11/16: Addazio discusses Pouncey, Gamecocks

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio spoke to the media Tuesday as he took a final look back on the tough loss against the South Carolina Gamecocks and ahead to this week’s game.

HE’s BAAAAAAAAAACK

Perhaps the most important note coming out of Addazio’s availability on Tuesday was him confirming what head coach Urban Meyer said a day earlier – plans are for him to return as offensive coordinator for the Gators in 2011. Asked if he felt his job was safe next year, Addazio furrowed his brow and replied, “Yeah. Absolutely. I think coach addressed that, didn’t he?” When the question about Addazio’s desire to come back in the same role was broached, he was also quick to respond with, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”

POUNCEY A TOP 10 DRAFT PICK?

There is little doubt that Florida senior center Mike Pouncey will be a first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Whether that will be as a center or a guard is anyone’s guess. According to Addazio, he is hearing that Pouncey could go higher or at least in the same range as his brother did a year ago.

“He’s at the pinnacle of his game right now. He’s projected to be a top 10 pick. Playing lights out,” Addazio said. “That’s the feedback. I’m not an NFL prognosticator, OK? So if he ends up 17 or he ends up 16, is that bad?”

Addazio also discussed the Pouncey twins and why both have been so successful. “They’re really bright guys. They really get it,” he said. “They get it from a schematic standpoint. They understand defenses, blitzes, pressures, packages. Obviously Maurkice – that was evident through the interview process after the season as he went through the combine. The comments and feedback back were he was probably one of the most prepared offensive linemen to come out of college football. That’s why he’s had such a remarkable rookie season. [...] Mike can play all three positions. Mike knows everything that goes up in that. He’s a heck of a football player and extremely intelligent.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/15: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

STAFF/PERSONNEL EVALUATIONS

Though Meyer said that, like every year, he will evaluate his staff and team members at the appropriate time (read: end of the season), he also made it a point that there is still plenty of year left and the No. 1 objective at this point is to win games for the seniors as well as the rest of the team. “We’re into solutions, not blame and not excuses,” he said. “We need to get this place back to where we need to get it.”

Asked if he believed offensive coordinator Steve Addazio would be removed from his current position with different responsibilities next year, Meyer said the following: “I don’t think that will happen. I’m not into blame, I’m not into excuses, we’re into solutions. Right now the solution is somehow have a great Tuesday and Wednesday. I know that’s a coach-speak answer, especially around here, but that’s what we do.”

ENERGY VOID AT ISSUE IN GAINESVILLE

All season, through the close wins and losses, Meyer along with his coaching staff and players discussed “execution” as the main issue. Things changed on Monday with everyone talking about a lack of energy on a game-to-game basis. “I don’t see an offense full of life. I don’t see a lot of energy,” Meyer said. “That’s one thing as a head coach that concerns me. That’s all personnel based and success based. [...] We’re a staff that believes energy equals production.”

“We have energy givers on the team, but it’s a collective effort,” senior center Mike Pouncey added later. “When you have one or two guys giving energy on the field, it turns out like that. [...] [Our team has] guys that just drift away during the course of a game.”

BRANTLEY IS THE QUARTERBACK AT FLORIDA

Contrary to what many may think hope, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley will remain the Gators’ signal caller now and for the foreseeable future. “He’ll start at quarterback for Florida this weekend,” Meyer said. “We have to do a better job in a lot of areas and to say it’s all our quarterback – that’s not fair – and that won’t be said. Obviously our team wouldn’t say that. [...] We have to raise the level of play around him.”

Though the roles of freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed behind center will expand, Brantley is the starter and will likely remain that way through 2011. He has not raised any issue with being replaced for option plays, and that is likely what will continue happening the rest of his time in the orange and blue.

MEYER PANICKED EARLY ON SATURDAY

Meyer also put the onus on himself for how the team performed once it was down 15-7 to the South Carolina Gamecocks. He said that – as he tends to do – he panicked and that resonated throughout the entire team. Instead, Meyer believes they should have stuck to the offensive game plan (using three QBs, hurry-up offense) rather than putting the ball mostly in Brantley’s hands with the thought that the team had to throw to get out from behind a deficit.

Because the team did not get into a rhythm, Meyer said the up-tempo was ineffective. The team could not gain any yardage on first down – leading to too many 3rd down and longs – and it went away from utilizing Burton simply because he was shut down early by South Carolina’s run defense.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 11: Gators post-game news & notes

Losing the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title in pathetic fashion after winning two straight, the Florida Gators (6-4, 4-4 SEC) are searching for answers after dropping their third consecutive home game, this one to the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) 36-14. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

MEYER LEFT WITHOUT ANSWERS

After Saturday’s game, head coach Urban Meyer was – to put it succinctly – speechless. Most of the questions he was asked in his post-game press conference were met with responses that provided little or no insight into what he believes needs to be done with this team from this point forward.

On why the offense was so poor: “If I had an answer for that, then we wouldn’t have struggled. Probably the same thing it looked like to you guys – very non-functional deal.”
On how he evaluated redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley’s performance: “About like our offense – just struggled. Our whole offense struggled. I’m not into individual stuff yet, I have to evaluate it.”
On who is the team’s best option at QB: “I can’t answer that right now. John Brantley’s our option at quarterback.”
On what disappointed him the most: “Um…the most disappointing thing? It’s hard for me to start or to let you know that, I probably have to take some in-depth thought right now and I’m not prepared to do that.”
On why the offense can’t deal with the opposition dropping eight and/or blitzing this year unlike previous years: “That’s a good question. I’m not prepared to answer that at this moment. I will be.”

ALL THAT’s LEFT IS WINNING FOR THE SENIORS

Both Meyer and Brantley made it a point after the game to explain that the team needed to keep its head held high and continue competing with maximum effort for the remainder of the season in honor of its dedicated senior class. “A group of seniors – I get emotional over seniors because I love those guys,” Meyer said. “They’ve made Florida football; the last several years have been pretty powerful stuff. I just look at Ahmad Black, [Justin] Trattou, [Duke] Lemmens and [Mike] Pouncey and all those cats right there and just want to make sure we give them the best we can – do the best we can for them.”

Brantley shared a similar sentiment: “These last two games we’re just going to play for these seniors. These seniors have been through a lot here,” he said. “They’ve dedicated their lives to this program. They deserve the best. We got to win these last two games, I think that’s the best we can do for them right now. We’re just going to play our hearts out for them.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Blew out: Gamecocks put Gators to sleep 36-14

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer did not plan it like this. He did not expect his team to get trounced at home on Saturday, less than one week after calling for The Swamp to be covered in blue as extra motivation for Florida to win what would have been its 12th Southeastern Conference East division title. Instead what Meyer and the No. 22 Gators (6-4, 4-4 SEC) received was a manhandling by the No. 23 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) and head coach Steve Spurrier, who led his team to a 36-14 victory for their first SEC East championship.

Winless in their previous 12 games in Gainesville, FL, South Carolina finally got their first victory in a dominant performance that saw them rush for 239 yards compared to Florida’s 35. Running back Marcus Lattimore accounted for 212 of them on 40 carries while also notching three touchdowns.

The Gators moved away from the three-quarterback offense that did them so well the last two weeks, relying on redshirt junior QB John Brantley the majority of the game. He had arguably his worst performance as a starter, going 16-of-31 for 130 yards and an interception. Brantley did not have much help, however, as Florida’s play calling was suspect and its playmakers were held silent.

In fact, after redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, UF did not score again until redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey took a pass from redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed for a touchdown with 7:12 in the fourth quarter.

Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia handed his team’s offense well, going 15-of-22 for 156 yards, finding WR Alshon Jeffery six times for 53 yards and keeping 12 balls for 28 yards on the ground and one score.

Florida struggled converting third downs, only doing so twice in 14 tries on the evening, and also had difficulty getting South Carolina off the field letting them convert 50 percent of their attempts (8-of-16). USC outgained UF 395-226 yards and possessed the ball for 40:46 compared to only 19:14 on the other side.

Though the game was seemingly out of reach due to their anemic offense, the Gators also turned the ball over twice late in the game including a tipped Brantley pass that was intercepted and a mishandled handoff from Brantley to junior running back Jeff Demps that was recovered.

UF now hopes to salvage what is left of their season as they take on Appalachian State next week in what will be Florida’s Senior Day – their final home game of the year.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Week 11: No. 22 Florida vs. No. 23 South Carolina

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 61°F, clear skies
Time: 7:15 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Sirius/XM: 219/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 22 FLORIDA GATORS No. 23 USC GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 6-3 (4-3) Record: 6-3 (4-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -6.5; O/U 51.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series 23-4-3 against South Carolina, are an undefeated 12-0 in Gainesville and 4-1 since Meyer took over.
» In their last three games against the Gamecocks, the Gators have won by an average of 23.3 points including a 56-6 thumping two years ago in The Swamp.
» With a win Saturday, UF would sweep the SEC East for the third straight season and 11th time since divisions were created in 1992. The contest is a de facto SEC East title game with the winner representing the division in the 2010 SEC Championship.
» Florida is tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions on the season. Seven have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» UF is back in the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today top 25 after being unranked in all three for the first time under Meyer. The Gators had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State two weeks ago.
» Florida and South Carolina outrank each other in two of the four major statistical averages. UF is 77th in passing yards (200.4), 51th in rushing yards (158.8), 38th in points scored (31.3) and 23rd in points against (19.6) compared to USC being 39th in passing yards (248.7), 73rd in rushing yards (146.7), 50th in points scored (29.4) and 41st in points against (21.9). Both teams defeated Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee this season, though Florida defeated Kentucky (South Carolina lost 31-28) and the Gators lost to Alabama whom the Gamecocks beat (35-21).
» The Gators’ offense has seen 15 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» Florida is the only school in the nation that has four players with at least three interceptions. Overall, eight Gators have at least one interception.
» UF under Meyer is 41-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 38-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 38-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 33-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» South Carolina’s Spurrier is arguably the most accomplished coach in Florida history with a 122-27-1 record at the school (most wins in history) along with six SEC titles and a national title. As a player, he won the 1996 Heisman Trophy while playing quarterback.
» Steve Spurrier, Jr., G.A. Mangus and Jamie Speronis were all former Gators coaches; Mangus was also a QB at UF from 1988-91.
» John Brantley and Gamecocks players Antonio Allen and Dion LeCorn all player for Ocala Trinity High School; Brantley was also born in Columbia, S.C.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 8-6 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing two touchdowns last week. He has completed 156-of-251 passes (62.2 percent) for 1,616 yards and has a passer rating of 122.0.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 10 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (55 carries for 278 yards). Reed got his first meaningful snaps behind center last week, going 11-of-19 for 120 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran 16 times for 84 yards with another score.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (488 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in four others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey..who returned to action for the first time in over a month against Georgia and has 23 carries for 108 yards (along with 12 receptions for 118 yards) and two touchdowns this year.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry had missed five-straight field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) before nailing back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime two weeks ago.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season including one last week against Vanderbilt. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black (three), junior CB Janrois Jenkins (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three), and junior S Will Hill (three) have accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles six times this season: vs. LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 77 tackles, including six for loss.

SOUTH CAROLINA
» WR Alshon Jeffrey…one of the best pass catchers in college who leads the SEC with 114.9 yards and seven touchdowns.
» RB Marcus Lattimore…who ranks second in the SEC in rushing average with 94.0 yards per game to go along with 11 touchdowns.
» QB Stephen Garcia…who has taken over the starting job and thrown for 2,065 yards on 151-of-223 passing with a 14-9 TD/INT ratio. Garcia also has 140 rushing yards on 69 attempts along with four touchdowns.

INJURIES

Active
Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard, redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose (ankle)

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The match-up between the Gators and Gamecocks will be heavily featured 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. An entire segment of Saturday’s main program will be dedicated specifically to the Florida-South Carolina match-up with video packages and analysis from the show’s three hosts – Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit. The trio – along with a guest – will also be picking the game in the show’s final segment.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. USC Gamecocks preview after the jump!
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11/10: 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:

GROWING RELATIONSHIP WITH SPURRIER

Upon taking the Florida job, Meyer told anyone who would listen that one of the main reasons he did so was because he loved watching head coach Steve Spurrier‘s teams in the 1990s and had great respect for the Gators. Asked Wednesday how Spurrier’s continued prescence on the campus affects him, Meyer explained the two have become quite close since he arrived in Gainesville, FL.

“We’re fairly good friends now. Him and his wife and my wife and myself, we’re good friends. I actually lean on him quite a bit about the University of Florida when we get together,” he said. “He was Florida. He’s the reason I came here. I had such admiration for the way his teams played.”

RECRUITING ANOTHER DROP-BACK QUARTERBACK

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has always been more of a drop-back, pro-style passer. This was known the day he was recruited and every day since. Meyer addressed whether or not he would recruit a similar player again or if he would instead simply find guys who fit his system a bit better.

“We’ve played a multitude of different styles of offense really since I’ve been a head coach. It’s all about the personnel,” he said. “To be a drop-back quarterback, you really need a 220 lb. [running] back to hand off too. You also need a very stout and experienced tight end, which [we don’t have]. We’re going to continue recruiting the best players we can get our hands on and adapt to that. [...] If we do [recruit another drop-back QB], we just have to make sure we have the pieces around him to give that guy a chance.”

ADDRESSING NEWTON QUESTIONS ONE LAST TIME

Meyer began Wednesday’s media availability with a short statement aimed to prompt against any more questions regarding Auburn Tigers QB Cameron Newton.

“I addressed recent news stories yesterday that our [sports information director]made me aware of in the early afternoon,” he said. “Those stories have absolutely nothing to do with our team and preparation for South Carolina. Our entire focus is and will always be on our team. I will say, however, that I was very supportive of Cam when he left here and Cam and his family know that and we wish him all the best.”

Asked later if he felt a statement on the Newton allegations was necessary, Meyer replied, “I didn’t. My SID thought it was important. I didn’t want to do it to be honest with you. Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do.”

MEYER & SPURRIER QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/9: Addazio, players speak to the media

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, and defensive tackles redshirt senior Terron Sanders and redshirt sophomore Omar Hunter spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its win against the Vanderbilt Commodores and ahead to its game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

THREE-HEADED MONSTER BEHIND CENTER

With redshirt junior starter John Brantley, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed and freshman Trey Burton all sharing quarterbacking duties these days, Addazio was asked Tuesday if he has ever seen a team employ a similar strategy and why it happens to work for Florida. “No. Three quarterbacks? No, I have not,” he said. “For us it’s working right now, and it’s working because we have some really unselfishness guys who really want all for the team and winning. That’s very evident. It’s created a level of excitement and energy; it’s been a real positive thing for us.”

Though each player has his own specialized plays and duties, managing three signal callers with such unique skills is proving to be a work in progress for the entire coaching staff. “You’re moving a lot of checkers around and that takes a lot of time,” Addazio said. “You got to be exact in your practice time; you have to be exact in things. Systematically it’s a little different routine than what you’ve been accustomed to. Our whole deal has always been trying to get the right pieces in the right places.”

SATURDAY’s BIG GAME WEIGHING ON SENIORS IN GOOD WAY

In addition to playing for the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title on Saturday, the Gators’ senior class will be participating in their last home game of real significance seeing as Florida State is a road game this year. Sanders realizes how important the outcome of the game is not only to the team but also his classmates. “This is a make it or break it game for us,” he said. “As seniors, we don’t want to not make it to the SEC Championship game. It will hurt knowing that we had it right in the grasp of our fingertips and we let it go if we don’t come out and do what we need to do.”

Hunter, who has been wearing the orange and blue for some pretty big games already in his young career, doesn’t think Florida holds any advantage due to the game’s importance. “I think it’s irrelevant. It’s the SEC. Every week is a big game,” he said.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/8: Straight from the Gators’ mouths…

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior safety Ahmad Black answered questions for the media on Monday about a variety of topics concerning the Florida Gators and their win on Saturday over the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

RAINEY MAKING MOST OF SECOND CHANCE

Ask an outsider about redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, and they will likely tell you head coach Urban Meyer’s concern about fielding a winning team was the reason he allowed the troubled athlete back on the field two weeks ago. Talk to his close friends, teammates and brothers and you will get a completely different story.

“It’s his attitude about the game,” said Pouncey on Monday when asked how Rainey has changed the second time around. “He appreciates it more just because it was almost taken from him. I’m glad to see that he’s doing well. We need him to play good every week. I’m just glad he’s back out there. All Chris has is football. He’s had a rough life. I think Florida has given him a second opportunity to do well at this sport.

“I was [worried about him]. Chris really doesn’t have any family outside of me and my family. It was tough on him because he obviously had a lot of time on his hands without being a part of the football team. He’s just glad to be back. He doesn’t say anything at practice. He just goes hard, and that’s how it should be.”

Meyer has been criticized for being “easy” on players who make mistakes with his detractors saying he has no control of behavior. However, to Meyer, giving a kid a second chance at a meaningful life has always been of primary importance. “Coach Meyer knew [about Rainey’s issues],” Pouncey added. “Him and coach Meyer have a special relationship. He knew Rainey’s past and his whole life story, so he understood the fact that this [is] all he has.”

BRANTLEY NOT BOTHERED BY REDUCED ROLE

With a lacking run game and struggling offense, Florida’s coaching staff has been utilizing freshman Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed along with Brantley behind center. According to the player, he’s perfectly fine with taking fewer snaps as long as it helps the team win. “We had to get our running game going and, no matter what it takes, we’ll do it. I’ll do it,” he said. It doesn’t matter to me as long as we win games and as long as we fight for that spot like we’re doing for the SEC Championship.”

Meyer and Pouncey both gave Brantley their vote of confidence on Monday, calling him “the” quarterback of the Gators. “I guess that means I’m the leader of the ship – that’s the role I’ve taken on this offseason and all summer, coming into camp and everything,” Brantley said. “That’s the way I look at it – that I still need to lead this team. Even though I’m not taking all the snaps, that’s fine with me, I just got to be able to lead the troops and keep this thing rolling.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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