08/23: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is beginning their third week fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Monday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

REPLACING BRANDON JAMES…

During his media availability Monday, head coach Urban Meyer announced that junior running back Jeff Demps would be handling kickoff returns, while redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey would get the vast majority of work as the team’s punt returner for the upcoming season. Meyer added that junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins will see time bringing back punts on occasion. OGGOA continues to believe that – considering Demps, Rainey and Jenkins are all very important starters at other positions – fans may see another player (freshman WR Robert Clark?) take over some of these duties as the season progresses (especially if any are nursing injuries).

THE ‘STACHE IS TRASH

Redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley had a mustache. Now he doesn’t.

Moving on.

MOVEMENT AT LEFT TACKLE

Whether it is due to a knee injury sustained by sophomore Xavier Nixon, the talent and progression of redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan or both, it appears that the latter has the inside track on the Gators’ starting left tackle job. Patchan, who is returning from a wrist injury and not yet participating fully in practice, could very well supplant Nixon, who started the final five games of the 2009 season.

Starting middle linebacker – being contested by sophomore Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins – and starting cornerback – a battle between redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins – both remain open position battles.

PROVING HIS WORTH

When punishing sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., Meyer chose to take him off of scholarship rather than immediately suspend him from games or kick him off the team, giving the player a chance to earn his way back in his coaches’ and teammates’ good graces. Hammond has been doing just that over the last few weeks, proving that he has his head on straight, will not duplicate his mistake and is an integral part of the team. Though Meyer will not reinstate Hammond’s scholarship before the season, a successful year off the field could get him back on track before spring or summer

IF YOU GON’ DO IT – DO IT JUST LIKE THIS

After the scrimmage on Saturday – the team’s final one of the fall – Meyer graded out a number of players as Champions of the team. Offense: QB Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior T Marcus Gilbert, redshirt sophomore fullback T.J. PridemoreDefense: senior safety Ahmad Black, defensive ends senior Duke Lemmens and junior defensive end William Green, linebackers sophomore Jon Bostic and senior Lorzenzo Edwards.

INJURY UPDATES

Meyer said that redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine has been out of action the last few days after suffering a concussion; he may return on Tuesday if cleared by doctors. Redshirt senior WR Justin Williams hurt his shoulder during practice and has been using a sling. Junior WR Deonte Thompson’s hamstring acted up on him, causing him to sit out Saturday’s scrimmage, but he will be fine; likewise, freshman WR Chris Dunkley’s hamstring injury is believed to be behind him.

QUOTES

Meyer on Saturday’s final scrimmage and where the team is at right now: “We weren’t very good. … It really was not a very good scrimmage. Defense played well – about what you’d think for where we’re at right now. I’m hitting the panic button a little bit right now. We’ve got to get better faster than what we are at right now. It’s not that we’re not good, it’s just consistency of the offensive and defensive line[s]. We have to get them all in there. Once Patchan comes back and Xavier Nixon gets back, we’ll look a little better on the offensive line. When DT and Carl [Moore] and Omarius Hines [are] all together, we’ll look a little better, but right now, it’s not Florida football yet.”

Meyer comparing Brantley and Tim Tebow: “Somebody asked me today about the difference between John Brantley and Tim Tebow. Outward appearances, there’s a big difference. Inward … his competitiveness and leadership are fantastic right now, much better than I thought. I was really worried about that. When you have a guy like that [Tebow] in front of you, [Brantley] didn’t show much. Today we did the two-minute drill and he did fantastic. He ran the whole show and acted like a veteran quarterback – like he is. I’m really encouraged by John. Everybody knows he can throw the ball. The other part is fantastic right now as far as management of the team and leadership.”

Meyer on how the freshmen are performing: “Just OK. Actually, [I'm] a little disappointed in some of them. I thought they’d go take a spot. A few guys are doing decent – [safety] Matt Elam, [DT] Dominique Easley and [WR] Quinton Dunbar – who has been very good for us and might play this year. [DE] Ronald Powell had a great practice today, but didn’t have a great camp. He’s coming on strong now. Some of those big-game guys, I thought we’d have some of them cracking the lineup right now … but not yet.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and Palm Beach Post for the above quotations.

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8/17: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators is in the midst of their second week of fall practice and, while the activities were once again closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur Tuesday. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

INJURIES PILING UP

Redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks will miss about a month after having surgery on his back last week. He is expected to make a full recovery. Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (ankle) is sitting out while his main competition, redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist), is back working out. Like Nixon, redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh (hamstring) is currently recovering and listed as day-to-day. Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) is at full speed, and though junior running back Jeff Demps has missed a few practices with a concussion, he is back, too.

MORE STRIPES COME OFF

Freshmen offensive tackle Ian Silberman and tight end Gerald Christian both had their black helmet stripes removed on Tuesday. That now makes 10 frosh who are stripe-less with 16 more to go.

POWELL TAKING A WHILE

With freshmen DTs Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley and safety Matt Elam impressing early, defensive end Ronald Powell is bringing up the rear in terms of development for arguably the team’s top four 2010 recruits. “Powell’s a little bit behind [Floyd and Easley], but he’s coming on,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “He gained a little weight, because he wants to be bigger. We’re trying to knock a few pounds off him.”

QUOTES

Meyer on sophomore S Will Hill’s improvement: “Night and day. There were a lot of issues. We’ve got 105 guys and he was a guy that drank the poison, or whatever you want to call it. Now he’s going as hard as we’ve ever had a safety go around here, and he’s doing really well. He and [co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach] Chuck Heater have a good little deal going on back there. His position coach is real strong. Everyone knows Heater. He handles things a certain way and expects great effort and great performance on- and off-the-field. We’re starting to see that now with him.”

Meyer on defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin’s effect on junior CB Janoris Jenkins: “The same thing you see from our safeties. We have a big saying around here: ‘power of the unity.’ That’s a unit that’s really going well and [Jenkins] is the leader. Night and day. You’re going to see a really good player this season. He’s no nonsense. He’s just 100 percent all the time. It’s a credit to his position coach. Change is good. The transition is good. Janoris is the man there and he knows it.”

Meyer on S Jordan Haden transferring: “Jordan’s a great young man. […] When you have that name on the back of your jersey, that’s darn near Tebow-ish. That’s Pouncey-ish. When you start talking about the name, there’s an expectation level that is sometimes not fair. […] I was worried about that when we first started recruiting him because those are tough shoes to fill right there. But he’ll be fine, and we’ll help him do all we can.”

Meyer on the WRs as a whole:Deonte [Thompson] is there, Carl Moore’s there. I’m hoping Omarius Hines gets there real soon. Quinton Dunbar is darn close – that kid’s good. Andre Debose is struggling – just dead legs right now, but he’s coming back.”

Meyer clarifying Hines’ role on the team: “He’s not a tight end, he’s a movement guy. [...] We’re kind of created a position in the last few years, the ‘Percy [Harvin] position’ and the ‘Aaron Hernandez position,’ and if you have that, you can be dynamic. I think he’s got that kind of ability. He’s doing well.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post and The Gainesville Sun for the above quotes.

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8/14: Florida Gators 2010 fall scrimmage updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators has been participating fall practice for just about a week and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur during Saturday’s scrimmage. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the day.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) may have returned to practice Friday, but he was held out of contact drills once again Saturday. With Sunday off, he will probably resume those exercises on Monday. Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks (dehydration) did not return to practice and is still recovering. He will also likely be back Monday.

Other players held out of Saturday’s scrimmage include left tackles sophomore Xavier Nixon (minor injuries) and redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist). The duo, who are competing for the starting job, were replaced by redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert, though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson saw some action there also.

POSITION BATTLES

Nothing new on starting middle linebacker (still a competition between sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins), but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told reporters Saturday that (as expected) redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins separated themselves from the freshmen in the race for starting cornerback. Freshmen Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy continue to compete for back-up quarterback behind redshirt junior starter John Brantley.

“I THOUGHT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HYBRID ANIMALS”

Always searching for roster flexibility, the Gators have been experimenting with using redshirt sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines at tight end. Hines has bulked up a bit (up to 222 lbs.) and has good size for the position but is still primarily a receiver. Similarly, redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed is still playing Wildcat quarterback – especially on goal line formations. And though Murphy will likely convert to receiver once five-star QB recruit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) joins the program in 2011, he has not been working out at that position as of yet.

WIDE RECEIVERS STAND OUT

WR coach Zach Azzanni raved about freshman Quinton Dunbar’s performance Saturday, noting that “He jumped over the top of our corner and made a heck of a touchdown catch. He has a lot of natural talent,” according to the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser. Dunbar apparently took advantage of freshman cornerback Josh Shaw on this play, but junior CB Janoris Jenkins admitted that the secondary as a whole did not grab a single interception all day mostly because of Brantley’s accuracy.

There was also a lot of talk about redshirt senior WR Carl Moore being perhaps the most consistent pass catcher of fall practice thus far…and no one should be surprised (in our opinion) that redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. is reportedly working his tail off to make the team and earn the respect of both his peers and coaches.

QUOTES

Brantley on his pass catchers: “Our receivers have come a long way. They’ve been catching the ball really well. [They are] running fast, running great routes. It’s been hot out there and they just keep going. That’s what I like to see. They just keep going.”

QB coach Scot Loeffler on Brantley: “He’s doing a much better job of leadership and taking command of the offense. It’s his time to step up and be the leader and he’s taking that challenge on and doing a much better job with it. I thought Johnny did a fairly good job today of going to the right place with the ball. We’ve just got to make plays when plays present themselves and when the play is not there obviously protect the football. That’s our plan to win around here. We need to protect the football and make sure we do a great job helping our team continue to win.”

Austin on Jenkins’ corner play: “He did some good things out there. Sometimes as a corner you don’t get a lot of looks, but when the play does come your way, are you in position to make the play and you make the play, and he did that [Saturday].”

Brown on finally being healthy: “This is as excited as I’ve ever been here. I’m just taking it all in. I’ve been away from the game so long, you just want to help out. I spent two years not playing at all, not even practicing, so the opportunity just to go out there and contribute just brightens my day.”

Thanks to the News-Press, Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post for the above quotations.

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Seven Florida Gators on preseason watch lists

With just over three weeks to go until the 2010-11 season commences, seven Florida Gators players have been honored with nominations to preseason award watch lists.

Maxwell Award (Outstanding collegiate football player)
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley
Junior running back Jeff Demps
» Previous winner(s): Danny Wuerffel (1996), Tim Tebow (2007, 2008)

Chuck Bednarik Award (Outstanding collegiate defender)
Senior safety Ahmad Black
» Previous winner(s): None

Rimington Trophy (Outstanding offensive center)
Senior center Mike Pouncey
» Previous winner(s): Maurkice Pouncey (2009)

Jim Thorpe Award (Outstanding defensive back)
Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins
Junior safety Will Hill
» Previous winner(s): Lawrence Wright (1996)

Ray Guy Award (Outstanding collegiate punter)
Must display team leadership, self-discipline and positive impact on team’s success
Senior punter Chas Henry
» Previous winner(s): None

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SIX BITS: Brown, Harvin, Sheppard, soccer

1 » After two years of sitting and waiting while his back healed and pain subsided – “I’ve had a million procedures done, but we’ve got it taken care of…” – Florida Gators redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown is ready to claim the spot across the field from junior CB Janoris Jenkins. And while he is feeling better than ever, Brown still remains cautious. “I’d be lying if I said mentally I’m just ready,” Brown told the Miami Herald. “There are certain things I second-guess, like should I really just … throw myself in there? In the back of my head I’m just thinking, ‘Man, this might be my back again.’ […] I’ve been away from the game for so long, I just want to play and help out. I spent two years not playing at all, not even practicing. The opportunity to go out there and contribute just brightens my day.”

Five more BITS on Percy Harvin, Lito Sheppard, Gators soccer, baseball commitments and Ean McQuay…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Brown, Harvin, Sheppard, soccer

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2010 Florida Media Day: Injuries, leadership, starters, freshmen, fall practice updates

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and a number of players represented the team at the 2010 Florida Media Day on Tuesday in Gainesville, FL. After the break…are some of the biggest stories and most interesting quotes coming out of the event.

Continue Reading » 2010 Florida Media Day: Injuries, leadership, starters, freshmen, fall practice updates

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FOUR BITS: Position battles, Harvin, T2, Green

1 » When OGGOA published our Florida Gators 2010 Fall Practice Preview, two of the position battles we discussed were for middle linebacker and starting cornerback. The Gainesville Sun has published some choice quotes from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin about these competitions which support our thoughts that MLB is between sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins while the race to start opposite junior Janoris Jenkins is being led by redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown.

On middle linebacker: “Who starts is still to be determined. […] Jelani, you look at his speed, his absolutely flat out speed. He sees the ball and he goes and gets it. Jon brings some speed, but he’s also a thumper. He gives you that big body who can sit down on some guards and fullbacks and get that [inside] stuff. […] Each type can get the job done the way we want it. It’s just a matter of how it shakes out at the end.”

On cornerback: “Right now, it’s full speed ahead for Jeremy. We’re real pleased with where he is. […] Jeremy Brown and Moses Jenkins are involved in that position, in addition to any of our freshmen.”

Three more BITS on Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow and William Green…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Position battles, Harvin, T2, Green

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FOUR BITS: Jenkins, Haden, Moody, Graham

1 » Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins realizes it is his time to shine in the Florida Gators secondary, and the Pahokee, FL, native took steps over the summer (including dropping 10 pounds and increasing his speed) to ensure that he is capable of playing the way coaches want him to. “I have to go out now and put everything on the table,” Jenkins said. “I’m trying to be the best corner.” Even his game play has changed. “Being physical at the line of scrimmage is a big part of my game now,” he added. “That, and coming up and tackling better.” Jenkins is also helping mold whomever it is that starts across from him this year in place of Cleveland Browns rookie CB Joe Haden. “It’s going to be some good competition. All of those guys are working hard and going at it. I try to help them as much as possible,” he said.

2 » Speaking of Haden, his mind may have been on money while briefly holding out for a better contract, but money is on his mind any longer. In fact, Haden is taking his five-year $50 million maximum contract in stride; he sees it more as a confirmation that he is financially stable for the rest of his life rather than rich enough to throw money around. “It definitely means a lot. I just know that I’m set,” he said, according to The Canton Repository. “I don’t have to worry about money any more. I just go out here and do what I love. After football, I can do what I do, have a good time, take a vacation. I want to set up a couple foundations. I want to own gyms, barber shops, stuff like that … just set our family up for the rest of our lives.” He continued, “One thing a lot of people have been telling me … is that 80 percent of the league, after 20 years out of the league, is broke or bankrupt. So one thing I’m doing with my money is, I set it up so me and my family and my brothers and my kids — if I have children — are set financially.”

3 » Injuries and experience have helped Gators redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody mature as he gets healthy and returns to the field for his final collegiate season. Now, he is less concerned with individual success and more about making the most of his year. “It’s my fifth year and my mindset has changed a lot,” Moody said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I’m to the point where I’m just going to handle what I can handle and not think about if I’m going to be a 1,000-yard rusher or focus on some goals that are far ahead. I’m just focused on taking each day at a time and having an even-keel attitude every day and, no matter what happens, just have a smile on [my] face. […] It’s about time I learned and change my character and change the way I approach things. Now, it’s to the point where no matter what happens in life, know how to bounce back with it, have a good attitude with it and not get down on myself … and know that football is what we do. It’s not who we are.”

4 » As OGGOA cited on June 1, former Florida RB Earnest Graham will be continuing his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – but this time he will do so as a fullback. The Lakeland Ledger caught up with him over the weekend, and he shared some thoughts on the change. “I’m prepared to play both,” he said. “Starting the season I’ll probably be at fullback, but you never know how things will play out. In 2008, I started out as a halfback and we had an injury at fullback, so I ended up playing fullback. […] I tried to put a little bulk on this year, be up around 230 as opposed to 220 or 225.”

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