FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Tebow, Nike, Eckstein

1 » Facing his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey continued his next-level play as a youngster stuck right in the middle of a veteran team. He was excited to play so close to home and showed it with how he played all game. “It felt amazing,” Pouncey told The Lakeland Ledger of playing Tampa Bay. “I’m 20 minutes from Tampa, and pretty much all of Lakeland came up here to support me.” Also having Pouncey’s back is veteran wide receiver Hines Ward, who thinks the former Florida Gators star will truly be something special. “He’s had a lot of help from all of the veterans. Right now, he’s learning on the run,” Ward said. “When Maurkice gets three or four years into the league and finally figures this whole thing out, look for a lot of Pro Bowls. […] When the game slows down and he starts seeing the defense and making the calls, he’s going to have Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl.” As far as how the two get along? “I love everything about the kid – the tenacity, he doesn’t quit. Unfortunately, I hate him because he’s a Gator,” said Ward, a Georgia Bulldog, “but I love everything about him.”

Also… Asked by the paper about his brother, senior center Mike Pouncey‘s, snap problems earlier in the season, Maurkice had the following to say: “When I first moved over, I had the same thing. I had the horrible snaps, snaps everywhere. He is such a high profile player, everyone’s going to notice it. Even the commentator said it last night that he’s still one of the best linemen in college football. The snaps will get better. They’ve been getting better all along.” Has he given him any advice? “Nah, I’ve always thought my brother was a better player than me. Don’t tell him that, though.”

2 » For the first time in his short career, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was the team’s No. 3 quarterback and technically listed as inactive for its game Sunday. he reason? Head coach Josh McDaniels‘ game plan did not call for Tebow. “[We] didn’t have anything [in the game plan] relative to Tim being in the game and playing a role in it, and we’ll try to do that the best we can each week,” McDaniels said.

3 » Tebow may not have seen the field Sunday, but he has been hitting television screens as one of two players prominently featured in Nike‘s newest commercial. Check out this trailer where he and Detroit defensive tackle Nndamukong Suh watch a Manny Pacquiao fight while getting fitted for suits.

4 » Check out this feature story on former Gators now San Diego Padres second baseman David Eckstein put together by the Los Angeles Times on Monday. Eckstein has become an instrumental part of the resurgent Padres in his two years with the club.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TWO BITS: Herbstreit’s thoughts, Black’s tough

1 » A guest on the Joe Rose Show on 560 WQAM in South Florida, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit discussed the Florida Gators offense and expressed some concerns about how it has looked since former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen went to take the head coaching job with Mississippi State. “I know the Florida offense was OK last year [...] but when I watched Florida last year, if you had taken Tim Tebow’s creativity and determination and skill away from the offense, I really wonder how they would have scored a lot of points, because they didn’t have a lot of threats downfield,” he said. “I didn’t really see a lot of vertical passing. And I think now, without an athletic quarterback, they’re going to have to be able to complete some balls downfield to be able to open up all that underneath, quick stuff, where they want to get the ball into the hands of [Jeff] Demps and [Chris] Rainey and co[mpany].”

2 » Giving Gators senior safety Ahmad Black lofty praise as the “Manny Pacquiao of college football,” the Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman notes that the bruiser is already one of the best at his position in the game, regardless of his smaller stature. Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin agrees. “That little guy is a good player,” Austin said. “Sometimes there are small guys who play small, but he’s not. He’s a small guy who plays big and that’s important.” Also drawing rave reviews from his teammates in the Gators’ secondary, Black has a team-high 12 tackles and one interception on Saturday against Miami (OH); he may be even more important this week against the South Florida Bulls as UF tries to corrall speedy quarterback B.J. Daniels.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,