10/13: Austin, Heater talk defensive improvement

Florida Gators defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin and co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater spoke to the media Wednesday taking a look back on the tough loss to the LSU Tigers and ahead to the match-up against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home on Saturday night.

WHAT’s UP WITH WILL HILL?

A five-star recruit coming out of high school, special teams dynamo and one of the reasons now-senior safety Ahmad Black was partially forced out of his starting job last year, junior S Will Hill missed the first two games of the 2010 season due to team discipline and has not been the same since. Heater says the Hill is struggling most with his tackling but that the staff remains confident he will turn things around.

“He’s had some missed tackles. That’s a situation you’re always coaching against on the back end because a missed tackle on the back end can become a problem in a hurry,” Heater said. “He’s not the only guy [doing that], but he’s a guy we’re trying to improve and he’s trying to improve and get where he wants to get to.”

ELAM’s CONCUSSION KEEPS HIM OUT

Speaking of the secondary, freshman S Matt Elam (who has been playing nickel cornerback this year) was concussed during the LSU game. He has yet to practice this week and could be held out of the Mississippi State game if he does not improve later in the week. “He’s getting close, missed a few days this week but he’s getting closer,” Heater told the media Wednesday. “He observed practice today. We’ll reevaluate tomorrow. They have a whole systematic approach to these things so I just defer to the trainers. I think he’s making progress. He’s certainly better than he was two days ago and he’s able to do more things today than he did yesterday, so he’s making progress.”

The Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser spoke with Elam’s high school coach, Jack Daniels, who said he has never had a concussion before.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/13: Austin, Heater talk defensive improvement

10/13: 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:

RAINEY IS BACK, WITH RESTRICTIONS

As OGGOA previously reported, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey returned to the team for practice on Tuesday after being officially reinstated by Meyer following a month away from the field. However, he will not play until he meets a number of conditions set forth by the coaches and administration. Meyer spoke about the decision to bring Rainey back and gave a bit of insight into what he has to do.

“I met with a variety of people involved in the situation. I let everything happen and then I just thought it would be the best interest to get him around the team,” Meyer said of the process. “[He will play] if he fulfills everything he [has been given to do], to kind of make things not happen again. [...] I wasn’t going to let him practice until he fulfilled his obligations. He wasn’t back with the team until our first day of practice.”

Meyer said that athletic director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen were in “constant communication” with him about the situation. Rainey is “on scholarship, for now” after Meyer “met with professionals who deal with Chris.” He also indicated that someone associated with Florida met with the victim and relayed their opinions of the situation back to him.

“Chris has a history of opening his mouth and careless things come out of his mouth,” Meyer said. “Obviously this is the first time anything like this. Part of him getting back is correcting that issue. Second is community service. [...] Chris is not a violent person. At times he has said careless things. [...] We put a contract together and he just has to fulfill his obligations before he’s going to play.”

INJURY UPDATES PROMISING

Meyer noted that junior starting running back Jeff Demps is “feeling much better than last week” and called him Probable for Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. “He’s going to do some practice today, and they’re telling me he’s going to do some practice tomorrow,” he said.

Redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley “feels much better than he did a week ago” and is “practicing at full speed,” while redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio was surprisingly called Probable by Meyer after having surgery on a broken finger on Sunday. He said Halapio is doing non-contact work right now but should be able to begin contract drills on Thursday.

MEYER QUOTES

Opening statement: “Obviously a tough home loss last week. We’re anxious to get going and get that out of our minds and face a very talented Mississippi State team.”

On opponents running the ball well on Florida: “Alabama we felt like we did well against the run. Last week we did not.”

On how important it is not to just defend the run against an offense like Mississippi State’s: “That’s the essence of that offense. It was no different than when Tim [Tebow] was playing here. That’s how you get the ability at times to score points in that offense, especially if you got talented receivers.”

On how the team is handling the back-to-back loss: “I like the way they’re handling it. They’re not handling it well.”

On how the Gators are able to recruit Connecticut: “I think the connections were coach [Steve] Addazio. That’s his home state. We don’t really use the Internet that much in recruiting. That’s how we got a hold of those guys.”

This post will be updated later Wednesday with more quotes.

OGGOA Caption Contest: Win a Gators scarf!

If you like FREE SWAG and think you have a good sense of humor – this is the contest for you! E-MAIL your funniest caption to the picture below to OGGOA at contest@onlygators.com and win a FREE Turlington Scarf courtsey of Dunlop McCandless! There will be ONE WINNER, but you are encouraged to submit multiple captions in order to increase your chances of winning.

Each Florida alligator scarf is created using the perfect blend of exceptionally soft cotton & acrylic yarns to give the comfort you’d expect, and the style you’ll enjoy. Excellent hand-knit craftsmanship provides a versatile design warm enough for the low Fall temperatures, while lightweight and breathable enough to accessorize your game day wardrobe during the warmer months as well. Available in alligator green, and the classic UF orange and blue, you’ll find this just what you need to match your game day attire!

OGGOA has given away Florida Gators DVDs, a Game Day purse, T Bow Towels, Gillette Pro Fusion razors and other goodies over the first 12 months of our existence; there are a number of other giveaways coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

Best of luck to everyone!

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A.C. Leonard decommits, opens up recruitment

Four-star tight end recruit A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) decommitted from the Florida Gators on Wednesday and said the team no longer remains in the hunt for his services, according to Justin Wells of 247Sports. Leonard, who was Florida’s third-highest rated recruit for 2011, was also the Gators’ second commitment for that recruiting cycle.

Recently pursued heavily by the Alabama Crimson Tide, Leonard attended Florida’s 33-29 loss to LSU over the weekend during an unofficial visit to Gainesville, FL. He left Saturday’s game saying, “Yeah, I guess,” when asked by 247Sports if he was still committed to Florida. That has now obviously changed.

Leonard is now seriously considering Alabama, Miami and Nebraska but has listed his recruitment as “open” to everyone except Florida which “is out.” He originally committed to the Gators on Nov. 29, 2009.

An official visit to the Crimson Tide was called “a real eye opening experience for me” by Leonoard last week, according to BamaOnLine.com. “The whole experience was first-class,” he said just days after Alabama defeated Florida. “I talked to Coach [Nick] Saban Sunday morning at breakfast and he basically told me they really wanted me in Tuscaloosa. […] I really liked everything he had to say and the plan he would have.”

10/12: Addazio not bothered, Debose poised

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach and defensive line coach Dan McCarney, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins and freshman quarterback Trey Burton spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its close loss to the LSU Tigers and ahead to its match-up against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday.

BOOING DOESN’T BOTHER ADDAZIO

Addazio was booed during Florida’s final scoring drive on Saturday, something he has claims does not bother him. In fact, he has taken the incident in stride and understands what is expected of him and the offense.

“I really don’t pay much attention to any of that stuff,” he said on Tuesday. “You are locked into the game. What I really hear in that game is just the energy from the game. I’ve got so much going on; I’ve got headsets on. […] Hey, this is not a sport for the thin-skinned now. It’s a tough business and I think we’ve talked about this before here. You came here for a reason – [there are] high expectations, that’s why you’re here, that’s what it’s all about. You better embrace that. If you don’t embrace that, then you are at the wrong place.”

DEBOSE A READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYER

Showing his playmaking ability with an 88-yard kickoff return and some other nice passing routes on Saturday, Debose has proven to coaches that he deserves more touches and should be a bigger part of the Gators offense. “He’s emerging as a guy that can make a play. You can see that. It’s really nice to see that. He’s a guy that can make plays,” noted Addazio. “[He’s improving because of] experience and getting on the field and doing it and gaining all that confidence and that trust. That’s what’s happening with him right now.”

The player agrees with his coach’s assessment. “[It was] just picking up the plays. Just feeling comfortable and making the coaches feel real comfortable with me and the ball and everything,” Debose said. “It was just the little things as far as reading coverages on the run and stuff that takes time and takes more game experience.”

POWELL MOVED TO LINEBACKER

One interesting tidbit coming out of the media availability Tuesday was McCarney confirming that five-star freshman defensive end Ronald Powell has been moved to the strong outside linebacker position for the remainder of the season. Powell, who also played tight end in high school, is more than athletic enough to play the position and coaches feel he is a better fit at linebacker right now. Expect him to head back to defensive end after the year is over.

POSSIBILITY OF A FAKE WAS BROUGHT UP

Asked whether or not the concept of a fake field goal was discussed with the field goal blocking unit prior to LSU running that exact play, Jenkins told the that it was part of the team’s conversation during the timeout. This confirms what a handful of other players said after the game.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/12: Addazio not bothered, Debose poised

WR Chris Rainey back practicing with Gators

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey will be rejoining the Florida Gators for practice this week after being suspended for a month following an arrest and third-degree felony charge (since reduced) of aggravated stalking on Sept. 14., according to the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association.

Rainey will be reinstated on a temporary basis, being allowed to practice with the team until he meets a number of conditions established by the coaching staff and administration. He will not be active for the Mississippi State game on Saturday. With Florida’s bye week coming up on Oct. 23, Rainey will have at least three weeks to practice before potentially seeing game action.

OGGOA has learned that Rainey being active for the Georgia game is “very likely” if he meets his conditions and goals, which are focused on showing a renewed effort off the field both in the classroom and during team activities.

“Chris Rainey is working towards being part of our football team again,” head coach Urban Meyer said in the UAA’s statement. “I’m disappointed that he violated a core value of our program, but he continues to pay a price for his actions. Chris will have to meet a set of conditions to become a part of our team again and although he is practicing, he will not play this weekend. The timetable for his return will depend on his ability to follow the guidelines we have laid out for him.”

Agreeing to deferred prosecution for a reduced misdemeanor stalking charge on Sept. 27, Rainey was handed six months probation, 10 hours of community service and a number of other penalties by the state including fines. As long as he fulfills the requirements and obligations presented to him by the court, he will be granted amnesty and the charges will be dismissed in six month’s time as he was a first-time offender.

“I am embarrassed and sorry for my actions and I apologize to everyone that I affected by my behavior,” Rainey said in his first public comments contained in the UAA’s release. “I’m working towards being a part of the Florida football program again and I realize that representing this University is a privilege. I have spent the last several weeks reflecting on my actions and realized that is not who I want to be.”

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 5 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season now underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 5 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the fifth week of the season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Team-high five receptions for 97 yards, two touchdowns, 175 return yards (four kickoffs)

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Four tackles (three solo)
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: 11 tackles (five solo, one for loss), pass defended
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Three receptions for 23 yards (long: 11)
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Four rec. for 33 yds (targets: 7, long: 19)
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Two solo tackles
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Nine rec. for 87 yards (targets: 11, long: 23)
DE JARVIS MOSS, Denver Broncos: Solo tackle
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Four solo tackles
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Two solo tackles
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two solo tackles, sack, pass defended
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Two tackles (one solo), half sack
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Three rushes for team-high 65 yards, touchdown
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Two rec. for 61 yards (targets: 4, long: 58)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Two solo tackles

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) — S Reggie Nelson (Bengals), DT Joe Cohen (Detroit Lions), DT Jeremy Mincey (Jaguars), RB DeShawn Wynn (Saints), LB Brandon Siler (San Diego Chargers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

BYE WEEK
LB Channing Crowder (Miami Dolphins); LB Jermaine Cunningham, TE Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes, RB Fred Taylor, DT Gerard Warren (New England Patriots); C Maurkice Pouncey, LT Max Starks (Pittsburgh Steelers)

INACTIVES
S Major Wright (Chicago Bears), DE Carlos Dunlap (Bengals), QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), WR Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles)

NOTES
– Brown did a Gator Chomp after a sack on Arizona QB Max Hall.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

FOUR BITS: volleyball at No. 1, soccer, swimming

1 » Continuing a string of dominating Southeastern Conference performance, the Florida Gators volleyball team took home a pair of 3-0 sweeps while on the road over the weekend against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday night (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) and the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday (25-14, 25-20, 25-16). Juniors outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and right-side/setter Kelly Murphy combined for 21 kills to led Florida (14-1, 7-0 SEC) on Friday over Alabama (8-8, 0-6 SEC), while Murphy was at it again with a team-high 13 kills Sunday as UF rolled over Mississippi State (10-8, 2-4 SEC). The Gators received exciting news on Monday as the American Volleyball Coaches Association moved them up to No. 1 in their rankings for the first time since 1996. UF is 8-1 against teams ranked in the top 25 this season.

2 » Contrary to volleyball’s performance, No. 6 Florida soccer (10-2-2, 4-1-1 SEC) had a rougher road trip weekend tying Alabama (8-2-2, 3-0-2 SEC) 1-1 in double overtime Friday before falling to the Auburn Tigers (9-5, 3-3 SEC) 1-0 on Sunday. Against the Crimson Tide, Gators midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis got her team on the board early with a goal from four yards out at 47’. Unfortunately on both Friday and Sunday, Florida allowed an opposing goal at 90’ which led to the respective tie and loss. The Gators remain the leaders in the SEC even after the tough weekend.

3 » Florida men’s (0-1) and women’s (1-0) swimming and diving competed against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium on Monday with the men falling short 153-145 while the women pulled off a close 150-148 victory in the first team event of the season. Freshman Elizabeth Beisel led the ladies by winning the 200-yard backstroke (1:58:.29) and 200-yard individual medley (2:00.89). Like usual senior captain Conor Dwyer was the best men’s performer winning the 200-yard IM and both 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle.

4 » As the Gators basketball team prepares for the 2010-11 season (media day is this week!), head coach Billy Donovan spoke about the expectations surrounding his squad, which is returning all five starters from a year ago. “What ends up happening sometimes in college basketball is that when you have all five starters returning from a team that went to the NCAA Tournament, the expectation is we’re going to be really, really good,” Donovan said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “But I also think we were one of those teams on Selection Sunday that had our fingers crossed. If we were left out, it would maybe be a different feel.”

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