FOUR BITS: Gilyard, Daniels, Tebow, Saban

1 » Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Mardy Gilyard is the most explosive (and most vocal) member of his team. Though he may run his mouth on the sideline, in the huddle, on the line of scrimmage and after the play, one place Gilyard is not talking is his dreams – which have always included the Florida Gators in one way or another. Growing up in Bunnell, FL, Gilyard rooted for the Gators and always dreamed about either playing for or against Florida in a big game. “It’s always a real close game, going back and forth, and right before the end of the game I wake up,” he said. “So I’m anxious to see how it’s going to go.” ESPN’s Brian Bennett has written a great piece on Gilyard and the trials and tribulations he has experienced throughout his life.

2 » Another Bearcats player who has overcome adversity and won over the media with his charisma is defensive tackle Alex Daniels. Calling Friday’s 2010 Sugar Bowl “my national championship game,” Daniels defied the odds by making it out of a bad neighborhood in Columbus, OH, and turning his life around as a football player. “I’m playing against Tim Tebow in the Sugar Bowl,” Daniels said. “It’s Florida, man, come on! This experience, to be in New Orleans – I have to embrace Bourbon Street, to see the Big Easy. I’m soaking it all in.”

3 » There is no question that Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow is going to go down as the greatest player in the history of the program. It should come as no surprise that he is considered by many to be possibly the best player in the history of the sport on a collegiate level. Those beliefs are exactly why other Southeastern Conference teams are foaming at the mouth for Tebow to call it a career on Friday. Chris Low of ESPN, the site’s SEC blogger who lives in Knoxville, TN, and covered the Tennessee Volunteers as a beat writer for 10 years, relates a quote that tells the story of a conference which decided that rather than try to beat Tebow, it would be best to wait him out. “The playing field’s going to be level for everybody else when Tebow is gone,” numerous people in the SEC told Low. But, of course, the story turns to question the future of the Florida program: “Life after Tebow [is] one big unknown for the Gators,” Low titles his piece.

4 » Gators head coach Urban Meyer‘s name is popping up every time a reporter speaks to a head coach these days whether said coach is leading a college football team or not. It should then come as no surprise that Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was asked about Meyer’s situation on Monday. “I think college football is a lot better off with people like Urban Meyer in our profession,” Saban said. “He’s a true professional in what he does. He’s done a fantastic job every place he’s been. He does it with a lot of dig­nity and class and profes­sionalism. We not only have a lot of respect for him as a person, but also the wonderful job that he’s done everywhere he’s been, especially at the University of Florida.” Tight end Colin Peek echoed Saban’s sentiments. “I think it’s very sad to see a coach in his prime have to deal with a situation like that,” Peek said. “I thought it was going to be cool to have this rivalry of Florida vs. Alabama hopefully every year in the SEC Championship. I have so much respect for the man and the program that he’s built.”

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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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Tide roll Gators 32-13 to win SEC Championship

The No. 1 Florida Gators (12-1) were denied a chance at their third National Championship in four seasons, falling 32-13 to the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA, while playing for the 2009 SEC Championship. The second consecutive meeting between the two schools for the SEC title, Alabama got revenge for its defeat in 2008 and will move on to the BCS National Championship game. Florida looks forward to an at-large bid and a likely berth in the Sugar Bowl.

Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram and quarterback Greg McElroy carved up the Gators’ defense to the tune of 490 total yards (the most ever allowed under head coach Urban Meyer) and 32 points (the most allowed by Florida since its loss to the Ole Miss Rebels in 2008). Ingram finished with 189 total yards and three touchdowns as he made a strong bid to claim Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy. McElroy was 12-of-18 for 239 yards and a touchdown and also made numerous big plays with his legs.

For the Gators, senior QB Tim Tebow was 20-of-35 for 247 yards and a touchdown; he ran the ball a team-high 10 times for a team-high 63 yards on the ground. His main target, junior tight end Aaron Hernandez, caught eight passes for 85 yards, while senior wide receivers Riley Cooper (three receptions for 77 yards) and David Nelson (four for 53 yards and a touchdown) led Florida on the outside.

Up 9-0 with 5:33 left in the first quarter, the Crimson Tide gave up a 48-yard field goal to junior kicker Caleb Sturgis to bring the game within a touchdown. Alabama would get the ball back and kick another field goal, though Florida followed that up with a 70-yard touchdown scoring drive in 1:36 to close the lead to 12-10. Seemingly back in the game, the Gators’ next shot on defense was short lived. Ingram took a McElroy screen pass 69 yards on the first play of the next possession, setting up his own three-yard scoring run to extend the lead back to 19-10. A celebratory Florida crowd immediately fell silent.

On the Crimson Tide’s first second half possession, McElroy finished a 74-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to TE Colin Peek, bringing the lead to 26-13. Then, up 32-13 after another Ingram score, Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas put a dagger in the Gators by picking off Tebow in the end zone with 11:51 left in the game.

Throughout the contest, ill-timed penalties haunted Florida. All five incurred by the Gators either negated a big play or an important defensive stand. The defense, which had only given up nine scrimmage touchdowns in its first 12 games, allowed the Crimson Tide to score four on Saturday night. Florida never led in the contest and went away from its run-first mentality, rushing the ball 14 times all game, 10 of which went to Tebow. Sophomore RB Jeff Demps only had one carry for nine yards while redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey touched the ball twice for seven yards.

The Gators will find out their bowl game fate on Sunday at 8 p.m. during the official BCS Selection Show on FOX. Florida is projected to receive an at-large bid for a spot in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA.

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SIX BITS: Strong is No. 1, vote for Tebow, Alabama players, Jones vs. Haden, volleyball in NCAAs

1 » Over the past few days, OGGOA has reported that Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is the leading candidate to replace Steve Kragthorpe as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals. Yesterday, it was reported that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich planned to wait until after the 2009 SEC Championship game to contact Strong after asking Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley for permission. Jurich expanded on his stance to the Courier-Journal Tuesday evening. “I want to get the program rolling, I want to get after it, but I gave my word to several people that I didn’t want to be a disruption to their program,” he said. “A lot of guys are still playing for a lot of important things. I’m the last person I want to get in the way.”

2 » Senior quarterback Tim Tebow has been named as one of three finalist for the 2009 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, which is given annually to the top quarterback in college football. The other two finalists are Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy and Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum. Fans are given 5 percent of the vote and can cast their ballot for Tebow to win the award every day until Dec. 6 by visiting http://www.VoteOBrien.org.

Check out four more very informative Florida Gators BITS after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Strong is No. 1, vote for Tebow, Alabama players, Jones vs. Haden, volleyball in NCAAs

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