FOUR BITS: Rutgers, bowl game, Moss, offers

1 » Having last squared off on Nov. 17, 2007 in Gainesville, FL, the Florida Gators and Rutgers Scarlet Knights basketball teams will once again compete – this time at the RAC in New Jersey, according to New Jersey News Room. The game will mark a homecoming for Rutgers transfer and current Florida redshirt sophomore guard Mike Rosario, who left the Scarlet Knights after last season when head coach Fred Hill was fired. Rosario will be eligible to play next year after sitting out the 2010-11 season.

2 » Though general opinion right now has the Gators football team headed to the 2010 Gator Bowl, Garry Smits of The Florida Times-Union believes Florida still has a shot at earning a berth to the 2010 Outback Bowl. According to Smits, the Outback Bowl committee – which has certainly played to their own tune over the years – “might like the Florida vs. Penn State game that most observes thought would be the Gator Bowl match-up. The Outback might covet that game for the same reason the Gator Bowl did: strong national TV ratings for a pair of 7-5 teams that still would be a big draw from coast-to-coast.” The Gators would theoretically be chosen over the Mississippi State Bulldogs if they played in the Outback Bowl, a team they lost to at home this season.

3 » As we reported previously on OGGOA, the Oakland Raiders recently signed former first-round pick defensive end Jarvis Moss who was cut by the Denver Broncos just a few weeks ago. In an interview with FOX affiliate KDVR 31 in Denver, Moss recounts his time with the Broncos. “Off and on I felt like I had my chances, but things didn’t always work out,” he said. There were days when I thought to myself, ‘Man I wish I was out there.’ I tried my best, and I really wanted to turn things around and do better, but my number was called when it was. From the day that you come into this league they’re looking to replace you. You’re always looking over your shoulder. I got that feeling when things weren’t going as well in Denver as they should have. You kind of get to thinking maybe they might make a move or shift a guy around. But that was out of my control.”

Moss was moved to outside linebacker when defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (who has since left) took over the Broncos’ defense, but now he is back to playing his natural position with the Raiders. “Everyone has been positive. I am going to play D-end and have my hand down again,” he said. “I’m just trying to get everything on the fly. I thought outside linebacker was a good opportunity, but obviously it didn’t work out in Denver.”

4 » Though only a junior in high school, 2012 defensive end recruit Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) has earned his third college scholarship offer – this one from Florida. Considered Jefferson High School’s top player next year, McCord received a visit and offer from Gators recruiting coordinator and running back coach Stan Drayton on Thursday. At 6’4” and 220 lbs., McCord registered 54 tackles and 14 sacks last season and only hopes to improve on those numbers next year. The St. Petersburg Times also reports that Florida is interested in one of Jefferson’s seniors – linebacker Ramik Wilson (Tampa, FL). “[Drayton] said he wondered why [the Gators] hadn’t offered him yet,” head coach Mike Fenton said of Wilson, who registered 68 tackles, 15 sacks and six forced fumbles last year and was also visited by Drayton on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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Report: Newton, father wanted “pay-for-play plan”

One week after ESPN reported that Cecil Newton, father of Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton, allegedly requested money for his son’s college commitment through a third party and one day after FOX Sports reported that the son was caught cheating three times while attending the University of Florida, sources told ESPN’s Joe Schad that the Newtons each “admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.”

According to Schad’s sources, a Mississippi State Bulldogs recruiter was told by Cecil Newton that his son would only join the program if he received “more than a scholarship” for his services. The recruiter was then pointed to a third party who the father said could provide further details. The school failed to comply and Cameron Newton ended up at Auburn because, as the player supposedly explained another recruiter with great emotion, “the money was too much” for his dad to allow him to go to Mississippi State.

The alleged compliance offenses were related to the Southeastern Conference by Mississippi State in January, Schad reports.

The Newtons have previously denied all allegations of requesting or accepting money but refused to entertain the questions surrounding any cheating at Florida. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don’t want to beat a dead horse talking about it,” Cameron Newton said in a press conference Tuesday. “It’s not going to affect me in any way, shape or fashion.”

The player has previously admitted that attending Auburn was his father’s choice as he had originally desired to play for former Florida Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, now the Bulldogs’ head coach.

OGGOA RELATED: Meyer denies allegations of leaking Newton info | Report: Newton’s cheating at UF led to transfer

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Meyer denies allegations of leaking Newton info

When ESPN reported last week that a man claiming to represent Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton asked the Mississippi State Bulldogs for $180,000 for his signature on a letter of intent during his recruitment from Blinn College, some media members and college football fans found a way to finger Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer as the main reason for the information being leaked to the media.

A full week has passed and FOX Sports, in an unrelated report, claims Newton left Florida at least partially due to being caught cheating in class on three occasions. Similar to last week’s reaction, some members of the media and plenty of fans have once again pounced on Meyer, claiming he provided the information sourced in the story.

Early Tuesday, Meyer emphatically denied through a University of Florida statement having any involvement. “Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina,” he said. “For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”

Meyer also spoke with Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun about the both allegations. “Obviously it’s a joke,” Meyer said. “I don’t know anything about anything. I heard they’ve got me meeting with the agent and all that. I never met with anybody. It’s ridiculous.”

Unconfirmed Internet reports stated Meyer was a part of a conference call with Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and former MSU QB John Bond and advised both men to speak with the the media about the alleged illegal recruitment of Newton.

The contention from some media members is that Meyer is angered at the success Newton has achieved since leaving Florida and is looking to bring him down. The coach denies that philosophy as well.

“We had a great relationship right until the time he left,” Meyer told the Sun. “Cam and I and his family always had a great relationship. I don’t know where this is all coming from, but it didn’t come from me. I know nothing about nothing.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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10/20: Addazio, Brantley talk about execution

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior safety Ahmad Black spoke to the media Wednesday as the team took a final look back on its close loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs and ahead to its match-up against the Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 30.

EXECUTE ON FIRST AND SECOND DOWN

Asked about how the offense has been evaluated since the Mississippi State game, Addazio said that the process is “always intense” and “ongoing” especially during the bye week. “You’re going to sit down as a staff and evaluate what you see on tape and you’re going to move forward the next day,” he said. “On a bye week, you sit back and kind of have a chance to almost take a deeper look at everything.”

And what has that deeper look revealed? “You got to be on schedule [for] first and second down. We’re actually pretty good converting on the downs you don’t want to be in; we’re actually pretty good on those downs,” Addazio said. “Obviously, in an ideal setting, you’re looking to get four or more yards on a first down call. We’ve got to be much more efficient on first and second down.”

Addaio, like head coach Urban Meyer, pointed out that lacking healthy running backs has been a hindrance to Florida’s offense recently. “The run game is a big part on first and second down. That’s something obviously we’ve been very good at [in the past]. So that becomes a factor, yes,” he said. “The injuries to the running backs are certainly a factor on first and second down. Not having the availability to practice with them during the week [hurts].”

OFFENSE GOING THROUGH CHANGES…OR IS IT?

Wednesday morning Meyer said that the offense would be tweaked before the Georgia game with a focus on execution and making sure the right personnel were on the field to make plays. Addazio expressed a similar sentiment but did not speak about wholesale changes. “What you do is you try to make decisions to put your players in the best positions they can [be in] to make the plays they need to make,” he said.

BLITZ PROTECTION AND PICK-UP

Another topic of serious contention after Saturday’s game was how well the offensive line was picking up the blitz and whether or not Brantley was handling it correctly in the pocket. Addazio believes both are doing well though he admits they could be better. “You can always improve. We just have to improve overall in our protection as a group,” he said about the OL. “When you get a lot of pressure like that and you’re throwing the ball in third down-and-long scenarios, they’re pinning your ears back, there’s no threat of run. […] I think John’s done a great job. He’s got to do a better job picking those up and handling all that. […] He does a good job of flipping protections and trying to get the protections slid to match the numbers.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miss. State 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. With basketball beginning practice last week and so much to discuss following the game, we unfortunately had to skip over our grades for the LSU Tigers game. However, this week, we are back with grades as we take a look at how the Gators fared against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the seventh game of the 2010-11 season, which took place on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.
Continue Reading » Grading the Florida Gators vs. Miss. State game

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Third-straight loss drops Florida out of polls

Defeated for the third-straight week, this time to an unranked opponent, the Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) become unranked themselves, falling out of both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls. Florida lost to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) 10-7 on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators are out of the top 25 for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer. No. 22, where Florida was ranked in both polls last week, was the lowest the team had been listed during Meyer’s tenure.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (49), Oregon (6), Boise State (1), Nebraska (2), TCU (1), Oklahoma, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Utah, Michigan State, South Carolina, Arkansas, Iowa, Stanford, Wisconsin, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Air Force, Michigan, West Virginia

This Week 1-25: Oregon (42), Boise State (11), Oklahoma (4), TCU (1), Auburn (1), LSU, Alabama, Michigan State, Utah, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Florida State, Arizona, West Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Miami (FL)

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (34), Oregon (15), Boise State (8), TCU (1), Nebraska, Oklahoma (2), Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas, Michigan State, Stanford, Iowa, Florida State, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Florida, Air Force, Oregon State, West Virginia

This Week 1-25: Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma, TCU, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Michigan State, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Stanford, Iowa, Arizona, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, South Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Miami (FL)

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Week 7: Gators post-game news and notes

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) lost their third-straight game on Saturday, falling 10-7 to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes following the contest.

“WE’RE NOT VERY GOOD RIGHT NOW”

A handful of times in his post-game press conference, head coach Urban Meyer uttered the above phrase, and based on Florida’s performance over the last three contests it is quite obvious that sentiment is true. For the Gators, it all starts with health and execution, two things the team has been severely lacking lately.

“Obviously we got to get a lot better, Meyer said. “When you’re dealing with health issues, that’s part of it. We are going to have a chance to reflect a little bit here on the bye week and make some adjustments.” His biggest disappointment right now? “Finding a way to win a game. We’ve won a lot of games around here as guys made a play here, made a play there. You find a way to win a game. If you look back there’s been some big time wins around here where guys stepped up and made a play. We just have to do that. Right now we’re not.”

INJURED RUNNING BACKS SPELL DOOM FROM GET-GO

Prior to kickoff, Meyer was told “we were going to be without a tailback” by the training staff. That is one of the reasons Florida spread the ball five-wide to start the game and attempted to run the offense through the air rather than on the ground. “We were going to come out throwing, it just wasn’t real successful at it so we had to find ways to create movement, move the ball,” he said.

That proved to be difficult for the Gators as some of the running backs, who may not have been playing in different circumstances, got injured again as the game went on. “We were down to zero backs at one point today,” Meyer said. “[Junior starter Jeff] Demps came out, [redshirt senior Emmanuel] Moody had a thigh strain, [sophomore Mike Gillislee] had a sprained ankle. I thought there were some guys who made some spark plug plays like [freshman quarterback] Trey [Burton] and [sophomore wide receiver] Omarius Hines.”

“We even ran Omarius on a couple counter plays because it’s tough to get the run game going. We had a couple direct snaps to [Burton]. Even on third downs because we were misfiring a little bit too. I thought [Burton] provided a spark and he’s one of our only runners. […] Omarius is a good runner. Barebones now.”

DEFENSE CAN’T STOP THE RUN

Mississippi State was successful in milking the clock in the second half by running the ball on 27 of 28 plays in that period with their one non-run being a shovel pass. An astounding 26 of those 27 runs gained positive yardage. In fact, on their final offensive possession, the Bulldogs wasted almost six minutes of precious playing time before punting the ball and leaving Florida on their own four with just two minutes remaining.

After the game Meyer noted that MSU succeeded by always being plus-one (having an extra blocker) and chipping away a few yards at a time – something UF used to do routinely when they had a power rushing quarterback and strong offensive line.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO PILE UP

In a game Florida entered with apparently no healthy running backs and plenty of other injuries, the Gators had four more players hurt – three early on in the contest. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose went down with an ankle sprain on a kickoff return, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins suffered a concussion while playing defense and redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard also hurt his ankle at some point in the first half. UF even lost their kickoff specialist during the game.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Gators run over by Bulldogs, drop third straight

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) missed a game-tying 42-yard field goal with only seconds remaining to lose their third straight game for the first time since 1999 as the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) defeated them 10-7 Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida’s loss was its first to Mississippi State at home since 1965 and its first defeat on homecoming in 22 years. It also marked the first time the Gators lost three regular season games since 1988. UF will be unranked when the new top 25 polls are released on Sunday for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer.

The Bulldogs’ win Saturday was a marquee victory for head coach Dan Mullen; it also gave Mississippi State its first four-game winning streak since 1999 (8-0).

After three consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, MSU took over from their own 32. They brought the ball downfield with a 30-yard pass completion from quarterback Chris Relf to wide receiver Chad Bumphis and a subsequent 16-yard gain up the middle on a keeper by Relf. Four plays later, the Bulldogs put the first points on the board with a 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

The Gators responded by moving the ball down the field with a few short passes and a 14-yard run by sophomore running back Mike Gillislee. Faced with 4th and 5 on Mississippi State’s 34, redshirt junior QB John Brantley threw an interception to cornerback Jonathan Banks, turning the ball over in what would have been a punt situation anyway.

It did not take long for the Bulldogs to capitalize as Mullen’s offense put together an 11-play, 64-yard drive that ended in a rushing touchdown for Relf from six yards out to go up 10-0 in the first quarter.

Florida looked anemic starting the second quarter, failing to convert a 4th and 1 from their own 39; freshman WR Robert Clark was dropped behind the line for a two-yard loss. Mississippi State was unable to capitalize, handing UF the ball back with 13:20 left.

That is when the Gators offense showed signs of life as Brantley led them down to MSU’s 20 with a 15-play, 59-yard drive that took 6:20 off the clock. UF was unable to capitalize, however, as senior punter Chas Henry missed a 38-yard field goal.

Going into the half, Florida was without redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle), redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins (head) and redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle), all of whom went down with injuries early.

The Gators finally got on the board with their first possession in the third quarter by utilizing freshman QB Trey Burton extensively on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that drew the Bulldogs’ lead closer at 10-7.

Hope was raised momentarily later in the third quarter when it appeared MSU had fumbled on UF’s side of the field. After a review the play was overturned, Mississippi State missed a 40-yard field goal to give the ball back to Florida once again.

Taking over from their own 23, the Gators appeared to move the ball with ease, gaining positive yardage on their first six plays of the series including a 31-yard run by sophomore WR Omarius Hines. On 2nd and 4 from the Bulldogs’ 17, junior RB Jeff Demps coughed the ball up by fumbling while attempting to spin out of a tackle.

MSU succeeded in milking the clock by running the ball nine-straight times on their next possession, getting it to midfield while wasting almost six minutes before punting. As a whole, the Bulldogs ran the ball on 27 of 28 plays in the second half gaining positive yardage all but once.

UF took over with 2:09 remaining from their own four with an opportunity to tie or win.

With time running out, Brantley engineered a 13-play passing drive in which he completed nine passes for 76 yards, getting the ball to Mississippi State’s 25 with nine seconds left. Henry came on to attempt a 42-yard field goal but kicked the ball wide right, crushing the hopes of Florida fans in The Swamp.

Brantley finished the night 24-of-39 for 210 yards and an interception. Hines led the Gators with 58 yards rushing on six carries, though Burton also ran eight times for 43 yards. Redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond led the way with five receptions for 69 yards, and Burton added five catches of his own for 37 yards. Relf and RB Vick Ballard were responsible for nearly all of Mississippi State’s offense, rushing a combined 22 times for 180 yards and a touchdown.

Florida will take a three-game losing streak into their bye before facing Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, on Oct. 30. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game will air live on CBS. Even though the Gators have lost three straight, they still control their destiny in the Southeastern Conference as Eastern Division foe No. 10/12 South Carolina also fell Saturday.

Photo Credit: Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

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