meyer

The number is 30. Not 27, not 34 – 30. Thirty arrests of Florida Gators student-athletes under head coach Urban Meyer. Thirty mistakes that he is apparently solely responsible for because, in addition to doing everything in his power to teach these kids the difference between right and wrong in the limited time he has with them, he is in charge of their personal lives, too. Thirty times, you might think, said players first thought about the values that Meyer, his coaching staff and his support staff have been trying to instill in them and consciously made the decision to ignore. Thirty instances in which Meyer is at fault because he’s the figurehead and, much like how a quarterback is the one who gets the praise or blame for a win or loss, the onus falls on his shoulders.

Except it is not all Meyer’s fault. He may be responsible, but the blame needs to be placed where it belongs – on the players.

It’s not like Meyer encourages his players to break the law or does not take the correct steps to help solve the growing problem. If you want to find Meyer guilty of anything, it may be caring too much. Is it wrong that a man responsible for over a hundred young men each year chooses to wait and see how a situation proceeds or is resolved legally before making a final decision on a particular person’s life?

Read the rest of this entry…after the break.
Continue Reading » CHOMPING: Florida’s 30 arrests under Meyer

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