Grading the Florida vs. Cincinnati 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 Cincinnati Bearcats in the final game of their season, the 2010 Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

QUARTERBACKS: A+
When the best player in school history plays the best game of his career in the final game of his career, it is tough not to give him an “A+” grade. And that is exactly what senior quarterback Tim Tebow has earned – not just for his outstanding performance Friday evening but for his career in the Orange and Blue. Pick your poison: was it the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award he was given before the game, the Sugar Bowl record 12 consecutive completions, the career-long 80-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Riley Cooper, the Sugar Bowl and BCS bowl game record 533 yards of total offense, the Sugar Bowl/BCS record 482 passing yards, the 31 completions which set a new Sugar Bowl record, the Sugar Bowl high four touchdowns or the 88.6 completion percentage that set a BCS record? The answer, of course, is “all of the above.”

RUNNING BACKS: A-
Tebow was once again the leading ball carrier for the Gators with 14 touches for 51 yards and a touchdown, but both redshirt junior Emmanuel Moody and redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey came up big throughout the game. Moody rushed eight times for only 14 yards but scored two touchdowns on the ground (he also had four receptions for 19 yards) while Rainey caught four passes for 71 yards and ran four times for 27 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Mike Gillislee cleaned up at the end of the fourth quarter and took a ball 52 yards for a final line of five carries for 78 yards. Sophomore Jeff Demps, the true starter, left the game after he dislocated his elbow on his third rush of the game. Though the attempts and yards were not there, three rushing touchdowns brought this unit up a half-grade.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Sugar Bowl after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida vs. Cincinnati game

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Gator Bites for Saturday, January 2nd

» Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong coached his last game in the Orange and Blue Friday before heading to the Louisville Cardinals as the team’s new head coach. UF cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford, who was expected to join Strong as his defensive coordinator, has yet to say one way or another though Strong said on Thursday and Friday that an agreement was in place. Bedford continues to claim he will be recruiting for Florida next week but at least one recruit (four-star CB Demar Dorsey) says Bedford is gone. “I’m open to working with Coach Strong,” Bedford told the Miami Herald. “He’s one of the reasons I’m here. My opportunity to stay is also good, and I’ve talked with Coach Addazio about that.” Strong told the Gainesville Sun after the game that Bedford is joining his staff.

» Running backs coach Kenny Carter is another staff member who is rumored to be joining Strong in Louisville. Even though Strong has already hired an offensive coordinator, Carter could be given an expanded role on the offensive staff. When asked after the Sugar Bowl about his future, Carter said “I’m not talking about anything but this game. I’m not talking about any of that crap. It doesn’t mean anything to me.” When asked about Carter joining his staff, Strong told the Sun, “He hasn’t told me that.”

» Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler told reporters he will be returning next season. Loeffler’s name was thrown around for a few head coaching jobs in recent weeks.

» As OGGOA reported yesterday, three Gators experienced major health issues on Friday. Junior center Maurkice Pouncey spent five hours in Tulane Hospital before the game with kidney stones, played in the game but left after the half to pass another stone. Sophomore running back Jeff Demps dislocated his elbow in the first quarter on his third carry of the game and redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson injured his right shoulder during the second quarter – both did not return.

» After the Sugar Bowl, Johnson announced that he will be returning for his senior season. However, juniors cornerback Joe Haden, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, tight end Aaron Hernandez and center Maurkice Pouncey are all expected to declare for the 2010 NFL Draft. OGGOA believes that junior safety Ahmad Black will also declare while junior S Major Wright, junior right guard Mike Pouncey and redshirt junior right tackle Marcus Gilbert have yet to decide.

» Senior quarterback Tim Tebow was followed around with a “Tebow Cam” during FOX’s Sugar Bowl broadcast. The camera shot, available via FOXSports.com during the game, was on Tebow the whole time – from focusing on him while on the field to every single thing he did on the sidelines. OGGOA believes this will be included in the Sugar Bowl DVD to be released by FOX.

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Too sweet! No. 5 Florida Gators savor Sugar Bowl

Coming of a week filled with seemingly endless questions and distractions, the No. 5 Florida Gators (13-1) eased tensions and erased any doubts (at least temporarily) with a dominating 51-24 victory over the No. 3 Cincinnati Bearcats (12-1) in the 2010 Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome.

In the final game of his college career, Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow went 31-of-35 for a career-high 482 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air. He also carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Completing his first twelve passes in what was arguably the best performance of his entire career, Tebow finished with 533 total yards – more than anyone in both BCS and Sugar Bowl history. Tebow’s three touchdown passes went to senior wide receiver Riley Cooper, junior tight end Aaron Hernandez and redshirt sophomore WR Deonte Thompson.

“It was incredible,” Tebow said of his third BCS bowl game victory. “Just a great game. It was exactly how you want to go out with these seniors and these coaches in your last game and your last time together. It just really doesn’t get any better than this.”

Cooper caught seven passes for a career-high 181 yards, Hernandez brought in nine balls for 111 yards and Thompson snagged five for 63 yards. Redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey caught four passes for 71 yards; he also rushed four times for 27 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt junior transfer RB Emmanuel Moody had the first two touchdown game of his career though freshman RB Mike Gillislee ended up as the team’s leading rusher (79 yards) after taking a hand-off for 52 yards in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, junior cornerback Joe Haden once again shut down his assignment, allowing Bearcats senior wide receiver Mardy Gilyard to gain only 41 yards. Florida’s pass rush and blitzing was on-point all night, holding Cincinnati senior QB Tony Pike to 27-of-45 passing for 170 yards. Pike, however, completed three touchdown passes after the game was out of hand. Junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap earned two of the team’s three sacks on Pike, the secondary had numerous interception opportunities and senior linebacker Brandon Spikes was flying around the ball all evening.

The Gators outgained the Bearcats 660-to-246 in total yardage, though the time of possession battle was close to even because Florida scored quickly. The Gators’ 660 yards was also a Sugar Bowl record. With the win, Florida became the first school in Football Bowl Subdivision history to win 13 games in consecutive seasons.

Going into the game, the Gators were without senior kick returner Brandon James (foot), redshirt junior LB A.J. Jones (knee) and redshirt junior defensive tackle Terron Sanders (hip), though additional injuries piled up before and during the game. Junior center Maurkice Pouncey spent five hours in the hospital earlier in the day passing a kidney stone and left the game in the second half to pass another. Sophomore RB Jeff Demps dislocated his elbow early on and redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson hurt his shoulder. Sophomore CB Janoris Jenkins and redshirt senior LB Ryan Stamper were both down on the field for a while but would return to action.

Gators head coach Urban Meyer, who resigned on Saturday before changing his mind and deciding to take a leave of absence instead on Sunday, said at the trophy presentation after the game that he hoped to return to the sidelines for the 2010 season. “I plan on being the coach of the Gators,” Meyer said. On Tebow, Meyer said he “will go down as one of the great players, if not the greatest player, in college football [history].” Tebow won the game’s Most Outstanding Player Award, thanking the coaches, his teammates and Gator Nation while accepting it on the podium. He took a moment to specifically thank Meyer for making him a Gator, telling him that he loved him and hugging him.

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SIX BITS: Sugar Bowl and New Year edition

1 » Friday’s game has plenty of implications for both sides, but the 2010 Sugar Bowl will be especially sweet for a senior class that ranks as the most accomplished in Southeastern Conference history. Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow leads a group that will wear Orange and Blue for the last time (at least in college). “It’ll be fun. It’ll be exciting to go play for the last time as a Gator and have another opportunity to suit up and get that bad taste out of our mouth,” Tebow said. “Honestly, that would be really nice. [Winning this game] means a lot. Not just for being my last game, but for all of our seniors. I want to go out the right way and finish the season 13-1.”

2 » Though OGGOA has shied away from the story over the past week in lieu of other more pressing matters, one big, local non-game story was an argument between FOX and Bright House Networks, whose contract comes to an end Friday before the Sugar Bowl. The two entities have had trouble negotiating a new deal, leaving thousands of Gators fans in Central Florida to wonder whether or not they would have the opportunity to watch the big game. In fact, the companies were even sued by two Florida lawyers for a stay so locals could watch the Gators play. Though the suit played no part in the decision, FOX and Time Warner Cable (which owns Bright House) have agreed to a three-hour contract extension, allowing the game to air in that section of the state.

Four more BITS including spoiled fans and end of era questions after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Sugar Bowl and New Year edition

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OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

The 2000s were quite a decade for University of Florida athletics. Florida Gators football and basketball were especially exceptional, combining for four National Championships (five appearances) and five Southeastern Conference Championships (six appearances) while earning five BCS bowl game and eight NCAA Tournament berths, respectively, over the last ten years. To end this decade of champions, OGGOA has compiled our own Gators All-Decade Team for each sport.

Continue Reading » OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

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FOUR BITS: Tickets, injuries, Gators honored

1 » The University of Florida is considered one of the best football traveling schools in the country. However, you would never know that if you looked at the ticket sales for the upcoming 2010 Sugar Bowl against the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats. Out of the No. 5 Florida Gators’ 17,500 allotted tickets, the team still has almost 5,000 remaining. In fact, the University Athletic Association usually only allows boosters and students to order tickets, but they opened it up to alumni and regular fans via Ticketmaster almost two weeks ago. Should fans wish to attend, they can choose to sit in the Gators section.

2 » Getting ready for a trip to Sunrise, FL, for the 2009 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, the No. 13/13 Florida basketball team (8-1) is dealing with a rash of injuries. Junior forward Chandler Parsons (torn leg muscle), sophomore F/C Kenny Kadji (back spasms) and freshman F Erik Murphy (shoulder) are all missing practice while sophomore guard Ray Shipman (foot) just recently returned to action. “We’re about at a point where we’re playing 3-on-3 in practice,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “You’ve got 10 guys and you’re down to six right now, so that makes it challenging, especially with exams going on.”

3 » The Gators football team keeps racking up honors as six players were named to the Sporting News All-SEC Team on Thursday. On offense, senior quarterback Tim Tebow, junior tight end Aaron Hernandez and junior center Maurkice Pouncey all received the nominations; senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, junior cornerback Joe Haden and junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap represented the defense. Haden was also named the 2009 Defensive MVP by the publication.

4 » Speaking of honors, soccer’s Erika Tymrak was named to the 2009 Soccer America All-Freshman team as a second team selection. She has already been listed on the NSCAA All-South Region second team and SEC All-Freshman team.

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SIX BITS: Juniors in NFL, Henderson’s visit, Loeffler, Azzanni, Bell, Kiper’s Big Board

1 » According to Florida Gators strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, the team’s liaison with the NFL, 8-10 juniors have submitted their paperwork for evaluation by the league’s Draft Advisory Board. One can assume those names include cornerback Joe Haden, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, tight end Aaron Hernandez, center Maurkice Pouncey and guard Mike Pouncey. Others who may have submitted their information include safeties Ahmad Black and Major Wright, defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh and offensive linemen Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert.

2 » Five-star offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, MN), considered by many recruiting services to be the No. 1 overall recruit in the country, will be taking his official visit Gainesville, FL, this weekend. Henderson is also seriously considering the USC Trojans, Ohio State Buckeyes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

3 » Florida quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, who has only been on the job one year in Gainesville, is considered a top candidate for the Central Michigan Chippewas and Buffalo Bulls head coaching jobs vacated by Butch Jones and Turner Gill, respectively. Some believe a year with next season’s starting quarterback John Brantley could earn Loeffler a much better gig just 12 months from now.

4 » Another name being thrown around the CMU job is brand new Gators wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who joined the program one week ago after the departure of Billy Gonzales to the LSU Tigers. Suffice to say that Florida head coach Urban Meyer would be none to pleased to be forced to replace a second WR coach in a matter of days.

5 » Former Gators QB and current Jacksonville Dolphins head coach Kerwin Bell met with Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong on Wednesday about the Cardinals’ vacant offensive coordinator position. Though working with Strong could be considered a promotion of sorts, Bell may prefer being his own boss at Jacksonville. “Kerwin really likes running his own program and calling the shots,” his athletic director Alan Verlander told The Florida Times-Union. “Unless they throw a lot of money at him, I’m about 95 percent certain that he will be at JU next year.”

6 » ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s latest NFL Draft Big Board has been published and little has changed for Florida’s players. Dunlap crept up one spot from his season-low of No. 17 to No. 16, with Kiper saying his “physical tools are off the charts” and that he “has unlimited upside.” Also on the list are Haden, a “polished cover corner with tackling ability to match,” who held strong at No. 7, and Hernandez, who also popped up a spot to No. 18.. Kiper says Hernandez has “great hands and excellent run-after-catch skills for a TE.” Noticeably absent from the board for a third-straight week is senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who last appeared at No. 25 on Nov. 18.

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Gators named Sporting News, AP All-Americans

The Sporting News and Associated Press released their respective All-America teams on Tuesday, and each features a number of Florida Gators among the ranks.

Four Florida players were named Sporting News first-team All-Americans, the most student-athletes on the first team of any school in the country. Juniors tight end Aaron Hernandez and center Maurkice Pouncey represented the offense while the defense had senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and junior cornerback Joe Haden on the list. Senior quarterback Tim Tebow was the sole Florida player on the second team; none were placed on the third team.

The AP named six total Gators to its three teams, with Hernandez and Haden the sole UF players representing on the first team. Tebow, Spikes, Maurkice and junior guard Mike Pouncey were all selected for the second team.

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