Grading the Florida Gators at Alabama 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 decided to change things up a bit when looking at how the Gators fared against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the fifth game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.

OFFENSE: D
Florida scored six points on Saturday via the kicking game with the offense failing to post a single touchdown for only the second time under head coach Urban Meyer. In fact, the Gators’ output was the team’s lowest total since Meyer’s first game in Tuscaloosa five years ago. After Florida came out of the gates hot with four first downs, 74 yards gained and an opportunity score from the goal line on their first offensive possession, the offense stalled only posting a total of 27 yards the remainder of the first half. Just like they started the game, the Gators began the second half with gusto, posting a 69-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. Truth be told, the second half as a whole showed better execution with Florida running 38 offensive plays for 222 total yards (vs. 28 for 101 yards in the first half). But worse than the unit’s first half production was its propensity for turnovers with redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley throwing two interceptions (one returned for a TD), freshman QB Trey Burton tossing one on a jump pass and redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody fumbling a hand-off in the red zone.

DEFENSE: C
The defense got off to a rough start on Saturday, allowing Alabama to score three touchdowns and a field goal on its first four offensive possessions. After holding the Crimson Tide to an opening drive field goal after they drove 68 yards in 10 plays, the Gators let them put together back-to-back touchdown drives and allowed a third after Brantley’s first interception. Once that barrage ended, Florida only allowed Alabama 31 total yards on their next four possessions (including a kneel down to end the first half). In fact, the Gators only gave up three first downs in the second half, two of which came on the Crimson Tide’s final possession. QB Greg McElroy was held to 84 yards passing, Heisman Trophy winning RB Mark Ingram only gained 47 yards on 12 carries and RB Tony Richardson ran 10 times for 63 yards because of one 30-yard burst.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
Meyer loves special teams and we here at OGGOA love special teams. So when a guy like senior punter/kicker Chas Henry puts on a performance like he did last Saturday, it is our desire to give the unit an “A+” and go “on to the next one.” Unfortunately his career-long 75-yard punt, 62.3 yards per punt average and two made field goals were simply bright spots on a unit that showed a major flaw. Alabama WR Julio Jones‘ 41-yard punt return put a black eye on Florida’s special teams, a unit that had not allowed a single punt return yard in 20 of 22 previous games before giving some up in each of its last four contests.

COACHING: D+
Unlike last season, one thing that has stands out this year in regards to the Gators’ coaching staff is its ability to make halftime adjustments. On both offense and defense Florida drastically improved after the half though offensive coordinator Steve Addazio’s unit was still unable to cross the goal line. The first half was filled with errors on both sides of the ball; the offense started strong but was deflated after Burton’s interception and the defense just did not seem able to stop a motivated Alabama offense. Though execution is primarily at fault for the team’s misfortunes, coaching and preparedness was obviously not at the level it needed to be going into the game.

PLAY CALLING / EXECUTION / TURNOVERS
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10/6: 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 the health of his players on Wednesday, Meyer indicated that his starting offensive line, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley and running backs junior Jeff Demps and sophomore Mike Gillislee should all be good to go for Saturday’s game against LSU.

“Offensive line is in tact. I believe they’re 100 percent ready to rock and roll,” Meyer said. “Jeff Demps is probable, [he] did not practice yesterday [in full]. Gillislee did practice full.” As for Brantley? “Johnny practiced yesterday. He’s sore, but he practiced.”

» Coming out of the Alabama game and going into this week, Meyer noted that his top concern was the punt coverage unit, which allowed a 42-yard return to wide receiver Julio Jones last week. “No. 1. That is absolutely our No. 1 concern on our football team right now,” said Meyer of the coverage. The Gators must get that corrected this week with Patrick Peterson looking for similar big gains.

» Meyer also said that the team was confident about its short-yardage running game last week but feels much differently now. “We felt good going into the Alabama game and now we don’t feel good again,” he said. Gillislee is now the primary “downhill back to get the first down” and that redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody has “got to continue to improve at that position.” The youngster is Meyer’s first option, but he indicated the real improvement must come from the front as the offensive line and tight end need to block better on those plays.

MEYER QUOTES

No opening statement provided.

On LSU being Florida’s permanent SEC West opponent: “I know that every year-in and year-out we’re facing arguably the team with the most talent in the conference and one of the most difficult places to play. […] Every year they look the same to me.”

On what separates LSU from other teams: “The quality of player. The quality of athlete. I’ve always thought that stadium is one of the hardest in the country to play in. What makes it different is just when you see that team jog out of the tunnel that’s as good looking of a team as there is.”

On how the Gators’ “bloody Tuesday” practice went: “It was one of our better Tuesdays and today’s obviously a real critical day as well. Yeah, they did have a really nice day yesterday.”

On if freshman QB Trey Burton will be used Saturday: “We hope to use Trey a little bit in that game at quarterback.”

On senior punter/kicker Chas Henry: “Chas I thought did really well. … [Junior Caleb] Sturgis is still our kicker, as soon as he’s healthy. That kind of injury, they’re not sure how long that will be. But this week Chas will do both.”

MILES QUOTES

LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles on the SEC West being better than the SEC East: “The great teams play great defense. I think the great teams can run the football and they don’t make mistakes. I think really both East and West you find that to be the case. Obviously the West here seems to get tougher and tougher each year. Of course I see those guys every year. In the East, obviously we see Florida every year and that is a very capable team. I can see at times certain teams are more capable to run it, throw it and have better defenses. I think that’s really the swing. I don’t necessarily see a big difference between East and West.”

On avoiding predictability with his two quarterbacks: “Both quarterbacks will throw and run. Both quarterbacks will have a pretty balanced menu. Both quarterbacks will run the football differently and throw in a like fashion. They’re going to have to defend the run and the pass no matter what quarterback’s in. Hopefully we’ll avoid that predictability that way.”

On Florida’s secondary and ability to intercept balls: “They have great speed. You obviously have to know where you’re throwing the football. It’s a place where you have to be careful because if you put the ball up in the air and let it hang too long it can end up in the opponent’s hands. We’re going to attack them with a full view to how they predictably play their secondary.”

This post will be updated later Wednesday with more quotes.

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No.7 Florida Gators at No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Bryant–Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, AL [Capacity: 101,821]
Weather Forecast: 67°F, clear skies
Time: 8:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 122/143
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 7 FLORIDA GATORS No. 1 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 4-0 (2-0) Record: 4-0 (1-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Alabama -8; O/U 48

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida has won 24 consecutive regular season games, 13-straight road games and 16 regular season SEC games in a row. Combined with Alabama, the duo have combined to win 52-straight regular season games. The teams have also won three of the last four national titles and have two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners.
» UA is 21-14 all-time against UF, holding a 6-5 lead in the series at Tuscaloosa. The Gators and Crimson Tide are an even 8-8 in the state of Alabama and have split the last two SEC Championship games with Florida winning in 2008.
» The Gators are 4-10-2 against defending national champions all-time, 3-2-1 since 1990, 4-6 when the team is from the SEC (3-0 since 1993). Florida is also 3-7 against Associated Press No. 1-ranked teams all-time and 2-1 in those contests under Meyer.
» The Gators lead the nation with 12 interceptions through three games. Their +8 turnover margin is tied for fourth in the country.
» For the third time in four games this season, Florida got a defensive touchdown via an interception return against Kentucky. UF has recorded at least two interceptions in every game this year, four coming from outside the secondary.
» Alabama (11.3) and Florida (12.8) are ranked first and second in the SEC (second and fourth, respectively, in the nation) in fewest points allowed per game since 2009.
» The Gators have the best red zone touchdown percentage in the SEC since 2007 (156/226 – 69%) and have the best red zone scoring defense in the nation (59/82 – 72%) in that same time period.
» Florida has gone 14-for-14 in the red zone over the last two games with 13 touchdowns and a field goal. The Gators’ red zone efficiency is 89.5 percent on the season including 16 touchdowns and one field goal.
» UF has scored 30+ points in five straight games, the longest active streak in the SEC.
» Florida has committed a nation-low 87 turnovers since 2005 and has had 24 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation). Alabama is ranked third in the nation, only having given up 90 turnovers in the same time span.
» The Crimson Tide’s defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38-straight games.
» Gators redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan attended Armwood High School (Tampa, FL) with the Crimson Tide’s Petey Smith.
» Florida redshirt senior left tackle Marcus Gilbert and freshman wide receiver Solomon Patton both attended St. Thomas Aquinas high school (Fort Lauderdale, FL) along with Alabama’s Nick Williams.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who threw 156 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 16-2 TD/INT ratio while playing for the Gators. He set career-highs in completions (24), attempts (35) and yards (248) vs. Kentucky.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game last week. Burton has eight scores on the season and has been working extensively out of the Wildcat formation while also playing H-back, WR, tight end, fullback and special teams.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who has led the Gators in rushing in every game this season with totals of 98, 139, 73 and 57 yards. He ran the ball a career-high 26 times two weeks ago against Tennessee and left the Kentucky game early with a sprained foot. Demps is also No. 2 in the SEC with a 32.5-yard kick return average.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson…who set a career-high in yardage (86) for the second time this season last week. As Brantley’s primary pass catcher, 16 of Thompson’s 18 catches this season have been for first downs.
» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore…who is improving each week. After catching two first downs against Tennessee, Moore notched four more on four catches against Kentucky.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted eight balls this season. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) and are leading the way for the unit. Brown returned one for a touchdown last week, and Black is tops on the team with 30 tackles on the year while also being the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233). Jenkins leads the SEC with seven passes defended.
» Sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic…who has nabbed three interceptions in four games (all in UF territory) and been a tackling machine (20 in the last three contests).
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who has not only been Florida’s most valuable special teams player but will also be handling all kicking duties for the Gators for the foreseeable future with junior kicker Caleb Sturgis out of action.
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard…who had one of the best games of his career against Kentucky and will pay tribute to deceased walk-on defender Lamar Abel by wearing his No. 62 jersey.

» Alabama’s “Start Fast – Finish Strong”…which is a motto held by the team that has been utilized extensively this year. The Crimson Tide have a 56-16 edge in the first quarter and a 31-3 advantage against opponents in the fourth quarter this season.
» Crimson Tide RB Mark Ingram…who has 12 100-yard performances in his career and is second on his team with 33 carries for 308 yards and four touchdowns after missing the first two games of the season.
» Alabama RB Trent Richardson…who leads his team with 47 carries for 356 yards and four touchdowns.
» Crimson Tide WR Julio Jones…who leads his unit in receptions (20), yards (303) and touchdowns (2). The team has three receivers with double-digit catches this season.
» Alabama QB Greg McElroy…who has yet to lose a game as a starter in college (18-0) and is 34-0 dating back to his senior year of high school. McElroy has not lost a game since the 8th grade. He has thrown 70.9 percent of his passes for completions this year with 899 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
» Crimson Tide S Robert Lester…who leads the SEC with four interceptions.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Game-time decision – Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot)
Out – Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan

Inactives
(Will update closer to game time)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators are set to be heavily featured in 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. Even though the “World Wide Leader in Sports” did not choose to host the event in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Florida and Alabama will be given an entire segment during the main program. There will be a “rivalry revisited” look at the recent history between the two teams and how the series has played out over the last few years, columnist Pat Forde will take a look at the game, and Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit will talk about UF’s defense. The Crimson Tide will also receive a feature on McElroy, while the Gators get one on Burton. Chris Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso will conclude by discussing the Gators’ chances of an upset while making picks at the end of the show. [Notes in this section are as of press time.]

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » No.7 Florida Gators at No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

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Grading the Florida vs. Alabama game (+ FSU)

Each week following a Florida Gators game, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will grade the team position-by-position based on each unit’s performance. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2009 SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA. Following those grades, OGGOA has provided its overlooked grades (without explanations) for the Florida State Seminoles game.

QUARTERBACKS: B
Florida seemingly decided to put the entire offense on senior quarterback Tim Tebow’s shoulders. How else could you explain the 35 passing attempts and team-high 10 carries? On the ground, Tebow rushed for 63 yards. Through the air, he completed 57 percent of his passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw a costly interception into the end zone and came up short on numerous occasions. Like the strategy or not, Tebow was responsible for almost every offensive snap of an offense that failed to get the job done against a stout Alabama defense.

RUNNING BACKS: I
Inexplicably, Florida’s running backs touched the ball a total of three times on Saturday. Three. In the Gators’ first 12 games, sophomore Jeff Demps averaged eight carries (7.7 yards), redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey averaged seven touches (6.4 yards) and redshirt junior transfer Emmanuel Moody averaged five rushes (7.3 yards). That is a total of 20 running plays and well over 100 yards of rushing that were not part of Florida’s offensive game plan. The only possible grade for this unit is “incomplete.”

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the SEC Championship after the jump…
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida vs. Alabama game (+ FSU)

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2009 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – (Atlanta, GA) – No. 1 Florida Gators v. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 71,228]
Time: 4:00 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: N/A

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online: CBSSports.com
Sirius: 123; XM: 144

No. 1 Florida Gators No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 12-0 (8-0) Record: 12-0 (8-0)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5, O/U 41
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida’s 2009 senior class…the winningest group in Southeastern Conference history with a 47-6 overall record. The seniors will be playing in their third SEC Championship game in the Georgia Dome in four years.
– Senior quarterback Tim Tebow and Alabama running back Mark Ingram…who will both be making their respective cases for the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Considered two of the main competitors for the award, Tebow and Ingram each have a chance, through their play, to make an argument that they should win the trophy.
- Junior defensive end Justin Trattou…who along with redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard will be filling in for suspended junior starting DE Carlos Dunlap.
- Junior cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Julio Jones…who will face off in what could potentially be the match-up of the game between one of the best CBs and one of the best WRs in the nation.
- Head coach Urban Meyer…who is 2-0 in the SEC Championship and a combined 5-1 with Florida in championship or bowl games.
- Kick returners Brandon James and Javier Arenas…who each have a chance to make a difference in the game on special teams. James will be going up against one of the worst coverage units in college football while Arenas, one of the best returners in 2009, will be going up against the best punt coverage in the nation (13 total yards allowed). In 11 of 12 games, Florida have allowed zero punt return yards.
- Experienced players…the Gators feature 19 starters and 44 players who saw action in the 2008 SEC Championship, while the Crimson Tide return 10 starters and 36 players of their own from the game.

STREAKS:
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 22 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the nation in the last 15 years. 21 of Florida’s 22 wins have been by a double digit margin. The team is also 12-0 for the second time in school history, the first time solely in the regular season.
- Florida and Alabama meet in the SEC Championship for the second year in a row and seventh time since the game was instituted in 1992. The Gators are 4-2 in these games and 6-4 overall in the last 10 meetings. Alabama leads the all-time series 20-14.
- For the first time in SEC Championship history, both division leaders are undefeated.
- Florida has the most SEC Championship game wins and appearances by any team.
- The Gators lead the SEC in total offense (451.3), rushing offense (236.7) and third-down efficiency (.500). They also come in No. 2 in scoring offense (36.5). Florida’s offense is the only unit in the nation that has posted at least 2,800 rushing yards and 2,575 passing yards on the season.
- On defense, the Gators have only surrendered 11 touchdowns (nine from scrimmage) all season (both totals fewest in the nation). The unit has only allowed 14 field goals for a total of 118 points (9.8 per game) – tops in the nation. The defense is also No. 1 in total defense (233.1 yards per game) and pass defense (143.2 yards per game).
- The Gators have not thrown an interception in over a month (Oct. 24); however, the defense has recorded 13 interceptions over the past six weeks – most in the nation.
- Florida’s defense has held nine of its 12 opponents under 100 yards rushing. The secondary has held four opponents under 100 yards passing and forced six to complete fewer than 50 percent of their pass attempts.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » 2009 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – (Atlanta, GA) – No. 1 Florida Gators v. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide

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SIX BITS: Strong is No. 1, vote for Tebow, Alabama players, Jones vs. Haden, volleyball in NCAAs

1 » Over the past few days, OGGOA has reported that Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is the leading candidate to replace Steve Kragthorpe as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals. Yesterday, it was reported that Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich planned to wait until after the 2009 SEC Championship game to contact Strong after asking Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley for permission. Jurich expanded on his stance to the Courier-Journal Tuesday evening. “I want to get the program rolling, I want to get after it, but I gave my word to several people that I didn’t want to be a disruption to their program,” he said. “A lot of guys are still playing for a lot of important things. I’m the last person I want to get in the way.”

2 » Senior quarterback Tim Tebow has been named as one of three finalist for the 2009 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, which is given annually to the top quarterback in college football. The other two finalists are Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy and Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum. Fans are given 5 percent of the vote and can cast their ballot for Tebow to win the award every day until Dec. 6 by visiting http://www.VoteOBrien.org.

Check out four more very informative Florida Gators BITS after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Strong is No. 1, vote for Tebow, Alabama players, Jones vs. Haden, volleyball in NCAAs

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FOUR BITS: Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy, SEC tickets

1 » Surveying four Southeastern Conference head coaches, ESPN’s Ivan Maisel came to one inevitable conclusion: Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow is the difference between his team and the Alabama Crimson Tide when it comes to the 2009 SEC Championship game. “The Crimson Tide don’t have a quarterback who has started 22 consecutive victories, has won a National Championship and a Heisman [Trophy], and is 34-5 overall as a starter,” Maisel writes. “Alabama doesn’t have Tebow.”

» In other Tebow news, he has been named as one of five finalists for the 2009 Walter Camp Award given to college football’s Player of the Year.

2 » Alabama QB Greg McElroy has done his job for the Crimson Tide so far in 2009. Leading the team to an undefeated regular season, McElroy’s SEC passing numbers are comparable to Tebow’s (though he does not use his legs). McElroy has also proved that he can get it done with the game on the line, like he did last week against the Auburn Tigers. Nevertheless, “he’ll need that same kind of poise Saturday (and maybe then some) against the best defense he’s faced all season.”

3 » Tebow may be getting all the press, but does it really take The Huntsville Times to point out that the Gators are about more than just their star QB? Paul Gattis writes that, “when it comes to the Gators, they are more than their brightest stars.” For example, Florida senior wide receiver Riley Cooper has more catches and receiving yards than Alabama’s Julio Jones – and twice as many touchdowns, too. That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Gators’ complimentary players.

4 » Tickets to the SEC Championship showdown of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country are the hottest things going right now. Averaging $583 per seat on StubHub, ticket prices for the 2009 game in the resale market are almost $100 more than they were in 2008. The SEC has even gone as far as to alert fans to be cautious of purchasing counterfeit tickets.

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