Florida-Georgia rivalry spiced up with trophy

A new college football rivalry trophy named the “Okefenokee Oar” will be presented to the winner of the annual Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs game Saturday at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. According to Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald, the creation of the trophy was “a collaborative idea of the University of Florida and University of Georgia student governments.” Each season, the winner of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will take home the trophy for display before fighting over it the following year in Jacksonville, FL.

Fashioned from a 1,000 year old cypress tree harvested in the Okefenokee Swamp (which borders the two states), it will be introduced live on CBS by the Florida and Georgia student government presidents and awarded to the winning team after the game. Both universities hope to make the trophy as important as other college football rivalry trophies (like the Little Brown Jug for Michigan-Minnesota and Paul Bunyan’s Axe for Minn.-Wisconsin).

Florida currently holds two rivalry trophies. It possesses the Seminole War Canoe after defeating the Miami Hurricanes (2008) and has held the Governor’s Cup (in title alone) for defeating the Florida State Seminoles consecutively since 2004.

A picture of the Oar has been swiped by OGGOA provided courtesy of the Herald.

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TWO BITS: B-ball unranked; previewing UF-UGA

1 » As OGGOA reported earlier, Florida Gators basketball was listed as unranked in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 poll, receiving only 13 total votes. The preseason AP Top 25 was released Thursday afternoon, with Florida receiving 53 votes. Though outside of the ranked teams, the Gators’ at-large votes have them ranked 34th in the country. OGGOA will have the Gators’ basketball schedule and standings up in the right column on Nov. 15 when the regular season begins against Stetson Hatters.

2 » Plenty of talk going on about the quality of the game that Florida and the Georgia Bulldogs will be playing on Saturday. Steve Eubanks of FOX Sports wonders if the game will still mix a potent cocktail, while Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated believes the game is a season-maker for Georgia. ESPN’s SEC blogger Chris Low thinks the game will be decided by whichever team is able to work out their kinks first, though Scouts, Inc. (via ESPN Insider) gives Florida the advantage in seven out of nine categories (QB, RB, OL, DL, DB, ST, Coach – not WR or LB).

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TWO BITS: Stamper needs tix; UGA tackling issues

1 » A Jacksonville, FL, native, Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper is being inundated with ticket requests for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Stamper has already acquired 20 tickets for the game, including four from wide receiver David Nelson who lent a helping hand. “They said I had the Florida-Georgia game ticket record last year, but I’m about to break that this year,” Stamper said. Some other Gators who may need tickets for the game include defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, punter Chas Henry, guard Maurice Hurt, defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh & Omar Hunter and three others – all of whom are Georgians.

2 » Two legitimate concerns the Bulldogs have going into Saturday’s game are the tackling ability of their linebackers and inability to stop premier tight ends. A weakness throughout the offseason, tackling was worked on extensively during camp and at practice on the order of head coach Mark Richt. Seven games into the season, it is still something Georgia is struggling with and could pose a major problem when they face the speed of Florida. “It’s been something that’s been inconsistent,” linebacker Rennie Curran said. “We’ll have good games where we’re tackling well; then there’s times we miss tackles in the open field, which leads to those extra yards that kill us.” Expect the Gators to use tight end Aaron Hernandez both on straight pass plays and toss plays in order to capitalize on his size and strength.

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FOUR BITS: Georgia motivated, Gators winning, Tebow praised, basketball’s Butler injured

1 » The Georgia Bulldogs are attempting to use timeouts called by Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer in the waning moments of the 2008 World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party as fuel the way Florida did Georgia’s celebration in its end zone at the beginning of the 2007 game. Calling timeouts with 44 and 30 seconds remaining on the clock, Meyer allowed the Gators and the entire crowd (almost every Bulldogs fan had left by that time) to bask in the glory of annihilating Georgia 49-10 after the team tried to embarrass Florida the year before.

2 » If winning games ugly has taken the Gators to 7-0 on the season, what could the team accomplish if it actually played well? And how long can Florida stay perfect with these imperfect performances? Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun asks those exact questions. Senior quarterback Tim Tebow has the answers. “Obviously, we want to get better, we want to continue to improve, which I think we’re doing,” he said. “As long as we keep winning games, that’s the most important thing. We’re 7-0 and still have everything in front of us. We always have an inclination to want to be perfect and we try to do that as an offense and have outstanding games. More important than that, we’re focusing on winning. If we’re doing that, we’re happy.”

3 » It is not just the media and fans, even some of the elder statesmen in the SEC are praising Tebow. From former players to accomplished head coaches, the praise for UF’s leader focuses on his “versatility, leadership and winning mentality.” Perhaps legendary Auburn Tigers coach Pat Dye said it best: “I think that Tim Tebow is as good as any football player, I’m talking about everything, as I’ve ever seen.” Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley echoed those sentiments. “Competitive, leader, football player, athlete, student, character, spiritual – I’ve seen some that are better in certain phases, but there’s never been one as complete as he is.”

4 » University of Florida head women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler ruptured her left Achilles tendon Saturday morning while playing quarterback her flag football team in The Swamp Bowl on campus. Butler will be at full strength for practices and games while she rehabs from surgery.

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Xavier Nixon may start at LT for Gators on Sat.

Speaking to the press Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer said five-star freshman offensive tackle Xavier Nixon could start (or at least see significant playing time) Saturday afternoon against the Georgia Bulldogs.

“He’s going to be a really good player,” Meyer said of Nixon. “After watching today’s practice, he went against [defensive end] Carlos Dunlap on a few plays, he had his best practice.”

The promotion of Nixon has a lot to do with the play of left guard James Wilson and current left tackle Carl Johnson, who is better suited to play inside. The coaching staff seems to believe moving Johnson back to his more natural position and ousting Wilson from the starting unit could solve some of Florida’s blocking woes that have sprouted up in recent weeks.

Sophomore Matt Patchan, who was expected to compete with Johnson for the left tackle spot and probably would have won it by now, is out for the season with a torn ACL. While playing Nixon could be a fix, does the coaching staff have that much confidence in the freshman to have the first major game of his career come against Georgia?

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Tebow ready for Bulldogs, Walker’s record

Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville, FL, the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs will square off for the 87th time in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. While plenty of pressure is on the Gators to come out on top and remain undefeated, no one is probably feeling it more than senior quarterback Tim Tebow.

You see, this will be Tebow’s final curtain call in what basically amounts to his home town. It will be the last time he gets to play in one of the most storied rivalries in college football history. And, perhaps more importantly, he has a chance to break one of the all-time great SEC records against a team whose greatest player ever currently holds it.

“It’ll be emotional for me,” Tebow said. “It’ll be exciting, knowing it’s my last Florida-Georgia game.” As for the opportunity to break Herschel Walker‘s SEC career rushing touchdown record against his alma mater?

“It has been an honor to even be mentioned with Herschel. It is very humbling and I’m sure when I sit back and think about I’ll realize how cool it is,” he said. “To be able to break the record against Georgia would be extra-special.”

[UPDATED:] One writer, who of course works for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, believes there should be an asterisk on the record should Tebow break it. Why? Walker had five touchdowns in bowl games that were not counted for the record. It is amazing how “impartial” writers can always twist things like this to appease their readers.

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FOUR BITS: Antwine done. Marsh, Howard back. Deonte frustrated. Three Hadens? UGA game.

1 » Updating a previous report on the injury sustained by defensive tackle Brandon Antwine (shoulder), it looks as if he could be sidelined for the season, according to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. Antwine is deciding whether or not to undergo surgery on his shoulder, which would be the second time in his career an injury would sideline him for the season (torn ACL, 2008). The Florida Gators have struggled to keep the interior of their defensive line healthy this season, relying on back-ups and third-stringers to fill in for most of the games. However, starters Lawrence Marsh (ankle) and Jaye Howard (knee) are both expected to return Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs.

2 » Fans and media have been frustrated with the production from wide receiver Deonte Thompson this season, but it is actually Thompson who is frustrated with the lack of opportunities he has had to produce for the Gators. Several times on Saturday, Thompson was wide open and visibly seen trying to get quarterback Tim Tebow’s attention. When Tebow did not look his way, Thompson “was seen making hand gestures […] as if to say, ‘forget it.’” Head coach Urban Meyer plans to speak with him about his frustrations. “I’ll have a little chat with Deonte about that,” Meyer said. “Because we don’t need that. We need to go as hard as we can, and that’s what we do right now. I don’t mind guys that play very hard, and I think they share their frustration that competitors have. He plays very hard, he blocks well, he runs good routes. That’s fine. But if you ask (about it) again next week, there’s a chance Deonte won’t be playing.”

Two more interesting BITS after the jump…
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Antwine done. Marsh, Howard back. Deonte frustrated. Three Hadens? UGA game.

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Stopping A.J. Green a tall order for Meyer, Gators

Never one to look in the rear view mirror, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer probably began thinking about the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party as he was running off the field Saturday night in Starkville, MS. In doing so, the one of the first things that popped into his mind about the Georgia Bulldogs was their outstanding wide receivers.

“Georgia has great receivers, including one of the best in the nation,” Meyer said in his weekly Monday press conference. “[A.J. Green] has the ability to go up and over us, like he did last year. We have to find a way [to] defend him and not be so concerned about him [that] they can run the ball.”

Paramount in importance to stopping Green are Florida’s cornerbacks Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins. “Those are two of the best corners I have ever had the privilege to be around,” Meyer said. “I have great confidence in them. Their ability level is one thing, but their attention to detail is what separates them.”

No matter how well the Gators play on defense, improving the offense’s consistency and effectiveness is going to be harped on all week in practice. “Offensively, we will need to do a better job in some areas,” Meyer admitted. “We were not good on third downs and red zone production. We will spend time on those things early this week.”

During Monday’s press conference, Meyer also touched on the team’s Champions Club from Saturday’s game at the Mississippi State Bulldogs:

- Offense: QB Tim Tebow; TE Aaron Hernandez; WR – Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, Brandon James and David Nelson; OL – Marcus Gilbert, Mike and Maurkice Pouncey
- Offensive Player of the Game: RB Chris Rainey
- Defense: LB – Dustin Doe and A.J. Jones, S – Major Wright, Ahmad Black and Will Hill; CB Janoris Jenkins; DE Jermaine Cunningham; DT Terron Sanders
- Defensive Players of the Game: DE Carlos Dunlap, LB Ryan Stamper

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