Week 12: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. FIU G. Panthers

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 75°F – Partly Sunny

TV: Pay-Per-View and ESPN Gameplan (Check your local listings.)
Online: None.
Sirius: 214; XM: 201

Florida Gators FIU Golden Panthers
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Mario Cristobal
Record: 10-0 (8-0) Record: 3-7 (3-4)
Division: SEC East Division: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -45, O/U 56.5
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida’s 2009 senior class…who go into Saturday’s game with a 45-6 record, tied for the SEC mark for winningest class in conference history. The SEC record of 45 wins is shared by the 1996 Gators, 1994 Alabama Crimson Tide, 1998 Tennessee Volunteers and 2005 Georgia Bulldogs.
- Senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham…who leads the team with seven sacks.
- Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper…who is tops on the Gators with 61 tackles.
- Senior kick returner Brandon James…who set the SEC record for kickoff return yards last week with 2,538 yards on 105 returns. James looks for a return touchdown this week.
- Senior wide receiver Riley Cooper…who is looking to improve after dropping two touchdowns last week against South Carolina. He caught one.
- Florida’s Nick Alajajian and Florida International’s Joe Alajajian…who are brothers.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 20 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the SEC in the past 15 years since the Auburn Tigers won 20 straight from 1993-94. 19 of Florida’s 20 wins have been by a double digit margin. Florida is 10-0 for the third time in school history (1995, 1996).
- The Gators lead the SEC in rushing offense (230.6) and third-down efficiency (.441). They also come in No. 3 in total offense (428.7) and scoring offense (33.9).
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered ten touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation). The unit has also only allowed 12 field goals for a total of 105 points (10.5 points per game) – this also leads the nation.
- Florida tallied a season-high six sacks last week against South Carolina, including three within a span of four defensive snaps.
- The Gators allowed a season-low 61 net rushing yards last week while also holding the SEC league leader in sacks, Eric Norwood, without one.
- Florida has recorded 10 interceptions over the past four weeks, best in the nation.

Read OGGOA’s Florida vs. Florida International preview after the jump…

Continue Reading » Week 12: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. FIU G. Panthers

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FOUR BITS: 3s, weekend games, Spikes, injuries

1 » Florida Gators basketball (2-0) looks to keep on rolling as they take on the Troy Trojans (2-0) Friday at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Shooting a combined 3-for-29 (10.3%) from behind the arc, the Gators are bucking a trend head coach Billy Donovan set upon his arrival to Gainesville, FL. Florida has traditionally been among the best in the Southeastern Conference in three-point shooting percentage as Donovan has made it a priority both in his recruiting and game plans. “I think for guys like Kenny [Boynton] and Erving [Walker], it is probably somewhat uncharacteristic,” Donovan said. “They have been shooting the ball well in practice. Chandler [Parsons] and Dan [Werner] are guys that maybe have been a little more up and down in their careers.”

2 » There’s plenty of other Gators sports action on the docket for the weekend. Men’s and women’s swimming & diving begin their participation in all-day weekend tournaments Friday. Women’s basketball (1-1) faces the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0) in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, and No. 13/13 volleyball (20-4, 14-3 SEC) heads to Knoxville, TN, to serve against the Tennessee Volunteers (20-7, 13-4 SEC) – both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. Volleyball will then travel to Lexington, KY, to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (26-2, 16-1 SEC) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

3 » Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has been named as one of the five finalists for the 25th annual Butkus Award honoring the nation’s top linebacker. Other finalists include Rolando McClain of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Sergia Kindle of the Texas Longhorns, Sean Weatherspoon of the Missouri Tigers and Eric Norwood of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

4 » Redshirt juniors running back Emmanuel Moody (sprained ankle) and defensive tackle Terron Sanders (rib/back) have been ruled out for the Florida International Golden Panthers game on Saturday. According to head coach Urban Meyer, senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham is “50-50” for the game with an unspecified injury. This is a good week to rest any banged up players prior to the regular season finale against the Florida State Seminoles next weekend.

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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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Poll Reviews: MVP at ‘Cocks, NFL-ready Gators

This week, OGGOA asked you to participate in three polls, the first two which determined who you believed were the most NFL-ready Florida Gators and the third to choose the Most Valuable Player in the Gators game last weekend against the South Carolina Gamecocks. A total of 464 combined votes were registered and the results are in:

DT Justin Trattou (51%, 82 votes)

CB Joe Haden (38%, 60 votes)

DE Jermaine Cunningham (6%, 10 votes)

WR Riley Cooper (5%, 8 votes)

This was Trattou’s first time nominated for an OGGOA MVP award, and he obviously came away with the title due to his 53-yard interception return on Saturday. For possibly the first time since OGGOA has started these MVP polls, I happen to disagree with your decision. Haden easily had the most impressive game coming away with an interception of his own, two forced fumbles, a sack, a pass deflection and 11 total tackles (10 solo). If that is not an MVP performance, I do not know what is.

Which Florida Gators offensive player has the greatest potential for NFL success?
TE Aaron Hernandez (58%, 87 votes)
OL Pouncey Bros. (20%, 30 votes)
QB Tim Tebow (14%, 22 votes)
RB Emmanuel Moody (8%, 12 votes)

Which Florida Gators defensive player has the greatest potential for NFL success?
LB Brandon Spikes (43%, 65 votes)
DE Carlos Dunlap (32%, 49 votes)
CB Joe Haden (22%, 34 votes)
DE Jermaine Cunningham (3%, 5 votes)

Reviewing your prior two polls, I was pleasantly surprised to see fair judgment of Tebow’s NFL prospects. As someone who, just last season, staunchly defended his ability to play quarterback on the next level, I am starting to come around to the more conventional wisdom of experts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. who think Tebow will indeed play in the league, but not as a full-time signal caller. Looking at your choice on defense, the fact that Spikes, Dunlap and Haden are all within 10% of each other proves that this defensive unit really is stacked. All three will be first round picks in 2010 as long as Haden comes to the expected conclusion that declaring is the right thing to do for him. The only thing that may come into play would be a desire to play with his brother Jordan, a four-star 2010 cornerback commitment.

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Grading the Florida at South Carolina game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will grade the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday afternoon on the road in Columbia, SC.

QUARTERBACK: B
Grading Tim Tebow week-in and week-out has proven to be a difficult task. He was good for 199 yards passing and two touchdowns, including a deep bomb to wide receiver Riley Cooper and a record-breaking run. Tebow had Cooper open in the end zone on two other occasions; once he slightly overthrew the ball, but the second one have been caught by the receiver. On the ground, he averaged only 1.6 yards on 16 carries, the second consecutive game he has totaled less than two yards per carry on average. That is worrisome. I originally had Tebow graded a little lower but gave him a little boost for what could should have been. He still needs to get the ball out sooner, especially with the offensive line struggling in protection (two more sacks).

RUNNING BACKS: B-
Why does Emmanuel Moody continue to get single-digit carries each week? This game he received three which were turned into 35 yards and a touchdown on an 11.7 average. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey were less impressive, averaging 3.6 and 4.6 yards respectively while gaining a combined 85 yards. Running backs need to get into a rhythm. Short dive plays (which are easily being schemed against) and limited attempts impede that from happening. Moody is adoubtful this week with an ankle injury.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the South Carolina game after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida at South Carolina game

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Week 11: No. 1 Florida Gators at South Carolina

Location: Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC [Capacity: 80,250]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 75°F – Partly Sunny

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online: CBSSports.com.
Sirius: 218; XM: 200

Florida Gators South Carolina Gamecocks
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 9-0 (7-0) Record: 6-4 (3-4)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -17.5, O/U 43.5
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow…who has rushed for nine touchdowns this season, bringing him to 52 for his career, breaking the all-time SEC record held by Herschel Walker (Georgia, 1980-82). Tebow broke Walker’s record two weeks ago with a 23-yard score against Georgia. He has also set the SEC career record for rushing yards by a quarterback, passing Matt Jones (Arkansas, 2001-04).
- South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier…who is taking over play calling duties for the first time all season.
- Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes…who returns to action this week following a one-game suspension for attempting to gouge the eyes of Georgia Bulldogs running back Washaun Ealey two weeks ago. Spikes has missed three of the last four games, two of them due to injury.
- Special camouflage jerseys…which will be worn by the Gamecocks as part of the Wounded Warrior Project to honor military veterans.
- Florida’s 2009 senior class…who go into Saturday’s game with a 44-6 SEC record and have a chance to becoming the winningest class in conference history. The SEC record of 45 wins is shared by the 1996 Gators, 1994 Alabama Crimson Tide, 1998 Tennessee Volunteers and 2005 Georgia Bulldogs.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 19 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the SEC in the past 15 years since the Auburn Tigers won 20 straight from 1993-94. 18 of Florida’s 19 wins have been by a double digit margin.
- Florida has won 11 straight games against Eastern Division opponents and three straight against South Carolina.
- The Gators have won 17 of its last 18 games against the Gamecocks, with its last loss coming in Columbia four years ago. Spurrier is 1-3 against his former team while Florida is 22-4-3 all-time against South Carolina.
- The Gators lead the SEC in rushing offense (240.7) and third-down efficiency (.451). They also come in No. 2 in total offense (438.7) and scoring offense (35.0).
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered eight touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation) and average 10.1 points per game (No. 1 in the nation). The defense has also only allowed 12 field goals for a total of 91 points and has recorded eight interceptions over the past three weeks (best in the nation).
- South Carolina is on a seven-game home winning streak, though they have never defeated the No. 1 team in the nation.

Read OGGOA’s complete Florida vs. South Carolina preview after the jump…

Continue Reading » Week 11: No. 1 Florida Gators at South Carolina

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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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