Spikes probable, Trattou doubtful for Miss. State

Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has had a rough start to his final season with the Florida Gators. Diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis, Spikes has been taking pain injections and limping – both literally and figuratively – through practices and games all year. He seemed to have overcome his injury two Saturdays ago, tallying 11 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble against the then-No. 4 LSU Tigers.

That performance earned Spikes an SEC Defensive Player of the Week honor as well as nominations to the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award and Butkus Award watch lists. He was looking to follow it up with a strong game this past weekend against the Arkansas Razorbacks on homecoming weekend in The Swamp.

Instead, Spikes aggravated a groin injury that some believe he first suffered during practice on Wednesday. He came out of the game immediately and was in street clothes when the second half began. Even so, head coach Urban Meyer, during his weekly Monday afternoon press conference, has declared Spikes probable for Saturday’s game at the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

[UPDATE:] Meyer also spoke about defensive end Justin Trattou, who injured his biceps tendon during the Arkansas game. Trattou is listed as doubtful for Saturday.

OGGOA will keep you updated on Spikes’ health and status throughout the week.

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FOUR BITS: Another Lochte; Volleyball sweeps; Soccer ties, wins; Cross Country finishes 2nd

1 » Former Florida Gators student-athlete Ryan Lochte is one of the most decorated swimmers in school history. A star in college, Lochte moved on to win three gold, one silver and two bronze medals combined in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Looking to return the 2012 Games in London, Lochte is not the only member of his family with aquatic tendencies. His brother Devon, 19, is a redshirt freshman at Florida and plans to compete in mid-distance free style and butterfly this season. “[Devon] has got some real good physical tools and a nice feel for the water,” said Gators swimming coach Gregg Troy. While Devon not nearly as good as his older brother, he is getting there. “If he’s 110 percent devoted and dedicated and willing to push his body, I think he’s going to be better than me,” Ryan said. In truth, all that Devon cares about is getting to the Olympics and achieving his secret lifelong goal. “We never really told anyone, but we want to be in the Olympics on the same relay team,” Devon said.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Another Lochte; Volleyball sweeps; Soccer ties, wins; Cross Country finishes 2nd

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Grading the Florida Gators vs. Arkansas game

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 Arkansas Razorbacks in The Swamp.

QUARTERBACK: B
It is tough to evaluate Tim Tebow week-in and week-out, because you feel tempted to grade him an A every time. In looking at Saturday’s game, you see Tebow led the Gators on a 14-play, 69-yard drive at the end of the fourth quarter that resulted in a 27-yard, game-winning field goal by Caleb Sturgis. You also see that he went 17-for-26 for 255 yards passing, one touchdown (the longest of his career) and added 69 more yards on the ground. But that would be looking over the two fumbles he had in the first half, the fact that it took him 27 carries to get those 69 yards and the six sacks he suffered – a handful of which he could have avoided by throwing the ball out of bounds when he was outside the pocket.

RUNNING BACKS: C-
For most of the game, the entire Florida rushing attack was averaging 1.2 yards per carry. For a unit that led the nation most of the year in rushing, that is simply unacceptable. Arkansas game-planned for the dive play, and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio kept calling it – so it is hard to put all the fault on the backs. Even so, 3.5 yards per carry on 19 attempts is just not acceptable. Jeff Demps saved the unit from complete failure with his run and touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. Arkansas game

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Week 7: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Ark. Razorbacks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 68°F – Partly sunny

TV: CBS-HD
Online: Live for FREE at CBSSports.com.
Sirius: 217; XM: 201

Florida Gators Arkansas Razorbacks
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Bobby Petrino
Record: 5-0 (3-0) Record: 3-2 (1-2)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -24.5, O/U 58
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

KEEP AN EYE ON…
- Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow…who is currently second all-time to former Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker in Southeastern Conference rushing touchdowns with 48. He needs one more to tie Walker’s record.
- The UF secondary…which has an interception in 17 straight games back to 2008.
- Arkansas Razorbacks running back Michael Smith…who torched the Gators for 133 yards on 20 carries and 43 more on six receptions in 2008. Smith will be a game-time decision to play with a hamstring injury.
- Linebacker Brandon Hicks…who was shoved by Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett after making a hard tackle along the Arkansas sideline in 2008. Revenge?

STREAKS:
- The Gators have won seven consecutive games against the Razorbacks, never scoring less than 33 points in each victory. Florida is 7-1 all-time against Arkansas.
- Saturday’s game pits the top rushing offense in the SEC, Florida at 284.6 yards per game, against the top passing offense in the conference, Arkansas with 318.2 yards per game. The Gators also lead the nation in total defense (202.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (6.4 yards per game).
- Last time the Razorbacks played a No. 1-ranked team, they defeated the LSU Tigers 50-48 in three overtimes in 2007. Arkansas is 4-11 all-time in games against the No. 1-ranked AP team.
- The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 15 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and are tied with the Auburn Tigers for the longest winning streak in SEC history.
- Scoring at least 41 points in four of their first five games, Arkansas has already beaten a ranked team this season, the then-No. 17 Auburn Tigers 44-23 last week.
- On Saturday, Florida looks to win its 21st consecutive homecoming game.

Read OGGOA’s complete Florida vs. Arkansas preview after the jump…

Continue Reading » Week 7: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Ark. Razorbacks

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FOUR BITS: Florida Gators defense edition

1 » ESPN’s SEC blogger Chris Low sat down with Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong to speak about his career and the 2009 UF defense. “I told Urban Meyer this summer that Charlie’s a better coordinator than he was three years ago,” South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said in an interview. “Not only do they have outstanding athletes, but they’re very well-coached, disguise coverages very well and seem to know what the other team is doing all the time.” Great interview by Low; I highly recommended that you give it a once over.

2 » Expanding on Strong is the Gainesville Sun, who adds more from Spurrier and picked the brain of LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles as well. Spurrier continued, “Charlie, like all good coaches, if there is a better way to do something, he looks for it.” Miles agreed. “The way he attacks you,” Miles said, “he’s constantly stirring the pot looking to be better.” Strong’s defense faces their toughest test of the season Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks. If some Florida fans had their way when Meyer was hired, Strong wouldn’t even be the one coaching the unit. “I got killed [for retaining Strong] … e-mails, phone calls, letters. What are you doing?” Meyer said. “Florida’s defense wasn’t very good. But I did some research. Obviously, it was a great hire. I’m glad he’s part of our staff. I fight to keep him every year. He’s on top of his game right now.”

3 » Defensive end Carlos Dunlap could very well be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Yet you never would have thought that if you were following him throughout last season. Back then, he was just a player with great potential – a guy who had all of the talent and ability in the world but did not work hard enough for Meyer or Strong to make them think he could be a solid contributor to the Gators defense. Now? All of that has changed and something clicked in Dunlap that is fueling him to be the dominant force that was always inside him. “He is much, much improved right now from any time last year,” Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. “He’s working harder. His attitude is better. His practice habits are better. I’m really proud of him.”

4 » The Gators coaching staff’s focus on Saturday’s game against the Razorbacks is not one dimensional. In addition to trying to beat the Arkansas on the gridiron, Florida wants to win over the recruits that will be in the stands. That list of recruits just got bigger as Gators coach McCarney contacted junior defensive tackle Brodrick Lee of Tarpon Springs High School and invited him to take an unofficial visit to Gainesville on Saturday. 6’2″ and 285 pounds, Lee draws double teams in high school and is very athletic. He has already drawn interest from the Auburn Tigers, but the Gators being involved is obviously a coup for the youngster.

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FOUR BITS: Moody ready; Tebow respected; NFL

1 » Sure, he’s hard more yards. He has certainly received more carries. Yet Saturday night in Death Valley, Florida Gators junior transfer running back Emmanuel Moody had his coming out party. Maybe it was the scene or maybe it was the importance of the game. In reality, it was the dominating nature at which Moody carved up the LSU Tigers defense to the tune of seven yards per carry (he’s averaging 9.6 YPC). Being unselfish, responsible and perseverant has gotten Moody to this point, and he does not plan on letting go. “It feels good just to be contributing this year,” Moody said. ” This year I feel more confident in what I’m doing, and it just feels great to be playing good ball right now.”

2 » Leadership, strength, character, talent, ability and faith are all qualities attributed to Florida senior quarterback Tim Tebow. One trait that may be overlooked in regard to Tebow is his teamwork. A highly publicized and highly regarded former Heisman Trophy winner, Tebow has received plenty of criticism and doubt about his future in the NFL. Instead of using his senior season to boost his stats, show off for scouts and improve his draft stock, Tebow’s only goal is to give the Gators an undefeated season that culminates in a National Championship. “I don’t think an NFL coach or a scout is going to say, ‘Ah, you know, he did a bad job because he didn’t throw,’” Tebow said about Florida’s run-first offense this year. “No, he did what he was asked. They’ll probably look at that and say, ‘He did what he was asked to the best of his ability, and he did it OK.’”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Moody ready; Tebow respected; NFL

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FOUR BITS: Petrino vs. No. 1; Kiper’s Big Board; Harvin update; LSU cries about TD

1 » Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino will face a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in his coaching career Saturday afternoon when he takes on the Florida Gators. Losing to Florida 38-7 at home last season, Petrino and the Hogs have plenty of motivation to come back and attempt to take it to the Gators. Running back Michael Smith, who went for 133 yards against UF last season, tweaked his hamstring against the Auburn Tigers last week and is day-to-day.

2 » ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. has come out with his new Big Board, which lists his top 25 NFL prospects. Gators on the list include defensive end Carlos Dunlap at No. 7 (down one spot from last week) and middle linebacker Brandon Spikes at No. 19 (up one spot from last week).

3 » In a story that always seems to draw news, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin missed practice Wednesday. Harvin injured his shoulder last week against the St. Louis Rams but did not miss any game time.

4 » As if only scoring three points last Saturday night was not humiliating enough, the LSU Tigers have decided to be sore losers and ask Southeastern Conference officials to review Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper’s touchdown catch. Cooper grabbed the shirttail of cornerback Chris Hawkins and used it as leverage to get wide open in the end zone and catch a pass from quarterback Tim Tebow. The touchdown gave the Gators a 10-3 lead with 50 seconds left in the first half. “Yeah, we sent that in,” LSU head coach Les Miles said Tuesday. “I’m savoring the opportunity to call in there.”

Extra BIT » Cleveland Indians outfielder Matt LaPorta underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left hip and left big toe on Tuesday. It will take the former Gators first baseman 4-6 months to recover from the injuries, which may slow him down to start the 2010 season.

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Poll Review: Florida Gators’ MVP at LSU Tigers

On Sunday, OGGOA asked who your Florida Gators MVP was for Saturday night’s game against the LSU Tigers. 206 of you registered votes and the results are in:

LB Brandon Spikes (68%, 141 votes)

QB Tim Tebow (17%, 35 votes)

TE Aaron Hernandez (13%, 27 votes)

RB Jeff Demps (2%, 3 votes)

I was (pleasantly) surprised that more of you did not vote for Tebow, considering his return to action following a concussion two weeks prior. Spikes was certainly the MVP of that game. Also found it interesting that Hernandez received 27 votes as the leading pass-catcher but Demps was only given three although he was the leading rusher. Be sure to vote in the new poll up now!

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