SIX BITS: Meyer profiled by SI, replacing Dunlap, Saban on UF, stopping Ingram, Stoops’ influence?

1 » In the latest Sports Illustrated, S.L. Price profiled Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer. His article is a must-read for any Gators fan. “The Florida coach is alternately a hard-ass and a softy, cocky and calculating, smug and sentimental. But there’s no inconsistency in his football program, which is, as usual, on track for a national title.”

2 » As has been previously reported by OGGOA junior defensive end Justin Trattou will start in place of suspended junior DE Carlos Dunlap on Saturday. Helping Trattou will be redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard, a former DE who gained 60 pounds in the offseason to move inside. “For [Trattou], it’s an easy transition because he’s been there before,” defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. “He’s always taken reps. I rotate 12, 11 guys every game, so when a guy is out because of injury or discipline or whatever it is, it’s not like I’m going to throw a guy out there in the championship game that hasn’t played and played a lot.” Howard is especially effective against the run and will have a chance to make an impact when Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram runs right at him. Assisting the Gators coaches in this move is redshirt junior DT Brandon Antwine, who is active for Saturday’s game after sitting out the last six weeks with a bad shoulder.

Check out four more very informative Florida-Alabama BITS after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Meyer profiled by SI, replacing Dunlap, Saban on UF, stopping Ingram, Stoops’ influence?

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Meyer suspends Dunlap for SEC Championship

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has decided to suspend junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap for the 2009 SEC Championship game after he was arrested Tuesday morning by Gainesville Police on charges of driving under the influence. Dunlap was found slumped over sleeping behind the wheel of his red Chrystler at a traffic light. Dunlap faces one second degree misdemeanor DUI charge and was released on his own recognizance without bond by Judge Mary Day Coker.

“Carlos obviously made a very poor decision,” Meyer said. “He’s not going to play, and I want to visit with him and his family first, and then go from there. Stunning is probably a good word [to describe how I felt when I found out]. Young guys make decisions all the time. This one’s a serious one.”

One of the Gators’ top defensive players, Dunlap was named the 2009 BCS National Championship game MVP and has been a powerful, athletic force on the defensive line in 2009. He is expected to leave school after this season and be the top Florida player taken in the 2010 NFL Draft.

“You think you’re in control and the next thing you know you’re in trouble,” Carlos Dunlap, Sr. said about his son’s arrest. “I am dumbfounded right now. He’s always been so anti-drug, anti-drinking. But it’s not what you do, it’s how you respond to what you do.”

Meyer said junior DE Justin Trattou will start in place of Dunlap while senior DE Jermaine Cunningham will stay on the field for more snaps than usual. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard will get playing time at end while redshirt junior DTs Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders hold down the inside of the line. “The good thing is we have a little bit of depth,” Meyer said.

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BREAKING NEWS: Florida Gators junior DE Carlos Dunlap charged with DUI Tuesday morning

Florida Gators junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap, 20, was arrested at 3:25 a.m. Tuesday morning by Gainesville Police on charges of driving under the influence. Dunlap was found slumped over sleeping behind the wheel of his red Chrystler at a traffic light by Officer Robert Rogers, who was dispatched to the area after reports of reckless driving were sent in.

At a complete stop, Dunlap’s car sat still as the traffic light went through multiple cycles. Officers then went over to the car and turned off the ignition while the clutch was still in gear, according to the police report. Dunlap, once awoken, was “very groggy,” showed signs of impairment (bloodshot eyes, difficulty relaying basic information, alcohol on his breath), performed poorly in field sobriety tests and refused a breath test.

“They approached the car and found the suspect slumped over in the driver’s seat,” GPD spokesman Lt. Keith Kameg said. “He appeared to be asleep. The car’s windows were cracked so they attempted to wake him up. They talked to him and he would only open his eyes for a few seconds and then fall back asleep.”

Dunlap faces one second degree misdemeanor DUI charge and will remain in jail without bond until he faces an Alachua County judge. This charge is his first offense. Team spokesman Steve McClain said that the Gators are “aware of the incident and are currently gathering more information.” Head coach Urban Meyer is expected to address the situation after practice Tuesday evening.

UPDATE: Dunlap stood in front of Judge Mary Day Coker Tuesday morning, who told the future NFL first round draft pick that he cannot possess alcohol or drugs or drive a motor vehicle as his license has been revoked. Coker also admonished Dunlap for underage drinking and gave him no bond as this was his first offense. Dunlap’s only replies during the meeting were soft “Yes, ma’am”s. He was released on his own recognizance and will return to court at a later date.

OGGOA will have more on this breaking news story as it becomes available. For now, Florida fans can expect one of the Gators’ top defensive players and the 2009 BCS National Championship game MVP to be suspended for Saturday’s SEC Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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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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FOUR BITS: Rivalry Week has begun at UF

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer did not spend much time praising his team after its 62-3 blowout victory over the Florida International Golden Panthers on Saturday. Instead, he turned his attention to the Florida State Seminoles, declaring, “It’s rivalry week. We’ve been here before. So, let’s get started.” Meyer does not hide his affection for taking down the so-called “School Out West.” “It’s the world,” he said. “It’s what makes this job the best in college football. It’s what makes this stadium the best in college football. This is going to be a special week. It’s started already.”

2 » If Meyer sounded pumped up for Florida State, his team appeared ready to take them on right after FIU left the field. “It’s a lot of hatred,” junior safety Ahmad Black said. “It started even before us. It goes way back to the earlier days. We’ve won five straight. We don’t want to be the team that loses the streak.” Junior guard Mike Pouncey didn’t even question the result of the game. “It’s five [in a row]? So, it will be six,” he said. “They’re always good and it’s a rivalry game, so everybody’s going to play a little harder. Linebacker Ryan Stamper, one of the seniors who will play their last game in The Swamp on Saturday, believes his class has a mission to accomplish. “I grew up watching the Florida-Florida State rivalry since I was little. Going out with them not beating us once would be a great thing.”

3 » While taking down the Seminoles is just another “mission” for the Gators, it could be a season-defining victory for Florida State. FSU did extend its bowl streak to 28 years with a victory over the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, but head coach Bobby Bowden said taking a win from Florida this week would be among the most memorable victories of his career. “It probably would,” he said. “In other words, this thing has got to turn around. And I would say if you [beat the Gators], it’s around. You’re betting good if you can beat them, I’ll tell you what. What a task. What a task.” Whether or not Bowden can pull of a victory may not even matter, because if the Seminoles’ boosters get there way, this season could be his last in garnet and gold.

4 » Limping off the field with an injured medial-collateral ligament on Saturday, redshirt junior starting linebacker A.J. Jones needed to be replaced. Meyer immediately sent junior Brandon Hicks into the game, and the team did not lose a step. Why? Because Hicks started the final five games of the 2008 season – including the BCS National Championship game against the Oklahoma Sooners – when Jones went down with his previous knee injury. “Here we go,” Meyer told him before he stepped on the field. “You’ve been here before.” Hicks’ performance last year earned him a reputation as one of the best defenders on the team, though an ankle injury kept him from starting in 2009. On a side note, Meyer said Jones’ injury is “nonsurgical,” meaning there is a possibility he could be ready for the team’s bowl game.

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Florida Gators clinch SEC East with Vols victory

No. 1 Florida Gators have clinched the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title and earned a spot in the SEC Championship game after a 41-17 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday afternoon and a 31-13 win by the Tennessee Volunteers against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the evening.

This will be the Gators third SEC title game appearance in the last four years. Florida won the last two contests and earned berths to the BCS National Championship games in those respective seasons (2006 vs. Arkansas and 2008 vs. Alabama). The 2009 game will be played on Dec. 5 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

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TWO BITS: UF must protect Tebow, deserve No. 2

1 » While concerns about the passing offense seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, Bruce Feldman of ESPN contends that the Florida Gators number one priority for the remainder of the season should be protecting senior quarterback Tim Tebow – and not just because of his concussion three weeks ago. Florida will be facing big-time pass rushers in the South Carolina Gamecocks and Alabama Crimson Tide soon.

2 » Some of those that cover the Gators (or are simply fans of the team) were outraged Sunday to learn that Florida had dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll after WINNING their game against the Arkansas Razorbacks (losing 30 first-place votes in the process). Steve Eubanks of FOX Sports says the AP voters were justified in changing their votes. Fact of the matter is this: it does not matter who is No. 1 or No. 2 because both teams will meet in the SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA, on Dec. 5 at the Georgia Dome to determine who goes to the BCS National Championship.

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FOUR BITS: Sturgis honored, UF No. 2 in AP, Mullen meeting, Marsh’s return

1 » Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis has been named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after going 3-4 on field goal attempts Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks including a game-winner with 0:09 left on the clock. [UPDATE:] Sturgis was also named one of the Lou Groza National Collegiate Placekicker Award’s “Stars of the Week.” Sturgis missed his initial 37-yard attempt but went on to hit, consecutively, from 30 yards, 51 yards and 27 yards. Sturgis’ final kick earned him a spot in Florida football lore, potentially saving the Gators’ season and chances at a third National Championship in four years.

2 » Astoundingly, Florida fell to No. 2 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll with the Alabama Crimson Tide jumping into the No. 1 spot. Apparently the Gators’ 23-20 last-second victory was not enough for the voters, who dropped Florida in a 30-vote swing. It is not so much being No. 2 that bothers me; it is that there was such a heavy swing of votes following a hard fought victory by one team (UF) to another team (Alabama) that only won 20-6 at home, scoring their only offensive touchdown late in the fourth quarter. At least it doesn’t bother the players. Regardless, the Gators were ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide in the first BCS Rankings released Sunday.

3 » Moving on. This Saturday night will be the first time head coach Urban Meyer and his former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen go face-to-face across the gridiron. Mullen, now head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, has his new team off to a 3-4 (1-2 SEC) start including a close home loss to the then-No. 7 LSU Tigers at home at Scott Field. Mullen remains close friends with Meyer and worked with him from 1999 until last season, where he helmed the offense that won the Gators two National Championships in 2006 and 2008. He also remains close with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis honored, UF No. 2 in AP, Mullen meeting, Marsh’s return

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