Poll Review: Florida Gators MVP vs. Vanderbilt

This week, OGGOA asked you to vote for your Most Valuable Player in the Florida Gators game last weekend against the Vanderbilt Commodores. 238 of you registered votes and the results are in:

TE Aaron Hernandez (60%, 144 votes)

RB Jeff Demps (21%, 49 votes)

QB Tim Tebow (19%, 45 votes)

This is Hernandez’ first OGGOA MVP award, though he has received plenty of votes on other occasions. Standing out as the team’s most reliable pass catcher, his stock continues to rise both in the NCAA ranks and among pro scouts. This led OGGOA to its latest poll question: Which offensive player has the greatest potential for NFL success? Head over to the right sidebar and cast your vote!

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Grading the Florida vs. Vanderbilt game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will grade the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday night at home in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

QUARTERBACK: C+
After two consecutive weeks of below-average play, Tim Tebow came back big against the Georgia Bulldogs last week in Jacksonville, FL. Back in The Swamp, Tebow still contributed to the victory but struggled mightily in the process. His numbers of 15-for-20 for 208 yards and a touchdown are misleading, considering 64 yards came on a meaningless late catch-and-run by tight end Aaron Hernandez, and his sole score through the air was on a tipped pass that wound up in the hands of wide receiver David Nelson. Sacked four times mostly because of his inability to get rid of the ball when under pressure, Tebow also struggled on the ground averaging 1.7 yards per carry on 16 attempts (27 yards). In mop-up duty, back-up John Brantley went 3-for-3 for 19 yards. For his two touchdowns (he also punched one in on the ground), Tebow gets a plus, but his performance was extremely average.

RUNNING BACKS: B+
Last week, I mentioned that “it is tough to expect this unit to make an impact when the three main players combined for 16 total attempts.” This week, Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody and Chris Rainey combined for 19 carries, though their averages were much better. Gaining 8.1, 4.3 and 3.0 yards per carry, respectively, the trio combined for 103 yards on the ground. In other words, they did the best they could with the limited attempts provided to them. For avoiding mistakes and contributing when given the opportunity, these guys played just fine.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Vanderbilt game after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida vs. Vanderbilt game

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Florida breezes by Vanderbilt 27-3 in The Swamp

Looking to rebound from a week full of criticism and questions, the No. 1 Florida Gators (9-0, 6-0 SEC) did little to quiet their critics even though they rolled to a 27-3 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-8, 0-6 SEC) Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida extended its winning streak to a nation-high 19 games but continued to struggle on offense even through all of their personnel were healthy and active.

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow scored the 52nd rushing touchdown of his career in the third quarter and threw one that was tipped by senior wide receiver Riley Cooper to redshirt senior David Nelson with 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Tebow ran 16 times for only 27 yards and went 15-for-20 for 208 yards through the air, including a 64-yard catch-and-run by sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez in the fourth quarter. The Gators also scored on a 25-yard run by sophomore Jeff Demps in the first quarter and two field goals by sophomore kicker Caleb Sturgis of 27 and 45 yards in the first half.

Florida’s defense did not lose a step without senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, giving up only 199 yards of total offense to the Commodores. Redshirt senior linebacker Ryan Stamper grabbed an interception in Spikes’ stead. The special teams, however, did allow Vanderbilt’s senior punt returner Alex Washington to gain the first return yards on junior punter Chas Henry all season.

One week after finally showing signs of life by putting up 41 points on the Georgia Bulldogs, the Gators offense once again looked anemic, just as it did four of the five weeks prior. Along with Spikes, Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin and Oakland Raiders WR Louis Murphy watched from the sideline as both are on their team’s respective bye weeks.

Florida goes on the road to Columbia, SC, next week for its final Southeastern Conference regular season game this year against the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 14. Full coverage will be available throughout the week here on OGGOA.

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Week 10: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 7:15 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 83°F – Partly Sunny

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN360.com.
Sirius: 220; XM: 200

Florida Gators Vanderbilt Commodores
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Bobby Johnson
Record: 8-0 (6-0) Record: 2-7 (0-5)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -35, O/U 48
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow…who has rushed for eight touchdowns this season, bringing him to 51 for his career, breaking the all-time SEC record held by Herschel Walker (Georgia, 1980-82). Tebow broke Walker’s record last week with a 23-yard score against Georgia. He also set the SEC career record for rushing yards by a quarterback last week, amassing 2,588 and passing Matt Jones (Arkansas, 2001-04).
- Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Mackenzi Adams…he is filling in for starter Larry Smith who is out for the season with a torn hamstring.
- Defensive ends junior Carlos Dunlap and senior Jermaine Cunningham…who lead the team with six and five sacks, respectively. Terrors on the line, each could have career days while feasting on a weak Vanderbilt front.
- Running backs sophomore Jeff Demps and redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey…who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2-T among SEC running backs and top five nationally in yards per touch. Rainey is returning from a shoulder injury last week.
- Redshirt senior linebacker Ryan Stamper…who is replacing suspended team captain Brandon Spikes in the middle. Stamper has 45 tackles, as well as a sack, forced fumble and interception on the season.
- Freshman kick returner Warren Norman…who is already only the second player in SEC history to record three touchdowns on kickoffs in a season. Warren can break the SEC all-time single-season kickoff return yardage mark with 51 more Saturday.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 18 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the SEC in the past 15 years since the Auburn Tigers won 20 straight from 1993-94. 17 of Florida’s 18 wins have been by a double digit margin.
- Florida has won 10 straight games against Eastern Division opponents and is on an 18-game winning streak against Vanderbilt. The Gators lead the all-time series 30-9-2 and are 17-1-1 in The Swamp against the Commodores.
- Florida leads the SEC in total offense (446.6), rushing offense (252.3), scoring offense (36.0) and third-down efficiency (.470).
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered eight touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation) and average 11 points per game (No. 2 in the nation). The defense has also recorded 16 sacks over the past four games.
- Florida’s special teams have yet to give up a single punt return yard on the season, the only team in the nation to accomplish this feat.

Read OGGOA’s complete Florida vs. Georgia preview after the jump…

Continue Reading » Week 10: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt

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FOUR BITS: Big Board update, Vandy’s QB out, more I-form, Spikes’ image tarnished

1 » Junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap has moved up a spot from No. 8 to No. 7 in ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s latest Big Board. Kiper says Dunlap’s “physical tools are off the charts” and claims he has “unlimited upside potential.” I still believe Dunlap has the opportunity to be a top five (if not No. 1 overall) pick in the NFL Draft this year. Also on Kiper’s big board are junior cornerback Joe Haden (who entered at the No. 11 spot) and senior linebacker Brandon Spikes (who dropped four spots to No. 24). Kiper says Haden is a “polished cover corner with tackling ability to match,” while Spikes is a “complete MLB, solid in all areas.” Interesting praise for Haden considering he was unranked all season on Kiper’s board up until this point. On a similar note, senior linebacker Ryan Stamper has been named a “riser” by Sports Illustrated because he is “efficient stuffing the run or covering the pass” and has the “discipline and ability to be in the right place at the right time.”

2 » Completing a 35-yard run against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday night, Vanderbilt Commodores sophomore starting quarterback Larry Smith came up lame. What would be diagnosed by an MRI on Monday as a left hamstring tear will sideline Smith for the remainder of the season. Senior Mackenzi Adams replaced Smith against Georgia Tech, going 12-for-22 for 152 yards, and will finish the season as Vanderbilt’s starter. He is 21-of-37 for 239 yards and no touchdowns on the season.

3 » More cowbell I-form! Florida Gators fans should expect the I-formation to be a regular part of the team’s game plan from this point forward. For two consecutive weeks, Florida has found success out of it – first a touchdown run by redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey against the Mississippi State Bulldogs and then another one on an option run by senior quarterback Tim Tebow against the Georgia Bulldogs after two consecutive I-formation runs by sophomore Jeff Demps with Tebow under center. “It’s not the most thrilling, exciting style, but it’s a mindset,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “We need to be able to do that. With our personnel, we should be able to do that. I’m very pleased with what we’ve done (with Tebow under center). You might see more.” It sounds OK with Tebow, too. “I think it gives us a different look,” Tebow said. “It’s something team’s don’t prepare for a lot against us.”

4 » Half because we needed a fourth “BIT” and half because the column is written quite well, we point you over to Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, who believes that Spikes’ real punishment (whether or not you agree with the half-game suspension) is to his image. “Not only will he miss half a game,” Dooley said, “his reputation has been changed around the country. People will see his name and think ‘dirty player.’ That’s his real punishment.”

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Georgia’s cheap shot on Tebow goes unnoticed

While OGGOA was prepared to drop the entire Brandon Spikes eye gouging story following our last post on the subject, a new piece of video and comments by members of the media have caused us to revisit it one last time. Since Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer handed down a first half suspension of Spikes and the Southeastern Conference accepted it, some talking heads have been up in arms saying it was not strict enough. ESPN’s Mike Golic called it “a joke” while Michael Wilbon went the sarcastic route. “Of course the SEC is [OK with the punishment],” Wilbon said. “They try to favor Florida in everything they do. How lame is the SEC governing Florida?”

A new piece of video posted by YouTube user PoliticAl2008 shows Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nick Williams taking a cheap(er?) shot at Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow well after he handed the ball off to running back Jeff Demps. This serves as just one example of a blatant personal foul that was not only uncalled for in the game but currently remains unpunished on the part of the Bulldogs. Some could even argue that Williams’ move was worse and more loathsome considering Tebow’s concussion history.

As Tebow said earlier today, “I don’t think that we did anything in that game that they didn’t do. You can see on the film, too. It was an intense game.” Ivan Maisel, also of ESPN, criticized Tebow’s statement on twitter saying he was “better than that.” Apparently Tebow’s statement holds credence. Maisel, did you watch the game? Did you look at the entire story? Common Ivan, I thought you were “better than that.” And Mr. Wilbon…”how lame is the SEC in governing” Georgia?

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Grading the Florida vs. Georgia game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will grade the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, FL, at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

QUARTERBACK: A+
After two consecutive weeks of below-average play, Tim Tebow came back big against Georgia in his hometown of Jacksonville. Four total touchdowns including two on the ground as well as 85 rushing yards helped Tebow secure two all-time SEC records (rushing touchdowns, rushing yards by QB). 15-of-21 passing was respectable, though Florida seemed to shy away from putting the ball in the air in the second half. All-in-all, this was one of Tebow’s career-best days and the leader of the Gators offense deserves kudos for a great performance.

RUNNING BACKS: B
It is tough to expect this unit to make an impact when the three main players combined for 16 total attempts. Jeff Demps averaged 6.2 yards per carry while Emmanuel Moody had 3.7 and Chris Rainey had 3.0. Four-star freshman Mike Gillislee got some playing time late in the game and exploded on a 49-yard run but was injured on the play. For avoiding mistakes and contributing when given the opportunity, these guys played just fine.

Continue Reading » Grading the Florida vs. Georgia game

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Week 9: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Location: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium – Jacksonville, FL [Capacity: 84,000]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 83°F – Partly Sunny

TV: CBS
Online: Live for FREE at CBS Sports.
Sirius: 217; XM: 200

Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Mark Richt
Record: 7-0 (5-0) Record: 4-3 (3-2)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -14.5, O/U 48
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow…who is currently tied with former Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker in all-time Southeastern Conference rushing touchdowns with 49. He needs one more to break Walker’s record.
- Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green vs. Florida cornerback Joe Haden…whose battle could be the highlight of the game. Haden will try his best to match-up with the Bulldogs’ greatest weapon who has already caught 41 balls for 682 yards and six touchdowns on the season including individual performances of 137 and 152 yards. Green has scored touchdowns in five of Georgia’s seven games.
- Florida’s kicker…as Caleb Sturgis has missed two 37-yard field goals and an extra point combined over the last two weeks. Jonathan Phillips could step in for Sturgis and take his job back.
- The I-formation…which the Gators worked on all summer and found success with last week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Florida may use it more extensively this week, especially in the red zone where the team needs to be more efficient.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 17 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the longest of any SEC team since the Auburn Tigers won 20 straight from 1993-94.
- The Bulldogs are 6-1 when playing the defending national champion, including victories over Florida in 1997 and 2007.
- Meyer is 13-1 in rivalry games against Georgia, Tennessee Volunteers, Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes. His sole loss came against Georgia in 2007.
- Georgia leads both the all-time series against Florida (46-38-2) and all games played in Jacksonville (40-35-1).
- Florida leads the SEC in total offense (457), rushing offense (258.3), scoring offense (36.3) and third-down efficiency (.460). The Gators have converted 48.6% of their offensive drives into points including 34.7% into touchdowns and have 33 runs of 10-plus yards on first down, including 13 for 20 yards or more – all tops in the SEC.
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered six touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation) and average 10.1 points per game (No. 2 in the nation). Florida has held its past three opponents to a combined 16% on third down conversions and have forced opponents into a three-and-out on 57.3% of their drives – best in the SEC.

Read OGGOA’s complete Florida vs. Georgia preview after the jump…

Continue Reading » Week 9: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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