Florida has 11 players named to All-SEC teams

The Associated Press released its 2009 All-SEC team lists on Monday and, to no one’s surprise, 11 Florida Gators football players made the cut.

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow, junior guard Mike Pouncey, junior center Maurkice Pouncey, junior tight end Aaron Hernandez, junior cornerback Joe Haden and junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap were all awarded first-team honors while senior wide receiver Riley Cooper, senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, senior DE Jermaine Cunningham and junior punter Chas Henry were placed on the second team. Junior strong safety Ahmad Black received an honorable mention.

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FOUR BITS: No excuses, Foley, rating, softball

1 » Speaking with reporters following the 2009 SEC Championship, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong refused to make excuses for his unit’s shortcomings. “We just didn’t play well at all,” Strong said. “We didn’t get off the field on third down. It was one of our worst performances in a long time. We can’t worry about one player [junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap]. He could have been hurt on the first play. [Alabama] showed nothing new. If you don’t tackle well, you give up big plays.”

2 » Saturday’s game garnered the highest rating ever for the SEC Championship on CBS, scoring an 11.8/24 or 13 percent higher than 2008’s 10.4/21. The rating peaked at a 13.0/24 from 7:00-7:30 p.m. (EST). It also reportedly set a record for CBS’s online streaming service, at least quadrupling their previous high of requests.

3 » The Birmingham News praised Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley for showing class and going over to the Alabama Crimson Tide‘s athletic department at the end of the game to congratulate them. “There’s a reason the Florida AD is considered the best in the business, and it’s not just because of all the championships his teams have won and all the money his school has made,” the article states. “That was a championship moment by a man whose team just saw its championship run come to an end.”

4 » Lake Wales, FL, softball pitcher Hannah Rogers always wanted to play for the Gators. When she was not offered a scholarship early on in the recruiting process, Rogers committed to the Florida State Seminoles. That was until a roster spot opened up on Florida’s roster and head coach Tim Walton offered her a scholarship. “It’s exciting because ever since I was little, I wanted to go to Florida,” she said. “It was a real emotional decision […], but I knew that Gainesville felt more like home to me.”

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Grading the Florida vs. Alabama game (+ FSU)

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 Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2009 SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA. Following those grades, OGGOA has provided its overlooked grades (without explanations) for the Florida State Seminoles game.

QUARTERBACKS: B
Florida seemingly decided to put the entire offense on senior quarterback Tim Tebow’s shoulders. How else could you explain the 35 passing attempts and team-high 10 carries? On the ground, Tebow rushed for 63 yards. Through the air, he completed 57 percent of his passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw a costly interception into the end zone and came up short on numerous occasions. Like the strategy or not, Tebow was responsible for almost every offensive snap of an offense that failed to get the job done against a stout Alabama defense.

RUNNING BACKS: I
Inexplicably, Florida’s running backs touched the ball a total of three times on Saturday. Three. In the Gators’ first 12 games, sophomore Jeff Demps averaged eight carries (7.7 yards), redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey averaged seven touches (6.4 yards) and redshirt junior transfer Emmanuel Moody averaged five rushes (7.3 yards). That is a total of 20 running plays and well over 100 yards of rushing that were not part of Florida’s offensive game plan. The only possible grade for this unit is “incomplete.”

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the SEC Championship after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida vs. Alabama game (+ FSU)

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2009 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – (Atlanta, GA) – No. 1 Florida Gators v. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 71,228]
Time: 4:00 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: N/A

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online: CBSSports.com
Sirius: 123; XM: 144

No. 1 Florida Gators No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 12-0 (8-0) Record: 12-0 (8-0)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5, O/U 41
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida’s 2009 senior class…the winningest group in Southeastern Conference history with a 47-6 overall record. The seniors will be playing in their third SEC Championship game in the Georgia Dome in four years.
– Senior quarterback Tim Tebow and Alabama running back Mark Ingram…who will both be making their respective cases for the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Considered two of the main competitors for the award, Tebow and Ingram each have a chance, through their play, to make an argument that they should win the trophy.
- Junior defensive end Justin Trattou…who along with redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard will be filling in for suspended junior starting DE Carlos Dunlap.
- Junior cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Julio Jones…who will face off in what could potentially be the match-up of the game between one of the best CBs and one of the best WRs in the nation.
- Head coach Urban Meyer…who is 2-0 in the SEC Championship and a combined 5-1 with Florida in championship or bowl games.
- Kick returners Brandon James and Javier Arenas…who each have a chance to make a difference in the game on special teams. James will be going up against one of the worst coverage units in college football while Arenas, one of the best returners in 2009, will be going up against the best punt coverage in the nation (13 total yards allowed). In 11 of 12 games, Florida have allowed zero punt return yards.
- Experienced players…the Gators feature 19 starters and 44 players who saw action in the 2008 SEC Championship, while the Crimson Tide return 10 starters and 36 players of their own from the game.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 22 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the nation in the last 15 years. 21 of Florida’s 22 wins have been by a double digit margin. The team is also 12-0 for the second time in school history, the first time solely in the regular season.
- Florida and Alabama meet in the SEC Championship for the second year in a row and seventh time since the game was instituted in 1992. The Gators are 4-2 in these games and 6-4 overall in the last 10 meetings. Alabama leads the all-time series 20-14.
- For the first time in SEC Championship history, both division leaders are undefeated.
- Florida has the most SEC Championship game wins and appearances by any team.
- The Gators lead the SEC in total offense (451.3), rushing offense (236.7) and third-down efficiency (.500). They also come in No. 2 in scoring offense (36.5). Florida’s offense is the only unit in the nation that has posted at least 2,800 rushing yards and 2,575 passing yards on the season.
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered 11 touchdowns (nine from scrimmage) all season (both totals fewest in the nation). The unit has only allowed 14 field goals for a total of 118 points (9.8 per game) – tops in the nation. The defense is also No. 1 in total defense (233.1 yards per game) and pass defense (143.2 yards per game).
- The Gators have not thrown an interception in over a month (Oct. 24); however, the defense has recorded 13 interceptions over the past six weeks – most in the nation.
- Florida’s defense has held nine of its 12 opponents under 100 yards rushing. The secondary has held four opponents under 100 yards passing and forced six to complete fewer than 50 percent of their pass attempts.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » 2009 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – (Atlanta, GA) – No. 1 Florida Gators v. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

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FOUR BITS: Florida wins, Saban finds a way

1 » CBSSports.com pit two of their national columnists – Mike Freeman and Dennis Dodd – against each other on Friday. Their task, respectively, was to argue why the No. 1 Florida Gators or No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide would win the 2009 SEC Championship game. Freeman began with this: “There simply isn’t enough time to list every reason why Florida will beat Alabama in the SEC title game, so let’s just start with a few: Urban Meyer is a big-game coach and Nick Saban isn’t; super-virgin [senior quarterback] Tim Tebow; a faster defense; more depth and more speed overall.” He then focuses on Crimson Tide QB Greg McElroy, calling him “pedestrian” and explaining that the Gators’ defense will overwhelm the Alabama offense in every way.

2 » Dodd responds by calling Saban a “mad scientist” who will “create [a] way to beat the Gators.” He even admits that “it’s hard to pick against the Gators in this game.” Yet his entire argument rests on running back Mark Ingram rushing for 150 yards and winning the Heisman Trophy, kick returner Javier Arenas grabbing an interception and scoring a return touchdown (against a special teams that has barely allowed double-digit punt return yards the entire season) and Saban using revenge to fuel his team to victory.

3 » As part of his brand new television show, Sports Jobs with Junior Seau, the future Hall of Fame linebacker played the part of a reporter and followed around Sports Illustrated reporter Andy Staples during the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in October. The story that Seau came up with? Gators senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes is “a monster” and absolutely dominant on the field. More coverage from SI includes Stewart Mandel’s article focusing on the weight of expectations the Gators face, Andy Staples’ column about the absences of junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap and Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Corey McCartney’s three reasons why Florida will lose on Saturday.

4 » No. 13/17 Florida basketball hits the road Friday night for its first true road game of the season against the Jacksonville Dolphins at 7 p.m. at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The game will air live on FOX Sports Florida.

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Carlos Dunlap, father, distraught over arrest

In general, it is tough to gain an understanding of the type of family a student-athlete comes from unless you hear a recruiter or reporter rave about one. However, from what Carlos Dunlap, Sr. has said over the last few days about his son’s DUI arrest, one can get a pretty good idea of the upbringing the Florida Gators junior defensive end received. On Thursday, Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post spoke with Dunlap, Sr., who was quite vocal about how disappointed his family and his son are about the recent situation. For a player who had a flawless (trouble-wise) three years at Florida, Dunlap has been tormented with his mistake and its repercussions.

“How would anyone feel when they have the golden opportunity God has given them to be on such a platform, and then the situation is taken from you, whether it’s your own doing or not?” Dunlap, Sr. said. “Carlos is very, very disturbed about this, but this is something the lord has placed in his hands. I still can’t believe it. I’m still waiting for somebody to wake me up. He’s the one that kept me grounded all my life. He’s always been the one that wanted to tell everyone else what not to do, and lead by example. He’s not the kid you saw in the paper. He’s still a great kid. Somewhere, something went wrong. He’s very loving and caring, and concerned and worried about how people perceive him. This is something we have to work out in the court of law, but in the court of love, Carlos is very torn. But he will bounce back from this. We’re a strong, surviving family.”

On his son’s future with the Gators this year and beyond, Dunlap, Sr. had this to say:

“We don’t want to do anything to hurt the University of Florida football team. We love the team to death and we don’t want to be any distraction. We want to be a complement to the team, not a hindrance to the team. Our presence at the [SEC Championship] game will not be what the team needs to be focused on. We came to the University of Florida for a four-year education. He has another year in school to go. Everybody’s talking about the draft. We’re not talking about the draft. It’s never even been a thought. We as a family never even sat down and talked about leaving school. My son’s job this year was what they were talking about – finish the mission.”

The Gators may have to finish the mission of an undefeated season and third BCS National Championship in four years without perhaps their most explosive defensive player should head coach Urban Meyer‘s indefinite suspension stand past Saturday.

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FOUR BITS: Haden, Hernandez, flaws, Bama’s OL

1 » He may have broken numerous Maryland state records as a high school quarterback, but Florida Gators junior cornerback Joe Haden wanted to play in Gainesville, FL, and realized he would not be unseating now-senior quarterback Tim Tebow for the job. With the help of his father and coaches (who Haden told he just wanted to get on the field), he became an All-American cornerback, the first to start as a freshman in Florida history. “We worked to shape Joe’s body and mind to be able to absorb anything at any level of football,” his father Joe Haden, Sr. said. “It took years of intense training. He went to school with confidence.” His brother Jordan, a four-star recruit, will be joining the Gators in the spring with the same training and mindset.

2 » According to Todd McShay on ESPN Insider, junior tight end Aaron Hernandez has emerged as the most dangerous tight end in the nation. Mostly due to his versatility, Hernandez can make plays any number of ways and the Alabama Crimson Tide must account for him on both passing and rushing downs. Hernandez moves the chains, has run-after-catch ability, stretches the seam and is dynamic enough to catch screen passes and the triple-option shuffle pass and take them upfield. If you subscribe to ESPN Insider, you can read the entire article.

3 » Wednesday, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com wrote that the Tide were closing in on the title but had to take care of the Gators. Thursday, he looked at Florida’s odd, flawed season and how they are still unbeaten and competing for the 2009 SEC Championship. From questions about Tebow’s NFL prospects, Tennessee Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin’s comments about Florida head coach Urban Meyer, shunning former QB Shane Matthews and the whole team coming down with the flu to Tebow’s concussion, Meyer’s Notre Dame rumors, a $30,000 fine for commenting on officiating, senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes’ attempted eye gouge and junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap’s DUI arrest, the Gators have been through a lot in 2009. It all truly comes down to Saturday. “I do feel a sense of, ‘We’re here. Let’s not worry about it. Let’s go play,’” Meyer said.

4 » Protecting QB Greg McElroy and opening running lanes for running back Mark Ingram are going to be of paramount importance for Alabama on Saturday. Losing two All-Americans to the NFL Draft, the offensive line has actually performed better than the 2008 unit did – statistically. “It’s just all those guys getting their nose in the book and learning this offense and being able to be prepared for situations we see on Saturdays,” senior guard Mike Johnson said. The Gators are 39-1 under Meyer when holding an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing; they have done this in four straight games and nine times in 2009.

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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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