Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

10 » FLORIDA WINS INAUGURAL LACROSSE GAME (2/20/10)
When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

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Meyer returns feeling good, ready to coach again

Lost among the hysteria of the Florida Gators‘ Pro Day and an appearance by the basketball team as a No. 10-seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against the Brigham Young Cougars was the beginning of spring practice for the football team – something that (perhaps most importantly) also saw the official return of head coach Urban Meyer from his leave of absence.

Meyer, who told reporters that he actually returned in an official capacity a few weeks ago after taking some personal time to get healthy and rested, spoke confidently about his health. “I’m not going to get into all that, but I feel fine. I feel good,” he said after the three-hour practice. He also declined denied to speak about a number of tests he underwent in February.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s story on Meyer’s return to the Gators after the break!
Continue Reading » Meyer returns feeling good, ready to coach again

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What exactly is wrong with Tim Tebow’s release?

Analysts, commentators and NFL Draft experts have been critical of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow‘s release for the last year, and the evaluations have been even tougher over the last week. But what is it exactly that is wrong with Tebow’s release? Fans have heard that it is “too low” and “too slow. ESPN‘s Todd McShay recently had this to say in his Tebow progress report: “[It] takes [him] entirely too long getting the ball out. It will be difficult to succeed in the NFL with the elongated, three-quarters delivery he has shown during his career at Florida.”

During the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats, color man and former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick broke down Tebow’s throwing motion.

What is even more interesting is the fact that Tebow’s arm action did not always look like this. Back in high school, he kept the ball up near his shoulder and had a more “professional” follow-through. Take a look at his release over time. (h/t SmartFootball)

The positive? If he’s done it before, he can likely do it again.

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FOUR BITS: Loeffler, McCarney, 2010 class

1 » As previously reported by OGGOA, Florida Gators quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler has removed his name from consideration for the Central Michigan Chippewas‘ head coaching job. Instead, his duties at Florida will be increased and he will assist interim coach and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio with play calling. Loeffler, Addazio and new wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni all worked together on game planning for the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

2 » Staying on the coaching front, assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney will be seriously considered for the top job with the USF Bulls. McCarney, who coached at USF in 2007, is a prime candidate for the position because of his experience both in Tampa and coaching college football in general. However, he is not the only option for the Bulls and whether or not he gets an offer remains to be seen. McCarney is also said to be very happy in his role with Florida and may not necessarily be interested in becoming a head coach again when he is already working in a comfortable situation.

3 » Gerry Hamilton of Scouts, Inc. has taken a long look at the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class, calling it one for the ages. Florida “already [has] the nation’s top class, but this could turn into the best of all time,” he writes. The Gators are still in the running for top prospects at linebacker, offensive line, defensive line, QB and WR.

4 » Should you be on campus in Gainesville, FL, expect to see at least three more high schoolers walking around this week. Newly re-committed five-star safety Matt Elam, four-star tight end Gerald Christian and four-star defensive back Jaylen Watkins are all traveling to school from the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl that took place Saturday in San Antonio, TX. They will join the eight other early enrollees already taking classes at the University of Florida.

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Florida Gators 2010 Sugar Bowl DVD information

A source close to OGGOA has spoken with us exclusively about the content that will be included on the upcoming 2010 Sugar Bowl DVD featuring the No. 3 Florida Gators 51-24 victory over the No. 8/9 Cincinnati Bearcats.

Featuring the commercial-free FOX broadcast of the game as well as the entire post-game ceremony and interviews, the DVD will also include two additional packages. The first special attribute is a set of highlights entitled “In the Trenches.” But the bonus content fans most want to see in the disc will also be included. FOX’s unique Tim Tebow Cam, which was focused on senior quarterback Tim Tebow throughout the entire game (even when he was off the field), is also going to be featured on the DVD. The only unknown at this point is how long the Tebow Cam feature will be. As the disc is still in production, it has yet to be decided if the Tebow Cam segment will be a raw, unedited cut or an edited version to allow easier viewing.

Pre-order the 2010 Sugar Bowl DVD through OGGOA’s Store by clicking here.

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TWO BITS: Haden declares, Demps’ recovery

1 » In news that should be no surprise to anyone, Florida Gators junior cornerback Joe Haden has declared himself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft. UF’s cornerback of the decade (as named by OGGOA), Haden grades out as a consensus first-round pick who is likely to be taken as one of the top 15 players overall and perhaps even in the top 10. Among others, Haden held top collegiate wide receivers A.J. Green (Georgia), Julio Jones (Alabama) and Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati) in check this season. “This was a tough decision, and I spent a lot of time with my family talking about it,” Haden said. “I’m so proud that I had the chance to be a Gator. It’s been one of the best experiences of my life. Coach [Urban] Meyer and Coach [Vance] Bedford have helped me in so many ways. I’ll always be thankful to them for everything, and I know I’ll never forget the fans in Gator Nation.” Though one Haden is leaving Gainesville, FL, another has just arrived – literally. Four-star defensive back commit Jordan Haden, Joe’s brother, has moved into his dorm for the spring semester and will try to follow his brother’s lead. Joe Haden was the first true freshman to ever start at CB for Florida and started all 40 games of his career.

2 » Sophomore running back Jeff Demps, who dislocated his elbow during the 2010 Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats, should only be out 5-6 weeks according to Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. This limited time out of action would allow Demps to participate in UF track & field, something he normally does in the offseason.

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Grading the Florida vs. Cincinnati game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the final game of their season, the 2010 Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

QUARTERBACKS: A+
When the best player in school history plays the best game of his career in the final game of his career, it is tough not to give him an “A+” grade. And that is exactly what senior quarterback Tim Tebow has earned – not just for his outstanding performance Friday evening but for his career in the Orange and Blue. Pick your poison: was it the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award he was given before the game, the Sugar Bowl record 12 consecutive completions, the career-long 80-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Riley Cooper, the Sugar Bowl and BCS bowl game record 533 yards of total offense, the Sugar Bowl/BCS record 482 passing yards, the 31 completions which set a new Sugar Bowl record, the Sugar Bowl high four touchdowns or the 88.6 completion percentage that set a BCS record? The answer, of course, is “all of the above.”

RUNNING BACKS: A-
Tebow was once again the leading ball carrier for the Gators with 14 touches for 51 yards and a touchdown, but both redshirt junior Emmanuel Moody and redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey came up big throughout the game. Moody rushed eight times for only 14 yards but scored two touchdowns on the ground (he also had four receptions for 19 yards) while Rainey caught four passes for 71 yards and ran four times for 27 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Mike Gillislee cleaned up at the end of the fourth quarter and took a ball 52 yards for a final line of five carries for 78 yards. Sophomore Jeff Demps, the true starter, left the game after he dislocated his elbow on his third rush of the game. Though the attempts and yards were not there, three rushing touchdowns brought this unit up a half-grade.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Sugar Bowl after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida vs. Cincinnati game

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Meyer’s picture become more clear after game

University of Florida president Bernie Machen spoke with Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated after the Florida Gators‘ 51-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2010 Sugar Bowl on Friday. When asked about head coach Urban Meyer‘s leave of absence, Machen was forthcoming with his answer. “It could be six months, it could be a year, or it could be never,” Machen said. “But this is all about Urban and helping him get well and get himself right. [The media has] been on a bit of a wild-goose chase looking for some illness or something that’s wrong with him. He just gave all of himself to his job, and he’s exhausted mentally and physically. He doesn’t, as far as I know, have any serious medical problem. There’s no heart deal.”

Machen also revealed details about the first conversations Meyer had with him about stepping down. “He was thinking what was best for the university was for him to leave,” Machen said. “It was typical Urban. He always puts himself last in the conversation. At that time, I said, ‘Urban, think about yourself. If you coach again, wouldn’t you like to do it at Florida?’ He really wasn’t thinking about that.” With the new plan – to give Meyer a leave of absence and appoint offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as interim coach – the administration knows they are taking a chance. “It is a gamble. But what the hell? I’ll take that bet anytime,” Machen said. “He’s the best coach in America. He loves this program. He built this program. It’s his program. I would hate for him to wake up a year from now and decide he wants to coach again and we’ve moved on.”

Meyer, who said during the trophy presentation that he “plan[s] on being the coach of the Gators,” reiterated that stance in the press conference. “In my gut, I feel like I’ll be back,” Meyer said. “I just want to make sure my family and health are No. 1. And I’ve just got to get that right.” Addazio feels the same way. “It’s real simple,” Addazio said. “Florida’s Florida. Coach will be back.”

In the end, the decision to offer Meyer a leave of absence was really about one simple concept. “If there’s any chance that Urban Meyer is going to coach again,” Machen said, “I want it to be at Florida.” For more details about this story, please check out Staples’ SI.com article.

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