FOUR BITS: Tebow, Bates, Wilkerson, WBK

1 » It is no secret that the Denver Broncos’ quarterback situation received plenty of coverage in 2011. With veteran Kyle Orton, former Florida Gators signal caller Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn all vying for the starting job, things were undoubtedly uncomfortable in Mile High. In the latest issue of GQ, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports submitted “An Oral History of Tebow Time” as told by analysts, coaches and players. Quinn was one of a number of players asked to talk about Tebow; he complied and did not hold back when it came to his true opinions. He began by noting that he was the true “second-string guy” on the roster but said Tebow got the nod over him to replace Orton for one reason in particular. “I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just ’cause they were chanting his name,” he said. “There was a big calling for him. No, I didn’t have any billboards. That would have been nice.”

Asked to explain how Tebow and Denver beat Kansas City with him only completing two passes, Quinn gave his explanation, seemingly blaming the opposing defense instead of crediting his team: “The entire game, the defensive line is chasing the quarterback around, and that wears down the pass rush. Meanwhile, the defensive backs are chasing receivers, but you only throw eight passes, so they start to feel lazy. It only takes that one play, that one big pass, for a touchdown.” Quinn later notes the obvious, that the Broncos “had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply” when it came to beating Chicago in Week 14. Just moments later though, he opines about Tebow as a person and offers a not-so-glowing opinion. “If you look at it as a whole, there’s a lot of things that just don’t seem very humble to me,” he said. “When I get that opportunity, I’ll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?”

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

Quinn has since released the following statement:

The comments attributed to me in a recent magazine article are in NO WAY reflective of my opinion of Tim and the Broncos. Tim deserves a lot of credit for our success and I’m happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate. That interview was conducted three months ago, and the resulting story was a completely inaccurate portrayal of my comments. I have addressed my disappointment with the writer and have reached out to Tim to clear this up. I apologize to anyone who feels I was trying to take anything away from our team’s or Tim’s success this season.

2 » Former Florida linebacker James Bates, a defensive captain with the Gators who has recently been working in college sports broadcasting, was recently the victim of a faulty piece of furniture. On hand to cover a college basketball game between Xavier and Dayton for CBS Sports Network, Bates’ stool collapsed live on the air. He was sent falling to the floor but kept a good disposition afterward, as you can see in the video below.

3 » The National College Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Friday that voting is underway for a new class to be selected out of a pool of “69 worthy candidates.” One of those candidates is none other than former Florida All-American hitter and pitcher Brad Wilkerson, a member of the 1996 and 1998 College World Series teams who was also a three-time All-SEC selection and the 1998 Collegiate Player of the Year, was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame on April 9, 2010. He played for four MLB teams and won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and still holds career records with the Gators for batting average, RBI, slugging percentage and walks.

4 » On Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Florida women’s basketball (17-10, 7-7 SEC) earned their biggest victory of the season with a 61-57 win over the No. 16/18 Georgia Bulldogs (20-7, 9-5 SEC). Junior forward Jennifer George (15 points, six rebounds) and senior guard Lanita Bartley (11 points, four boards) led the way for the Gators, which rebounded nicely after nearly defeating No. 24 Vanderbilt just a few days earlier UF will play their regular-season finale on Thursday against Mississippi State.

EXTRA BIT » Though Florida failed to prevail at the 2012 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships in Knoxville, TN over the weekend, the Gators did sweep one important category as sophomores Elizabeth Beisel and Marcin Cieslak were named the 2012 SEC Female and Male Swimmer of the Year, respectively. Florida won eight individual SEC titles at the event with Beisel and Marcin each taking home three. The women’s team finished second overall behind Auburn, while the men came in third behind Georgia and Tennessee.

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Tebow takes over SportsCenter for another hour

ESPN spent the vast majority of the 11 a.m. edition of its flagship program SportsCenter taking a look at Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow from a number of different angles on Thursday. The network spoke about Tebow for approximately 50 minutes while covering the some other news of the day in between his segments.

The show began with a highlight package of clips from Denver’s victory over Pittsburgh in the wild card round of the 2011-12 NFL Playoffs, capped by Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to ice the game.

Read the rest of this TebowCenter post…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tebow takes over SportsCenter for another hour

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Tim Tebow named Denver Broncos starting QB

The Denver Broncos confirmed Tuesday that Tim Tebow will take over as starting quarterback on Oct. 23 against the Miami Dolphins following the team’s bye week.

At 1-4 on the season and with Tebow nearly leading a comeback after entering the game as a reserve last Sunday, Denver had little choice in the matter.

Though head coach John Fox believed Kyle Orton – not Tebow – gave the Broncos the best chance to win at the beginning of the season, he decided to turn to his backup at this time because Denver will have two practices during the bye in which to install new plays before preparing for their game at Miami next week.

Tebow started the final three games of the 2010 season, leading the Broncos to a 1-2 record that included a come-from-behind victory against Houston and a near duplication of that performance vs. San Diego. He completed 49.3 percent of his passes for 217 yards passing in those games and rushed for 66.3 yards per contest.

Accounting for seven touchdowns and three interceptions in his 2010 starts, Tebow had four more in a reserve role. He has scored at least one rushing and passing touchdown in all five NFL games in which he has touched the ball at least three times.

With Denver down 13 points to San Diego at the half on Sunday, Tebow took over in the third quarter and attempted to rally his team from behind. He scored two touchdowns (one rushing) in three minutes, brought the Broncos within two points (a conversion attempt to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was dropped) and drove the ball 51 yards down the field with 24 seconds remaining before a hail mary attempt fell incomplete.

The fact that Tebow will start his first game of the 2011 season against the Dolphins is an interesting one. Miami attempted to trade for Orton in the offseason but was unsuccessful, a move that likely would have led to Tebow starting from week one.

The Dolphins will also be hosting a celebration for the Florida Gators 2009 BCS National Championship team on Oct. 23 as a promotion to reach out to the largest alumni base of South Florida. There will be a special on-field ceremony at halftime with former head coach Urban Meyer and past Gators players in attendance.

Broncos fans can now set their clocks because it’s Tebow time in Denver.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger

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Tebow nearly leads Broncos to comeback win

The Denver Broncos faithful have been waiting, hoping and – yes – praying for quarterback Tim Tebow to take the reins of their team this season.

With the Broncos sporting a 1-3 record and losing 23-10 to the San Diego Chargers at halftime on Sunday, they finally got their wish.

Tebow entered Sunday’s contest for a two-yard rush earlier in the game but took over for veteran QB Kyle Orton in the third quarter. At that point, Denver’s sole touchdown was a result of an interception return that occurred in the first quarter.

He came in after Orton had completed just 6-of-13 passes for 34 yards with an interception and started slow but eventually changed the complexion of the game.

Tebow was 1-for-5 on his first three drives; two of them went three-and-out and all three ended with a punt. Denver got the ball back at midfield with 8:34 remaining in the game, and that is when Tebow began leading the comeback.

After running back Willis McGahee hit a hole for 28 yards, Tebow avoided a pass rush on the next play and scrambled for 11 yards. He then took a designed draw up the middle 12 yards for a touchdown, and McGahee followed to score the two-point conversion.

The Broncos recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession, providing Tebow with another short field. He ran for eight yards on the first play and threw a screen pass on the third that RB Knowshon Moreno took 28 yards for a touchdown. Denver went for another two-point conversion to tie the game, but wide receiver Brondon Lloyd dropped a fade from Tebow that hit him in the hands.

San Diego ran out the clock and hit a field goal after that, and Denver started out at their own 20 with just 24 seconds left in the game. Tebow responded by completing consecutive passes of 20 (a redemption grab by Lloyd) and 31 yards to lead the Broncos down to the Chargers’ 29-yard-line with one second to go.

Taking the final snap of the afternoon, Tebow scanned the field for an open receiver, scrambled for five seconds (avoiding three sacks) and threw an incompletion into the end zone to conclude the game. The home crowd chanted “Tebow, Tebow” after the incomplete pass as he was interviewed on the field afterward.

He finished having completed just 4-of-10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown (for a QB rating of 101.7) but also carried the ball for 38 yards and another score.

Tebow has now thrown and rushed for a touchdown in all five NFL games in which he has attempted at least two passes (three starts).

Denver has a bye next week and will play its next game on the road against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 23. Miami has decided to honor the Florida Gators 2009 BCS National Championship team that day with a special on-field ceremony. Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and a number of former Gators players will be in attendance.

Photo Credit: Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

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TWO Tebow BITS: Denver banner, Jay-Z lyrics

1 » Denver Broncos fans are annoyed. Not so much that second-year quarterback Tim Tebow remains on the bench in an undefined position but rather than veteran Kyle Orton is still the team’s starter after another dismal performance to begin the season. How angry are the Broncos faithful? According to the Denver Post, eight Denver fans plan to spend $10,000 to ensure that head coach John Fox understands they are tired of Orton and ready for some Tebow time. “We believe in Coach Fox, we’re just tired of Kyle Orton,” Jesse Oaks told the paper. “We were sitting around after Fox said he didn’t hear the chants for Tebow, and we figured if he’s deaf, we hope he’s not blind.” The eight men (and other fans who are contributing to their fund) plan to purchase two billboards in downtown Denver to voice their displeasure and call for a change at Mile High.

2 » Featured in the new song Mr. Nice Watch from hip-hop artist J. Cole, Jay-Z contributes a verse at the end of the track and gives shout outs to none other than Tebow and the Florida Gators in the first few bars of his lyrics. You can read them below (edited for language) or listen to the clean version of the song by clicking the play button.

I got a Hublot, I call it Tebow
I strap that b**** with a Gator band
Y’all n**** ball half time, y’all n**** like the Gator band

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The Silver Lining: Media shares the blame but tornado of Tim Tebow began in-house

Take every story written about every backup quarterback in the history of the NFL, combine them, and you probably would not reach the level of attention Denver Broncos second-year reserve Tim Tebow has received this offseason.

While a lot of the diatribes and “insider” stories about him are driven by one thing in particular – page views – it is important to realize that the media cannot be solely held responsible for this barnstorm of criticism and relative subjectivity about one of the most polarizing players in the league. His team has to take some blame, too.

Read the rest of this column…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: Media shares the blame but tornado of Tim Tebow began in-house

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Reports: Broncos pick Orton to start over Tebow

Updated 11:45 p.m.

When the Denver Broncos failed to complete a successful trade for veteran quarterback Kyle Orton last week, questions arose about what exactly the team would do now that it might be stuck paying him nearly $9 million in 2011.

The organization answered those queries Wednesday and officially named Orton the team’s starting signal caller, according to ESPN‘s Adam Schefter and the NFL Network, relegating second-year QB Tim Tebow to a back-up role.

Though Schefter and the NFL Network stand by their reports, head coach John Fox dismissed the notion that the team has made their minds up one way or another when he spoke with the Associated Press late Wednesday.

“My story’s been the same regardless of what you hear,” Fox said. “And I’m in those meetings every day and know what’s said to everybody. Nothing’s changed. We’ve been singing the same song as seven months ago.”

Reports coming out near the conclusion of the NFL lockout had Denver looking to get rid of Orton after deciding to roll with Tebow in 2011. Though the former was the team’s 2010 starter and completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 3,653 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games, the latter earned the final three starts of the season and scored at least a passing and rushing touchdown in each game.

Tebow finished 2010 with 654 yards through the air, five passing touchdowns, three interceptions, 227 rushing yards and six rushing scores. He completed passes at a 50 percent rate but also rushed for 78 and 94 yards in week 14 and 16, respectively.

Many wondered whether Fox and team executive vice president John Elway believed in Tebow going forward, but the former standout QB answered those questions in a May interview with ESPN‘s Ed Werder.

“He’s one of those guys who – if he comes out and is the player we hope he can be – then we’re in pretty darn good shape,” Elway said. “I think where we are as an organization, we’re going to go with Tim.”

Responding in kind, Tebow felt uplifted by how much support he received from Elway and the Broncos’ front office.

“I believe in them, and they believe in me,” Tebow said. “To have John Elway say positive things about you is just amazing. He’s played the game at the highest level possible, and I’m excited because he’s going to be a great asset for me.”

Yet while offseason signs pointed to the former Heisman Trophy winner starting under center during week one, something obviously changed when the players were free from the restrictions of the lockout.

Orton stepped on the field at the onset of training camp and was handed the majority of and eventually all first-team snaps. Reports coming out of Denver had him shining during practice while Tebow struggled with his accuracy but still completed some impressive passes to the team’s second-team receivers.

For now, Tebow’s Broncos career remains in limbo. Denver must decide whether or not they will sign Orton to an extension, keeping him at Mile High for the foreseeable future, or allow him to walk as a free agent and roll with Tebow in 2012.

One option that is likely not in the cards for the Broncos is trading Tebow; his contract makes that a near impossibility. Set to earn a fully guaranteed $1.618.75 million base salary in 2011, Tebow is also set to earn a $6.275 million bonus 29 days after the league year begins. The nearly $7.9 million combined figure is too much for any team to take on for an unproven second-year quarterback.

Of course, there are four preseason games to play between now and the start of the 2011 regular season and anything can happen during the year, too.

Photo Credit: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

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FOUR BITS: Lochte, Tebow, softball, Watkins

1 » Continuing his efforts in replacing Michael Phelps as the face of USA Swimming, former Florida Gators standout Ryan Lochte defeated the 14-time Olympic gold medalist by 0:00.35 to win the 200-meter freestyle at the World Swimming Championships in China. Lochte, the owner of four world records, took home gold in the event as he continues his trek to the 2012 London Olympics.

2 » The Denver Post reported early Tuesday that the Denver Broncos have been entertaining offers for veteran quarterback Kyle Orton after putting him on the trading block, setting the stage for former Gators signal caller Tim Tebow to take the reigns in Mile High. Tebow, who arrived for the first day of practice at 7:45 a.m. even though the doors did not open until 8:01 a.m., was the second player to make it to the facility (a practice squad offensive lineman got there minutes earlier).

3 » USA Softball won the 2011 World Cup of Softball on Monday, defeating Japan 6-4 in the finale of the event at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. Florida junior right fielder Brittany Schutte contributed a sacrifice fly to plate a run in the contest; Gators senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie was also a member of the team.

4 » Friday Night Lights, though it has not directly resulted in any commitments as of press time, made quite an impression with a number of top players who visited for one of Florida’s biggest recruiting nights of the year. Four-star defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (Forest City, NC), the No. 8 player at his position and a member of the Rivals100, told The Gainesville Sun that the Gators bumped their way up his list, which also consists of Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina. Florida three-star safety commit Rhaheim Ledbetter (Boiling Springs, NC), Watkins’ friend and fellow North Carolina product, believes the player’s most recent trip may have turned him to the Orange & Blue. “I think Friday Night Lights might have just did it for him,” he said on Saturday. “I told him once you get down to Florida and you see that place, you’re gonna love it.” Ledbetter is recruiting both Watkins and five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC) hard, hoping both of his friends join him in Gainesville, FL. “He always gives me the Gator Chomp when he sees me,” Watkins said about Ledbetter’s recruiting tactics. “He wants all of us to come there.”

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