FOUR BITS: Crowder, Harvin, Noah, Calathes

1 » Outspoken Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder told the Sun-Sentinel Tuesday that the current NFL lockout could “mess up integrity of the game” if it continues. “There’s going to be more injuries, it’s going to be real simple football,” he said. “It’s going to mess up the integrity of the game because we’re used to having those OTA’s, minicamps, off-season workouts […] it’s hurting the NFL now and as long as the owners won’t let us go to work it’s going to continue to hurt the game we love.” Crowder has been participating in private workouts with teammates in the offseason and hopes to be in top-notch condition when the season begins…whenever (if ever) that occurs.

2 » In a pairing that may make some Florida Gators fans cringe, Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has reached out to wide receiver Percy Harvin to begin working out together. The former Florida State Seminoles QB and Florida WR could be connecting for touchdowns for quite some time considering Harvin’s impressive athleticism and Ponder being selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

3 » In an extensive question-and-answer session with self-described “out, gay sportswriter” Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah provided additional perspective on how his anger at a fan is not representative of him as a person. Below is a short excerpt from the interview, which can be read here in full.

Arnovitz: I understand. I just wish it hadn’t been you. I mean, that word is hard to hear no matter who says it, but you’re supposed to be one of the enlightened guys. You’re the guy who grew up in Soho and has European parents and friends all over the world. There are a lot of players in the league who, whether because they come from certain backgrounds or maybe choose not to care, don’t surprise me. But you surprised me.

Noah: You know, all my best friends live downtown in New York City. I was made in Soho. Sometimes, when you’re at this level you don’t realize the consequences or how much a word can bother people. My mom’s best friend was gay. We used to call him “Mom.” So I’m disappointed because that’s not me. I didn’t mean any harm to anybody. I don’t want anyone to feel disrespected by what I said, and I understand that’s what’s going to happen. […]

Arnovitz: So it’s safe to say you’re really pissed off at yourself? Moderately pissed off at yourself? Pissed off at the potential consequences?

Noah: I’m pissed off that I’m a distraction to my teammates right now. We’re playing the biggest game of our lives and this is off subject. I’m pissed off that I might’ve offended people.

4 » Though the Gators do have one former player – forward Corey Brewer on the Western Conference Finals leading (3-1) Dallas Mavericks, another could be joining the team shortly. Former Florida point guard Nick Calathes, is currently playing for Panathinaikos in Greece but only has one more year remaining on his deal. With Dallas’ older backcourt and need for big men in the draft this year, there are whispers that Calathes could be playing in the NBA as soon as the 2012-13 season.

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Seminoles embarrass Gators with 31-7 rout

Everything went wrong for the Florida Gators (7-4) Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL, as the No. 22 Florida State Seminoles (9-3) snapped a six-game losing streak to their bitter in-state rivals by cruising to a dominant 31-7 victory.

Down 7-3 going into the second quarter, Florida State put together a 21-point effort before halftime by taking advantage of a number of Florida miscues. The Seminoles would add a touchdown in the second half and shut the Gators out for the final three quarters of the game, earning their biggest win in the series since 1988 (52-17).

After a phantom facemask penalty on senior safety Ahmad Black helped FSU earn a field goal on their first possession, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned the ensuing kickoff for 62 yards. UF got on the board quickly putting together a five-play, 32-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 20-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley to freshman WR Robert Clark.

A fumble by redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (in at QB) ended what appeared to be a promising drive for Florida in the middle of the first quarter, and a second fumble by redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey on the Gators’ next possession at their own 14 gave Florida State the ball back in scoring position. Two plays later QB Christian Ponder tossed a quick pass to WR Lonnie Pryor to give the Seminoles a 10-7 lead that they would never look back from.

Faced with a three-and-out at their own 36 yard line on their next possession, UF attempted a fake punt on 4th and 5; unfortunately senior punter/kicker Chas Henry was stopped a yard short for the team’s first failed fake punt under head coach Urban Meyer. On the very next play, Ponder completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to WR Rodney Smith who beat redshirt junior cornerback Moses Jenkins for a wide-open score to put FSU up 17-7.

The Seminoles would have to work a bit harder for their final points of the quarter, putting together a 12-play, 73-yard drive that concluded with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to WR Taiwan Easternling. The Gators appeared to bounce back quickly with 2:47 left on the clock as Reed and Rainey ran the ball for a combined 60 yards to just enter the red zone. However, after a Florida State timeout to slow things down, Brantley was brought in for Reed on 2nd and 8 and subsequently threw an interception.

FSU would put the game away for good on their first possession of the third quarter, piecing together a 10-play, 71-yard touchdown drive; Ponder tossed his third score of the day with a 29-yard pass to WR Willie Haulstead.

In addition to their numerous miscues, Florida appeared undisciplined and inept by committing 11 penalties for 79 yards (most courtesy of the offensive line). The Gators outgained the Seminoles 212-112 on the ground, but UF was no match for a FSU passing attack that almost quadrupled their effort (221-64).

Brantley, who mostly saw work on obvious passing downs until Reed left the game with a concussion in the second half, finished 6-of-12 for 52 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Reed and Rainey rushed for 74 and 73 yards, respectively, and junior running back Jeff Demps took nine carries for 44 yards. Ponder finished 16-of-24 for 221 yards with three touchdowns, and Smith ended up as his leading receiver with four receptions for 79 yards and a score.

Saturday’s loss was just Meyer’s second rivalry game defeat during his tenure at Florida (Georgia, 2007) and his first to Florida State.

Photo Credit: Steve Cannon/Associated Press

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Week 13: Florida Gators at Florida St. Seminoles

Location: Doak Campbell Stadium – Tallahassee, FL [Capacity: 82,300]
Weather Forecast: 65°F, clear skies
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: ABC/ESPN
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Sirius/XM: 212/198
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS No. 22 FSU SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Record: 7-4 Record: 8-3
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida State -2; O/U 51

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series with Florida State 33-19-2. The Gators have won six straight games against the Seminoles including going 5-0 under Meyer with a 2-0 mark in Tallahassee. UF has won the last six meetings between the two teams by an average of 21.8 points and the last three by an average of 30 points.
» The Gators are 17-1 in rivalry games under Meyer including nine consecutive wins and a 5-0 mark against the Seminoles.
» UF is tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions on the season. Seven have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» Florida is back out of the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today top 25 after returning to the rankings three weeks ago. This season is the first time the Gators have been unranked in all three under Meyer. Florida had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State three weeks ago.
» The Gators’ offense has seen 15 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» Florida is the only school in the nation that has four players with at least three interceptions. Overall, eight Gators have at least one interception.
» The Seminoles slightly out-rank the Gators in all four major statistical averages; however, their statistics come against what many would consider inferior ACC competition. Florida State is 63rd in passing yards (212.6), 33rd in rushing yards (183.4), 37th in points scored (31.7) and 14th in points against (18.8) compared to Florida being 70th in passing yards (202.8), 49th in rushing yards (161.4), 40th in points for (31.3) and 26th in points against (20.2). The teams have not faced a common opponent this season.
» UF under Meyer is 42-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 38-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 39-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 33-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» FSU’s Fisher has faced UF 16 times while an assistant at Auburn, LSU and Florida State; Florida is 11-5 in those contests (4-2 vs. Auburn, 4-3 vs. LSU, 3-0 vs. LSU).
» Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, while defensive backs coach at Wake Forest (1991-93), faced the Seminoles three times and won every meeting.
» Florida freshman offensive lineman Chaz Green and Florida State’s Christian Green both attended Tampa Catholic High School. Gators defensive lineman Glen Watson and the Seminoles’ Anthony Porterfield both went to Escambia High School. FSU WR Jared Haggins attended Lakeland High School with a number of UF’s seniors.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has an 8-8 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing an interception last week. He has completed 188-of-304 passes (61.8 percent) for 1,968 yards and has a passer rating of 119.6.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 12 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (64 carries for 316 yards). Reed got his first meaningful snaps behind center two weeks, going 16-of-29 for 180 yards with three touchdowns and a pick. He also ran 40 times for 186 yards with five more scores.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (487 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in six others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey..who returned to action for the first time in over a month against Georgia and has 34 carries for 227 yards (along with 18 receptions for 173 yards) and five touchdowns this year.
» Redshirt freshman WR/kick returner Andre Debose…who set a school single-season record with his second kickoff return touchdown two weeks ago. With an 88-yard return against LSU and a 99-yard return against South Carolina, he is the only freshman nationally with two in 2010 and one of only two players nationally with two in 2010. He is one of the reasons why the Gators rank No. 5 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC in kickoff returns with a 26.4 average.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry had missed five-straight field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) before nailing back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime a month ago.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black (three), junior CB Janrois Jenkins (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three), and junior S Will Hill (three) have accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles seven times this season: vs. South Carolina (career-high 16), LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 96 tackles, including nine for loss.

FLORIDA STATE
» QB Christian Ponder…who leads his team in offense having passed for 1,817 yards and 17 touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions. He has also rushed 88 times for 159 yards and four scores. Ponder did not play in last year’s game due to injury.
» WR Bert Reed…who is Ponder’s top pass catcher hauling in 50 balls for 514 yards and two touchdowns this season.
» RBs Chris Thompson and Jermaine Thomas…who have combined for 1,128 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
» LB Nigel Bradham and DE Brandon Jenkins…who lead the Seminoles, respectively, with team bests in tackles (80) and sacks (10).

INJURIES

» Active: Senior C Mike Pouncey (lightheadedness)
» Probable: Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), junior CB Janoris Jenkins (concussion), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (hamstring), redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones (hamstring), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone)
» Questionable: Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose (ankle)
» Inactives: Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators at Florida State Seminoles preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 13: Florida Gators at Florida St. Seminoles

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11/22: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

LONG LIST OF INJURY UPDATES

Though even more Florida players are currently dealing with injuries, Meyer updated the status of a number of guys. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle), redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown (hamstring) and redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones are all listed as probable for Saturday. Freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley (ankle) is questionable and redshirt sophomore defensive end Earl Okine (concussion) is doubtful. Florida should receive preliminary word on junior CB Janoris Jenkins’ status on Monday after he suffered what was initially deemed a minor concussion over the weekend.

Meyer also noted that the Gators are indeed seeking a medical hardship waiver for kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has already missed seven games this year with a back injury. If it is granted, Sturgis will enter next season as a redshirt junior.

CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced Monday that 19 Gators had earned the designation of Champions after Saturday’s win over the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Offensively, Meyer named senior center Mike Pouncey as his player of the game along with redshirt senior tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt senior T Maurice Hurt, redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks, redshirt freshman G Jon Halapio, redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed, redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson and freshman QB Trey Burton as his champions. On the defensive side of the ball, senior LB Brandon Hicks won the POG award, while senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt junior CB Moses Jenkins, senior DE Duke Lemmens, redshirt senior DT Terron Sanders and freshman DT Sharrif Floyd were champions.

NO MORE PUNISHMENT FOR MOORE

Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore was ejected from Saturday’s game after retaliating during a fight with an opposing player. Meyer said Monday that Florida would not impose another penalty on the player seeing as the standard punishment is missing half of a game and he has already done that. “I had a meeting with him yesterday. We don’t do that, and I’m going to reemphasize that with the team,” Meyer said. The NCAA also decided not to pursue the issue further.

HELPING BRANTLEY IMPROVE

Asked how Brantley needs to improve from this point forward as a quarterback, Meyer said his two biggest issues are getting rid of the ball quickly and knowing when to “burn it” when being blitzed or having no open men downfield. Meyer cited the fact that Brantley being sacked causing a 2nd and 17 puts the Gators in a deeper hole than a simple incompletion on 2nd and 10 would.

He also noted, like he has previously this year, that Brantley (as a dropback passer) needs a strong, big running back and solid tight end play to compliment him. “When you have a quarterback like that, he’s got to be able to hand the ball off. It’s nothing new – it’s been like that for 100 years,” Meyer said. “When you’re limited at tight end and you’re limited at fullback [and you don’t have a big running back], you’re in quicksand. Hand the ball off – play action pass – and then utilize the dropback passing game.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/22: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

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FOUR BITS: FSU smack talk, ’06 recruits, updates

1 » Florida Gators fans who follow recruiting closely will certainly know the name Greg Reid. For those of who don’t, Reid was a four-star cornerback who committed to Florida but eventually turned his back on the Gators to sign with the Florida State Seminoles this year. Now that he is set to play Florida for the first time, Reid is spouting off at the mouth about UF and head coach Urban Meyer. “Hopefully they’ll punt the ball to me,” Reid said. “I ain’t scared of [Meyer], I ain’t afraid of him. I know he wants to kind of get some payback. So I hope he brings it. I hope they punt the ball to me maybe three or four times. Out of them, I’m gonna take one to the house, I know that.” On decommitting from the Gators, Reid continued talking. “It was kind of disappointing. [Meyer] was talking to me like Florida was the world. But, I mean, I don’t too much like cockiness.” Are you saying Meyer is cocky? “I ain’t afraid to say that.” The last Seminole to talk smack of this level against Florida was linebacker Geno Hayes. “Tim Tebow’s going down,” Hayes said in 2007. “The bigger they are, the harder the fall. Hopefully we can go out there and shatter his dream.” In case you need a reminder of Tebow’s response, here it is:

2 » Florida State running back Jermaine Thomas, who injured his ribs last Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins, is “100 percent” for the Florida game on Saturday. However, the Seminoles will already be playing without three starters as quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Caz Piuowski are out and left guard Rodney Hudson is “very doubtful” for for the game.

3 » Meyer has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, especially the fact that his 2006 recruiting class appears to be the best ever assembled at Florida. Consisting of Tebow, linebackers Brandon Spikes and A.J. Jones, wide receivers Percy Harvin and Riley Cooper, offensive linemen Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert, defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James, it is certainly a worthwhile argument. “There are many guys in that class that have done a great job,” Meyer said.

4 » According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the Gators have strong interest in South Carolina Gamecocks four-star OL commit Eric Mack (St. Matthews, SC). The paper reports that Mack was invited for and accepted an official visit to Gainesville, FL, the same weekend as the North-South game.

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SIX BITS: Injury update, crowd noise, practice, Nelson honored, no Miami, Watkins signed

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow on his final home game »

1 » While speaking with the media on Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer updated the statuses of some of his injured players. Redshirt junior linebacker A.J. Jones, who sprained his MCL Saturday against the Florida International Golden Panthers, is officially out for the Florida State Seminoles game and will also miss the SEC Championship in two weeks. Junior Brandon Hicks will start in his place. Redshirt junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) is questionable while senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (shoulder) and redshirt junior defensive tackle Terron Sanders (rib) are probable.

2 » In order to get ready for the extreme volumes produced by the crowd in The Swamp, FSU coaches piped noise into Doak Campell Stadium during practice on Tuesday. Redshirt freshman quarterback E.J. Manuel, who is starting in place of the injured Christian Ponder, benefited from the move, which should allow him to feel slightly more comfortable on Saturday. “It’s something you have to learn,” head coach Bobby Bowden said. “He’s had experience playing away from home at Wake Forest with about 40,000 people, and he’s played here in front of our crowd. Now he’s going to play down there, where it’s probably as loud a noise as he’s ever heard.”

3 » Due to inclement weather in the Gainesville, FL, area, the football team has had its practice schedule shifted around. This should not be much of an issue overall, though anything that could possibly take a team out of rhythm should be noted. However, with this veteran group, an issue like this should be minor.

Three more BITS on David Nelson, the ‘Canes and Jason Watkins after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Injury update, crowd noise, practice, Nelson honored, no Miami, Watkins signed

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