11/8: 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.

SUNDAY FUNDAY = BLUE-OUT SATURDAY

During his weekly Florida Football with Urban Meyer post-game program on Sunday, Meyer looked back at the team’s victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores with great pride – especially for the fans. “Gator Nation covered that stadium. We came rolling in there at 9:00 in the morning – orange and blue everywhere,” he said. “I even heard one of our players say, ‘You know you took over a stadium when they’re doing the wave’ – the orange and blue people. It was great, and I want to thank them.

“This team – we’re not a great team – but we’re getting better, getting better in all areas. I admire guys that fight, show toughness, come together as a team and give everything for their university. I’ve never really done this, but I want to make this the most intense stadium in the history of Florida football this Saturday. This is for the SEC [East] Championship. Get there early. I want everybody to wear blue – head-to-toe – including our players. Let’s make this one of those ones, when you get those great books about Florida Gator history, let’s put this down in there as one of the great weekends in Florida football history.

“November in Gainesville playing for a championship, this is why we’re all here. Once again, I’m going to go on record – I want this to be the most intense week in Florida football history. Let’s wear blue, let’s make this place nuts, let’s have a lot of fun with this, and let’s show up and make this one of the ones you put this right in the history books as one of the great days in Florida football history.”

STATUS / INJURY UPDATES

Discussing Saturday that freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley was basically in the coaching staff’s doghouse and did not travel with the team to Vanderbilt, Meyer said Monday that he is still with the team but “has got to do things we ask him to do” in order to get back involved. He is confident that everything will be worked out in the end.

» Junior running back Jeff Demps – will play Saturday, how much is not yet known
» Redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard – “promising” that he will be able to play
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan – seeing a specialist on his wrist due to an ongoing problem, likely out for the season
» Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis – out

CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced Monday that 18 Gators had earned the designation of Champions after Saturday’s win over the the Commodores. Offensively, Meyer named redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed as his most valuable player along with redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, freshman quarterback Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr., senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, redshirt senior tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt senior guard Maurice Hurt, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee, freshman TE Gerald Christian and redshirt freshman G Jonotthan Harrison as his champions. On the defensive side of the ball, freshman DT Sharrif Floyd won the MVP award, while redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins, redshirt senior DT Terron Sanders, redshirt sophomore defensive end Lerentree McCray, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones and senior LB Brandon Hicks were champions.

Rainey also earned the Southeastern Conference‘s Special Teams Player of the Week award for his two blocked punts against Vanderbilt.

LEAK > SPURRIER?

When discussing redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley on Monday, Meyer said as an aside that former starter Chris Leak was one of the top three signal callers in school history. Asked to evaluate that statement later, Meyer said, “I go champion – champion – champion,” when judging quarterbacks, rather than worrying about who has won the Heisman Trophy. That puts Leak over current South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier…at least in Meyer’s book.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 10: Gators post-game news & notes

Winning their second-straight game, this time in dominant fashion, the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) toppled the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) 55-14 in Nashville, TN, at Vanderbilt Stadium. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

RAINEY’s REDEMPTION PART II

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey has been one of Florida’s best performers in back-to-back games. With two blocked punts and a 40-yard touchdown reception in which he came back for an under-thrown ball, Rainey is quickly proving to head coach Urban Meyer that he has his head on straight and is ready to be a valued member of the team. “He hit rock bottom and he had one way to go,” Meyer said after the game. “Good for him. To even be on football, good for him. He’s doing much better in school and the thumb is on him real hard, so his whole work ethic has changed and everything.” He also discussed Rainey’s punt blocks. “You talk about a momentum shift. [Chris] Rainey’s a very unique, skilled athlete that can come off that edge that’s skinny like that,” he said. “Ninety percent of the time we win or are undefeated when we get a hand on a punt. Great momentum change.”

TEAM CHEMISTRY AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH

Having won their last two contests, the Gators are feeling good – especially considering one was an overtime thriller and the other was a shellacking. Meyer is pleased with how the team is currently assembled and thinks, now that most everyone is healthy, they can continue their progress. “I just like the chemistry of our team right now. The way they hang out with each other at the hotel. You see a gelling right now,” he said. “You take some good players out of your team and you don’t look as good. I’m very excited about the chemistry of our team right now. We needed this.”

Florida is feeling so good these days that, before the game was even over, players on the sidelines were talking about playing South Carolina next week for the Southeastern Conference Eastern division title. “[They were talking about it] a lot. I tried to encourage them to. I wanted the focus,” Meyer said. “We’ve learned some great lessons around here in the past of a team being ready to play a big-time game and maybe a team not being ready to go play a big-time game. So that was my whole message to them. I like the look. If they’re talking about next week’s game obviously when this one is over, it’s real clear what the focus is. [...] I think we’re finishing strong and obviously it’s championship week in Gainesville, Florida. So we’re going to get back to work as soon as we can and everybody’s excited about it.”

REED-IRECTING OFFENSE

Saturday saw the emergence of redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed as a legitimate offensive option for the Gators as he accounted for 120 yards through the air, 84 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Meyer was complimentary of Reed after the game and hopes to utilize him more as the season goes on. “He’s a freak athlete. I think we did it right. Hindsight is 20-20 how we’re pushing him into this offense,” he said. “Obviously you can see what a dynamic runner [he] is, he’s got a nice arm. We don’t have that big runner – and he gives us that. […] He’s tight end and quarterback. He’ll be a single-wing quarterback and a tight end for us.”

PLAYER STATUS UPDATES

» Freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley: “He’s not on the travel team – just not a part of the team right now. Lot of reasons. […] He’s not part of the travel team.”
» Freshman running back Mack Brown: “He’s been having hamstrings all year, so we just didn’t want to risk it. But his attitude has been fantastic.”
» Junior RB Jeff Demps: “Jeff was available, but we wanted to be smart. He didn’t practice much this week. It was very painful on him this week. We’ll know more this week, but I’m planning on him being ready for South Carolina.”
» Redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard: Meyer expects him to return next week after having nursed a serious ankle injury for 2-3 weeks.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Gators knock down ‘Dores 55-14 in Nashville

It may have been cold in Nashville, TN, Saturday afternoon, but no one was hotter than the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC), who piled up 41 points in the first half on the way to a rout of the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) 55-14 in Vanderbilt Stadium.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey stole the show early, blocking two punts and catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, who finished the day 11-of-18 for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Rainey also had a career-high and game-high 75 yards receiving.

With junior running back Jeff Demps out of action as a precaution, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee led Florida on the ground with nine rushes for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed, added to the Gators’ quarterback rotation last week, also shined in the contest completing 11-of-19 attempts for 120 yards, a touchdown and an interception while also rushing 16 times for 84 yards and a score.

As per usual this season, Florida started off slow but got on the board with 8:47 left in the first quarter on Gillislee’s first touchdown run. The second quarter saw the Gators post 34 points including a 31-yard pass from Reed to redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, Rainey’s 40-yard touchdown catch, a 45-yard fumble return touchdown from redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders, a 39-yard touchdown reception by redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and a 42-yard punt block return touchdown from freshman WR Solomon Patton.

The Commodores finally got on the board in the beginning of the third quarter when Sanders missed a block on a punt; Vanderbilt knocked down the ball and cornerback Javon Marshall returned it four yards for a special teams score. They would also score on a six-yard reception from QB Jared Funk to WR Jordan Matthews made possible after a Reed interception.

Florida took its foot off the gas at halftime, substituting almost every starter and still scoring 14 more points in the third quarter on a 43-yard run by Gillislee and a six-yard rush from Reed. The Gators’ 41 first-half points were its most in a Southeastern Conference game since 2005, it’s 55 points on the road were the most since 1997 (Kentucky), and its 88 plays and 480 total yards of offense were both season-highs.

Defensively, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins notched a team-high eight tackles, while freshman DT Sharrif Floyd had a breakout performance with a career-high seven tackles (three for loss) and some monstrous hits. Redshirt sophomore LB Lerentree McCray and senior safety Ahmad Black each forced fumbles, sophomore S Josh Evans grabbed an interception, and UF’s seniors also accounted for four sacks with one each from linebackers Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones and defensive ends Duke Lemmens and Justin Trattou.

Florida’s win Saturday set them up for a showdown with South Carolina next week in Gainesville, FL, in a de facto SEC East title game with the winner advancing to the 2010 SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA. The game will air at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

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11/4: Meyer delivers good, bad injury updates

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

FIRST THE GOOD NEWS

Injured early against Mississippi State and out for Saturday’s game against Georgia, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) “looked really good” at practice on Thursday and is expected to play against Vanderbilt, according to Meyer. Joining him will be junior running back Jeff Demps (foot), who saw some action in Jacksonville, FL, but has been limited in practice all week for precautionary reasons. Earlier this week, Demps said he still had pain in his foot when cutting but feels fine when running straight. Meyer also affirmed his statement on Wednesday that both sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody (thigh) are 100 percent healthy and ready to return to the field.

NOW THE BAD…

Meyer announced Thursday that redshirt freshman tight end Desmond Parks – who has yet to see the field in 2010 – will miss the remainder of the season after having his third wrist surgery in two years. “He’s a tough kid, man. Good dude. The whole deal,” Meyer said. “He won’t play again this year, but we’re pushing for spring practice.”

Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle) is still being hampered by his injury, has barely been able to practice this week and “doesn’t look good for the game.” Also out of action Saturday is redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) and freshman WR Robert Clark (ankle).

DUAL ROLES BENEFIT THE OFFENSE

Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey and redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed have been playing two positions for the Gators this season, with Rainey carrying the ball as a running back and Reed taking snaps as a Widcat quarterback. That will continue Saturday, according to Meyer, as Rainey will be taking at least half of his snaps in the backfield and Reed will continue to be used along with redshirt junior starter John Brantley and freshman Trey Burton. In fact, Meyer promised Reed would throw the ball this week, for what it’s worth.

QUOTES

On if the up-tempo offense is now second-nature and if there have been any tweaks to it: “Working through the glitches…you know, we had penalties last week. You couldn’t have done what we done without a bye week.”

On redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio: “He’s one of our most improved players on the team. Just the way he practices, his work ethic, his toughness. He’s going to be a really, really fine offensive lineman in this conference. […] He’s what you look for in recruiting.”

On if players are looking ahead to South Carolina: “No, I don’t see that at all. My basic concern is getting them up to go play [the Vanderbilt] game. It’s an early game, that’s a pain in the rear end.”

On why they decided to bring the quarterbacks in-and-out: “If you take Johnny out of the game, they’ll play one defense. If [you] keep Johnny in the game, they’ll do blitz-a-thon like it’s been. The tempo, having them pop in and out, it’s hard – especially in a noisy stadium – to start changing defenses. You get mistakes.”

On sophomore tight end Jordan Reed playing more: “He’s really worked really hard. Coming of age. He’s earned his right [to play]. He can help us.”

On potentially resting Demps instead of playing him: “We’re just being smart right now. If he can go, he’ll go.”

On Burton: “Trey’s one of those rare breeds that knows the offense – knows it really well. He’s one of those guys that just picks it up [snaps his fingers] so fast.”

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11/2: Addazio, McCarney, players discuss Georgia

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach, defense/defensive line Dan McCarney, junior safety Will Hill, redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson and redshirt freshman G Jon Halapio spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its win against the Georgia Bulldogs and ahead to its road game against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

SPEEDY BACKFIELD CREATES HOME RUN THREATS

As head coach Urban Meyer has mentioned repeatedly over the last few weeks, one of the reasons for Florida’s inefficient offense during its three-straight losses was a lack of the home run plays. Addazio believes that element has officially returned now that junior running back Jeff Demps and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey are back playing. “The ability to have Demps and Rainey together back there, the ability to create a lot of speed back in that backfield again, gives you those opportunities for home run balls. [Options and dives] can be home run strikes now, they’re not just necessarily four-or-five-yard strikes.”

GEORGIA GASSED BY NO-HUDDLE OFFENSE

A common theme the players have expressed since the Georgia game ended on Saturday was how winded and unprepared the Bulldogs were for Florida’s enhanced no-huddle offense. “The no-huddle was actually harder in practice than it was in the game,” Johnson said. “It was fairly easy because Georgia was so tired. They weren’t even getting in their stance half the time because they were so tired. It wasn’t that bad. I thought it would be a lot, lot worse, but they make it so much harder in practice. We don’t have the 40-second clock rule in practice. The coaches are like, ‘Get on the ball, run another play!’”

Halapio shared similar sentiments. “I felt sorry for them boys because we practiced that bonazi stuff, that no-huddle stuff for two weeks. We were in shape. We had no mercy against them,” he said. “They were breathing and they couldn’t even get set. They were all walking around. They couldn’t even do trash talk or nothing. They couldn’t even talk to each other they were so gassed out.”

HILL EVALUATES HIS PERFORMANCES THIS SEASON

No matter what the coaches said about how he played, Hill knew he was better than the performance he was giving on the field throughout the season. After missing UF’s first two contests, Hill regained his starting job against Tennessee and has been performing admirably but with plenty of mistakes since. Though he suffered another miscue on Saturday, he hopes that he has now turned a corner.

“I played decent [early in the season]. I didn’t play like a top guy. I was just playing as a regular guy,” Hill said Tuesday. “I know what the coaches expect and I know what the team expects and I wasn’t up to those expectations. I was just average. [Saturday] was a big game for me. To be able to step up and help the team, I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff like how can I help the team, how can I better myself, how can I better the team? By me performing the way I did, it just showed a lot of improvement.”

FIVE-STAR FRESHMEN DEFENDERS COMING INTO OWN

McCarney raved Tuesday about the progress of freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and defensive end (currently outside linebacker) Ronald Powell. He said Floyd is “the most improved freshmen that I’ve got on the defensive line right now,” adding that injuries have “given Sharrif more of an opportunity and he’s really gaining confidence, improving. I think he’s one of the most improved players on our defense right now.” As for Powell, his improvement has come from a variety of directions. “He’s playing lower. He’s playing with better fundamentals. He’s playing with better technique. He’s understanding the game. He’s understanding the game plan. He’s understanding schemes, what people are trying to do to him,” McCarney said. “He’s really improved a lot – immensely. He’s one of the most talented, most mature freshmen I’ve ever been around [and] I’ve been doing this a lot of years.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/1: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Think Saturday’s win meant something to Meyer?

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.

CHAMPIONS AND AWARDS

After three consecutive losses and an overall lack of things to celebrate post-game, a tough win allowed Meyer to announce that 17 Gators had earned the designation of Champions after Saturday’s win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

Offensively, Meyer named redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, freshman quarterback Trey Burton and redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. as his most valuable players along with senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt junior QB John Brantley, redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson, redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed, redshirt senior tackle Marcus Gilbert, redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio and redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks as his champions. On the defensive side of the ball, junior safety Will Hill won the MVP award, while senior safety Ahmad Black, junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins, and senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens were champions.

The Southeastern Conference honored senior punter/kicker Chas Henry with its Co-Special Teams Player of the Week award and Burton with its Tri-Freshman of the Week award on Monday. Henry was 2-of-3 on his field goal attempts including a 37-yard game winner, and Burton rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown.

IMPROVEMENT IN FOUR DEFICIENT AREAS

One week ago, Meyer mentioned four particular areas in which Florida was struggling on offense and needed to drastically improve on in order to turn around the season. Here is how the Gators fared in those four areas against the Bulldogs:

1. Turnovers – 4-to-1 ratio with Brantley’s interception coming when sophomore WR Omarius Hines quit running a route.
2. Big plays – Florida had five against Georgia after none in the previous five games combined – a big turnaround.
3. Pass efficiency – UF’s quarterbacks were 30 points more efficient (120) than average.
4. Red zone efficiency – The Gators converted 5-of-6 red zone opportunities with a miscue coming on a missed field goal by Henry on the first offensive drive of the game.

OFFENSE REBOUNDS, DEFENSE CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE

While the offense spent two weeks of practice being retooled and streamlined, the defense’s goal during the bye week was figuring out how to get off the field on third down. Mississippi State ran the ball down Florida’s throats in its upset victory two weeks ago, and Georgia accomplished a similar feat through the air. Meyer was blunt when speaking about what had to be improved on that side of the ball.

“We’re not playing great defense. It’s just the way it is. We’re not and we have to improve,” he said. “Does that mean we didn’t have some great efforts? We certainly created turnovers and short fields, which our defense has done a decent job of all year. Back to compartmentalize – it’s third downs and red zone. We were 3-of-3 [in red zone scores] we gave up and third downs are not good.”

Asked if he will reevaluate the defense the same as he did the offense, Meyer responded: “I just don’t have time. I’ve never done that. These are the issues, get them cleaned up immediately. We have very good coaches. We just got to clean up a few things because at times we play outstanding defense. It’s getting off the field that has been a situation for us.”

GAME BALL TO MR. ANDREU

To begin his press conference, Meyer handed a game ball to long-time Gainesville Sun writer Robbie Andreu, whose father passed away in October. Today, Nov. 1, also happens to have been his father’s birthday. Best wishes from OGGOA.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 9: Gators post-game news and notes

Snapping a three-game losing streak, the Florida Gators (5-3, 3-3 SEC) snuck a 34-31 overtime win by the Georgia Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4 SEC) at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, at EverBank Field. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

OH HENRY!

By now everybody knows what happened Saturday – after missing his initial field goal attempt wide left in the first quarter, Florida senior punter Chas Henry nailed two in a row including a 37-yarder in overtime to ice the game. However, what is not known is how much that one kick meant to Henry. “It was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” he said. “The main thing that went through my mind was how I let my team down two weeks ago against Mississippi State. That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. I got so much support through the coaches, my family and friends, and my brothers in the locker room. The internal family we have is as strong as you can get. I let them down one time. I was never going to let it happen again. It felt great. Unbelievable.”

Henry’s field goal was so emotional that it caused head coach Urban Meyer to immediately drop to his knees according to those on the scene. Why exactly did he do that? “After he hit that field goal? It was Chas Henry hitting a damn field goal. Think about that for a minute. That’s not easy,” Meyer said. I didn’t realize I did that. It was a good moment.”

Meyer gave Henry three opportunities to kick field goals Saturday because he had confidence in the young man after seeing how he played in practice on Thursday. “He’s got a strong leg; he just has not majored in that,” he said. “We thought we were going to have Caleb [Sturgis]. Caleb came out Wednesday and kicked beautifully. Then his back, he could’ve pushed it but we’re not going to do that – it could hurt him for a long time if he hurts it more. On Thursday, Chas came out and hit every field goal. We always go right-left, right-left, right-left, right-left, and he went right up to 42 yards, I think he was seven-for-seven.”

THRICE IS NICE FOR WILL THE THRILL

Though only two of his three interceptions will count when looking at the box score 10 years from now, senior safety Will Hill’s performance will be remembered for some time. Following in the footsteps of some of the Gators’ other terrifying free safeties, Hill came through when it counted by saving a two-point conversion and starting Florida’s celebration early with an 89-yard interception return (that did not go for a score) in overtime. He had been struggling all season and even failed in protection on an early Georgia touchdown, but Hill got some of his mojo back by the time the whistle sounded.

“[Ahmad] Black had good coverage on A.J. [Green],’’ Hill said of the overtime interception. “He tipped the ball and it just fell in my lap. I just saw an opportunity and made the best of it. I was struggling earlier in the season and coaches never gave up on me, teammates never gave up on me. And for me to come out and playing like this, it’s just like paying the team back.’’

“Big play of the day,” Meyer said of Hill’s overtime pick. “And from what [defensive coordinator] Teryl Austin mentioned in [the locker room], he said it was Will Hill’s best game. We’ve been waiting for that all year. Will Hill played very well tonight.” Austin had his thoughts as well. “You saw it today. He played. He played like a Florida safety plays,” he asid. “He made some wonderful plays out there today. He was physical, he hit guys, he intercepted the ball, he did a great job for us today. Really proud of him.”

FLORIDA FINDS A LONG-LOST “EDGE”

Aside from injuries and execution, one of the main reasons the Gators’ offense has been so vanilla this year is because the team found it difficult to find an edge. Meyer believes Florida found exactly that over the last two weeks and wishes he would have identified it and installed it earlier this year. “I could kick myself for not doing that more this summer,” Meyer said of using a steady two quarterback rotation. “I did not anticipate…Trey Burton’s one of those guys, I didn’t know he was that good as a runner. I thought he was pretty good and then he was dynamic. Jordan Reed did a nice job, came in and gave us some two-plus yardage plays. We’re going to do more of that. We have to find that edge. Florida’s always had the edge.

“In ’05 we really didn’t really have one, and then ’06 we had some edge when we recruited Percy [Harvin] and then Dallas [Baker] came on. Then obviously Tim [Tebow] went crazy in ’07, ’08 you had a bundle of them – there’s edges all over the place. […] We’re just still trying to find what that edge is. You can’t play offensive football without it. You can sit and run between the tackles, you can run perimeter plays or you can throw, and if you don’t have that edge than it’s just a mess. And that’s kind of where we’ve been. We’re looking at tempo as an edge, multiple quarterbacks as an edge and development of players. You want to get that speed back with [Chris] Rainey and [Jeff] Demps, that helps us a lot as well.”

RAINEY’s REDEMPTION

Ask any of his teammates or the player himself, and it is obvious Rainey has had a tough few weeks after being suspended indefinitely following his arrest. In addition to being scolded by the coaching staff, administration and the media, Rainey has been hard on himself and made a concerted effort to turn his life around. Saturday’s game was the first he had played in more than a month, and Rainey made the most of it going off for 241 all-purpose yards including 84 rushing yards.

“Rainey stood up after the game and thanked God for giving him a second chance. He’s taking full advantage of it,” said senior center Mike Pouncey, one of Rainey’s best friends. “He thanked the whole administration – [athletic director] Jeremy Foley and the president [Bernie Machen] – and he thanked God as well. He thanked everyone for giving him a second chance because without Jeremy Foley and President Machen, it wouldn’t be possible for him to play right now. I love Chris like a brother. [...] He’s been living with me since high school, and we have a special relationship. I felt his pain those weeks he was out. He loves football. He’s a great person, and I know that was one of the happiest moments of his life just to be out there with us playing.”

Meyer attributes Rainey’s presence to many of the other big plays made during the game. “The threat of a perimeter issue opens up – the Trey Burton touchdown, that was a lot of the Tim stuff we used to do when you had Percy,” he said. “If you have a threat of this [holds arms out], it sometimes opens that [em>points arms to middle] up. That’s the mix of perimeter and interior rushing. That’s a direct result of having a perimeter.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/11: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Updated 11:45 p.m. (ET)

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

INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

Just as Florida was lucky enough to a number of its starters back healthy another rash of injuries has hit the team. In addition to junior running back Jeff Demps missing Saturday’s game with a sprained foot, sophomore RB Mike Gillislee appeared to hurt his ankle, redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio broke a finger, and both redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson and freshman safety Matt Elam suffered concussions. Halapio had surgery on Sunday and will miss Saturday’s Mississippi State game, but Demps, Gillislee, Thompson and Elam are all expected to be able to play.

Speaking of injuries, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley expressed for a second time in three days that his ribs are neither broken nor fractured nor cracked and that his thumb is just sprained. This counters rumors and a report from ESPN‘s Joe Schad that claimed Brantley was more injured than he and Meyer were letting on. Meyer did indicate that Brantley had some shoulder issues during the week because he was overcompensating for his injured ribs; however, he was fine to go on Saturday and will be starting once again this week.

HOME RUNS AND RED ZONE ISSUES TO BLAME

Meyer noted that the two biggest issues facing the Gators offense are the lack of home run plays and inefficiency in the red zone, not play calling. Those two factors, combined with unforced errors in the form of turnovers and penalties, were what limited Florida the most on Saturday.

ADDAZIO FULLY SUPPORTED

Though fans have been getting on offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio for his play calling, he received plenty of praise and support from his head coach and players on Monday. Meyer said Addazio has “a tough job, obviously I think he can handle it” while redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley said, “I trust coach Addazio and his play calling.” Senior center Mike Pouncey added that the team is “moving the ball, just ain’t making the plays when they’re there to be made” and that Addazio does not deserve the blame whatsoever.

The dive play was booed extensively during Florida almost-game-winning scoring drive at the end of the fourth quarter, something that confused Pouncey and redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore (and likely many others, too), both of whom said it did not bother them. Pouncey specifically noted that the Gators were “going down to win the game” on that drive, making the boos quite ridiculous.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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