1 » Amid speculation that he was considering entry into the 2010 NFL Draft, Florida Gators redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey told the Orlando Sentinel that he will stay in Gainesville, FL, for “at least another year.” With Rainey, sophomore Jeff Demps and redshirt junior transfer Emmanuel Moody all coming back next season, the Gators’ running back unit may be the deepest it has been in years. Also on the roster will be sophomore Mike Gillislee, redshirt junior walk-on Christopher Scott and four-star 2010 commitment Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA).
2 » After starting the 2009 campaign 8-0 including wins over the Florida State Seminoles and then-No. 2 Michigan State Spartans, the Florida basketball team rose to No. 10/11 in the AP and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls, respectively. Consecutive losses to the No. 5/5 Syracuse Orange and unranked Richmond Spiders (both at neutral sites) have since dropped the Gators down to a No. 18 ranking in both polls. Florida has returned home to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and will take on the South Alabama Jaguars Tuesday at 7 p.m.
1 » The Florida Gators‘ two commitments from Dwyer High School, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star tight end Gerald Christian, got a visit from recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales on Tuesday, who also took time to meet with their teammate and three-star cornerback Robert Clark. [OGGOA Exclusive:] It is expected that Meyer will pay a visit to Dwyer in the coming days and offer Clark a scholarship (if he has not been offered one already), especially after learning that both Lane and Monte Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers attended Dwyer practice on Tuesday pushing hard for Clark in hopes that he could sway Elam.
2 » Over the last few days, Florida has lost out on two of the top 2010 recruits in the country to the Florida State Seminoles. First, it was four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) who liked the transition from Bobby Bowden to head coach Jimbo Fisher. According to reports Wednesday morning, five-star cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, FL) has also committed to FSU. Joyner, considered the No. 1 overall CB recruit in the country, and Luc were both highly regarded prospects by Gators, though neither were strong leans to Florida.
3 » Four-star wide receiver Kenny Stills (Carlsbad, CA) has narrowed his list to two schools: the Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners. Stills, who will announce on Dec. 18, said the Miami Hurricanes still have a shot but not a great one. The Gators have already pulled one recruit from California for 2010, four-star CB Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, CA), and many believe that head coach Urban Meyer is looking for the trifecta with Stills and five-star defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA).
4 » Florida is the early leader for Sterling Bailey (Gainesville, GA), a 2011 defensive end who is expected to be rated a four-star prior to his senior year of high school. “I could say [the Gators are out in front],” Bailey told JC Shurburtt of ESPN. “It was a surprising offer at first because they were not sending me much in the mail. My coach called me up and told me that Florida had offered. At first, I didn’t believe him. Then, I called and got on the phone with Urban Meyer. He told me that they were glad to offer me a scholarship and that when they saw me on film, it was a no-brainer.”
High school sports reporter Jason Lieser over at the Palm Beach Post was able to pull a plethora of information from five-star Florida Gators safety commitment Matt Elam on Tuesday night at the 2009 Lou Groza Award banquet regarding his status with the school and future in college football. (He won the award for the second consecutive season.) Elam, who committed to the Gators in October 2008, has wavered the last two months about whether or not he would actually attend Florida when he enrolls early after this semester. It is a widely held belief that Elam is doing this simply for the buzz and attention as his high school career comes to a close, though some Gators fans are legitimately concerned that he could bolt for another program before officially signing.
Scheduled for an official visit to Gainesville, FL, this weekend, Elam has already signed his enrollment forms for Florida. They will be processed after he graduates from Dwyer High School in December (a semester early) so he can begin participating in spring practices in January…as long as he does not change his mind. “I’m committed to Florida,” Elam told the Post. “I’m still doing some thinking. I’ll do my official visit this weekend and I’ll make my decision after.”
Also visiting him on Tuesday was new Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher. If any team could pry Elam away from the Gators at this point, he says it would be Seminoles. Gaining the commitment of four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) last week, FSU has peaked Elam’s interest. “That got my attention,” he said.
1 » Speaking with reporters following the 2009 SEC Championship, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strongrefused 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.”
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.
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.”
From time to time, OGGOA will come across too many news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.
– Reports were released early Sunday that Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer was hospitalized late Saturday night with chest pains. However, Meyer actually checked himself into Shands hospital in Gainesville, FL, early Sunday morning. He was treated and released for dehydration. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Meyer “worked late recruiting Saturday night after the Southeastern Conference Championship game loss to Alabama, which may have contributed to his dehydration.” ESPN has the story:
– Four-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL), a recruit who was highly coveted by the Gators, committed to the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday according to Aaron Shepard, one of his high school coaches. “He said he’s been a fan since he’s been a little kid and it just felt like home since he went up there this weekend,” Shepard told The Orlando Sentinel on Sunday.
– Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong told reporters on Saturday that he has not yet spoken to the Louisville Cardinals and had no planned meeting with the school on Sunday. Sunday morning, the Cardinals spoke with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and received permission to speak with Strong about the job opening. According to ESPN’s Joe Schad on twitter, Strong and Louisville AD Tom Jurich have plans to meet Sunday night in Gainesville, FL.
– The Gators will likely face the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl. Meyer played defensive back for the Bearcats from 1983-1986.
– Former Alabama Crimson Tide running back Shaun Alexander, a close friend of senior quarterback Tim Tebow for some time, was seen consoling him late after the game in the Georgia Dome.
– Prior to the Miami Dolphins game on Sunday, former middle linebacker Channing Crowder ran out of the tunnel and gave a huge Gator Chomp to the crowd (which received a surprising ovation). Crowder was responsible for the game-clinching interception with 0:35 left in the fourth quarter as the Dolphins defeated the New England Patriots.
– Also a huge day for former Florida wide receiver Louis Murphy with the Oakland Raiders. Murphy caught four balls for 128 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers to give his team a 27-24 win.
– Competing in the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game are the following Florida commitments: Joshua Shaw (CB; Palmdale, CA), Jonathan Dowling (S; Southeast, FL), Demar Dorsey (S; Boyd Anderson, FL), Solomon Patton (WR; Murphy, AL), Leon Orr (DT; Gulf, FL), Mack Brown (RB; Martin Luther King, GA), Ian Silberman (OT; Fleming Island, FL). These recruiting prospects (among others) will also be playing in the game: Chris Dunkley (WR; Pahokee, FL), Kadron Boone (WR; Trinity Catholic, FL), Lamarcus Joyner (CB; St. Thomas Aquinas, FL), Cody Riggs (CB; St. Thomas Aquinas, FL), Chaz Green (OT; Tampa Catholic, FL), Devin Gardner (QB; Inkster, MI), Eric Mack (OG; Calhoun County, SC). For the star ratings of the Gators commits found in this list, visit OGGOA‘s recruiting page.
OGGOA will continue to update you with news throughout the day, so stay tuned.
Over the past two weeks, OGGOA asked you to participate in three polls. The first two determined your Most Valuable Players for the Florid International Golden Panthers and Florida State Seminoles games, while the third determined which administrator was most important to University of Florida athletics. An OGGOA-record total of 875 combined votes (292 average) were cast, and the results are in:
Who was your Florida Gators MVP vs. FIU? QB Tim Tebow (50%, 92 votes)
QB John Brantley (25%, 47 votes)
RB Chris Rainey (13%, 25 votes)
LB Brandon Spikes (12%, 22 votes)
Who was your Florida Gators MVP vs. FSU? QB Tim Tebow (77%, 203 votes)
TE Aaron Hernandez (21%, 55 votes)
LB Brandon Hicks (1%, 4 votes)
RB Jeff Demps (1%, 3 votes)
Tebow’s third and fourth OGGOA MVP honors came in back-to-back weeks for the first time all season. His previous victories were against Georgia and Arkansas. Both victories are well-deserved, especially the Florida State one seeing as Tebow put up five touchdowns and had his best performance of the season.
Who has done more for the Florida Gators? AD Jeremy Foley (39%, 166 votes)
HC Steve Spurrier (32%, 135 votes)
HC Urban Meyer (27%, 114 votes)
HC Billy Donovan (2%, 9 votes)
Reviewing the results of this poll, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the respect and appreciation for what Foley has done for UF’s athletic program is wide-spread. Often times, fans look at the coaches and players and do not know who is really taking care of things behind the scenes. Though I do not need to convince you to vote for Foley, this is just a taste of what he has done since becoming the athletic director in 1992. He hired Meyer, Donovan, Becky Burleigh (soccer), Tim Walton (softball) while retaining Buddy Alexander (men’s golf) and Mary Wise (volleyball) and helping the Gators finish as the top-ranked overall program in the Southeastern Conference in 15 of his 16 years.
1 » The Tennessee Volunteers may be 7-5 with a .500 record in the Southeastern Conference, but far be it for head coach Lane Kiffin to keep his mouth shut – especially when getting a chance to talk about the coaching staff of the No. 1 Florida Gators. When asked about the SEC Championship game, Kiffin responded in the only way possible for him. “Florida has better players, Alabama has better coaches,” he said.
2 » Florida junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody (ankle) practiced at full speed on Tuesday and will be active for Saturday. Head coach urban Meyer worked the Gators on the field turf practice field in order to best simulate the Georgia Dome field.
3 » The Gators have appeared in the SEC Championship game nine times while the Crimson Tide have only made six appearances – all against Florida. In those games, Alabama is 2-4 with wins in 1992 and 1999.
4 » Starting the last three games, freshman left tackle Xavier Nixon has been a notable addition to Florida’s offensive line. The rebuilt unit has only allowed senior quarterback Tim Tebow to be sacked four times; he was sacked 21 times in the nine prior games. “You need that presence inside, and when coach [Steve] Addazio did that, that was a great tactical move,” Meyer said. “X has gotten a lot better. X did not play great Saturday. He had some missed assignments, but the one thing about him is he plays hard. He has a passion. He’ll get better.” Junior right guard Mike Pouncey agrees. “Xavier’s been playing good,” he said. “He’s been playing better than the other guys that were in there. Moving Carl [Johnson] inside is a big key.”
5 » During his post-practice press availability, Meyer showed his respect for Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden. “I’m good friends with coach Bowden, and I have a lot of respect for him,” he said. “He’s great for college football. [44 years of coaching] is a long time. [I] just want to go another week. You admire a guy that had the stamina and [did] it the right way. That’s the thing you always admire about coach Bowden – he’s done it the right way.”
6 » Florida women’s basketball (3-4) fell 72-71 to the Florida A&M Rattlers (4-2) in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators trailed by 12 points with 48.2 seconds remaining but scored the last 11 points to cut the deficit to one with 1.5 seconds left on the clock. Sophomore center Azania Stewart scored a career-high 17 points, though Florida only shot 36.9 percent.
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