Tebow shines as Gators top ‘Noles on Senior Day

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow knew his farewell in The Swamp was going to be an emotional one. What he may not have known was that his sendoff would include a five-touchdown performance en route to a 37-10 No. 1 Florida Gators (12-0, 8-0 SEC) victory over the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (6-6, 4-4 ACC). The win marked Florida’s sixth straight against Florida State, their 20th all-time in Gainesville, FL.

Tebow went 17-for-21 for 221 yards and three touchdowns through the air, also rushing 15 times for 90 yards and two TDs in front of a Ben Hill Griffin Stadium-record crowd of 90,907. His numbers moved him into sole possession of the Southeastern Conference and Florida records in total offense with 11,389 career yards. He, along with the 24 other seniors, won their 47th career game, extending their dominance as the winningest senior class in SEC history. The win was the Gators’ 22nd consecutive victory and 12th of the season, marking the first time that the Orange and Blue has posted a 12-0 regular season record.

Junior tight end Aaron Hernandez was Tebow’s favorite target on Saturday, registering five receptions for 83 yards and two TDs. His two scores came on pitches, one of which he took for 37 yards into the end zone. Hernandez then threw the ball into the stands, a common move by players who score in their final home game. Sophomore running back Jeff Demps shined in the backfield, totaling 106 yards on seven carries with a career-tying long of 62. Redshirt sophomore RB Chris Rainey was also impressive, earning 73 yards on eight carries with a long of 45. Tebow had a dynamic 47-yard run of his own, but fumbled the ball at the conclusion of the play, turning it over to Florida State.

The Gators took a 30-0 lead into the end of the third quarter, when Seminoles kicker Dustin Hopkins hit a 20-yard field goal to end the shutout. FSU also scored on a nine-yard pass from QB E.J. Manuel to wide receiver Jarmon Forston against Florida’s second-string defense with 6:03 left in the fourth. Aside from those scores, the Gators defense dominated the Seminoles. Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper and junior Brandon Hicks each registered seven tackles, though two of Hicks’ were for a loss. He also forced a fumble and had two sacks on the afternoon. Junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap had three tackles (one for a loss) and a sack, while junior cornerback Joe Haden and freshman Adrian Bushell each nabbed an interception.

Florida will take on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) in the 2009 SEC Championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Senior Day Celebration: Watch

Urban Meyer Postgame Press Conference: Watch

Tim Tebow Postgame Press Conference: Watch

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Grading the Florida vs. Florida Intl. 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 Florida International Golden Panthers on Saturday afternoon in The Swamp.

While his 17-of-25 completion numbers do leave something to be desired, it is tough to dock any points from senior Tim Tebow for his performance on Saturday. Piling up 102 yards on the ground including a career-long 55-yard touchdown run as well as 215 yards and two more touchdowns through the air, Tebow was his old self. Then again, he was playing against FIU. More impressive on Saturday was redshirt sophomore back-up John Brantley, who went 9-for-13 for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Tebow and Brantley combined to spread the ball around to nine receivers, seven of whom had more than one catch on the day.

Redshirt junior transfer Emmanuel Moody sat out the game, though his classmate Christopher Scott got to see action late in the game. Sophomore Jeff Demps and redshirt sophmore Chris Rainey started. Even so, there were only 22 carries dished out between the three, with Demps getting nine for 46 yards (5.1 average), Rainey taking four for 30 yards and a touchdown (7.5 average) and Scott running nine for 26 yards (2.9 average). Rainey, however, added 61 yards and a touchdown in the receiving game. Nothing too impressive or surprising overall against a porous FIU defense.

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

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Grading the Florida at South Carolina 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 South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday afternoon on the road in Columbia, SC.

Grading Tim Tebow week-in and week-out has proven to be a difficult task. He was good for 199 yards passing and two touchdowns, including a deep bomb to wide receiver Riley Cooper and a record-breaking run. Tebow had Cooper open in the end zone on two other occasions; once he slightly overthrew the ball, but the second one have been caught by the receiver. On the ground, he averaged only 1.6 yards on 16 carries, the second consecutive game he has totaled less than two yards per carry on average. That is worrisome. I originally had Tebow graded a little lower but gave him a little boost for what could should have been. He still needs to get the ball out sooner, especially with the offensive line struggling in protection (two more sacks).

Why does Emmanuel Moody continue to get single-digit carries each week? This game he received three which were turned into 35 yards and a touchdown on an 11.7 average. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey were less impressive, averaging 3.6 and 4.6 yards respectively while gaining a combined 85 yards. Running backs need to get into a rhythm. Short dive plays (which are easily being schemed against) and limited attempts impede that from happening. Moody is adoubtful this week with an ankle injury.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the South Carolina game after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida at South Carolina game

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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.

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.

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

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

- 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.

- 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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