9/23: Florda Gators week four practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s fourth game Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

DEBOSE GROWS

With Florida’s offense putting forth less than stellar performances over the first three games of the season, one of the most heavily discussed topics by fans and the media has been the development of redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. Though he did not play in the team’s opener against Miami (OH), Debose did see limited time against South Florida and Tennessee but has yet to record a reception on the season. That is a fact that might change this week.

“Andre Debose has had a great week of practice,” Meyer said Thursday, noting he had a “really good practice” on Wednesday. “[He hadn’t been practicing well] not because he’s not trying, just [because of] the complication of the offense. Really good day yesterday. That was really encouraging. But that was normal growth. Everybody wants them to be something they’re not. He didn’t play a snap last year.”

Meyer also noted that he is developing at a normal pace, citing that the limited time he has been able to practice at full speed is what hindered him the most. Debose completely tore his hamstring off the bone last season and, while he has been perfectly healthy this year, did miss a lot while being out of commission.

TIGHT ENDS DEVELOPING

The Gators have been using six offensive linemen at times this season instead of putting a tight end in the game; this was most notable last week against Tennessee when sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon played one more spot out wide. The reason for this? Florida has a very young group of players at the position with Meyer’s preferable starter still coming along from a training camp injury.

Jordan Reed’s getting close to full speed. A guy named Gerald Christian is getting a little better,” Meyer said. “At the end of the day, you gotta block SEC defensive ends to play tight end at Florida. We’re getting better. We need that position. If you put an offensive lineman there, there’s no threat of pass.”

QUOTES

On the offense’s execution this week: “The pitch-and-catch has been much better. The receivers are starting to get healthy and their legs back. I think they were blown out a little bit during training camp. We’re getting a little bit of depth. You’re seeing Stephen Alli, you’re seeing Andre Debose starting to get going.”

On who shined this week: “Our receivers had their best day Wednesday, which is real encouraging.”

On redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey’s status: “He’s not part of the team. That’s all I got to say. […] Nowhere near the team. […] I’m not even thinking about that. I’m letting everything will be handled and at some point we’ll have to address it and that point’s not now.”

On freshman quarterback Trey Burton switching numbers (from 13 to 8): “Switching numbers? Is that right? I have no idea, I’m not the numbers coach. I delegated that.”

On offense starting slow each September: “When’s that? Every year? September won-loss record is OK though.”

On redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan‘s health: “I love Patchan’s intensity, emotion – we need him in the lineup. [..] He’s doing all condition and he’s still two [games] away.”

On eventually winning 200 games: “I hope we can tackle Randall Cobb, man.”

On coaching until Bobby Bowden’s age: “I don’t think I can do that.”

On not scoring a point in the first quarter yet: “A lot of urgency to get that corrected. Because we certainly have the scheming and players to do it.”

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FOUR BITS: Patriots, Donovan, Murphy, Bowden

1 » Though the New England Patriots three draft selections garnered the most attention from Florida Gators fans, the team actually added four University of Florida products in the offseason after signing former Gators defensive tackle and 10-year NFL veteran Gerard Warren. Warren, who is backing up Vince Wilfork, recounted to ESPN that new Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes, along with tight end Aaron Hernandez, were all doing the Gator Chomp during rookie camp on Thursday. “Hey man, it’s Gator Nation,” Warren said.

2 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun early this week, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan said he is “always concerned” about agents and their runners contacting his players. “The solution for it is the NCAA and the [NBA] players association are going to have to somehow get on the same level,” Donovan said. “Because we have more rules and restrictions against us as coaches in terms of communication and what we can do than the agents do.” He also touched on a number of other topics including the upcoming season. “I’m excited about our depth,” he said. “I think we’ll obviously have size now. I think we add a little depth with Scottie [Wilbekin] in the backcourt. But I’m anxious to work with this guys.”

3 » Former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy struggled to progress much during his first NFL season, mostly because the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback situation was unresolved the whole year. With former Auburn QB Jason Campbell now in the fold, Murphy thinks he is just what the team needed. “I see a lot of similarities between Jason Campbell and Tim Tebow,” Murphy said. “They’re both really driven.”

4 » No longer on the sidelines with the Florida State Seminoles, Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bowden has been taking part in a number of speaking engagements. During one Friday in Elkhart, FL, Bowden said that he will not miss having to deal with Florida every year. “They’re pretty good, but I don’t worry about them anymore,” Bowden said. “They’re not my problem anymore.”

Photo Credit: John Biever/Sports Illustrated

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Five-star LB Jones spurns Gators for ‘Noles

Five-star linebacker Christian Jones (Winter Park, FL) turned away the Florida Gators and decided to commit to the Florida State Seminoles Wednesday afternoon.

A two-generation legacy, Jones’ father and brother both played for head coach Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles. In fact, some believe that Bowdenmet with Jones this past weekend in an attempt to convince him to join FSU’s 2010 recruiting class.

It began apparent that the Gators would lose out on Jones after three-star LB Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL) committed earlier in the day.

OGGOA will update this story after the conclusion of National Signing Day.

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SIX BITS: Urban Meyer absence edition (Part 1)

1 » Urban Meyer’s Press Conference Transcript

2 » Perhaps the key component to Meyer’s recent decision and then about-face is the effect it will have on rival schools and coaches who will use it as an opportunity to pounce on the Florida Gators and their recruits. OGGOA starts the festivities with a piece from Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who contends that Meyer’s flip-flop is a bad sign for Florida and an opening for the Georgia Bulldogs. “Meyer isn’t so much on the clock now as he is looking at it,” Schultz writes before flip-flopping himself. “Don’t misunderstand. I’m not projecting the Gators’ program is going to implode. But odds are, the Gators take a significant step back.”

3 » Next to jump on the pile are the Tennessee Volunteers faithful. The Knoxville News-Sentinel named Gainesville, FL, the flip-flop coaching capital of the world. No real reason to click that link – not much to read there. Just covering all angles.

Check out three more BITS (worth reading) after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Urban Meyer absence edition (Part 1)

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Sporting world reacts to Meyer’s resignation

Much has already been said about Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s resignation, and it has only been hours since he has decided to step down from the program. Many of Meyer’s players, former players, peers and friends have already released statements about their thoughts and feelings about the situation.

Check out the sporting world’s reaction to Meyer’s announcement after the jump!!!
Continue Reading » Sporting world reacts to Meyer’s resignation

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Gators football honored on SI All-Decade lists

Sports Illustrated followed up its college basketball All-Decade lists published on Wednesday with a number of college football All-Decade lists Thursday, and the Florida Gators earned their way toward a few notable distinctions. In the main article, where SI went over the highlights and lowlights of the decade, the Gators took home three of the top honors: Player of the Decade, Best Coach and Signature Play.

PLAYER OF THE DECADE: Tim Tebow, Florida
A star from the day he set foot on campus, Tebow will graduate with two SEC championships, two BCS titles and a Heisman Trophy. He is 34-6 as a starter and set SEC career records for total yards (11,699), rushing touchdowns (56), total touchdowns (141) and rushing yards by a quarterback (2,899). His impact, though, extended beyond the box score. “I don’t think I have ever seen a better leader,” said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

BEST COACH: Urban Meyer, Bowling Green/Utah/Florida
Meyer, who became a head coach in 2001, turned around three programs this decade thanks to a hypercompetitive personality and relentless zeal for recruiting. He leads all active coaches with an .841 winning percentage (minimum five years) and is the only coach to win two BCS championships. Bowling Green, 2-9 the year before his arrival, went 17-6 in Meyer’s two seasons. Utah went 22-2 under his watch. Florida has gone 56-10 in his five seasons.

SIGNATURE PLAY: The Tim Tebow “jump pass”
Florida coaches Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen first broke out their throwback play in a 2006 game against LSU. Facing second-and-goal at the one, Tebow faked like he was running for the end zone, stopped, jumped into the air, double-clutched like a basketball player, then lobbed a touchdown pass to Tate Casey. Most memorably, Tebow used the play to throw a game-sealing TD to David Nelson in the 2008 BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma — this time on a perfect spiral with no hesitation.

Though Florida is well-represented on that list, the recognition did not stop. Tebow’s speech following the Gators’ loss to the Ole Miss Rebels on Sept. 27, 2008, named “The Promise,” was No. 5 on SI’s 10 signature moments of the decade. “Following an inexplicable 31-30 home loss to Ole Miss, Tebow finished his usual question-and-answer session, but the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t done talking,” Andy Staples writes. “Tebow honored his pledge. The Gators won their next 10 games, outscoring opponents 469-131. Florida rolled to the BCS title, and after the season, the school memorialized Tebow’s promise by inscribing it on a plaque that stands outside Florida Field.”

Tebow was also named as the starting quarterback for SI’s All-Decade Team. “A star from the day he set foot on campus, Tebow will graduate with two SEC championships, two BCS titles and a Heisman Trophy,” writes Stewart Mandel. “He is 34-6 as a starter and set SEC career records for total yards (11,699), rushing touchdowns (56), total touchdowns (141) and rushing yards by a quarterback (2,899). His impact, though, extended beyond the box score. ‘I don’t think I have ever seen a better leader,’ said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.”

Mandel followed that up by naming Meyer as the All-Decade Team’s head coach. “Meyer, who became a head coach in 2001, turned around three programs this decade thanks to a hypercompetitive personality and relentless zeal for recruiting. He leads all active coaches with an .841 winning percentage (minimum five years) and is the only coach to win two BCS championships. Bowling Green, 2-9 the year before his arrival, went 17-6 in Meyer’s two seasons. Utah went 22-2 under his watch. Florida has gone 56-10 in his five seasons.”

SI is not done either. Tebow’s Heisman Trophy-worthy performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Nov. 10, 2007, earned him one of the decade’s most memorable college football performances. “Heisman Trophy voters had almost come around to the idea of giving the award to a sophomore when the Gators traveled to Columbia. In case anyone was still on the fence, Tebow erased all doubt, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for five more in a 51-31 win. “That was a Heisman performance tonight,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said. “In fact, it was one of the best performances by a football player that I have ever seen.””

It was not all sunny for Florida on these lists. The Gators were the No. 8 entry on lists for the Top 10 College Football Games of the 2000s and Top 10 College Football Upsets of the 2000s for losses to the LSU Tigers (24-28 in 2007) and the Tennessee Volunteers (32-34 in 2001), respectively.

Referring back to the initial list, Mandel tabbed the Southeastern Conference the decade’s Best Conference and the spread-option as the Best Innovation of the decade.

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FOUR BITS: Dwyer HS, FSU, California, Bailey

1 » The Florida Gators‘ two commitments from Dwyer High School, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star tight end Gerald Christian, got a visit from recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales on Tuesday, who also took time to meet with their teammate and three-star cornerback Robert Clark. [OGGOA Exclusive:] It is expected that Meyer will pay a visit to Dwyer in the coming days and offer Clark a scholarship (if he has not been offered one already), especially after learning that both Lane and Monte Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers attended Dwyer practice on Tuesday pushing hard for Clark in hopes that he could sway Elam.

2 » Over the last few days, Florida has lost out on two of the top 2010 recruits in the country to the Florida State Seminoles. First, it was four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) who liked the transition from Bobby Bowden to head coach Jimbo Fisher. According to reports Wednesday morning, five-star cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has also committed to FSU. Joyner, considered the No. 1 overall CB recruit in the country, and Luc were both highly regarded prospects by Gators, though neither were strong leans to Florida.

3 » Four-star wide receiver Kenny Stills (Carlsbad, CA) has narrowed his list to two schools: the Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners. Stills, who will announce on Dec. 18, said the Miami Hurricanes still have a shot but not a great one. The Gators have already pulled one recruit from California for 2010, four-star CB Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, CA), and many believe that head coach Urban Meyer is looking for the trifecta with Stills and five-star defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA).

4 » Florida is the early leader for Sterling Bailey (Gainesville, GA), a 2011 defensive end who is expected to be rated a four-star prior to his senior year of high school. “I could say [the Gators are out in front],” Bailey told JC Shurburtt of ESPN. “It was a surprising offer at first because they were not sending me much in the mail. My coach called me up and told me that Florida had offered. At first, I didn’t believe him. Then, I called and got on the phone with Urban Meyer. He told me that they were glad to offer me a scholarship and that when they saw me on film, it was a no-brainer.”

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SIX BITS: Kiffin, Moody, SEC, Nixon, Bowden

1 » The Tennessee Volunteers may be 7-5 with a .500 record in the Southeastern Conference, but far be it for head coach Lane Kiffin to keep his mouth shut – especially when getting a chance to talk about the coaching staff of the No. 1 Florida Gators. When asked about the SEC Championship game, Kiffin responded in the only way possible for him. “Florida has better players, Alabama has better coaches,” he said.

2 » Florida junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) practiced at full speed on Tuesday and will be active for Saturday. Head coach urban Meyer worked the Gators on the field turf practice field in order to best simulate the Georgia Dome field.

3 » The Gators have appeared in the SEC Championship game nine times while the Crimson Tide have only made six appearances – all against Florida. In those games, Alabama is 2-4 with wins in 1992 and 1999.

4 » Starting the last three games, freshman left tackle Xavier Nixon has been a notable addition to Florida’s offensive line. The rebuilt unit has only allowed senior quarterback Tim Tebow to be sacked four times; he was sacked 21 times in the nine prior games. “You need that presence inside, and when coach [Steve] Addazio did that, that was a great tactical move,” Meyer said. “X has gotten a lot better. X did not play great Saturday. He had some missed assignments, but the one thing about him is he plays hard. He has a passion. He’ll get better.” Junior right guard Mike Pouncey agrees. “Xavier’s been playing good,” he said. “He’s been playing better than the other guys that were in there. Moving Carl [Johnson] inside is a big key.”

5 » During his post-practice press availability, Meyer showed his respect for Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden. “I’m good friends with coach Bowden, and I have a lot of respect for him,” he said. “He’s great for college football. [44 years of coaching] is a long time. [I] just want to go another week. You admire a guy that had the stamina and [did] it the right way. That’s the thing you always admire about coach Bowden – he’s done it the right way.”

6 » Florida women’s basketball (3-4) fell 72-71 to the Florida A&M Rattlers (4-2) in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators trailed by 12 points with 48.2 seconds remaining but scored the last 11 points to cut the deficit to one with 1.5 seconds left on the clock. Sophomore center Azania Stewart scored a career-high 17 points, though Florida only shot 36.9 percent.

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