FOUR BITS: Trattou, Gaffney, Lochte, Tennessee

1 » Junior running back Jeff Demps ran rampant over the South Florida Bulls. Senior safety Ahmad Black flew back-and-forth in the secondary making hits an intercepting balls out of the sky. But a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive end Justin Trattou may very well have been the play of the game – or at least the play of his career. “It is definitely up there with my biggest plays,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “It is my first touchdown as a Gator. It’s a great feeling. […] I saw a lot of green in front of me and I was not going to let anyone catch me from behind, that is for sure. I didn’t get caught last year [against South Carolina] either, I tripped over my own guy.” Classmate, linemate and friend Duke Lemmens was just as excited. “Anytime one of us bigger guys gets in the end zone – it is awesome,” Lemmens said. “I got almost as tired running all the way down to celebrate with him as I did the whole game.”

2 » Trading star WR Brandon Marshall, the Denver Broncos had some shuffling to do at the receiver position this offseason. Head coach Josh McDaniels drafted one in the first round but mostly stuck with guys already on the team to fill in the blanks – and that includes former Gators WR Jabar Gaffney, who enters the 2010 season after a career-year in both receptions (54) and receiving yards (732). Scoring a touchdown in his team’s first game of the season last Sunday, Gaffney is feeling at home in Denver and ready to become a big-time producer. “I know what I can do, and my teammates and my coaches, they all have confidence in me,” Gaffney said recently.

3 » Michael Phelps may get the recognition, but as far as the title of best swimmer in the world is concerned, that distinction currently belongs to former Florida student-athlete Ryan Lochte, just ask longtime coach of Phelps, Bob Bowman. “Obviously, Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world this year. No question,” he told the Associated Press. “That will be a huge challenge for Michael going forward..

4 » With the Gators heading to Knoxville, TN, on Saturday, fans of the Tennessee Volunteers used the opportunity to take a shot at Florida by releasing “(352): Time to Die” shirts, making fun of the arrest of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey this week. While jokes and mockery are fine, especially in the Southeastern Conference, perhaps doing so while referencing a third-degree felony aggravated stalking charge is a bit distasteful, no? This isn’t exactly former guard Lee Humphrey falling of his scooter or a misdemeanor alcohol offense (which we’ll take a look at later).

Austin Rivers – finally – drops Florida from list

Just over five months after decommitting from the Florida Gators, the team which he promised to play for as a freshman in high school, five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has completely dropped them from his recruitment list.

At the time of his decommitment, Rivers called attending Florida “still a very possible option for me,” noting that he made the decision in order to open his eyes to other choices. When Rivers made it clear a day later that he wanted to go to a “program where it’s the big stage,” explaining that he committed to the Gators “right after they won two national championships when they were prime time,” it became obvious his eyes had wandered elsewhere.

Especially considering, just six months earlier, Rivers was not even wavering in his commitment, at least according to his father and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “[Florida is] where he wants to go. He’s going to Florida,” Doc said at the time. “There’s no doubt about that. He’s committed there. He’s a Florida kid.’’

From the get go, word was that Rivers had fallen in love with the Duke Blue Devils. This became apparent a month after his decommitment, when he raved about Duke’s ability to develop players, calling the Blue Devils “the lead school for me right now.”

In a conversation with Scout.com on Wednesday, Rivers officially ruled Florida out. “I have my three schools: It’s Kansas, North Carolina and Duke,” he said. “I’m planning to visit all three of them. Some of them I’ll go alone and some I’ll go with my family. […] Basically those are the three schools that I really like. I like their style of play, their success and that they win and they get guys to the next level.”

Photo Credit: ESPN Rise

TWO BITS: Hammond ticketed, Shands Chomps

1 » Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., whose DUI case came to a close Wednesday after he reached a resolution with Alachua County court, was ticketed for a traffic violation on Aug. 31, according to court records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. Per the records, Hammond was late for an appointment with a therapist he was seeing to meet the conditions of his DUI case and, after his planned ride fell through, hopped on a moped or motorcycle to make it on time. Police cited him for not wearing headgear during the ride, which he took with a suspended license. Hammond’s original punishment – a year of probation, 50 hours of community service (and a $500 fine) – has been adjusted to a year of probation and 20 work-crew days, as Hammond has already completed 15 community service hours.

2 » Shands at the University of Florida is currently running a Chompetition for Gators fans to get their very own music video on the scoreboard at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the team’s last home football game of the season on Nov. 20. Listen to the song below and Do the Chomp with instructions found here!

Do the Chomp!

And here is the latest Shands commercial featuring the Gator Chomp:

9/15: 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:

» Meyer added to what offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said Tuesday regarding the status of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, noting that is currently not a part of the team. “He’s not with the team,” Meyer said. “I think it’s just further evaluation as we go. The immediacy of it is: he’s not with the team.” As far as the minimum amount of time Rainey will be out of action? “I can’t do that. I don’t know,” he said.

» Rather than start redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose or freshman WR Robert Clark in Rainey’s slot position, Meyer said the Gators will instead go with sophomore WR Omarius Hines, who had been playing a hybrid WR/tight end position during the first two weeks of the season. Redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed will also be moving to Hines’ previously occupied hybrid role. “We haven’t had a lot of production in the first two games from [Rainey],” Meyer said. “The good news is that Omarius Hines is a very talented guy that we’re moving in. And also Jordan Reed will be going to Omarius’ spot so we got some guys who will still make plays.”

» Meyer also noted that sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon will return to the starting lineup after being held out of the first game with a knee injury and sparingly playing blocking TE against South Florida. With redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson back in his role last week, Florida’s offensive line is back to normal for the first time all season. More on that below.

QUOTES FROM MEYER (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 9/15: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

Wuerffel’s Words: Talent is “cream of the crop”

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.

“The victory usually goes to the one who can keep his head clear when everything seems to be falling apart.” — Mike Ditka

Actually, I heard Coach Ditka say those words in person, and the quote above is actually my paraphrased version of what he said – his language was a bit more colorful.

As I’ve watched this very young and talented Gator team play two games, there are plenty of things that seem troubling. But there are a lot of things that I’m very impressed with as well. The athleticism and the raw size and speed of the players clearly show how effective the recruiting has been – these guys are the cream of the crop.

While the defense has given up some yards, they are making big plays. Turnovers are game-changers, and Florida has forced a lot of them. Johnny Brantley continues to impress me with his decision-making and accuracy. Jeff Demps is outstanding, and I think the Gators have several other skill players ready for breakout performances.

But, in line with the quote from my first NFL coach, I’ve been most impressed with UF’s ability to NOT PANIC when things have looked really bad.

I can’t stress how important this is, especially for a young team. While many of us fans have cringed, hollered or maybe even used some of our own colorful language during the first two games, Urban Meyer and this team seem to have kept their focus – and it really showed in the second half on Saturday.

I’m looking forward to the Tennessee game this weekend, and I’m especially excited to see this team come together. Let’s hope Coach Ditka is right.

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.

Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida 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 South Florida Bulls in the second game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley played better Saturday than he did last week against Miami (OH), so why only a half-grade improvement? Following up a performance in which he completed 68 percent of his passes, Brantley’s accuracy fell 10 percent even though he gained almost 60 more yards through the air and once again passed for two scores. Brantley did do a better job finding open pass catchers and spread the ball around a bit more, but he has plenty to improve on in the coming weeks.

RUNNING BACKS: A
As a team, the Gators rushed for 267 yards on Saturday, and three running backs with multiple attempts averaged over 7.3 yards per carry. Junior Jeff Demps was the star of the game, rushing 11 times for 139 yards and a touchdown with a long of 62 and average of 12.6. Take away his breakaway run, and Demps still averaged 7.7 YPC. Redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody put on a respectable performance (especially in the second half) with 14 carries for 54 yards (3.9 average), sophomore Mike Gillislee had four powerful carries for 29 yards (7.3 average) and a score, and freshman Mack Brown even saw some action with three rushes for 23 yards (7.7 average).

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the USF game after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida game

Florida WR Chris Rainey arrested for stalking

Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking by Gainesville Police early Tuesday morning.

According to the police report, Rainey contacted a local woman he had been dating sporadically for approximately three years and allegedly visited her home when she did not answer a phone call. When she did not come to the door immediately, Rainey began calling and texting her, eventually allegedly saying, “I’m here and I will bust out the window.” After speaking to him for about 10 minutes, she asked him to leave, later receiving a text message from Rainey which read, “Time to die, b—h.”

Fearing for her sibling’s safety, the woman’s sister called the police, who instructed her to call Rainey to tell him that the officers wished to speak with him. Upon receiving that call, Rainey allegedly told the woman, “Wait and see what happens when they leave.” He was subsequently arrested when officers visited his on-campus residence.

Rainey, charged with a third-degree felony, admitted to sending the text message but not to making the latter statement. After spending the night in jail, he was released on his own recognizance by Alachua County Judge Denise R. Ferrero just before 11 a.m. with a warning not to contact the woman. Ferrero also ordered Rainey to maintain a curfew of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with an exception for school or work.

“I don’t think this is a felony for sure,” Rainey’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday afternoon. “I think that we can come to a resolution that will minimize any long term consequences for Mr. Rainey. I don’t think the lady was ever in any danger, and I know Mr. Rainey and I think he’s a hell of a nice young man and I assure you that he would never hurt this woman.”

“It’s not near as bad as it looks,” Johnson said separately to the Palm Beach Post. “I think that this is going to end up being a minor bump in the road for Chris. In the long run, it would be appropriate, based on what I know, for him to be back on the team at some point this season. I’d be surprised if he’s not. I think it means an awful lot to him to be a student at Florida and it means a hell of a lot to be a player. He’s still a student at Florida, but he’s not on the team, so he has mixed feelings.”

Johnson also spoke to the Associated Press about Rainey, calling him a “terrific kid who works his rear end off” both academically and athletically. “My early sense is this will be something less than a third-degree felony,” he said. “I think this will turn out to be what I think this is, which is something minor. I don’t think that the statute was intended for this kind of thing. [...] I think this is something that will pass. He never intended for this to happen nor would he ever hurt this woman. He cares deeply about this woman. He didn’t handle it like he should have. He knows that. Hopefully this will end up being a bump in the road.”

In court on Tuesday, the woman said she neither feared for her safety nor intended to have Rainey arrested when she called the police. “We just needed someone to diffuse the situation. I did not want to have him arrested last night. When the police came, I signed papers to not press any charges,” she said. “I don’t fear for my safety. I think he should be released on his own recognizance. [...] People all over the country have been calling my cell phone. I’m not afraid of him. I’m more afraid of all the repercussions.”

Aggravated stalking, as defined by Florida state law, is charged to “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury of the person.”

Under the Florida statute, a third-degree felony aggravated battery charge carries with it a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine (plus court costs).

Tuesday afternoon, Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio spoke about the player’s status. “Chris Rainey is not a part of our team right now,” Addazio said.

OGGOA will continue updating this story. Last update: 7:45 p.m.

9/13: 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.

RAINEY, BROWN SHOULD BE ABLE TO RETURN

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey left Saturday’s game with what is believed to have been a concussion. Nevertheless, Meyer believes he will be able to play Saturday at Tennessee. Rainey was held out of what was a light practice on Sunday for precautionary purposes but looks to be a full go the rest of the week.

Also leaving the game early was redshirt sophomore starting cornerback Jeremy Brown. Meyer said after the contest that Brown suffered a “full body cramp,” but Brown related Monday that he actually had a strained hamstring and should be fine for the weekend. Even so, he noted that freshman CB Cody Riggs, who got a lot of playing time in his stead, did well and even complimented his exceptional speed.

In other injury news, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returned Saturday from a knee injury but played as a reserve. He will likely return to his starting role against Tennessee, moving the rest of the line back to their original positions.

WEEK TWO CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that ten Gators graded out as Champions after the South Florida Bulls game. Junior running back Jeff Demps, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior strong safety Ahmad Black were all singled out as Players of the Week. Offensively, redshirt seniors offensive linemen Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt and RB Emmanuel Moody were all honored. Four players on the defense – junior CB Janoris Jenkins, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens – shined throughout the game.

Additionally, Demps and Pouncey were each honored by the Southeastern Conference, respectively, as the organization’s Special Teams Player of the Week and Offensive Lineman of the Week. Demps returned two kickoffs for 95 yards, and Pouncey had a 95 percent efficiency at center.

GAME BALLS FOR EVERYONE!

For the second time in three days, Meyer pointed to the home crowd at The Swamp for its amazing passion and support throughout what he believes is one of – if not the – hottest game played at the stadium in years. He even joked that he wished he could buy game balls for all 93,000+ fans as they severely impacted South Florida’s ability to move the ball in the second half.

A BUNCH OF COMEDIANS

Redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson is apparently a jokester, aiming some one-liners on Monday at Tennessee players, fans, former head coach Lane Kiffin and those who insist on comparing redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley‘s leadership to that of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Johnson quipped that it was funny the players had problems bathing (staph infection issues) and said Kiffin left for USC because he would prefer probation for two years rather than the humiliation of being beat by Florida again. “I mean, let me ask you a question,” Johnson said. “What would you prefer…to lose to Florida or can’t go to a bowl game for two years? I think we already defeated him in our minds.”

Also cracking wise Monday was Pouncey, who related a story from a trip to McDonald’s on Sunday night. “I heard it all. I was going through the drive-thru last night at McDonald’s, and as I was leaving the guy told me, he said, ‘Don’t mess up the snaps,’ and I said, ‘Hey, don’t mess up my sandwiches no more.’”

Perhaps Black was right when he said early Monday, “I just may be on the funniest team in America,” because he’s one of them, noting later in the day that his last memory about visiting Tennessee was “a bunch of drunk old people.”

QUOTES (More coming soon…)

Meyer on his team’s first away game: “We’re going to have a bunch of new players get on that plane and head to Knoxville. So much of what we do around here is routine and that is a major concern. I’m trying to fight myself right now on how to get that done and not take away from preparation time. The worst thing that happens is someone’s late walking in, forgets their tie. Someone doesn’t show up. Someone forgets their ID on the plane and goes to the room when we’re not supposed to go to the room. That just messes everything up as far as routine and we take that real serious around here. We’ll have several meetings about it and try to get that ready.”

Meyer on Florida’s upcoming opponent, Tennessee: “It’s SEC personnel from top to bottom. [They have] some dynamic players, some young players. They’re dealing with some of the same issues we have as far as lack of experience, but make no mistake about it – they’re every bit as talented as most teams in the SEC. And obviously [Neyland Stadium] one of the most difficult environments to play in.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel for the player quotes above.

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