Florida looking to gain momentum at Alabama

Coming off a pair of tough losses to the concensus No. 1 team in the country Kentucky and an underrated Tennessee team, the newly-minted No. 12/14 Florida Gators are looking to right the ship on Tuesday when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL. With both squads facing a number of questions heading into the contest, Florida head coach Billy Donovan and Alabama head coach Anthony Grant met with the media Monday to discuss their programs and the upcoming game.

INJURIES, SUSPENSIONS RAVAGING LINEUPS

The Gators and Crimson Tide will each be without two players for Tuesday’s game though their absences will occur for vastly different reasons. Florida sophomore forward Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) will miss the game with injuries, while Alabama Fs JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are out of action due to suspension.

UF and UA will also get some players back for the showdown. Redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (illness) returns at less than 100 percent for the Gators, while the Crimson tide will welcome back Gs Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele from two more suspensions handed down by Grant.

The losses will severely hurt both teams. Florida loses their best defender and rebounder in Yeguete as well as a solid bench scorer in Rosario, and Alabama will be without their top two leaders in scoring and rebounding as the duo of Green and Mitchell average a combined 27.2 points and 14.2 boards per game.

Additionally information and thoughts from the coaches on the injuries and suspensions are available in the “notes and quotes” section at the end of this post.”

FRONTCOURT SITUATION “DIRE” FOR FLORIDA

With Yeguete injured and out indefinitely, sophomore center Patric Young regressing and junior F Erik Murphy not necessarily a true post player, Donovan agreed with a reporter’s assessment that the Gators’ backcourt is in need of major help.

“We’re going to have to do some different things both offensively and defensively,” he said. “Certainly going into Alabama without Will being there, there’s a tremendous void there for us defensively at the basket. Alabama [...] is a very big, enormous team up front. Patric certainly logged way too many minutes in the Tennessee game, he played 36. We’re going to have to look at playing smaller at certain times.

“We may have to look at playing Patric and Murphy together some, not together some. We’re probably going to have to look at moving Casey Prather a little bit more toward the power forward spot. Our presence at the basket both offensively and defensively is hurt there with Will [out of action] because I think Will has proven at least through this first part of the SEC and some of the higher level competition that we’ve played … even though he may not be 6’10”, he still is a problem out there defensively. He can hold his own around the basket.”

HISTORY AND STREAKS

» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 73-58 though the Gators have a 15-5 winning advantage against the Crimson Tide since Donovan took over UF’s program. Donovan is 2-0 against Grant since his former assistant took the UA job.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 17 of 25 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 676 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators are 284-38 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida is one victory away from winning 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season, which is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.

WALKER CLIMBING UP ALL-TIME LISTS

Senior point guard Erving Walker is steadily making his way up a number of Florida’s career lists. Below are some of the marks he is about to pass in UF’s record books.

» Assists: Walker (498) can move into No. 1 all-time with six dimes, passing Ronnie Montgomery (503).
» Minutes: Walker (3,966) moved into No. 2 all-time in time on the court, passing Chandler Parsons (3,964) on Saturday.
» Three-pointers made: Walker (265) can move into No. 3 all-time with three treys, passing Anthony Roberson (267).
» Scoring: Walker (1,629) can move into No. 4 all-time with 49 points, passing Stacey Poole (1,678).
» Free throws made: Walker (400) can move into No. 7 all-time with 12 makes from the charity stripe, passing Dan Cross (411).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (507) can move into No. 9 all-time with eight foul shots, passing David Lee (514).
» Walker is near the top 10 all-time in games started (three away) and steals (six away).

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan does not know when Yeguete will be back and cautioned that he could be out for a while after only passing two of five required concussion tests as conducted by team doctors. “I’m concerned enough,” he said of Yeguete’s second concussion (Ohio State) this season. “There’s protocol that the trainer and the medical staff have to go through as it relates to conclusions. [...] The concussion issues right now because of football have been addressed at certainly a very heightened level. There is this protocol we have to go through regardless of how Will is feeling. [...] I don’t think he’s having any symptoms where he’s sick or dizzy all the time. He feels OK, but he’s not passing these tests. [...] He’s way off from there right now. He’s way off. Will’s a tough kid. If it was up to him, he would probably want to go play, but we can’t risk his health and those things.”

» The single Florida player likely to benefit the most from Yeguete’s absence is Prather, who will see much more time on the court. Donovan badly wants for Prather to succeed but believes some of his failings are from over thinking and not just going out and playing basketball. “He has never ever once – and I’ve got unbelievable respect for him – he’s never had a bad attitude,” he said. “He comes to practice every day and works. He puts extra time in. he deserves to play well. He’s another guy where he wants to do so well so bad that sometimes he can go in with preconceived notions of how he’s going to play. [...] He’s got to go in and play the game and read what’s going on. He’s got to get better at reading situations and not getting so bogged down mentally at wanting to do so well.”

» Grant is supremely disappointed in his players and believes he should not have to deal with behavioral issues like the ones he suspended them for (but would not disclose) at this point in their careers. However, he takes full responsibility for their failings and hopes his team can use these mistakes as a learning experience going forward. “The main thing right now is for our guys to understand the importance of making good decisions and understanding the consequences when you make poor decisions and then moving on and growing from there and learning from that,” he said. “I’m the leader. It’s my team. I certainly feel like I’ve got responsibility to them as individuals, to their families, to our program, to this university. Obviously it’s difficult when you have to call your bosses and let them know the situation like that and obviously the impact that has on the image of our program and the image of this university. That’s my responsibility as a coach to make sure those things are limited or prevented as much as possible.”

» Donovan understands what Grant is going through and fully supports his friend and colleague with the idea that sometimes tough decisions and sacrifices have to be made in the short term for major long term gains to occur. “The one thing I do know is I know Anthony Grant about as well as anybody. He is a guy that has got incredible integrity and character and knows exactly the way he wants his program run, what he’s going to do,” he said. “I really believe that in order to win big you got to be prepared to lose big. Anthony’s attitude is that he’s not going to be the kind for guy who is going to plug holes in a leaking ship. He’s not going to plug it because eventually that stuff – at some point – is going to rear its head and it’s going to bite you at some point. There’s a certain way Anthony wants to go about his team playing, what they want to do every single day in practice, how they want to conduct themselves. The easiest thing I think a lot of times in coaching is to look the other way. But I don’t think your team can fully maximize its fullest potential until you as a coach are prepared to lose big. By Anthony doing that, I think he showed his team that he’s prepared to lose big because he wants to win big and there’s a certain way you have to go about winning big and these things that are going on are not going to help us win big.”

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Brent Pease hired as Florida Gators offensive coordinator, move to be announced Wednesday

Boise State Broncos offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brent Pease has been hired and will officially be named to the same position with the Florida Gators on Wednesday, according to reports published Tuesday by ESPN and The Gainesville Sun.

Pease, who OGGOA first reported was in Gainesville, FL last Friday meeting with head coach Will Muschamp and University of Florida administration about the vacant position on the coaching staff, stayed in town over the weekend but was expected to meet with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban about his team’s offensive coordinator job on Tuesday following his team’s participation in the BCS title game. Pease wound up cancelling that interview, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Sources told OGGOA Thursday evening that all indications pointed to Pease being named the Gators’ next offensive coordinator last Friday. He and his wife flew into Orlando, FL in the afternoon and were driven up to Gainesville to accept the job offer, but his hesitation in accepting and wanting to first speak with Saban derailed that plan.

The AP further reports that the terms of Pease’s initial contract with UF are for three years at approximately $500,000 annually.

A member of Boise State’s staff since 2006, Pease has served as the team’s wide receivers coach (2006-10), assistant head coach (2007-10) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2011). Prior to his stint with BSU, he was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Baylor (2003-05), Kentucky (2001-02), Northern Arizona (1999-2000) and Montana (1996-98).

In his one year as offensive coordinator, Pease’s Broncos finished ninth in total offense (481.3 yards), fifth in scoring offense (44.2 points), 40th in rushing offense (171.9 yards) and 11th in passing offense (309.4 yards)

He will join a Florida team looking to improve its offense in a major way. The Gators were ranked No. 105 in total offense at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, gaining just 328.7 yards per game. Florida was 71st nationally in scoring offense (25.5 points), 73rd in rushing offense (143.0 yards) and 89th in passing offense (185.7 yards).

Pease was hired to be offensive coordinator at Indiana for the 2011 season but wound up heading back to the Broncos two weeks later when head coach Chris Petersen offered him a promotion after a vacancy was created when Bryan Harsin left for Texas.

Pease and Muschamp crossed paths in 2001 and 2002 when the former was with Kentucky and the latter with LSU. Muschamp’s team was victorious in both games but just barely, beating UK 29-25 in 2001 and 33-30 in 2002. The second victory is known as the “Bluegrass Miracle” in which LSU, the road team, tossed a 74-yard game-winning touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.

A former starting quarterback at Montana (1985-86), Pease spent four years toiling around the NFL but only officially made the Houston Oilers’ roster (1987-88). He also played for two teams in the World League of American Football (1991-92) as well as for the Arena Football League’s Cincinnati Rockers (1993).

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Florida targets Pease as offensive coordinator

Boise State Broncos offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brent Pease was in Gainesville, FL on Friday meeting with Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and University of Florida administration about the vacant position on the coaching staff.

Pease, who ESPN reported Thursday afternoon is also being pursued by the Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban, was expected by Florida officials to accept the job Friday but instead informed them that he had planned to meet with Saban on Tuesday following the BCS title game.

Sources told OGGOA Thursday evening that all indications pointed to Pease being named the Gators’ next offensive coordinator on Friday. He and his wife flew into Orlando, FL Friday afternoon and were driven up to Gainesville to accept the job offer, but his decision to first speak with Saban next week derailed that plan.

The Gainesville Sun notes that “Muschamp may have the advantage because he moved on Pease first, shortly after Charlie Weis left to take the Kansas job on Dec. 9. Saban lost his offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, five days later to Colorado State.”

A member of Boise State’s staff since 2006, Pease has served as the team’s wide receivers coach (2006-10), assistant head coach (2007-10) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2011). Prior to his stint with Boise State, he was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Baylor (2003-05), Kentucky (2001-02), Northern Arizona (1999-2000) and Montana (1996-98).

Pease was hired to be offensive coordinator at Indiana for the 2011 season but wound up heading back to the Broncos two weeks later when head coach Chris Petersen offered him a promotion after a vacancy was created when Bryan Harsin left for Texas.

Pease and Muschamp crossed paths in 2001 and 2002 when the former was with Kentucky and the latter with LSU. Muschamp’s team was victorious in both games but just barely, beating UK 29-25 in 2001 and 33-30 in 2002. The second victory is known as the “Bluegrass Miracle” in which LSU, the road team, tossed a 74-yard game-winning touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.

A former starting quarterback at Montana (1985-86), Pease spent four years toiling around the NFL but only officially made the Houston Oilers’ roster (1987-88). He also played for two teams in the World League of American Football (1991-92) as well as for the Arena Football League’s Cincinnati Rockers (1993).

It is plausible that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley makes Pease a take-it-or-leave-it offer on Friday, not wanting the Gators’ interest in the coach to be used as leverage for a deal with the Crimson Tide.

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Replacing Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator

With the surprise resignation of Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who decided to take the head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday, still the big news of the day, one of the major questions arising is a simple one: Who will replace him? OGGOA has complied a list of candidates who could replace Weis:

Kerwin Bell
Head Coach – Jacksonville Dolphins

Hire him: Bell is almost everything Florida is looking for in an offensive coordinator. He’s talented, runs a pro-style offense at Jacksonville, has professional experience as a player (four years in the NFL, four in the CFL) and coach (two years as offensive coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts) and is a Florida alumnus who was a quarterback on the Gators football team from 1983-87. His JU team features a strong down-field passing game but is also balanced with a solid running attack. Bell told The Gainesville Sun directly that he would be interested in returning to Florida, and a source close to him told OGGOA Thursday evening that he would listen to any offer head coach Will Muschamp might have for him. With orange and blue coursing through his veins, Bell would be loyal to the program and would have no designs on leaving anytime soon.

Hold up: Despite his success both with Toronto (2000-01) and Jacksonville (2007-present), Bell is relatively inexperienced as a college football coach. He spent six years as the top man at Trinity Catholic High School between the two jobs and is currently a coach in the FCS, which is a far cry from the SEC. Weis had total control over Florida’s offense, and it remains to be seen if Muschamp (inexperienced in his own right as a head coach) would be comfortable giving Bell that same power.

Brian White
Running Backs Coach – Florida Gators

Hire him: One of the most experienced coaches currently on staff, White has been an offensive coordinator before during his time at Wisconsin and has been a part of two national championship teams. He is one of the Gators’ best recruiters and is multiple on offense, already proving his ability to coach up running backs and tight ends at Florida. (He also coached quarterbacks and wide receivers at UNLV.) White is well-known and trusted by the players considering he is one of two holdovers remaining from Urban Meyer’s regime and has been with the team since 2009. He could be the safest move in terms of continuity, especially in recruiting where he has excelled during his time at UF.

Hold up: Though he has served previously as both an offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, White has not called plays since 2007. He will have what may be considered a tryout at the 2012 Gator Bowl, where he will temporarily take over for Weis as Muschamp looks to make a permanent decision on a future offensive coordinator. White is also not the “sexiest” candidate – he has absolutely no NFL coaching experience, something that Muschamp appeared to lean on with his first staff.

Bell and White individually may each be capable of running the Gators’ offense, but hiring co-offensive coordinators is not out of the realm of possibility for Muschamp. Bell (quarterbacks) and White (running backs) each specialize in a different area of the offense and could serve as passing game coordinator and running game coordinator, respectively. Florida had co-defensive coordinators under Meyer with Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong, and the defense was the backbone of the team while both were on staff. Expect Muschamp to give this idea serious consideration as Bell would love to return to the Gators but would likely want more than a “quarterbacks coach” title and White will feel he is deserving of additional responsibilities (and money) considering his work ethic and experience.

Al Borges
Offensive Coordinator – Michigan Wolverines

Hire him: Currently helping turn around Michigan, Borges has served as a college offensive coordinator for 25 years, getting his start back in 1986. He spent four years with Auburn (2004-07), crossing paths with Muschamp during his final two years with the team. When you talk about experience – Borges has it – and his pro-style offense has proven that it can be tailored to utilize speed and quickness.

Hold up: Another candidate without professional experience, Borges’s resume should be enough to overcome that. However, he just took the Wolverines job this year and – considering that offense is on the upswing – probably won’t be too inclined to change jobs after one year. Although he has been an offensive coordinator for a quarter century, he has done it at nine different stops and spent two years or less at five of them, only staying at Portland State, UCLA and Auburn long-term.

Stan Hixon
Wide Receivers Coach – Buffalo Bills

Hire him: He has never served as an offensive coordinator, but it might be time for the 54-year-old to take a step up to the next level. With coaching experience on both levels (14 years in college, 13 in the NFL), Hixon moves on at will and picks his poison. He worked at LSU for four years (three alongside Muschamp) and has plenty of experience both coaching in the SEC and recruiting top-tier players. He left that job to take one with the Washington Redskins, where he stuck for seven years, and has spent the last two coaching pass catchers with the Buffalo Bills (under head coach Chain Gailey – former UF player and GA). Hixon was born in Lakeland, FL and could see Florida as a great opportunity. He is well-known for getting the most out of unknown players and helping them reach their full potential.

Hold up: Hixon has never been an offensive coordinator. He hasn’t called plays for any extensive period of time and has not coached in college in nearly a decade. Some position coaches remain such for a reason, and Hixon may have turned down offensive coordinator opportunities in the past in order to concentrate on the job he does best.

Bobby Williams
Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach – Alabama Crimson Tide

Hire him: Another coach with a history alongside Muschamp (at LSU and the Miami Dolphins), Williams has served under Nick Saban for seven years coaching wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. He was a head coach for three years at Michigan State (beat Florida 37-34 in the 2000 Citrus Bowl) and has extensive SEC recruiting experience. Williams’s versatility is a major plus.

Hold up: Like Hixon, Williams has never been an offensive coordinator and play caller, but his time as a head coach adds another level of experience. His loyalty to Saban is obvious and many believe the chances of him leaving his side are not good.

Paul Chryst
Offensive Coordinator – Wisconsin Badgers

Hire him: Considered one of the best offensive coordinators in the game right now, Chryst would be a huge hire for Muschamp and the Gators. He’s had immense success with Wisconsin and would do great as the “head coach of the offense” with total control over the unit.

Hold up: Chryst has been a candidate for head coaching jobs and may be unlikely to move from Wisconsin unless it is to run his own program. Florida is undoubtedly a step up but probably not enough of a difference for him to move across the country. A year or two of immense success with the Gators could springboard him to a top job, but he is doing fine up north and may be able to pick his spot sooner than later staying put.

Scott Linehan, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Mularkey
Offensive Coordinators – NFL

Breakdown: Linehan, Scottenheimer and Mularkey all have connections to the program but each has his own reason for not giving much thought to the Florida job. Linehan, who was offensive coordinator under Saban with the Dolphins while Muschamp was there, is leading a burgeoning unit with the Detroit Lions and is unlikely to leave a secure job and take a cut in pay unless he really wants to get back into the college game. Mularkey, a former Gators tight end, has never coached at the college level and is closer to a NFL head coaching job as current offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons than he is to leaving the team and going to Florida. Schottenheimer, currently the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator, was a backup quarterback under Steve Spurrier at UF but also has no college coaching or recruiting experience. He would be the most likely out of the three to have any interest in the job considering he is heavily criticized as Jets’ offensive coordinator and could be on the outs up in New York.

Steve Spurrier, Jr.
Wide Receivers Coach – South Carolina Gamecocks

Hire him: Spurrier, Jr. has been a WR coach at Oklahoma and Arizona and spent time working under his father at Florida, with the Redskins and now at South Carolina. He played college football at Duke and got his master’s degree at UF. He may feel it is finally time to step out of his father’s shadow and up into an offensive coordinator job, and returning home could be especially sweet for him.

Hold up: According to a number of people – including his father – Spurrier Jr. is not ready to be an offensive coordinator. He’s had opportunities to call plays and lead the offense at USC only to have his father demote him back to WR coach and call the plays himself. He probably won’t be a legitimate candidate, but you never know.

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Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

The second of four documentaries set to air on ESPNU this year as part of the SEC Storied documentary series, “The Play That Changed College Football” is an intricate look at the first Southeastern Conference Championship Game played in 1992 between the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) and No. 12 Florida Gators (8-3).

Directed by Jeff Cvitkovic and narrated by Luke Perry, the film is centered on the thesis that one game – and more specifically one play – “helped shape how conferences are constructed and championships are decided.”

When the SEC expanded to 12 teams (adding Arkansas and South Carolina) nearly two decades ago, then-commissioner Roy Kramer chose to format the conference into two six-team divisions and add a championship game that was previously unheard of in Division I college football.

The prevailing thought was that a SEC team would never win a national championship because even if one got through the regular season undefeated, the team could be canalized in the title game and ruin its chances at national glory. What Kramer saw, however, was not the risk but instead the rewards of increased exposure, television revenue and conference prestige.

“You had a chance to have a team play for the national championship. Now, all of a sudden if they lose this game, they’re gonna lose their shot at a national championship. I was concerned we had shot ourselves in the foot,” he admitted.

The former commissioner is honest and forthcoming when admitting that, while he may be considered a visionary now, he was one play away from potentially being a pariah. Luckily for him, the former came true and not the latter.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s review of ESPN’s latest documentary…after the break!
Continue Reading » Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

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SEC “Storied” tackles Alabama-Florida game

ESPN debuted the new documentary series SEC “Storied” earlier this year and announced Tuesday that the second edition of the program will feature the first SEC Championship game played on Dec. 5, 1992 between the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators. The episode, The Play That Changed College Football, will premier on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 11 p.m. on ESPNU.

Two decades ago, the SEC expanded to 12 schools and hosted a conference championship game for the first time in college football history. Many thought this would jeopardize national title aspirations for the schools involved. Undefeated Alabama normally would have gone straight to a matchup with Miami in the Sugar Bowl with the national championship on the line, but instead was forced to play Steve Spurrier’s Florida squad first for the SEC title.

No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 12 Florida 28-21 in the first SEC Championship, which was played at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL. The Crimson Tide and Gators went on to go head-to-head in each of the next two SEC title games with UF winning both. Florida captured four-straight SEC Championships from 1993-96 including three over Alabama.

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Gators DT Dominique Easley won’t be charged

Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will not be charged with any wrongdoing by the state of Florida after it was alleged he committed misdemeanor battery, the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement released Thursday.

Easley was accused by former Alabama cornerback Reggie Myles of tackling him outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the early morning of Oct. 2 following Florida’s loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Myles took Easley’s cell phone from the scene and gave a sworn complaint to an officer.

Complaints against both men were submitted by the University Police Department to State Attorney Bill Cervone last week with Myles being cited for alleged criminal mischief, larceny and disorderly intoxication.

Cervone released the following statement in regards to his decision on the matter:

Having reviewed the reports provided by the University Police Department regarding Dominique Easley and Reginald Myles as they relate to events that occurred on October 2, 2011, and the allegations against each of them, I have reached the following conclusions regarding those events.

First, virtually everyone involved has provided contradictory information in some regard and some of those persons were apparently impaired from drinking to the point where their memory is not reliable in any event. The only exception to this is Easley, and that may be only because he exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and has said nothing. He cannot be compelled to do otherwise. Additionally, it is apparent that at least some of those involved have motives beyond what happened that raise questions of credibility.

Second, almost everyone involved has behaved badly in some way, including Easley, Myles and several of the witnesses, none of whom can be characterized as neutral or impartial. In some ways, that bad behavior might be provably criminal against Easley, Myles, or others, but just because it might be doesn’t mean that it should be when the cost and likely result of doing so would not warrant that.

There is a preference in the law that those who come before the courts seeking the redress of grievances should do so with clean hands. In my view, that includes in the criminal as well as the civil courts even though it is the State and not an individual that is the aggrieved party in a criminal case. There are no clean hands in this situation.

There is also no harm done, despite protestations to the contrary, that outweighs these factors. Any harm to either party is in essence canceled out by the harm to the other party. To use an appropriate analogy, I am therefore calling off setting penalties and declining to file any criminal charges against either Easley, Myles, or anyone else.

Easley has not yet nor is expected to miss any game action.

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Weis not tipping hand on Gators’ starting QB

The position of quarterback is one that demands stability, and the Florida Gators had that this season until redshirt senior John Brantley went down with a high-ankle sprain on Saturday against the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide. Set to square off against their second top-ranked opponent in as many weeks, Florida goes into their game against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers uncertain who will be under center on the first series.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis refused to indicate who that might be, even though freshman Jeff Driskel has been the second-string quarterback all season long up to this point.

“I can tell you, but I’d have to shoot you,” Weis said jokingly. “We don’t know yet. We’re practicing as the head coach has already previously told you. Brantley’s out and we’re practicing the other three guys. By the end of the week, we’ll decide who the starter is.”

Aside from Driskel, Florida has redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett on the roster. Whoever Weis chooses will be tasked with starting the first college game of their young career, a big step up from starting in high school.

“The first thing they have to realize is…you were the star in high school and it came easy for you. Now there’s 90,000 people every week when you go to play,” he said. “The stage is the first thing you got to get used to. It’s a different set of circumstances. A lot more people involved and a lot more pressure involved [and you’re playing] against better athletes. With every young quarterback, every play they’re out there, he’s getting more experience, which only makes him better in the long run.”

Weis said he will “objectively” pick his starter for Saturday but admitted that Driskel “has obviously got the upper hand because he has played and the other guys really haven’t played meaningful football yet.” However, all three are getting reps early in the week and Weis anticipates each to succeed in his own way.

No matter who eventually wins the battle, Weis is much more confident in being able to create a game plan for a back-up given a week to prepare rather than having to scrap one in the middle of a game and start from scratch.

“I feel a lot better now than I would have doing it last week in the game. You devise a game plan really around John, and when John goes down, you have to cut back in what you’re doing,” he said. “Now at least knowing that John is out for this week, you can devise a game plan around less experienced guys rather than more experienced guys.

“The best thing for this week versus last week is everything’s being tailor made around these guys. You don’t add more, you cut back so you get used to doing the things that they feel comfortable doing. You don’t expose them to as much material, which gives them a lot more confidence.”

Weis was also quick to point out that replacing Brantley is not a one-man job. The entire team will have to step up to fill the void created by their signal caller’s untimely injury.

“Everyone knows that part of their responsibility with Brantley out is everyone, on both sides of the ball and on special teams, has to pick up some of the slack,” he said. “There isn’t one guy that picks it up. It isn’t the backup quarterback coming in alone that picks up the slack. It’s everyone that has got to kind of pick up the slack.

“We can’t lose the line of scrimmage. [If] we lose the line of scrimmage Saturday afternoon, we’ll be in for a long day. It starts there with making sure that you don’t go get roughed up. If you control the line of scrimmage with the players we have on offense, I like to think that will give us a legitimate chance.”

In a hostile environment against a tough opponent trying to fight back after a disappointing showing at home one week earlier, chances are the Gators will have plenty to worry about on Saturday in addition to their quarterback situation.

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