Week 5: Gators post-game news and notes

After a slow start to the season, the No. 7/7 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) performed spectacularly against Kentucky last week, only to play their worst game of the season Saturday in a 31-6 loss to the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) on the road at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes.

SECOND-WORSE LOSS SINCE…ALABAMA

The 31-6 beat down by the Crimson Tide on Saturday was Gators head coach Urban Meyer‘s worst loss since his team fell in similar fashion 31-3 in Tuscaloosa in 2005. In addition to both games having been road contests in Alabama, each were the only times under Meyer that Florida has failed to score a touchdown in a game.

BURTON THE HERO ZERO; BRANTLEY’s FAILURES

No, freshman quarterback Trey Burton did not play awful. In fact, as a receiver he caught four solid passes for 33 yards. But one week after being absolutely everything for the Gators, Burton was comparatively nothing, especially when throwing an interception on the goal line on 4th and 1 to conclude the Florida’s first offensive series of the game.

He was not alone as, one week after the best starting performance of his career, redshirt junior QB John Brantley was also brought back to Earth. Brantley completed just over half of his passes for 202 yards but threw two costly interceptions including one which was returned for a touchdown to ice any chance of a comeback by the Gators. Brantley also injured his ribcage in the fourth quarter trying to evade pass rushers and gain a 4th down on a pretty inconsequential play. He is expected to be fine.

TIDE’s RUSHERS STIFF-ARMED

Florida’s defense made it their primary goal to contain Alabama running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, one of the few things the Gators actually accomplished Saturday night. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Ingram was limited to 47 yards on 12 carries, though he did get into the end zone on two short-yardage touchdowns, and Richardson rushed 10 times for 63 yards with a long of 30 that inflated his statistics.

BETTER BUT NOT IMPROVED IN SECOND HALF

Of note is that the Gators actually outplayed the Crimson Tide in the second half, especially when you look at yards gained on offense. However, Florida was unable to gain large chunks of yardage, had too many plays fail and made costly mistakes that did not allow them to take advantage of their improved play. Alabama’s only score of the half was Brantley’s interception return, and Tide QB Greg McElroy was held to 84 yards the entire game (though he did complete 11-of-17 passes).

MVP FOR HENRY

Filling in for injured junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (who was 2-of-4 this season on field goals), senior punter Chas Henry was perfect on the night knocking through both of his attempts. Henry kicked a nice 39-yarder to end the first half and a 21-yard field goal in the beginning of the third quarter. He also punted the ball three times for 187 yards (62.3 average) including a long of 75 and two inside the 20.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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No. 1 Tide topple No. 7 Gators 31-6 in Tuscaloosa

The rubber match of the last two Southeastern Conference Championship games was expected to be a heavyweight battle. Instead, the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) showed their might with a 31-6 victory over the No. 7/7 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Saturday evening.

Scoring on their first four offensive possessions, Alabama took a 24-0 lead over Florida halfway into the second quarter. The Crimson Tide scored a field goal on their opening drive and intercepted a pass from Gators freshman quarterback Trey Burton on the following possession in the end zone on fourth down.

Alabama would then get on the board with back-to-back rushing touchdowns from Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in the second quarter, also scoring on a 19-yard pass from wide receiver Marquis Maze to tight end Michael Williams with 6:09 left in the first half. Maze’s touchdown pass came after redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley threw his second interception of the season to cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on 3rd and 11 from Florida’s 27.

Gators senior punter Chas Henry, filling in for junior kicker Caleb Sturigs, ended the second quarter with a 39-yard field goal and opened the third quarter with a 21-yard field goal to give Florida its only points of the contest.

Down 24-6 halfway through the third quarter, Brantley threw another interception, this one to linebacker C.J. Mosely on 2nd and 5 from Florida’s 33 yard line, which Mosely returned for a touchdown to give Alabama its 31-6 lead.

Even with the Gators’ poor execution, the offense outperformed the Crimson Tide’s 281-273. Brantley was 16-of-31 for for 202 yards compared to Alabama QB Greg McElroy’s 11-of-17 performance for 84 yards. Ingram was held to 47 yards on 12 carries, though RB Trent Richardson ran for 63 yards on 10 touches. Florida RB Jeff Demps carried the ball 11 times for 47 yards, and redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson led the Gators with 60 yards on three receptions.

Hoping to rebound from their worst performance of the season, the Gators will take on the No. 10 LSU Tigers (5-0, 3-0 SEC) in Gainesville, FL, next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., and the game will air live on ESPN.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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No.7 Florida Gators at No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Bryant–Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, AL [Capacity: 101,821]
Weather Forecast: 67°F, clear skies
Time: 8:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 122/143
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 7 FLORIDA GATORS No. 1 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 4-0 (2-0) Record: 4-0 (1-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Alabama -8; O/U 48

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida has won 24 consecutive regular season games, 13-straight road games and 16 regular season SEC games in a row. Combined with Alabama, the duo have combined to win 52-straight regular season games. The teams have also won three of the last four national titles and have two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners.
» UA is 21-14 all-time against UF, holding a 6-5 lead in the series at Tuscaloosa. The Gators and Crimson Tide are an even 8-8 in the state of Alabama and have split the last two SEC Championship games with Florida winning in 2008.
» The Gators are 4-10-2 against defending national champions all-time, 3-2-1 since 1990, 4-6 when the team is from the SEC (3-0 since 1993). Florida is also 3-7 against Associated Press No. 1-ranked teams all-time and 2-1 in those contests under Meyer.
» The Gators lead the nation with 12 interceptions through three games. Their +8 turnover margin is tied for fourth in the country.
» For the third time in four games this season, Florida got a defensive touchdown via an interception return against Kentucky. UF has recorded at least two interceptions in every game this year, four coming from outside the secondary.
» Alabama (11.3) and Florida (12.8) are ranked first and second in the SEC (second and fourth, respectively, in the nation) in fewest points allowed per game since 2009.
» The Gators have the best red zone touchdown percentage in the SEC since 2007 (156/226 – 69%) and have the best red zone scoring defense in the nation (59/82 – 72%) in that same time period.
» Florida has gone 14-for-14 in the red zone over the last two games with 13 touchdowns and a field goal. The Gators’ red zone efficiency is 89.5 percent on the season including 16 touchdowns and one field goal.
» UF has scored 30+ points in five straight games, the longest active streak in the SEC.
» Florida has committed a nation-low 87 turnovers since 2005 and has had 24 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation). Alabama is ranked third in the nation, only having given up 90 turnovers in the same time span.
» The Crimson Tide’s defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38-straight games.
» Gators redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan attended Armwood High School (Tampa, FL) with the Crimson Tide’s Petey Smith.
» Florida redshirt senior left tackle Marcus Gilbert and freshman wide receiver Solomon Patton both attended St. Thomas Aquinas high school (Fort Lauderdale, FL) along with Alabama’s Nick Williams.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who threw 156 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 16-2 TD/INT ratio while playing for the Gators. He set career-highs in completions (24), attempts (35) and yards (248) vs. Kentucky.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game last week. Burton has eight scores on the season and has been working extensively out of the Wildcat formation while also playing H-back, WR, tight end, fullback and special teams.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who has led the Gators in rushing in every game this season with totals of 98, 139, 73 and 57 yards. He ran the ball a career-high 26 times two weeks ago against Tennessee and left the Kentucky game early with a sprained foot. Demps is also No. 2 in the SEC with a 32.5-yard kick return average.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson…who set a career-high in yardage (86) for the second time this season last week. As Brantley’s primary pass catcher, 16 of Thompson’s 18 catches this season have been for first downs.
» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore…who is improving each week. After catching two first downs against Tennessee, Moore notched four more on four catches against Kentucky.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted eight balls this season. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) and are leading the way for the unit. Brown returned one for a touchdown last week, and Black is tops on the team with 30 tackles on the year while also being the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233). Jenkins leads the SEC with seven passes defended.
» Sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic…who has nabbed three interceptions in four games (all in UF territory) and been a tackling machine (20 in the last three contests).
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who has not only been Florida’s most valuable special teams player but will also be handling all kicking duties for the Gators for the foreseeable future with junior kicker Caleb Sturgis out of action.
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard…who had one of the best games of his career against Kentucky and will pay tribute to deceased walk-on defender Lamar Abel by wearing his No. 62 jersey.

» Alabama’s “Start Fast – Finish Strong”…which is a motto held by the team that has been utilized extensively this year. The Crimson Tide have a 56-16 edge in the first quarter and a 31-3 advantage against opponents in the fourth quarter this season.
» Crimson Tide RB Mark Ingram…who has 12 100-yard performances in his career and is second on his team with 33 carries for 308 yards and four touchdowns after missing the first two games of the season.
» Alabama RB Trent Richardson…who leads his team with 47 carries for 356 yards and four touchdowns.
» Crimson Tide WR Julio Jones…who leads his unit in receptions (20), yards (303) and touchdowns (2). The team has three receivers with double-digit catches this season.
» Alabama QB Greg McElroy…who has yet to lose a game as a starter in college (18-0) and is 34-0 dating back to his senior year of high school. McElroy has not lost a game since the 8th grade. He has thrown 70.9 percent of his passes for completions this year with 899 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
» Crimson Tide S Robert Lester…who leads the SEC with four interceptions.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Game-time decision – Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot)
Out – Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan

Inactives
(Will update closer to game time)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators are set to be heavily featured in during ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. Even though the “World Wide Leader in Sports” did not choose to host the event in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Florida and Alabama will be given an entire segment during the main program. There will be a “rivalry revisited” look at the recent history between the two teams and how the series has played out over the last few years, columnist Pat Forde will take a look at the game, and Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit will talk about UF’s defense. The Crimson Tide will also receive a feature on McElroy, while the Gators get one on Burton. Chris Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso will conclude by discussing the Gators’ chances of an upset while making picks at the end of the show. [Notes in this section are as of press time.]

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » No.7 Florida Gators at No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

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9/29: Gators players, coaches speak to media

A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media on Wednesday as the team takes a look back on its 48-14 home victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and ahead to its match-up against the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide on the road on Saturday.

Linebackers and special teams coach D.J. Durkin, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody, sophomore right tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins all had plenty to say…which you can read after the break!
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Wuerffel’s Words: “Don’t be too alarmed…”

For the entire month of September, former Florida Gators national championship- and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel will be contributing his post-game thoughts about how the team performed the previous Saturday exclusively here on OGGOA at the beginning of each week.

The 1996 winner of eight football and academic awards, Wuerffel has a unique perspective as a four-year player at Florida who passed for 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns in his college career. Enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006 and set to be immortalized in a statue outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in 2010, he is now the executive director of Desire Street Ministries, which works to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

As I watched the Gators game Saturday, I couldn’t help but remember the countless times in my career I heard a coach harp on us about “the fundamentals” of football. Usually, though, that would be an admonishment about blocking and tackling – the two most basic fundamentals of tackle football.

For the Gators this week, I guess we were all reminded there is one more basic level that comes even before that: the snap – the fundamental exchange between the center and the QB. Without that, blocking doesn’t much matter.

But don’t be too alarmed Gators fans. The first game is often a little sloppy. This problem will be remedied quickly, and we’ll get the chance to see how our new group of athletes can truly play in the coming weeks.

My worst game my senior year was the first one but fortunately for me, no one remembers that one.

As for me, I’m still optimistic about this group of guys and the season ahead. The defense should have a very solid year, and I’m excited to see Johnny Brantley develop as our QB. I think he’s got all the tools to have a great season.

And in case you missed it…Jeff Demps is FAST!

Lots of excitement to come!

Go Gators,

By joining together people from all walks of life who are interested in redeeming the inner-city, Desire Street Ministries believes that they are bringing together leaders who actually move into the neighborhood, indigenous leaders who already live there, and neighbors who “move in” spiritually through prayer, encouragement and financial support. Please take a moment to visit Desire Street Ministries online or in person and find out how you can help support and/or donate.

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Danny Wuerffel to guest blog for ONLY GATORS

With the Florida Gators 2010-11 football season set to begin on Sept. 4, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive is making a concerted effort to provide our readers with additional perspective from someone who has plenty of experience inside the huddle at The Swamp. On Tuesday, former national champion and multiple award-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel agreed to join OGGOA as a guest blogger for the entire month of September.

There are four games scheduled for Florida next month – Sept. 4 vs. Miami (OH), Sept. 11 vs. South Florida, Sept. 18 at Tennessee and Sept. 25 vs. Kentucky – and Wuerffel will be contributing his post-game thoughts and keeping readers abreast about how he thinks the team performed each Monday following the Gators game.

The 1996 winner of the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Unitas Award, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, NCAA QB of the Year Award, Draddy Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award (also 1995), Wuerffel has a unique perspective as a four-year player at Florida who passed for 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns in his Florida career.

A first-team All-America selection in 1995 and 1996, many of Wuerffel’s numbers remain the best in Southeastern Conference history and the second-best in national history. In 1995, his efficiency of 178.4 set a single-season collegiate record, and in his Heisman year of 1996, his 3,625 yards (SEC record), 39 TDs (led nation, SEC record) and efficiency rating of 170.6 made him the first QB to ever post a rating of 170 or more in back-to-back years. Wuerffel led the Gators in passing in each of his four seasons (1993-96) and still holds Florida records for most career passing touchdowns and most passing touchdowns in a season (in which he also holds second place). In fact, one out of every 9.74 passes Wuerffel threw in his career would be scored for a touchdown.

Enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006 and set to be immortalized in a statue outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in 2010, Wuerffel is now the executive director of Desire Street Ministries, which works to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

Keep a look out for his contributions exclusively here on OGGOA as the season begins!

OGGOA RELATED: Exclusive interview with Danny Wuerffel

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QB Danny Wuerffel: “The opportunity to play for coach Spurrier – too much to pass up.”

When most college football fans think about the Florida Gators 1996 season, two names in particular come to mind: head coach Steve Spurrier and starting quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Winner of seven individual awards in 1996 including the Heisman Trophy (and another Davey O’Brien Award in 1995), Wuerffel led the Gators to their first National Championship in his final effort after a four-year career in which he threw for an astounding 10,875 yards and 114 touchdowns.

A first-team All-America selection in 1995 and 1996, many of Wuerffel’s numbers remain the best in Southeastern Conference history and the second-best in national history. In 1995, his efficiency of 178.4 set a single-season collegiate record, and in his Heisman year of 1996, his 3,625 yards (SEC record), 39 TDs (led nation, SEC record) and efficiency rating of 170.6 made him the first QB to ever post a rating of 170 or more in back-to-back years. Wuerffel led the Gators in passing in each of his four seasons (1993-96) and still holds Florida records for most career passing touchdowns and most passing touchdowns in a season (in which he also holds second place). In fact, one out of every 9.74 passes Wuerffel threw in his career would be scored for a touchdown.

Enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006 and set to be immortalized in a statue outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in 2010, Wuerffel is now the executive director of Desire Street Ministries, which works to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

OGGOA spoke to Wuerffel on Tuesday and, even though our interview was feared lost by a technical difficulty, it was recovered at the end of the day. How lucky are we?

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Coming out of Fort Walton Beach, was attending the University of Florida an easy choice for you – something you always knew you wanted to do?
DANNY WUERFFEL: “Actually, we were living close to Florida State and my sister was attending Florida State. By default, I was more of a Seminole fan in high school. I took three visits – one to Alabama, one to Florida State and one to Florida. At the end of the day, the two things that drew me to Florida were, firstly, the quality of the education with so many different directions – I wasn’t centered or decided on a major and Florida just had so many highly respected colleges and majors to choose from – I was really impressed with the school, and then secondly, the opportunity to play for coach [Steve] Spurrier – too much to pass up.”

AS: When deciding on Florida, did you know your high school coach wanted to eventually go back to the Gators, or did that happen afterward?
DW: “Coach [Jimmy Ray Stephens] – he played at Florida and had coached at Florida and he was always hoping to get back there – I think that was one of his goals. It was a year or so after I got signed, a year or so after that, coach Spurrier gave him the opportunity to come.”

AS: You played four years at Florida – which is not something a lot of quarterbacks really get the chance to do – but obviously broke out in your final two seasons in 1995 and 1996. Was there a particular switch that turned on for you, was it a measure of the talent around you – what was the difference?
DW: “Practically what happened – both my freshman and sophomore year I was splitting time with Terry Dean – so in terms of snaps and reps, [I] didn’t get as much. For both the 1995 and 1996 team[s], there were some really, really dynamic players and folks that came along and we had two really good teams those two years. And it just happened those were the two years I was in the driver’s seat. When you’re in the right place at the right time with the right coaches and the right players, a lot of cool things can happen, and those were definitely some good years.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Danny Wuerffell…after the break!
Continue Reading » QB Danny Wuerffel: “The opportunity to play for coach Spurrier – too much to pass up.”

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TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

1 » Signing his rookie contract Thursday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow got his first taste of practice with the Denver Broncos on Friday in front of some reporters. Things were different Sunday at the team’s first public training camp event, as 3,103 Broncos fans packed the Dove Valley facility (the most since it opened in 2003) to get a glimpse of the former Heisman Trophy winner (and the rest of the team). [Another 1,891 attended in the afternoon, setting both session records and a one-day total of 4,994.] The Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Center was “almost at full capacity with fans sitting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the practice field.”

The Denver Post describes one notable moment: “During seven-on-seven drills, Tebow worked in the rotation to completed a 40-yard pass to Matthew Willis on a fly route. The crowd cheered and some stood to their feet, as if the season had already begun.” There were also chants of “Te-bow! Te-bow!” during portions of the practice. In fact, “Tebow received cheers for everything he did,” according to the Post. “For walking out of the locker room, handing the ball off or tossing a short screen pass. And especially for every time he tucked the ball under his arm and ran through the Broncos’ defense.”

Two Denver players – one a fellow Florida alum and another from Georgia – had their own thoughts on the festivities off the field.

“It’s darn near like Gainesville. It feels the same way,” former Gators defensive end/linebacker Jarvis Moss said. “I don’t know too many people who have fans like Tim. You can’t think of too many people who people just love like that.” Countering but still agreeing was a Bulldog. “You’ve got to think he’s the most marketable guy in the league right now so he’s definitely going to that attention. The only knock on him is he went to Florida,” cornerback Champ Bailey added.

Two BITS on Percy Harvin’s health and a fight started by Riley Cooper…
Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

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