11/3: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from the event:

RUNNING BACKS ARE HEALTHY

Junior Jeff Demps saw limited action Saturday against Georgia, and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey (carrying the ball due to lack of depth) returned from suspension during the same game. Somewhat conspicuous by their absences last weekend were RBs sophomore Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody (thigh), both of whom were still hobbled with injuries. Meyer declared both players 100 percent “for the first time in a while” on Wednesday, also noting that Demps (foot) continues to be evaluated daily.

Other injury updates from Meyer:
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose (ankle) – will participate in practice on a limited basis Wednesday, return in full Thursday
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (back) – will not play Saturday
» Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle) – did not practice Tuesday but may see the field Wednesday
» Redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson (calf) – strained his calf during practice but should return to practice soon and will be a full-go Saturday

PROUD OF BRANTLEY, BURTON

Asked if he upset at how redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has been playing recently (considering he has no touchdowns and five interceptions in his last four games), Meyer said he is “a little disappointed” in his performance but refuses to pin the offense’s previous struggles on him, saying many players were at fault for his miscues. Meyer added that Brantley has handled adversity “like a grown man” this season and is very proud of him.

As far as freshman QB Trey Burton goes, Meyer realizes that the team has put a lot on his plate and thinks “it should be illegal what we ask that kid to do,” in regards to the multiple positions he plays on the team. He believes Burton has brought “tremendous value” to the team with his talent and work ethic but refused to compare his contributions to those of Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow in 2006 saying he is impacting the team in a similar not same way.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/28: Meyer says Rainey active, RBs healthy

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s seventh game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details which you can check out below.

RAINEY STAYS ON TRACK, READY TO PLAY

Topic number one on the agenda Thursday for Meyer was determining whether or not redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey would be active and eligible to play Saturday against Georgia. Evaluating him since he returned to the team, Meyer said Rainey went above and beyond what the team asked of him and will be able to play his first game in six weeks. “Chris is gonna play,” Meyer said. “He had a good week. And beyond. He really had a good week.” In addition to his duties as a slot receiver, Rainey will be playing in the backfield for a lot of the game due to some of his teammates still being a little dinged up.

RUNNING BACKS HEALTHY. EVERYONE ELSE?

Florida’s biggest struggle this year has been on the injury front. With all three of the team’s main rushers injured over the last few weeks, Meyer told reporters that, before the Mississippi State game, he was informed that he would have no healthy runners. That will not be the case Saturday as the trainers have declared junior starter Jeff Demps (foot) near 100 percent for the first time in five weeks; redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody (thigh) and sophomore Mike Gillislee (hamstring) will also be good to go.

Unfortunately, the running backs were not the only Gators trying to overcome injuries. A number of other players have been in and out of action over the last two weeks.

» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (back) – out, aggravated hairline fracture in vertebrae
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose (ankle) – probable, will play on a limited basis
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle) – probable, limited
» Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins (elbow) – active
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) – out

QUOTES

On the importance of this game: “It’s the whole world, man. First of all, it’s Florida-Georgia.”

On practice this week: “We had a really good week. We pounded them real good the last two weeks in practice, eased up a bit [Wednesday and Thursday]. I’m expecting a good performance.”

On Sturgis not playing: “Probably could [play], but for the best interest of the young man, that’s a pretty tough injury.”

On how senior punter Chas Henry has been kicking in practice: “He did good today – hit every one. 40-45 [yarders] are going to be tough, I’d say [we can go for it] inside the 40.”

On sophomore WR Omarius Hines contributing: “He’s improving and he’s actually been here for a few years but he’s still a young player. He’s got a lot of talent. It’s time he steps up and plays.”

On freshman RB Mack Brown not playing since early in the season: – “He’s been having hamstring issues. [Chris] Dunkley and Quinton Dunbar and Josh Shaw – Josh Shaw was a knee. All those kids were kind of planning on playing and they’ve been banged up. The minute they’re ready to come back, they get dinged up again. I think Mack’s getting close, but he’s also had hamstring issues.”

On redshirting M. Brown: “No, I didn’t say that. It’s still too early.”

On being able to bring recruits to Florida-Georgia: “I think both teams should be able to bring recruits, 25 tickets or something like that. Not official visits, but they can just go get tickets, sign up for tickets, go to the game and then go home. No contact or anything – that would be a mess. They deserve to go watch this game because they’re going to get to play in it. Absolutely.”

On if he has “anything up his sleeve” for the game: “We’re not at that point. It’s much easier when we’re leading the SEC in offense and defense to have something up your sleeve. Where we are right now – just trying to get a little better, man.”

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10/27: Austin, players talk about Georgia game

Florida Gators defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Omar Hunter and senior linebacker Lorenzo Edwards spoke to the media Wednesday, taking a look back at two weeks of practice and ahead to the match-up against the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, FL, on Saturday.

DEFENSIVE INJURY UPDATES

Asked about the health of his unit on Wednesday, Austin gave updates on three players in particular according to the Palm Beach Post‘s Jason Lieser. Austin noted that redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion) was back to full speed and practicing, redshirt junior DT Jaye Howard (ankle) was limited and is questionable, and senior cornerback Moses Jenkins (elbow) will be a game-time decision.

IT’s ON THE PLAYERS TO TURN THIS AROUND

Both Hunter and Edwards believe it is up to the players, not the coaches, to make sure Florida does not lose its fourth-straight game for the first time since 1988. Each has taken the three consecutive losses hard but thinks the team has turned a corner over the last two weeks.

“It was hard losing those three games, that’s more games than I’ve ever lost in high school,” Hunter said. “Losing three games in a row, it was a big burden on me. But you just got to let that go and move on to the next game.”

Adds Edwards: “This is our team. This is the players’ team. We have to step up as leaders and lead this team and not just let the coaches do it. We play a big role and our leadership and accountability and as leaders on this team we have to do a better job of getting a lot more people involved.”

HUH?

Not that we’re trying to call out anyone here, but Edwards provided a very curious answer when asked how three straight losses has affected the psyche of the team this year. “Obviously it has a big effect on us. I think it just makes us want to work harder and get better at the things we need to get better at,” he said. “These three losses came as a wake-up call and will suit us very well in the future because with winning comes losing and you have to experience losing in order to celebrate the full effect of a win.”

Obviously Edwards means that, when you lose, wins are that much sweeter and that losses often help ignite a team that has too high of an opinion of itself. Nevertheless, the way he said it was certainly off-putting.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/20: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from the event:

OFFENSE EVALUATED, WILL BE TWEAKED

Obviously the most important topic Meyer covered Wednesday was Florida’s offense and how it has been evaluated following the loss to Mississippi State. Meyer said he completed a “very in-depth study of where we’re at and what the issues are,” noting that if he was to discuss what was found in full it would be a “two-hour answer.”

He specifically said that the Gators have not had a big play in the running game since the South Florida game “which is alarming” and that all three of his running backs – especially junior Jeff Demps – being injured has really hampered the offense. Meyer also pegged passing efficiency and turnovers as the other two stumbling blocks the offense has to work through. “Those are the issues, now how do we fix the issues? It’s a multitude of things, and that’s what we’re working on in practice – extremely hard,” he said.

Looking at game tape, Meyer evaluated every one of Florida’s offensive drives and came to the conclusion that the Gators have successfully moved the ball on occasion but are not scoring. He said one-third of UF’s drives end in a punt, one-third in a turnover and one-third in a score or missed field goal. Prior to this season Florida used to score on over 50+ percent of its drives; that efficiency is currently down to 19 percent. Meyer added that his evaluations are “all on paper, all up on the board” and even gave an indication that he had them in a stack right near where he was sitting.

The issues, as Meyer sees them, are “scheme and personnel.” He said, “It’s a little bit of both. I don’t want to get into too much detail because it’s not set yet, but we just have to improve. And how do you improve? It’s two the things: it’s scheme and personnel.” Meyer added about potentially changing who calls the plays, “I’ve been head coach now for 10 years, and I’ve been very involved in the game plan and play calling. [...] [Offensive coordinator] Steve [Addazio]‘s got a very strong presence in the run game and protections. We just have to get better and I’m not sure that’s the answer. If it is, that’s what I’m evaluating as well but I’m as involved in that as well as Steve is. That will be fixed if it’s broken. If it’s execution as opposed to the play calling, you can call all the plays you want if you miss your first eight passes or we drop passes and all that, we’ve just got to execute better.”

INJURED GATORS TRYING TO HEAL

With so many Gators injured, Meyer ran through status updates on the players on Wednesday providing a mix of good news and bad news.

» Demps (sprained foot) – light practice Tuesday, being “cautious”
» Sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring) – light practice Tues., being “cautious”
» Redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody (quad) – light practice Tues., being “cautious”
» Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) – “He will not practice this week. We’re doing everything we can to get him back next week. It’s a rather severe ankle sprain, but he’s doing well.”
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (back) – “progressing pretty good,” will know Monday if he may be available for Georgia
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) – broken bone has healed, just needs to gain strength in the arm back
» Redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio (finger) – getting better
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle) – “[He's] doing pretty good. He’s not practicing, but it’s all positive.”
» Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins (concussion) – “[He] will be fine. He did not practice yesterday, but I’m not sure about today. We’re real cautious about concussions.”

RAINEY WILL BE ELIGIBLE. BUT ACTIVE?

Meyer said that redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey will technically be allowed to play in two weeks against Georgia. Whether or not he will is another story all together. “He’s eligible to play for this game,” he said. “That won’t be determined ‘til next week. He’s on a week-to-week [basis]. He is eligible to participate in the Georgia game. I’m not saying he will because that has not been determined yet.”

MEYER QUOTES

Opening statement: “I’m not sure if the open date came at a good time or not. We’re trying to get some skill players back and obviously we have to get this thing turned around.”

On how this open date is important for Florida: “Yes. It is [important]. Because it’s this year, that’s one reason. Number two is we’re five minutes before kickoff [against Mississippi State] and we’re being kind of told we don’t have any running backs available for the game. Jeff ended up playing, but he played at about 70 percent. […] The correlation between that and lack of production in our run game is obviously there. I thought [sophomore WR] Omarius Hines did a great job coming in and getting a few plays for us, but he’s obviously not a running back.”

On practice this week: “We had a great practice yesterday, and we’re going to have another one today.”

This post will be updated later Wednesday with more notes and quotes.

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Week 7: Gators post-game news and notes

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) lost their third-straight game on Saturday, falling 10-7 to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

“WE’RE NOT VERY GOOD RIGHT NOW”

A handful of times in his post-game press conference, head coach Urban Meyer uttered the above phrase, and based on Florida’s performance over the last three contests it is quite obvious that sentiment is true. For the Gators, it all starts with health and execution, two things the team has been severely lacking lately.

“Obviously we got to get a lot better, Meyer said. “When you’re dealing with health issues, that’s part of it. We are going to have a chance to reflect a little bit here on the bye week and make some adjustments.” His biggest disappointment right now? “Finding a way to win a game. We’ve won a lot of games around here as guys made a play here, made a play there. You find a way to win a game. If you look back there’s been some big time wins around here where guys stepped up and made a play. We just have to do that. Right now we’re not.”

INJURED RUNNING BACKS SPELL DOOM FROM GET-GO

Prior to kickoff, Meyer was told “we were going to be without a tailback” by the training staff. That is one of the reasons Florida spread the ball five-wide to start the game and attempted to run the offense through the air rather than on the ground. “We were going to come out throwing, it just wasn’t real successful at it so we had to find ways to create movement, move the ball,” he said.

That proved to be difficult for the Gators as some of the running backs, who may not have been playing in different circumstances, got injured again as the game went on. “We were down to zero backs at one point today,” Meyer said. “[Junior starter Jeff] Demps came out, [redshirt senior Emmanuel] Moody had a thigh strain, [sophomore Mike Gillislee] had a sprained ankle. I thought there were some guys who made some spark plug plays like [freshman quarterback] Trey [Burton] and [sophomore wide receiver] Omarius Hines.”

“We even ran Omarius on a couple counter plays because it’s tough to get the run game going. We had a couple direct snaps to [Burton]. Even on third downs because we were misfiring a little bit too. I thought [Burton] provided a spark and he’s one of our only runners. [...] Omarius is a good runner. Barebones now.”

DEFENSE CAN’T STOP THE RUN

Mississippi State was successful in milking the clock in the second half by running the ball on 27 of 28 plays in that period with their one non-run being a shovel pass. An astounding 26 of those 27 runs gained positive yardage. In fact, on their final offensive possession, the Bulldogs wasted almost six minutes of precious playing time before punting the ball and leaving Florida on their own four with just two minutes remaining.

After the game Meyer noted that MSU succeeded by always being plus-one (having an extra blocker) and chipping away a few yards at a time – something UF used to do routinely when they had a power rushing quarterback and strong offensive line.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO PILE UP

In a game Florida entered with apparently no healthy running backs and plenty of other injuries, the Gators had four more players hurt – three early on in the contest. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose went down with an ankle sprain on a kickoff return, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins suffered a concussion while playing defense and redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard also hurt his ankle at some point in the first half. UF even lost their kickoff specialist during the game.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Gators run over by Bulldogs, drop third straight

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) missed a game-tying 42-yard field goal with only seconds remaining to lose their third straight game for the first time since 1999 as the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) defeated them 10-7 Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida’s loss was its first to Mississippi State at home since 1965 and its first defeat on homecoming in 22 years. It also marked the first time the Gators lost three regular season games since 1988. UF will be unranked when the new top 25 polls are released on Sunday for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer.

The Bulldogs’ win Saturday was a marquee victory for head coach Dan Mullen; it also gave Mississippi State its first four-game winning streak since 1999 (8-0).

After three consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, MSU took over from their own 32. They brought the ball downfield with a 30-yard pass completion from quarterback Chris Relf to wide receiver Chad Bumphis and a subsequent 16-yard gain up the middle on a keeper by Relf. Four plays later, the Bulldogs put the first points on the board with a 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

The Gators responded by moving the ball down the field with a few short passes and a 14-yard run by sophomore running back Mike Gillislee. Faced with 4th and 5 on Mississippi State’s 34, redshirt junior QB John Brantley threw an interception to cornerback Jonathan Banks, turning the ball over in what would have been a punt situation anyway.

It did not take long for the Bulldogs to capitalize as Mullen’s offense put together an 11-play, 64-yard drive that ended in a rushing touchdown for Relf from six yards out to go up 10-0 in the first quarter.

Florida looked anemic starting the second quarter, failing to convert a 4th and 1 from their own 39; freshman WR Robert Clark was dropped behind the line for a two-yard loss. Mississippi State was unable to capitalize, handing UF the ball back with 13:20 left.

That is when the Gators offense showed signs of life as Brantley led them down to MSU’s 20 with a 15-play, 59-yard drive that took 6:20 off the clock. UF was unable to capitalize, however, as senior punter Chas Henry missed a 38-yard field goal.

Going into the half, Florida was without redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle), redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins (head) and redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle), all of whom went down with injuries early.

The Gators finally got on the board with their first possession in the third quarter by utilizing freshman QB Trey Burton extensively on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that drew the Bulldogs’ lead closer at 10-7.

Hope was raised momentarily later in the third quarter when it appeared MSU had fumbled on UF’s side of the field. After a review the play was overturned, Mississippi State missed a 40-yard field goal to give the ball back to Florida once again.

Taking over from their own 23, the Gators appeared to move the ball with ease, gaining positive yardage on their first six plays of the series including a 31-yard run by sophomore WR Omarius Hines. On 2nd and 4 from the Bulldogs’ 17, junior RB Jeff Demps coughed the ball up by fumbling while attempting to spin out of a tackle.

MSU succeeded in milking the clock by running the ball nine-straight times on their next possession, getting it to midfield while wasting almost six minutes before punting. As a whole, the Bulldogs ran the ball on 27 of 28 plays in the second half gaining positive yardage all but once.

UF took over with 2:09 remaining from their own four with an opportunity to tie or win.

With time running out, Brantley engineered a 13-play passing drive in which he completed nine passes for 76 yards, getting the ball to Mississippi State’s 25 with nine seconds left. Henry came on to attempt a 42-yard field goal but kicked the ball wide right, crushing the hopes of Florida fans in The Swamp.

Brantley finished the night 24-of-39 for 210 yards and an interception. Hines led the Gators with 58 yards rushing on six carries, though Burton also ran eight times for 43 yards. Redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond led the way with five receptions for 69 yards, and Burton added five catches of his own for 37 yards. Relf and RB Vick Ballard were responsible for nearly all of Mississippi State’s offense, rushing a combined 22 times for 180 yards and a touchdown.

Florida will take a three-game losing streak into their bye before facing Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, on Oct. 30. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game will air live on CBS. Even though the Gators have lost three straight, they still control their destiny in the Southeastern Conference as Eastern Division foe No. 10/12 South Carolina also fell Saturday.

Photo Credit: Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

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Tigers inch past Gators, UF drops second straight

The Swamp was rocking Saturday night, orange jerseys were worn for the first time since 1989 and redemption was on their minds, but the No. 12/14 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) failed to stop the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers (6-0, 4-0 SEC) on their final possession. Through a fake field goal and 62-yard game-winning drive, LSU defeated Florida 33-29 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Tigers quarterback Jarrett Lee threw a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terrence Toliver with six seconds left in the game for the win. The opportunity presented itself after LSU successfully converted a fake field goal attempt on 4th and 3 from Florida’s 36 yard line with 35 seconds remaining. They advanced to the Gators’ three after Tolliver caught a short pass and turned it into a 28-yard gain.

Both teams started slow in the first quarter with LSU striking first on a 45-yard field goal from kicker Josh Jasper. Florida redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard pushed LSU back a bit on its opening drive with a big tackle for loss on first down before the score. On the ensuing possession, Gators freshman WR Andre Debose mishandled a kickoff, putting the offense in a hole. Redshirt junior QB John Brantley was nearly sacked in the end zone but two LSU penalties gave Florida some breathing room.

Punting the ball after stalling on their own 42, the Gators would get it back quickly as redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins intercepted Tigers QB Jordan Jefferson, returning it 47 yards to the LSU 17. Five plays later, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed rushed for a one-yard touchdown, giving UF a 7-3 lead to start the second quarter.

Louisiana State would answer right away, utilizing big rushes by running backs Stevan Ridley and Michael Ford to complete a 13-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Jefferson.

Florida’s offensive line struggled to protect Brantley on the next series (as well as most of the game), forcing them to punt once again. Luckily for the Gators, Patrick Peterson muffed the punt while receiving pressure from Florida cornerback Cody Riggs; it was recovered by safety Ahmad Black and gave UF its second turn in the red zone as the result of a turnover. The Gators capitalized with a rushing touchdown from freshman QB Trey Burton to go back up 14-10.

After a defensive stand, Florida junior CB Janoris Jenkins returned a punt nearly to midfield that was called back to the Gators’ five after concurrent block in the back and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties (Jenkins spiked the ball upon getting up). Stuck near the goal line, Brantley was nearly sacked in the end zone again as the offensive line continued to be overwhelmed by the Tigers.

LSU would end the first half strong, scoring on a short field via a 38-yard pass to Tolliver and capitalizing on a fumble by Florida redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody by kicking a 39-yard field goal to go into the locker rooms with a 20-14 lead.

The Gators started the second half with gusto, putting together a 15-play, 70-yard drive in which Burton accounted for 30 yards. However, two missed field goals by senior punter/kicker Chas Henry (the first was negated by a holding penalty) left Florida without a single point. On UF’s next possession, Brantley had a pass deflected at the line that was intercepted inside the 40. The Tigers capitalized with Jefferson rushing for his second touchdown of the game just eight plays later.

Down 12 things looked bleak for Florida, but Debose answered quickly for the Gators with an electric 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Four possessions later, Brantley hit redshirt senior WR Carl Moore for a huge 51-yard gain to get Florida inside LSU’s 30. Sophomore WR Omarius Hines ran a reverse into the end zone, but a block in the back by sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. negated the score. However, the Gators kept the pressure on and scored two plays later on a rushing touchdown by sophomore RB Mike Gillislee to complete the 10-play, 80-yard drive. Hammond would catch a two-point conversion attempt from Brantley to give Florida a 29-26 lead with 3:21 remaining on the clock.

Up three points all the Gators hoped for on the next drive was a defensive stop, but the Tigers resisted by getting over a big defensive play on 3rd and 1 from Florida’s 34 with the fake field goal and subsequent touchdown pass to Tolliver.

LSU accounted for 385 yards of total offense in the game with 111 coming from Tolliver, 88 from Ridley, 150 combined from Jefferson and 124 on 9-of-11 passing from Lee. Moore led the way for Florida’s offense with 95 yards on four receptions. Burton gained 35 yards on the ground and Brantley completed 16-of-24 passes for 154 yards as UF totaled 243 yards. The Tigers also outgained the Gators in first downs (20-9), rushing (161-89), passing (224-154), time of possession (34:08-25:52) and sacks (3-1).

Florida hopes to rebound from back-to-back losses for the first time since 2007 next week as they face Mississippi State on Saturday during homecoming in Gainesville, FL. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will air live on ESPNU.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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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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