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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Demps helps Gators run over Bulls 38-14

Junior running back Jeff Demps rushed for a career-high 139 yards while totaling 255 all purpose yards Saturday, leading the No. 6/8 Florida Gators (2-0) to a 38-14 win over the South Florida Bulls (1-1) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools in football.

After going three-and-out on their first series, the Gators punted the ball to the Bulls, who put together a 17-play 96-yard drive resulting in a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. Thirteen of South Florida’s 17 plays on the scoring drive were rushes, with QB B.J. Daniels carrying the majority of the load.

Florida once again had trouble getting things going offensively in the first half. The Gators’ first three drives resulted in punts, and snapping issues reared their ugly head early with a few errant balls coming from senior center Mike Pouncey. Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley corralled most of them but mishandled one which resulted in a fumble that he recovered.

Junior kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 39-yard field goal more than halfway through the second quarter, but an interception by senior safety Ahmad Black got Florida the ball back inside USF’s 30 yard line with one minute left in the half. Brantley completed a beautiful 23-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson on first down before tossing a game-tying touchdown to redshirt senior WR Carl Moore to complete a three-play, 29-yard scoring drive in 16 seconds.

Black would end the half with his second interception of the game, sending the Gators into the locker room with all of the momentum. It was his third pick of the young season and 11th of his four-year career.

“The thing about this game is we wanted to let him try to beat us running the ball, because we knew for a fact he wasn’t going to beat us throwing the ball,” Black said after the game. “If he put the ball in the air, it was ours.”

With just over 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, Bulls RB Demetrius Murray took off on a 33-yard run to put South Florida in scoring position. Two players later, Murray fumbled the ball, which was recovered by senior defensive end Duke Lemmens at Florida’s 12. The Gators would not wait long to capitalize. Brantley completed a 21-yard pass to Thompson to give UF some breathing room before handing off to Demps, who broke away for an electric 62-yard score.

USF stalled on their next drive, kicking to junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who replaced redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey (concussion) as punt returner. Jenkins returned the ball 30 yards to the Bulls’ 35, once again putting the Gators in scoring position. Freshman WR Robert Clark got the call on a 15-yard pass reception from Brantley. Now inside the 20, redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody carried the load to the South Florida four, where sophomore RB Mike Gillislee rushed for a short touchdown, putting UF up 21-7.

Florida continued putting the pressure on Daniels and USF, pushing him deep into the backfield on a second-and-eight play from the Bulls’ 48. Unable to find a receiver, Daniels’ pass was intercepted by senior defensive end Justin Trattou, who returned the ball 35 yards for a touchdown and extended the Gators’ lead to 28-7.

South Florida refused to go away, however, as Daniels took advantage of UF miscue in the secondary to complete a 51-yard pass to WR Evan Landi. Down on Florida’s 19, Daniels handed the ball of twice to Murray, who reduced his team’s deficit to 14.

A 69-yard return by Demps on the kickoff put the Gators at the 31 yard line, and a subsequent 26-yard rush by the speedster got UF inside the five. Unable to capitalize, Florida called on Sturgis to make his first field goal of the season, a 22-yard attempt.

Jenkins appeared out to get Daniels on the Bulls’ next drive, sacking him on first down from the team’s 29 yard line before intercepting him on the very next play. Looking to put the game away, Brantley, Demps and Moody led the Gators on a 13-play, 57-yard drive that lasted 7:22 and ended with a two-yard touchdown reception by redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (the first of his career) to give Florida a 38-14 lead.

Demps electrified the Gators throughout the game, rushing 11 times for 139 yards and a touchdown, catching one pass for 21 yards and returning two kickoffs for 95 yards. Brantley was consistent through the air, going 18-of-31 for 172 yards and two scores. Thompson and Moore each stepped up in the passing game, combining to catch 11 balls for 123 yards, while Moody and Gillislee rushed for a total of 83 yards.

Defensively, Florida nabbed four interceptions for the second-straight game and fourth time under head coach Urban Meyer. Lemmens stood out with a fumble recovery and sack, and the defensive line got consistent pressure on Daniels in the second half.

UF extended its home winning streak to 12 games and won its 22nd consecutive regular season contest Saturday. The Gators are now 10-0 against intrastate opponents under Meyer and 9-3-2 all-time against the Big East. After giving up three turnovers to Miami (OH) last week, Florida held onto the ball Saturday and simultaneously almost doubled their yardage production offensively.

The Gators hope to build on their strong second half when they leave home for the first time in the 2010-11 season next week to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, TN. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game will air live on CBS.

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

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Week 2: No. 6 Florida Gators v. South Florida Bulls

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 89°F, 20% chance of precipitation
Time: 12:21 p.m. (EST)

TV: SEC Network [affiliates]
Sirius/XM: 219/200
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Skip Holtz
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -15; O/U 50

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Saturday is the first-ever meeting between Florida and South Florida in football.
» The Gators are sporting an 11-game home winning streak and have won 21 consecutive regular season games. The Orange and Blue has a .897 (113-13) winning percentage at Florida Field since 1990, good for best in the nation.
» Under Meyer, Florida is 9-0 against intrastate opponents (5-0 vs. FSU, 1-0 vs. Miami, FIU, FAU and UCF).
» The Gators and Bulls were the only two teams in the country to record four interceptions in the first week of the 2010 season. This is the third time UF has picked off four balls under Meyer, the first time four different players did so.
» Florida is 8-3-2 all-time against Big East opponents.
» UF committed a nation-low 84 turnovers since 2005 and has had 23 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation).
» The Gators limited Miami (OH) to 0.2 yards per carry last week, four rushing yards on 22 carries. This is the fewest allowed by a Florida defense since it held Tennessee to -11 rushing yards on Sept. 16, 2006.
» For the 20th time in 22 games, the Gators did not allow a single punt return yard.
» South Florida has won six of its last nine games against teams ranked in the Associated Press and/or USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll(s).
» Florida assistant head coach/defense and defensive line coach Dan McCarney was on staff at USF in 2007; co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater worked with Holtz at Notre Dame in 1990.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who is looking to rebound from a rough outing in which he started his first collegiate game. He has thrown 86 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 12-1 TD/INT ratio while playing for the Gators.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who had a career-long 72-yard rushing TD last week. Demps leads the nation in rushing yards per touch (7.8) since 2008 and yards per carry (7.9) since 2009; he complied 98 yards on Saturday.
» Florida’s veteran offensive line…which is hoping senior center Mike Pouncey has overcome his snap problems and continue to be a strong leader for the group.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey…who has moved to the slot after playing running back for two seasons. Rainey hopes to be explosive while playing a modified “Percy Position” and could very well be the team’s best offensive weapon this season. He had a career-high six catches last week.
» Bulls starting QB B.J. Daniels…a dual-threat signal caller who draws comparisons to Michael Vick. Daniels went 15-of-22 for 264 yards and two TDs through the air and rushed five times for 23 yards and one TD on the ground last week against Stony Brook. He finished the 2009 season with 1,983 passing yards, 772 rushing yards and 23 total TDs, completing 53.7 percent of his passes and earning a QB rating of 139.55.
» Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown…who is now the team’s full-time starter opposite junior CB Janoris Jenkins. Brown missed last season with a back injury and is starting his first game Saturday.
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose…who missed the entire 2009 season with a hamstring injury but is expected to make an immediate impact offensively. Debose did not play against Miami (OH) and will see the field for the first time against South Florida.
» Sophomore RB Mike Gillislee…who has achieved a run of more than 40 yards in back-to-back games, rushing for a 41-yard gain against Miami (OH) and a 52-yard gain in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Probable – Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (knees), redshirt senior defensive tackles Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh
Doubtful – Freshman WR Chris Dunkley (hamstring)
Out – Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist)

Inactives
None (will update closer to game time)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators will be featured, in part, 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. In the first hour, Andrews, Desmond Howard and David Pollack will discuss what level of concern Florida should have for their team after a rough first week. Later in the show, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso will talk about the fumbling problems the Gators experienced against Miami (OH) and how easy or difficult it may be to get those fixed in a week’s time.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. South Florida Bulls preview after the jump!
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9/9: Florida Gators week two 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 second game Saturday against the South Florida Bulls. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

NIXON HEALTHY…BUT ACTIVE?

Sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) has been cleared to play Saturday; whether or not he will actually step on the field (or how long he will play) is another subject all together. Though Nixon is healthy enough to participate in game action, the Gators may choose to let him heal for another week if offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio believes his unit will be steady enough without him.

On Wednesday, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt, who has been filling in at right tackle while redshirt senior RT Marcus Gilbert has been playing on the left side, was under the impression that he would once again start there this week. “We’re still getting some guys back and we’re still shuffling the rotation, but for now I think I’m going to be at right tackle,” Hurt said. No matter what is decided Saturday, it looks like Nixon will return to his starting role against Tennessee the following week.

INJURY UPDATES

As Meyer predicted earlier in the week, it looks like redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (knee) will be ready to go Saturday. Reed’s snaps may be limited, but his presence should allow for a more typical rotation at the position with him and sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines as the primary plug-ins.

Meyer noted that freshman WR Chris Dunkley, who is still recovering from hamstring issues stemming from the conclusion of his high school career, is doubtful. With redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. (DUI) returning, redshirt freshman Andre Debose looking to get on the field and other receivers ahead of him knowledge-wise, Dunkley needs to get healthy while simultaneously learning the requirements of the position. Fellow freshman WR Quinton Dunbar is also hoping to see some action shortly.

Additionally, redshirt senior defensive tackles Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh will both be active and on the field playing Saturday against the Bulls.

BURTON BACKING UP; MURPHY STANDING IN

Last week we alerted you that the perception that freshman quarterback Tyler Murphy had replaced fellow freshman signal caller Trey Burton as the team’s primary backup behind redshirt junior starter John Brantley was likely a one-week scenario due to the fact that Burton was learning a bevy of other positions. Now that Reed is back in the mix at tight end and H-back, Burton has moved back to the No. 2 QB role (though he will likely see time on the field in other positions, too).

Simultaneously this week, Florida utilized Murphy as a stand-in for South Florida starting QB B.J. Daniels, a dual-threat player with a big arm and quick feet. Murphy apparently did well in this role during practice and was instrumental in helping the Gators prepare for their opponent this week.

For what it’s worth, Meyer continuously compares Burton’s talent and potential impact to that of former Florida stars WR Percy Harvin and TE Aaron Hernandez.

QUOTES

Meyer on Nixon’s starting status: “We don’t know that yet. That’s up to coach Addazio. We did talk about that today, and he hasn’t decided yet. Today’s practice was … key.”

Meyer on Dunkley’s progress: “He’s getting real close. He actually had a good day [Thursday]. I don’t know if he’ll get in this week [because] he’s had that hamstring forever. I wouldn’t say he was about 100 percent until last week. We’d like to get him involved. Same with Quinton Dunbar, who’s doing a nice job. [...] It’s just learning. [Dunkley] missed almost all of training camp. We’re in the season now and it’s hard to learn. We’re game-planning now. But he’s doing a good job. Talented guy.”

Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post and The Gainesville Sun.

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