9/21-22: Gators players, coaches speak to media

A number of Florida Gators players and coaches spoke to the media on Tuesday and Wednesday as the team looks ahead to its game against the Kentucky Wildcats at home on Saturday (airing on ESPNU at 7 p.m.).

Check out what offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson, redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore had to say…after the break!
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9/20-21: Florida footballers speak to the media

A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media on Monday and Tuesday as the team takes a look back on its 31-17 road victory over the Tennessee Volunteers and ahead to its match-up against the Kentucky Wildcats at home on Saturday.

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown, redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders, senior defensive end Duke Lemmens, senior linebacker Brandon Hicks, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman QB Trey Burton all had plenty to say…which you can read after the break!
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Grading the Florida Gators at Tennessee 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 Tennessee Volunteers in the third game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has not had a stellar start to the season; however, in the same respect, he hasn’t played poorly either. A week after seeing his completion percentage fall by 10 points, Brantley once again hovered around 60 percent, going 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also showed his mobility Saturday, rushing four times for 19 yards. For a second-straight week Brantley did a better job finding open receivers and even spread the ball around a bit more to seven different pass catchers. Most notably was his efficiency on third down, in which he completed six passes to keep drives going. However, Brantley also made a number of mistakes during the game including poorly managing the play clock and tripping over himself. For that reason, his grade remains the same as last week.

RUNNING BACKS: B
No, the Gators did not rush for 267 yards like they did last week and the unit certainly wasn’t as efficient either (three players averaged over 7.3 yards per carry). Even so, junior Jeff Demps (26 carries for 74 yards) and sophomore Mike Gillislee (eight rushes for 27 yards) were impactful and an important reason why their team emerged victorious. Demps will not be able to shoulder such a load game-in and game-out, especially as the schedule gets tougher, and the unit as a whole gets an “A” for effort.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Tennessee game after the jump…
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9/20: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

WILSON TO MISS MORE TIME

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson, injured on Sept. 4 against Miami (OH), recently had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. Wilson’s injury comes at a time when Florida’s offensive line is as solid as its been all year with sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back in the starting lineup for the first time on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist) remains out of action but is close to returning, perhaps as early as Oct. 2 against Alabama.

Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks told the media Monday that, contrary to the belief that it was dislocated, he has actually been playing with a heeling broken thumb over the last three weeks. He will continue to get major time on the field and should continue to impact the game as he has been thus far.

Though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson went down at the end of the game Saturday, he will be fine. However, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody‘s bruised thigh will continue to be monitored throughout the week.

WEEK THREE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that nine Gators graded out as Champions after the Tennessee Volunteers game. Redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore and senior defensive end Duke Lemmens were singled out as Players of the Week.

Offensively, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt seniors right tackle Marcus Gilbert and right guard Maurice Hurt were all honored. Four players on defense – senior DE Justin Trattou and LBs senior Hicks, sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins – shined throughout the game. Jenkins was also named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday for his career-high six tackles and first career sack.

BRANTLEY TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISCUE

As OGGOA noted in both our game story and tweets during Saturday’s contest, Pouncey’s bad snap early in the first quarter appeared to have occurred due to Brantley rushing to get a snap off when he realized the play clock was ticking down. The signal caller said the same thing Monday, taking the blame for the poor snap. Though not on him specifically for that mistake, Meyer noted that Brantley must progress and get better.

“I think he’s got to get better,” he said. “There’s one way we evaluate quarterbacks here. He’s 3-0 as a starter at Florida, so that’s pretty good, going on the road and winning a game. To say we’re thrilled with where we’re at offensively, and he’s the focal point of the offense, that would be a false statement. To say that he’s handled himself very well, to say he’s managing the team, to say that he does throw a very nice pass and hit five third-and-longs against Tennessee – those are all very good. We just need to improve. We’re pleased with where we’re at, we just need to keep improving.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 3: Gators post-game news and notes

Starting slow for the third consecutive game, the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) once again pulled out a double-digit win against their opponent, taking down the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. With so much to discuss, OGGOA first presents some of the most important notes and quotes.

EIGHT FOR EIGHT IS GREAT

In his six years coaching the University of Florida, head coach Urban Meyer has run eight fake punt plays. And all eight times that decision has paid off for the Gators. On Saturday, Meyer said he did not hesitate to call a fake punt in which sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines took a direct snap up the field 36 yards for a first down in what would eventually become a touchdown scoring drive. “We’ve been working on that since the beginning of the year,” Meyer said after the game. “We tried to get the numbers, and we got the numbers, and they executed well. As soon as I heard from the press box we had numbers, I knew all we had to do was execute it.” Hines was just as prepared for the play call. “We’ve been practicing it every day in practice,” he said. “It was my chance to get the first down. I wasn’t nervous. We’ve been practicing on it too much. I was ready for it. [Tennessee] had two guys, and when they went outside, I cut inside and got the first down. I knew it was going to work. We really needed that. We were down in the first half. I just tried to help the team get the momentum back.”

SUSPENDED PLAYERS RETURN, CONTRIBUTE

Three Florida players missed the first two games of the season not due to injury but instead because of team suspension. Junior safety Will Hill (most prominently), redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and sophomore linebacker Dee Finley all returned Saturday, each contributing in one way or another. While Hill was in on some blown coverages in the secondary, he made a few big tackles on special teams, which was also populated by Hammond and Finley. Hammond was also able to make his first catch of the year in the third quarter for a touchdown. “It felt good,” Hammond said. “I just go out there and try to make plays and do what I can for the team. I’m just trying to stay humble. I got another chance at it [after getting arrested]. I made a mistake and I learned from it. Whatever they want me to do, special teams or offense, I’ll do what I need to do just to get back on the team and help them out. I’m trying to move on now.”

GILLISLEE MAKING HIS CASE FOR PLAYING TIME

Sophomore running back Mike Gillislee, like any player, wants to get on the field as much as possible. Stuck behind junior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody, Gillislee appears to be on a mission this season to prove to coaches that he deserves more playing time. Though Demps once again led the Gators in rushing Saturday, Gillislee’s two powerful touchdowns once again proved he is as much of a spark plug as anyone on the team.

HEALTHY OFFENSIVE LINE STICKING TOGETHER

For the first time all season, Florida was able to begin the game and play with its starting offensive line – consisting of sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt and redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert – healthy and intact. On a rushed snap in the first quarter, Pouncey rolled the ball on the ground to redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, almost causing a turnover. At the end of the game, Johnson appeared to suffer an arm injury, but trainers believe he will be fine.

SECONDARY ROLLS BUT FLAWS EMERGE

Nabbing two more interceptions against the Volunteers, the Gators’ defense continues to lead the nation with 10 grabs on the season. The secondary itself is responsible for seven of them, with redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown bringing down his second of the year on Saturday. However, a unit that was the model of consistency for Florida throughout the first two games showed some flaws against Tennessee, allowing three big catches and two long touchdowns in the contest. Brown was victimized a few time, Hill was out of position on another throw and even junior CB Janoris Jenkins (who muffed a punt for a fumble as a returner) may have blown an assignment.

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN STEPS UP

While the secondary dealt with a few issues, the defensive linemen and linebackers did whatever they had to in order to get pressure on QB Matt Simms and stifle Volunteers star RB Tauren Poole (10 carries for 23 yards). Senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens, redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman DE Ronald Powell all achieved sacks, and sophomore LB Jon Bostic pulled down his second interception of the season.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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FOUR BITS: Trattou, Gaffney, Lochte, Tennessee

1 » Junior running back Jeff Demps ran rampant over the South Florida Bulls. Senior safety Ahmad Black flew back-and-forth in the secondary making hits an intercepting balls out of the sky. But a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive end Justin Trattou may very well have been the play of the game – or at least the play of his career. “It is definitely up there with my biggest plays,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “It is my first touchdown as a Gator. It’s a great feeling. […] I saw a lot of green in front of me and I was not going to let anyone catch me from behind, that is for sure. I didn’t get caught last year [against South Carolina] either, I tripped over my own guy.” Classmate, linemate and friend Duke Lemmens was just as excited. “Anytime one of us bigger guys gets in the end zone – it is awesome,” Lemmens said. “I got almost as tired running all the way down to celebrate with him as I did the whole game.”

2 » Trading star WR Brandon Marshall, the Denver Broncos had some shuffling to do at the receiver position this offseason. Head coach Josh McDaniels drafted one in the first round but mostly stuck with guys already on the team to fill in the blanks – and that includes former Gators WR Jabar Gaffney, who enters the 2010 season after a career-year in both receptions (54) and receiving yards (732). Scoring a touchdown in his team’s first game of the season last Sunday, Gaffney is feeling at home in Denver and ready to become a big-time producer. “I know what I can do, and my teammates and my coaches, they all have confidence in me,” Gaffney said recently.

3 » Michael Phelps may get the recognition, but as far as the title of best swimmer in the world is concerned, that distinction currently belongs to former Florida student-athlete Ryan Lochte, just ask longtime coach of Phelps, Bob Bowman. “Obviously, Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world this year. No question,” he told the Associated Press. “That will be a huge challenge for Michael going forward..

4 » With the Gators heading to Knoxville, TN, on Saturday, fans of the Tennessee Volunteers used the opportunity to take a shot at Florida by releasing “(352): Time to Die” shirts, making fun of the arrest of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey this week. While jokes and mockery are fine, especially in the Southeastern Conference, perhaps doing so while referencing a third-degree felony aggravated stalking charge is a bit distasteful, no? This isn’t exactly former guard Lee Humphrey falling of his scooter or a misdemeanor alcohol offense (which we’ll take a look at later).

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Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida 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 South Florida Bulls in the second game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley played better Saturday than he did last week against Miami (OH), so why only a half-grade improvement? Following up a performance in which he completed 68 percent of his passes, Brantley’s accuracy fell 10 percent even though he gained almost 60 more yards through the air and once again passed for two scores. Brantley did do a better job finding open pass catchers and spread the ball around a bit more, but he has plenty to improve on in the coming weeks.

RUNNING BACKS: A
As a team, the Gators rushed for 267 yards on Saturday, and three running backs with multiple attempts averaged over 7.3 yards per carry. Junior Jeff Demps was the star of the game, rushing 11 times for 139 yards and a touchdown with a long of 62 and average of 12.6. Take away his breakaway run, and Demps still averaged 7.7 YPC. Redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody put on a respectable performance (especially in the second half) with 14 carries for 54 yards (3.9 average), sophomore Mike Gillislee had four powerful carries for 29 yards (7.3 average) and a score, and freshman Mack Brown even saw some action with three rushes for 23 yards (7.7 average).

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the USF game after the jump…
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9/13: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

RAINEY, BROWN SHOULD BE ABLE TO RETURN

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey left Saturday’s game with what is believed to have been a concussion. Nevertheless, Meyer believes he will be able to play Saturday at Tennessee. Rainey was held out of what was a light practice on Sunday for precautionary purposes but looks to be a full go the rest of the week.

Also leaving the game early was redshirt sophomore starting cornerback Jeremy Brown. Meyer said after the contest that Brown suffered a “full body cramp,” but Brown related Monday that he actually had a strained hamstring and should be fine for the weekend. Even so, he noted that freshman CB Cody Riggs, who got a lot of playing time in his stead, did well and even complimented his exceptional speed.

In other injury news, sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returned Saturday from a knee injury but played as a reserve. He will likely return to his starting role against Tennessee, moving the rest of the line back to their original positions.

WEEK TWO CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that ten Gators graded out as Champions after the South Florida Bulls game. Junior running back Jeff Demps, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior strong safety Ahmad Black were all singled out as Players of the Week. Offensively, redshirt seniors offensive linemen Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt and RB Emmanuel Moody were all honored. Four players on the defense – junior CB Janoris Jenkins, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens – shined throughout the game.

Additionally, Demps and Pouncey were each honored by the Southeastern Conference, respectively, as the organization’s Special Teams Player of the Week and Offensive Lineman of the Week. Demps returned two kickoffs for 95 yards, and Pouncey had a 95 percent efficiency at center.

GAME BALLS FOR EVERYONE!

For the second time in three days, Meyer pointed to the home crowd at The Swamp for its amazing passion and support throughout what he believes is one of – if not the – hottest game played at the stadium in years. He even joked that he wished he could buy game balls for all 93,000+ fans as they severely impacted South Florida’s ability to move the ball in the second half.

A BUNCH OF COMEDIANS

Redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson is apparently a jokester, aiming some one-liners on Monday at Tennessee players, fans, former head coach Lane Kiffin and those who insist on comparing redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley‘s leadership to that of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Johnson quipped that it was funny the players had problems bathing (staph infection issues) and said Kiffin left for USC because he would prefer probation for two years rather than the humiliation of being beat by Florida again. “I mean, let me ask you a question,” Johnson said. “What would you prefer…to lose to Florida or can’t go to a bowl game for two years? I think we already defeated him in our minds.”

Also cracking wise Monday was Pouncey, who related a story from a trip to McDonald’s on Sunday night. “I heard it all. I was going through the drive-thru last night at McDonald’s, and as I was leaving the guy told me, he said, ‘Don’t mess up the snaps,’ and I said, ‘Hey, don’t mess up my sandwiches no more.’”

Perhaps Black was right when he said early Monday, “I just may be on the funniest team in America,” because he’s one of them, noting later in the day that his last memory about visiting Tennessee was “a bunch of drunk old people.”

QUOTES (More coming soon…)

Meyer on his team’s first away game: “We’re going to have a bunch of new players get on that plane and head to Knoxville. So much of what we do around here is routine and that is a major concern. I’m trying to fight myself right now on how to get that done and not take away from preparation time. The worst thing that happens is someone’s late walking in, forgets their tie. Someone doesn’t show up. Someone forgets their ID on the plane and goes to the room when we’re not supposed to go to the room. That just messes everything up as far as routine and we take that real serious around here. We’ll have several meetings about it and try to get that ready.”

Meyer on Florida’s upcoming opponent, Tennessee: “It’s SEC personnel from top to bottom. [They have] some dynamic players, some young players. They’re dealing with some of the same issues we have as far as lack of experience, but make no mistake about it – they’re every bit as talented as most teams in the SEC. And obviously [Neyland Stadium] one of the most difficult environments to play in.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel for the player quotes above.

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