Tigers inch past Gators, UF drops second straight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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10/7: Florida Gators week six practice notes

No. 12/14 Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s sixth game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday against the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details which you can check out below.

BRANTLEY WAS LIMITED BUT IS “FINE NOW”

Early in the week rumors surfaced that redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley was questionable for Saturday’s game against LSU after injuring his ribs against Alabama. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio shot down those reports Tuesday, saying Brantley was “doing great” though he was “a little sore…just like every game.” Meyer expanded on Brantley’s limitations Thursday, noting that he was actually unable to throw the ball for a part of the week. “On the injury front, Brantley’s good,” he said. “He was limited mostly, well, throwing. So we would have another guy go in and throw the ball for him a little bit [because] his ribs were so sore, but he’s fine now.” Meyer insisted that Brantley will be ready to go Saturday without limitations.

TIME HAS COME FOR PLAYMAKERS, EXTRA PROTECTION

Asked whether or not it was time for the coaching staff to push guys like redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose and freshman running back Mack Brown onto the field for increased playing time and touches, Meyer smiled and appeared to provide a genuine response. “Uh-huh. It’s that time. It’s been that time for a while,” he said nodding emphatically. “[Debose is] getting better. He’s getting better.”

And while those playmakers may see the field a bit more, Meyer also received word that he would be getting back one of his favorite offensive players, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks. Finally recovered from a back injury, Wilks has been cleared to play and will be in action on Saturday. “That’s good news for us that he came back and had a great week of practice,” Meyer boasted. “Great attitude. He’s a good player. He’s like Billy Latsko, he’s just one of those football position guys. Very smooth player. He’s not a home run hitter or anything like that but he’s a guy that gets in your way and blocks you and knows the offense real well.”

OTHER INJURY UPDATES

Though junior RB Jeff Demps “still is limited,” according to Meyer, he is expected to “be at the same tempo he was last week against Alabama” for Saturday’s contest. While the news seems positive for him and sophomore RB Mike Gillislee, the same cannot be said for some other Gators.

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine will remain out of action, freshman WR Chris Dunkley’s hamstring is “acting up, so he’s not going to be ready either for a couple more weeks,” and freshman WR Quinton Dunbar recently tweaked his hamstring in practice as well. When speaking about the injuries, Meyer noted that Dunbar “was getting better” and called Dunkley “my man.”

Also remaining on the sidelines is junior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has been replaced by senior punter Chas Henry. “Caleb’s getting better. He won’t kick Saturday,” Meyer said. “I kind of like what our man did, Chas. Caleb’s getting better and he’s feeling better. I’m not sure the timetable because it’s actually is a stress fracture.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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9/23: Florda Gators week four practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s fourth game Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

DEBOSE GROWS

With Florida’s offense putting forth less than stellar performances over the first three games of the season, one of the most heavily discussed topics by fans and the media has been the development of redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. Though he did not play in the team’s opener against Miami (OH), Debose did see limited time against South Florida and Tennessee but has yet to record a reception on the season. That is a fact that might change this week.

“Andre Debose has had a great week of practice,” Meyer said Thursday, noting he had a “really good practice” on Wednesday. “[He hadn't been practicing well] not because he’s not trying, just [because of] the complication of the offense. Really good day yesterday. That was really encouraging. But that was normal growth. Everybody wants them to be something they’re not. He didn’t play a snap last year.”

Meyer also noted that he is developing at a normal pace, citing that the limited time he has been able to practice at full speed is what hindered him the most. Debose completely tore his hamstring off the bone last season and, while he has been perfectly healthy this year, did miss a lot while being out of commission.

TIGHT ENDS DEVELOPING

The Gators have been using six offensive linemen at times this season instead of putting a tight end in the game; this was most notable last week against Tennessee when sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon played one more spot out wide. The reason for this? Florida has a very young group of players at the position with Meyer’s preferable starter still coming along from a training camp injury.

Jordan Reed’s getting close to full speed. A guy named Gerald Christian is getting a little better,” Meyer said. “At the end of the day, you gotta block SEC defensive ends to play tight end at Florida. We’re getting better. We need that position. If you put an offensive lineman there, there’s no threat of pass.”

QUOTES

On the offense’s execution this week: “The pitch-and-catch has been much better. The receivers are starting to get healthy and their legs back. I think they were blown out a little bit during training camp. We’re getting a little bit of depth. You’re seeing Stephen Alli, you’re seeing Andre Debose starting to get going.”

On who shined this week: “Our receivers had their best day Wednesday, which is real encouraging.”

On redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey’s status: “He’s not part of the team. That’s all I got to say. […] Nowhere near the team. […] I’m not even thinking about that. I’m letting everything will be handled and at some point we’ll have to address it and that point’s not now.”

On freshman quarterback Trey Burton switching numbers (from 13 to 8): “Switching numbers? Is that right? I have no idea, I’m not the numbers coach. I delegated that.”

On offense starting slow each September: “When’s that? Every year? September won-loss record is OK though.”

On redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan‘s health: “I love Patchan’s intensity, emotion – we need him in the lineup. [..] He’s doing all condition and he’s still two [games] away.”

On eventually winning 200 games: “I hope we can tackle Randall Cobb, man.”

On coaching until Bobby Bowden’s age: “I don’t think I can do that.”

On not scoring a point in the first quarter yet: “A lot of urgency to get that corrected. Because we certainly have the scheming and players to do it.”

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9/22: 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:

» Asked about what has changed in regards to the Kentucky Wildcats since he took over coaching Florida in 2005, Meyer said that the program has significantly improved personnel-wise and has been recruiting well over the last few years. He said he is impressed with where they are from a talent perspective and thinks they are one of the best teams in the SEC in that regard.

» Why hasn’t redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose seen the field much this season? According to Meyer, Debose’s learning curve is not progressing as quickly as others at his position. The coaching staff is trying to feed him as much of the playbook as possible, but it appears the retention and execution may not at the level to which they are comfortable with him on the field on a consistent basis. “It’s just a learning curve,” he said. “We’re force feeding at him as much as we can as fast as we can. It’s gotta happen pretty quick.”

» With sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon returning as a starter against Tennessee, Meyer said the offensive line is finally showing more consistency during practice. He also noted that redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed is in the process of learning his position and is improving week-to-week. Additionally, he said one reason the Gators have not shown more versatility up front is because the team needs to “sure up” the TE position.

» Injuries: Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody missed practice once again Tuesday while recovering from a deep thigh bruise; Meyer hopes to get him on the field Wednesday. Reed has strep throat and will miss at least one day of practice.

» If Florida wins Saturday against Kentucky, it will be Meyer’s 100th victory as a head coach. Asked about the significant wins during his career, Meyer said he does not concentrate on the victories but rather the players who have helped him achieve those milestones. Though he did briefly mention the 2006 game against South Carolina as a stand-out moment, Meyer specifically pointed out former cornerback Vernell Brown and the impact he had on helping turn around the entire Gators program.

QUOTES

Opening statement: “I’m very pleased with the outcome of last week’s game. Obviously we gotta clear some things up. One thing about Kentucky the last few years they’ve had a cycle when those kids get early, those talented, talented players. I think Cobb’s one of the best players in the SEC.”

On Kentucky improving over the past few years: “I look at personnel, and I just think personnel-wise from 2005 to where they are now, they’re an upper echelon SEC team.”

On players looking ahead to Alabama: “Oh no. No, no. Not here. […] There is absolutely none of that right now.”

On first quarter struggles: “We try to build on the positives and fix the negatives. How do you fix the negatives? We’re going to really make an emphasis on coming out of the gate fast. How do you do that? Execute.”

On some of his memorable wins: “I’m more into the people than the wins. I remember so many of the great efforts and have been blessed to have so many great players. There’s the obvious ones, the South Carolina one when we blocked the field goal. But I’m more into some of these great young players we’ve had. For example, Vernell Brown wants to bring his son to the game this weekend. He was really the pioneer of our program. He was a guy who was really unheard of, came in and was the most loyal, dedicated guy that helped us turn the corner. Those are the things I remember more than plays, it’s the players and when they come back and see what they’ve built. I really admire those guys.”

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9/20-21: Florida footballers speak to the media

A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media on Monday and Tuesday as the team takes a look back on its 31-17 road victory over the Tennessee Volunteers and ahead to its match-up against the Kentucky Wildcats at home on Saturday.

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown, redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders, senior defensive end Duke Lemmens, senior linebacker Brandon Hicks, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman QB Trey Burton all had plenty to say…which you can read after the break!
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9/15: 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:

» Meyer added to what offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said Tuesday regarding the status of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey, noting that is currently not a part of the team. “He’s not with the team,” Meyer said. “I think it’s just further evaluation as we go. The immediacy of it is: he’s not with the team.” As far as the minimum amount of time Rainey will be out of action? “I can’t do that. I don’t know,” he said.

» Rather than start redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose or freshman WR Robert Clark in Rainey’s slot position, Meyer said the Gators will instead go with sophomore WR Omarius Hines, who had been playing a hybrid WR/tight end position during the first two weeks of the season. Redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed will also be moving to Hines’ previously occupied hybrid role. “We haven’t had a lot of production in the first two games from [Rainey],” Meyer said. “The good news is that Omarius Hines is a very talented guy that we’re moving in. And also Jordan Reed will be going to Omarius’ spot so we got some guys who will still make plays.”

» Meyer also noted that sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon will return to the starting lineup after being held out of the first game with a knee injury and sparingly playing blocking TE against South Florida. With redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson back in his role last week, Florida’s offensive line is back to normal for the first time all season. More on that below.

QUOTES FROM MEYER (After the break…)
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Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida game

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive grades the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the South Florida Bulls in the second game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley played better Saturday than he did last week against Miami (OH), so why only a half-grade improvement? Following up a performance in which he completed 68 percent of his passes, Brantley’s accuracy fell 10 percent even though he gained almost 60 more yards through the air and once again passed for two scores. Brantley did do a better job finding open pass catchers and spread the ball around a bit more, but he has plenty to improve on in the coming weeks.

RUNNING BACKS: A
As a team, the Gators rushed for 267 yards on Saturday, and three running backs with multiple attempts averaged over 7.3 yards per carry. Junior Jeff Demps was the star of the game, rushing 11 times for 139 yards and a touchdown with a long of 62 and average of 12.6. Take away his breakaway run, and Demps still averaged 7.7 YPC. Redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody put on a respectable performance (especially in the second half) with 14 carries for 54 yards (3.9 average), sophomore Mike Gillislee had four powerful carries for 29 yards (7.3 average) and a score, and freshman Mack Brown even saw some action with three rushes for 23 yards (7.7 average).

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the USF game after the jump…
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Week 2: Gators post-game news and notes

Bouncing back from a lackluster showing during the first game of the 2010-11 season, the No. 6/8 Florida Gators ran down the South Florida Bulls 38-14 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss following the contest, OGGOA presents some of the most important notes and quotes coming out of The Swamp.

RAINEY OUT WITH CONCUSSION

Named by head coach Urban Meyer before the season as one of the Gators’ primary offensive weapons, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was knocked out of the game Saturday with a concussion. Rainey had only touched the ball three times prior to heading off the field, and his status for next week’s game at Tennessee is unknown, though Meyer seemed optimistic.

SNAPPING OUT OF “DISASTER MISTAKES”

After a week in which Florida struggled with one of the simplest aspects of the game – snapping the ball – senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley were back in sync and playing well together. Pouncey did have some errant snaps during the Gators’ first two series, one of which Brantley mishandled and fumbled, but overall the problems were corrected and UF’s offense was able to proceed free of easy miscues.

YOUNGSTERS SEE THE FIELD

Offensively, Florida made it a point to get redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose and freshman WR Robert Clark in the game – something the coaching staff failed in doing the previous week. On the defensive side of the ball, youth was all over the Gators’ secondary with freshman cornerback Cody Riggs getting extra time in place of redshirt sophomore starting CB Jeremy Brown, who went down with full body cramps in the second half. Fellow freshman CBs Jaylen Watkins and Josh Shaw also saw action, and freshman safety Matt Elam played as much as he did last week.

MEYER NOT HAPPY WITH HILL, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER

After the game, Meyer explained that junior safety Will Hill was benched for a second straight week because he was “not ready to play.” Earlier in the week, it appeared as if Hill was going to see the field in his normal staring role, but it is being made to look as if there was a change of heart as the game approached. As OGGOA reported last Saturday, Hill was out not because of his preparedness but rather as a team punishment; we are of the belief that he sat for the same reason this week.

Also held out were redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely and freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who Meyer also gave the “not ready to play” tag to. Finley, like Hill, was dressed; Easley was not. Like he said last week with his suspended starters, Meyer expects all three to play against Tennessee.

THOMPSON AND MOORE STEP THEIR GAMES UP

One week after redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson barely contributed and redshirt senior WR Carl Moore did not catch a single ball, both players played a major part of the Gators’ offense. The duo combined to catch 11 passes for 123 yards, though Thompson did drop another touchdown (which was well-defended) and bobbled a few of the passes he ended up bringing in. Each will have to remain consistent throughout the season, and Saturday was a good first step toward that end.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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