Quotes & notes from UF on SEC Championship

No. 1 Florida Gators players and coaches have spoken with the media extensively over the last two days regarding the 2009 SEC Championship game on Saturday against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. You can find choice quotes and notes from the press conferences and interviews in no particular order after the break…
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SIX BITS: SEC Championship week, injuries, Moore’s redshirt, volleyball, women’s b-ball

1 » While the No. 1 Florida Gators will technically be the visiting team on Saturday in the 2009 SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA, they have opened as a five-point betting favorite against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. During their current nation-leading, school-record 22-game winning streak, the Gators have defeated 21 opponents by a double digit margin.

2 » Proponents of a playoff system for the National Championship should be pleased that Saturday’s match-up of No. 1 vs. No. 2 is a de facto play-in for entry into the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, CA. This is the second consecutive year that the top two seeds will face each other in the SEC Championship. In 2008, Alabama was No. 1 while Florida was No. 2. It would be a tough task to find two teams as similar as the Gators and Crimson Tide, even if one tried.

3 » Alabama head coach Nick Saban expects running back Mark Ingram to be “fine” for Saturday’s game against Florida. Ingram, considered by many to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, left Friday’s game against the Auburn Tigers with a hip pointer and did not return. For the Gators, junior linebacker A.J. Jones (MCL) will miss the game while redshirt junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) and sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins (hip) are probable, according to statements from head coach Urban Meyer.

4 » Senior transfer wide receiver Carl Moore has been granted a medical redshirt and will return to the Gators for the 2010 season. A JUCO transfer in 2008, Moore struggled in his first season with Florida and had chronic back issues leading up to and during 2009. Moore’s size and trustworthy hands make him a valueable asset to the Gators’ receiving crops. Still waiting for an official word on his requested medical redshirt is junior cornerback Moses Jenkins, who suffered a serious concussion against the Kentucky Wildcats and has yet to return to action.

5 » The No. 15/15 Florida volleyball team (23-5, 16-4 SEC) received the No. 16 overall seed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament field of 64. The Gators will host the College of Charleston Cougars (18-12) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The winner will play the victor of the Florida International Golden Panthers vs. Miami Hurricanes match in second-round action on Friday at 7 p.m.

6 » Gators women’s basketball (3-3) hit a season-high 12 three-pointers on their way to a 71-60 victory over the Golden Panthers (2-4) on Sunday. Sophomore guard Jordan Jones scored a season-high 25-points while shooting .500 (5-of-10) from beyond the arc and 9-of-16 overall. Next up is the Florida A&M Rattlers as part of a doubleheader with men’s basketball beginning Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

Extra Bit » ESPNU Road Trip: FSU-Florida Gameday

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Gator Bites for Sunday, November 29th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across too many news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

- On NBC’s Football Night in America, Peter King said he spoke to 17 NFL general managers about Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. Asking them where they projected him being drafted, King said the average came out to No. 33 overall. However, two coaches of winning teams told King that he would not get past their pick in the first round. No surprise there. Almost the entire group of commentators on The OT on FOX agreed that Florida will beat the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Some claimed the Gators were poised to win the National Championship while others said Tebow deserves the Heisman Trophy.

- Rolling up 545 yards of total offense on the Florida State Seminoles, the Gators unit looks the most comfortable it has the entire season. Consider the fact that it rolled up 584 yards against the Florida International Golden Panthers the week prior.

Be sure to check out the seven additional Gator Bites after the jump…
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Sunday, November 29th

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FOUR BITS: Deal, FSU offense, Heisman, cake

1 » Some of you may have noticed the new advertisement in the right column for the OGGOA Gator SportShop. For opening a store with them, th affiliate has decided to provide us with two special promotions to share with OGGOA’s readers. Take advantage of them now before they expire on 11/30/09, especially if you wish to purchase a Tim Tebow jersey or some of the new Nike Pro Combat merchandise. Enjoy!
(1) Free Shipping Over $50 With Coupon Code: FreeShip
(2) 20% Off All Clearance Items (No Coupon).

2 » The Florida State Seminoles may have a 6-5 record, but Florida Gators junior cornerback Joe Haden sees a bunch of talented, athletic players that pose a threat to his team’s 21-game winning streak. “They look a lot better than 6-5,” Haden said. “They have athletes. A couple of plays here and there and they could have a lot better record than they have now. They have the same athletes [they used to have]. Their record isn’t as good, but they have the players. Head coach Urban Meyer agrees. “There is a lot of concern. [E.J. Manuel] is a really athletic guy, and they’re running a lot of triple option. What makes FSU dangerous is their athletes.”

3 » Senior quarterback Tim Tebow continues to lose ground in the Scripps Howard Heisman Trophy poll. Though he accounted for three touchdowns on Saturday, Tebow is in a tie for No. 2 on the list, earning two first-place votes. Ahead of Tebow is Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram (5) while Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy (2) shares the second spot. Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum (1) and Stanford Cardinal RB Toby Gerhart (0) round out the top five. Voting tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with each voter ranking a top five.

4 » Unfortunate circumstances for me this weekend as I will be attending a wedding while the Florida vs. Florida State game is going on. Ironically, another Web site posted on Wednesday what appears to be the absolute greatest wedding cake of all time. Why? Well it is Gators-themed, of course. Check out one of the pictures below, then head over to the original site and find out more about it.

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Gator Bites for Sunday, November 22nd

From time to time, OGGOA will come across too many news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

- Aside from losing 18 seniors to graduation, the Florida Gators could have a bunch of junior declare for the 2010 NFL Draft. “It’s in the back of your mind,” junior guard Mike Pouncey said. “We haven’t made any kind of decision yet. I have a great deal of respect for coach [Steve] Addazio. I’ll sit down and talk to him and my family and try to make the best decision for my future.”

- Junior linebacker Brandon Hicks is expected to replace redshirt junior LB A.J. Jones, who injured his MCL on Saturday and will be out for at least a few weeks.

- “They forgot to account for me,” senior quarterback Tim Tebow said about his career-long 55-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter on Sunday. “It’s one of the risks of playing man coverage with an athletic quarterback,” Gators head coach Urban Meyer added. “He’s going to get mad at me, but he’s not exactly the fastest kid.”

- Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley believes Saturday’s game against the Florida International Golden Panthers was one “these guys needed.” The starters had fun, got to somewhat relax a week before the senior end their careers in The Swamp and even saw some of the future starters play well in their stead. “There are going to be a lot of talented dudes on the field next year,” Tebow said.

- In seven games against common opponents, Tebow and Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram are only one rushing touchdown apart. Considering Tebow is a quarterback who is also his team’s leader and recorded additional scores through the air in those games, a strong case can be made that he is having a better season than his greatest Heisman Trophy competition.

- There is no reason to overlook the spectacular play of redshirt sophomore QB John Brantley on Saturday. While he still has a few games to wait until he takes over the reins of the Orange and Blue, his time will come. And when it does, if he looks as good as he did Saturday, the Gators have plenty to be excited about. “I’ve been waiting for three years now, but I’ve learned so much,” Brantley said after the game. “I’ve just taken it in these past few years and try to learn as much as I can. To sit behind one of the greatest players in college football – I think is a blessing to me.”

- OGGOA has reported extensively on the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms that will be worn next week for the Florida State Seminoles game (most recently here). When asked about wearing a non-traditional uniform for his home finale, Tebow had mixed emotions. “You love the jersey that you played in your last four years,” he said. “But also, you’re going to have a new jersey, and it will be something that’s cool and special to this one game.” Good perspective.

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FOUR BITS: Spikes’ award noms, Notre Dame’s offer, Florida’s cupcake, Kiffin’s innocent?

1 » Florida Gators senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has been left off of the final ballots for the Bronko Nagurski Award (nation’s best defensive player) and Lott Trophy (defensive IMPACT player of the year). Limited playing time is surely the reason Spikes’ was left off the former, while his eye gouging incident is certainly why he was left off the latter. IMPACT is an acronym used by the Lott Trophy community for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, committee and tenacity.

2 » One of OGGOA‘s twitter followers forwarded us a rumor that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish flew into Gainesville, FL, Thursday and offered Florida head coach Urban Meyer a $50 million guaranteed contract. Our immediate responses? (1) Hogwash. (2) That’s not enough. Meyer recently agreed to a six-year, $24 million contract with UF. An additional $1 million is not going to pull him away from a program that has finally been built and filled with “his” players (along with the multitude of other reasons why he would stay). What could potentially grab Meyer would be the allure and history of Notre Dame, not that I believe it will. Let’s not forget, Meyer chose the Gators over the Irish once already – he had the option. Yuck, I just gave the rumor credence.

3 » Steve Eubanks of FOXSports.com questions why the Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide are playing “cupcakes” this week. “I think this is a good football game. I think [FIU] is a team that is going to be in a bowl game within a couple of years, a lot like FAU a few years ago,” Meyer said.

4 » Gregg Doyel, a UF alum who writes for CBSSports.com, believes fans should not be blaming Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin for his player’s legal issues. “How was he supposed to know that those guys would — allegedly — behave so criminally?” And Meyer was supposed to know that the players he recruited were going to — allegedly — behave criminally? Seems like a pretty ridiculous hypocritical stance to take on Doyell’s part, especially considering he trounced Meyer this summer for the Gators’ prior arrests (even though many weren’t recruited by Meyer).

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FOUR BITS: Gators, Tide looking ahead? Tebow gets another nom. 2010 NFL Draft. B-ball in action.

1 » Both the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide have two games to play before their inevitable showdown in the Southeastern Conference Championship game in December. While head coaches Urban Meyer and Nick Saban both emphatically claim that they are worried about their upcoming opponents (FIU and Chattanooga this week, respectively) and are not looking ahead, Chris Low of ESPN.com thinks otherwise. “Who genuinely believes that Alabama and Florida are doing any extensive planning for their opponents this week?” he ponders.

2 » Senior quarterback Tim Tebow continues to pile up the award nominations. On Wednesday, he was named one of five finalists for the 2009 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Given to the top senior college quarterback in the nation, the Golden Arm Award has never been able to be awarded to Tebow, who has won a Heisman Trophy and two Maxwell Awards while Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) took home the other Heisman in the same time span. Tebow also remains in contention as one of 15 finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

3 » OGGOA has been singing the praises of juniors defensive end Carlos Dunlap and cornerback Joe Haden as well as senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes in regard to their 2010 NFL Draft status. Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel points out that the Gators could lose a plethora juniors in addition to their senior class, should some of them choose to declare. Prominent names on that list (aside from Dunlap and Haden) are tight end Aaron Hernandez, offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert and Carl Johnson, safety Major Wright, defensive lineman Justin Trattou and running backs Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody. The majority of the aforementioned players will most likely not declare, in our opinion.

4 » Florida basketball (1-0) returns to the court Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against the Georgia Southern Eagles (1-1) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will air live on FOX Sports Florida – check your local listings for availability. All game and broadcast information is always available on OGGOA‘s Basketball page.

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FOUR BITS: Meyer/Spurrier, Matthews practices, Kiper’s Big Board, Scripps Heisman poll

1 » One Southeastern Conference coaching relationship that is surprisingly both polite and friendly is that between Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier. Both spoke to the media on Wednesday and exchanged pleasant comments about their respective opponents. Meyer said he respects the appreciation Gators fans have for Spurrier and still sees his success all over The Swamp. “It’s always going to be there,” Meyer said. “Just walk out of the stadium and look on the wall at a bunch of great stuff Coach has done. I think it’s still there, and it should be.” Spurrier said he still roots for Florida when he is not going head-to-head with the Gators and thinks that the team is playing perfectly fine. “Sometimes they were so good last year, maybe [they] haven’t been quite as proficient I guess, scoring as many points,” he said. “They score when they have to and they’ve won all their close games.”

2 » Another tidbit Spurrier dropped on the media Wednesday was that injured defensive end Cliff Matthews, who had previously been ruled out with a shoulder injury, could return to face Florida on Saturday. Matthews was running around at practice on Monday; if he does play, it would allow South Carolina to revert back to the 4-3 formation that it has gotten away from since he initially got hurt.

3 » Junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap continues to skyrocket up ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Big Board. Moving up from No. 7 last week to No. 4 on Wednesday, Dunlap’s “physical tools are off the charts” and he is potentially filled with “unlimited upside,” according to Kiper. [OGGOA has long held that Dunlap will easily be a top five selection and potentially the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.] Also on the list are junior cornerback Joe Haden, who held down the No. 11 spot for a second consecutive week, and senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who dropped one spot to No. 25. Kiper believes Haden is a “polished cover corner with tackling ability to match,” while he says Spikes is a “complete MLB, solid in all areas.”

4 » Following a less than stellar performance against the Vanderbilt Commodores, Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow once again lost the top spot in the Scripps Howard Heisman Trophy poll. Though he accounted for two touchdowns in the game, Tebow fell to No. 3 on the list, earning three first-place votes. Ahead of Tebow were Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram (4) and Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum (3), while Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy (0) and Stanford Cardinal RB Toby Gerhart (0) rounded out the top five. Voting tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with each voter ranking a top five.

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