10/20: Addazio, Brantley talk about execution

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior safety Ahmad Black spoke to the media Wednesday as the team took a final look back on its close loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs and ahead to its match-up against the Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 30.

EXECUTE ON FIRST AND SECOND DOWN

Asked about how the offense has been evaluated since the Mississippi State game, Addazio said that the process is “always intense” and “ongoing” especially during the bye week. “You’re going to sit down as a staff and evaluate what you see on tape and you’re going to move forward the next day,” he said. “On a bye week, you sit back and kind of have a chance to almost take a deeper look at everything.”

And what has that deeper look revealed? “You got to be on schedule [for] first and second down. We’re actually pretty good converting on the downs you don’t want to be in; we’re actually pretty good on those downs,” Addazio said. “Obviously, in an ideal setting, you’re looking to get four or more yards on a first down call. We’ve got to be much more efficient on first and second down.”

Addaio, like head coach Urban Meyer, pointed out that lacking healthy running backs has been a hindrance to Florida’s offense recently. “The run game is a big part on first and second down. That’s something obviously we’ve been very good at [in the past]. So that becomes a factor, yes,” he said. “The injuries to the running backs are certainly a factor on first and second down. Not having the availability to practice with them during the week [hurts].”

OFFENSE GOING THROUGH CHANGES…OR IS IT?

Wednesday morning Meyer said that the offense would be tweaked before the Georgia game with a focus on execution and making sure the right personnel were on the field to make plays. Addazio expressed a similar sentiment but did not speak about wholesale changes. “What you do is you try to make decisions to put your players in the best positions they can [be in] to make the plays they need to make,” he said.

BLITZ PROTECTION AND PICK-UP

Another topic of serious contention after Saturday’s game was how well the offensive line was picking up the blitz and whether or not Brantley was handling it correctly in the pocket. Addazio believes both are doing well though he admits they could be better. “You can always improve. We just have to improve overall in our protection as a group,” he said about the OL. “When you get a lot of pressure like that and you’re throwing the ball in third down-and-long scenarios, they’re pinning your ears back, there’s no threat of run. […] I think John’s done a great job. He’s got to do a better job picking those up and handling all that. […] He does a good job of flipping protections and trying to get the protections slid to match the numbers.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/20: 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:

OFFENSE EVALUATED, WILL BE TWEAKED

Obviously the most important topic Meyer covered Wednesday was Florida’s offense and how it has been evaluated following the loss to Mississippi State. Meyer said he completed a “very in-depth study of where we’re at and what the issues are,” noting that if he was to discuss what was found in full it would be a “two-hour answer.”

He specifically said that the Gators have not had a big play in the running game since the South Florida game “which is alarming” and that all three of his running backs – especially junior Jeff Demps – being injured has really hampered the offense. Meyer also pegged passing efficiency and turnovers as the other two stumbling blocks the offense has to work through. “Those are the issues, now how do we fix the issues? It’s a multitude of things, and that’s what we’re working on in practice – extremely hard,” he said.

Looking at game tape, Meyer evaluated every one of Florida’s offensive drives and came to the conclusion that the Gators have successfully moved the ball on occasion but are not scoring. He said one-third of UF’s drives end in a punt, one-third in a turnover and one-third in a score or missed field goal. Prior to this season Florida used to score on over 50+ percent of its drives; that efficiency is currently down to 19 percent. Meyer added that his evaluations are “all on paper, all up on the board” and even gave an indication that he had them in a stack right near where he was sitting.

The issues, as Meyer sees them, are “scheme and personnel.” He said, “It’s a little bit of both. I don’t want to get into too much detail because it’s not set yet, but we just have to improve. And how do you improve? It’s two the things: it’s scheme and personnel.” Meyer added about potentially changing who calls the plays, “I’ve been head coach now for 10 years, and I’ve been very involved in the game plan and play calling. [...] [Offensive coordinator] Steve [Addazio]‘s got a very strong presence in the run game and protections. We just have to get better and I’m not sure that’s the answer. If it is, that’s what I’m evaluating as well but I’m as involved in that as well as Steve is. That will be fixed if it’s broken. If it’s execution as opposed to the play calling, you can call all the plays you want if you miss your first eight passes or we drop passes and all that, we’ve just got to execute better.”

INJURED GATORS TRYING TO HEAL

With so many Gators injured, Meyer ran through status updates on the players on Wednesday providing a mix of good news and bad news.

» Demps (sprained foot) – light practice Tuesday, being “cautious”
» Sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring) – light practice Tues., being “cautious”
» Redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody (quad) – light practice Tues., being “cautious”
» Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) – “He will not practice this week. We’re doing everything we can to get him back next week. It’s a rather severe ankle sprain, but he’s doing well.”
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (back) – “progressing pretty good,” will know Monday if he may be available for Georgia
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) – broken bone has healed, just needs to gain strength in the arm back
» Redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio (finger) – getting better
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle) – “[He's] doing pretty good. He’s not practicing, but it’s all positive.”
» Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins (concussion) – “[He] will be fine. He did not practice yesterday, but I’m not sure about today. We’re real cautious about concussions.”

RAINEY WILL BE ELIGIBLE. BUT ACTIVE?

Meyer said that redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey will technically be allowed to play in two weeks against Georgia. Whether or not he will is another story all together. “He’s eligible to play for this game,” he said. “That won’t be determined ‘til next week. He’s on a week-to-week [basis]. He is eligible to participate in the Georgia game. I’m not saying he will because that has not been determined yet.”

MEYER QUOTES

Opening statement: “I’m not sure if the open date came at a good time or not. We’re trying to get some skill players back and obviously we have to get this thing turned around.”

On how this open date is important for Florida: “Yes. It is [important]. Because it’s this year, that’s one reason. Number two is we’re five minutes before kickoff [against Mississippi State] and we’re being kind of told we don’t have any running backs available for the game. Jeff ended up playing, but he played at about 70 percent. […] The correlation between that and lack of production in our run game is obviously there. I thought [sophomore WR] Omarius Hines did a great job coming in and getting a few plays for us, but he’s obviously not a running back.”

On practice this week: “We had a great practice yesterday, and we’re going to have another one today.”

This post will be updated later Wednesday with more notes and quotes.

Florida commit Leonard suspended for season

Six days ago, four-star tight end recruit A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) decommitted from the Florida Gators. Approximately 24 hours ago he changed his mind and gave a verbal pledge to the University of Florida. On Tuesday, Leonard was suspended for the remainder of his senior season by the Florida High School Athletic Association.

According to multiple reports, Leonard was involved in an altercation and perhaps other incidents during a game last Friday. Becoming increasingly frustrated after having two touchdowns called back due to penalties, he reportedly “took a swing” at an opposing player, this according to the Orlando Sentinel‘s Chris Hays, who spoke with said player’s head coach.

“Leonard, however, must have had prior altercations or questionable conduct for the FHSAA to come down so hard on the star athlete,” the Sentinel reported though it was unable to provide specifics.

Photo Credit: Harrison Diamond/The Alligator

OGGOA RELATED: Five days later, A.C. Leonard recommits to Gators
OGGOA RELATED: A.C. Leonard decommits, opens up recruitment

TWO BITS: Harvin’s returning, Tebow’s passing

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin has become a dynamic kickoff returner for the Minnesota Vikings. Only in his second professional season, the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has three return touchdowns on his career with his latest – a 95-yarder – coming on Sunday. The St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Jeremy Fowler took a look at how Harvin’s return efficiency stacks up all-time. Hint: it’s pretty good. With three touchdowns in 58 returns, Harvin is averaging one every 19.3 touches, good for second all-time to Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers’ one every 15.16 touches (six TDs in 91 returns). Harvin’s efficiency also tops others like Leon Washington (21.66), Devin Hester (25.5), Josh Cribbs (35), Deion Sanders (51.66) and Dante Hall (71).

2 » Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said his staff will “continue to tinker with” its package for former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow after the Heisman Trophy winner scored his first NFL touchdown on Sunday. However, in order to make his presence on the field truly effective, Dave Krieger of The Denver Post opines that Tebow needs to throw the ball. “[Passing] is the element missing so far from the Broncos’ Tebow packages, and it’s the element that will be necessary to make him more than an NFL novelty act,” he wrote. “The package could feature more weapons if [QB Kyle] Orton came out of the game, but that can only happen if Tebow is a threat to throw it himself.” McDaniels sees both sides to the situation. “We certainly can throw the ball with him out of [the package],” he said. “We haven’t yet. We can’t do the same thing with it week after week after week. […] The defense knows if it’s a quarterback back there you certainly have to be ready to play the pass, and that would certainly be the case with Tim.”

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

Five days later, A.C. Leonard recommits to Gators

Less than a week after decommitting from the Florida Gators, four-star tight end recruit A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) has renewed his pledge to the University of Florida and claims that it is his final decision, according to a report from Scout.com.

Leonard told Scout that outside influences were pulling him in different directions and giving him bad advice about his future; after thinking about it, he decided to recommit and is “shutting the whole process down” out of respect for the Gators.

“I will enroll early at the University of Florida in January to try and help bring a championship back to Gainesville,” he told Scout‘s Jason Higdon. “I want to apologize to the Gator Nation and coach [Urban] Meyer, coach [Scot] Loeffler and coach [Brian] White. [...] I am 100 percent Gator and the recruiting process is over.”

Florida’s second commitment for 2011 (he verbally agreed to join the team on Nov. 29, 2009), Leonard is also the third-highest rated behind five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC). After decommiting on Oct. 13, he said he was considering Alabama, Miami and Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Harrison Diamond/The Alligator

OGGOA RELATED: A.C. Leonard decommits, opens up recruitment

10/18: Donovan speaks on leadership, freshmen

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the key news and notes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional quotes after the break.

POST PRESENCE SHOULD HELP SHOOTING PERCENTAGE

A lot of factors contributed to the backcourt’s inefficiency shooting the ball last season. Looking back on the 2009-10 team, junior point guard Erving Walker and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton were basically on an island without any depth behind them. This led to the duo being fatigued and forced to shoot lower percentage shots earlier than preferred. Donovan believes that will no longer be an issue this year. He expects Walker, Boynton and senior forward Chandler Parsons to get “better and cleaner looks” than they had previously as Florida will be making it a point to establish a scoring presence inside early and often.

“[The players] have shot the ball pretty well in practice. Right now our defense is probably ahead of our offense. Chandler even made a comment to me that he thought in practice it was a lot more difficult to get to the rim, it was a lot more difficult to rebound, things that maybe he was able to do the last couple of years he sees as more difficult,” Donovan said. “The shooting part of it, I think Kenny and Erving and even Chandler will be better shooting the ball just with having a better understanding of shot selection. Both Erving and Kenny, part of their struggles percentage-wise, was a lot of minutes fatigue wise, we really needed them to score, and probably were in situations where they had to take some more difficult shots. Those guys, up to this point, have shot the ball better – maybe because they’re older.”

LEADERSHIP MAKING AN IMPACT

For the first time since the Oh-Fours left for the NBA and the remnants of the back-to-back National Championship teams graduated, the Gators have strong leadership in the form of upperclassmen who can do so both with their words and by example. “In terms of our older guys, they’ve been very good leadership-wise, they’ve practiced well,” Donovan said. “They’ve done a good job trying to lead. We went some tough physical practice here Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So far up to this point in time I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

Donovan also spoke about how important it is to have a team with some depth experience-wise. “Any time you have leaders and older guys that have been through it there’s no question it’s helpful. They can set a standard or measuring stick for your younger guys to understand where they got to get to,” he said. “Any coach would always want some upperclassmen and older guys on their team. That’s always a positive.”

PATRIC YOUNG “PLAYS LIKE TARZAN”

The entire freshman class has impressed Donovan with their energy, enthusiasm and effort through his team’s first three practices. And while all of the freshmen stand out in different ways, physically no one commands attention like four-star power forward Patric Young. Listed at 6’9” (though he will argue 6’10”) and 245 lbs., Young looks as if he was chiseled from stone and plays as if no one can hurt him.

“He’s been really, really blessed physically,” Donovan said of Young. “You can see guys that look great physically, but they don’t’ play well physically. It’s the old, ‘Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.’ He plays like Tarzan. Physically he goes after it. He enjoys contact, he wants physical confrontation – he likes that. There [are] a lot of guys that don’t want any part of that.”

One of Young’s most promising characteristics is his love for defense and shot blocking, something Donovan realizes is a major positive but must be corralled and used appropriately. “We are definitely a better shot-blocking team [with Young] and have more of a presence at the rim,” he said. “When you’re constantly leaving your feet to block shots, there [are] two things that really end up becoming a problem. One is fouls of guys being out of position and getting fouls. The second thing is, when they leave the floor, you can break block-out situations and you can give up a lot of offensive rebounds. So as much as Patric Young, energy-wise, just wants to jump around the lane and try to block shots all the time, for every shot he blocks he’s given up two or three offensive rebounds when he doesn’t block-out. And the decision of, ‘When do I go chase a shot and try to block it or when do I have to go back and try to block-out,’ those are things experience-wise that take a lot of time to figure out.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Florida honored by media in preseason SEC poll

The Florida Gators were predicted by members of the media on Monday to win the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship in men’s basketball.

Florida earned eight first-place votes for the overall title and 13 first-place votes for the East division crown. Mississippi State, which received 18 votes to win the West, followed them in championship polling with three votes. Kentucky was tabbed as second in the East with three votes.

The Gators return all five starters from a year ago and have significantly beefed up their bench with a young but talented freshman class. The media elected two starters, senior forward Chandler Parsons and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, to the preseason All-SEC second team. Boynton was named SEC Freshman of the Year last season.

Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miss. State 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. With basketball beginning practice last week and so much to discuss following the game, we unfortunately had to skip over our grades for the LSU Tigers game. However, this week, we are back with grades as we take a look at how the Gators fared against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the seventh game of the 2010-11 season, which took place on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miss. State game

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