Week 7: No. 22 Florida Gators vs. MSU Bulldogs

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 76°F, clear skies
Time: 7:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPNU
Sirius/XM: 219/199
Online Video: N/A
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 22 FLORIDA GATORS MISS. STATE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Dan Mullen
Record: 4-2 (2-2) Record: 4-2 (1-2)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9; O/U 46

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series 33-18-2 against Mississippi State, holding a 19-7-1 advantage in Gainesville. The Gators have won back-to-back games in the series, defeating the Bulldogs 35-9 in 2005 and 29-19 in Starkville, MS, last season.
» UF is 63-20-2 all-time in homecoming games and have won 21-straight on this occasion including 14 consecutive contests against conference opponents.
» Florida continues to lead the nation with 13 interceptions. Five have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» The Gators had gone 14-for-14 in the red zone over the previous two games with 13 touchdowns and a field goal. Against Alabama and LSU, UF went 4-8 in the same area. As a team they are now 21-for-27 in the red zone in 2010 with 19 touchdowns.
» Florida under Meyer is 40-0 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-2 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 37-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 37-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 31-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» The Bulldogs are out-scoring opponents 58-17 in the first quarter while the Gators are being outscored 14-16 in the same period.
» Mississippi State has won three straight games for only the second time since 2000 and are looking for their first four-game winning streak since starting 8-0 in 1999. Florida is hoping to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 1999.
» MSU has only allowed seven touchdowns in 19 opponent trips to the red zone.
» The Bulldogs out-rank the Gators in four primary statistical averages going into the contest. Mississippi State is 72nd in passing yards (205), 24th in rushing yards (211.8), 45th in points scored (31.7) and 22nd in points against (17.5) compared to Florida being 87th in passing yards (183), 75th in rushing yards (140.7), 48th in points scored (31.0) and 37th in points against (20.2). Both lost to their common opponent, LSU, though MSU fell 29-7 on the road while UF lost 33-29 at home.
» Mississippi State’s Mullen was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida from 2005-08. Also on the staff at the same time was Bulldogs offensive line coach/running game coordinator John Hevsey. Mullen had coached under Meyer since 2001 (Bowling Green, Utah) before taking his first head coaching job and was also a graduate assistant at Syracuse where he worked with Gators offensive coordinator and OL coach Steve Addazio. The trio worked together from 1999-2000 at Notre Dame.
» Florida running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton coached at Mississippi State in 2004; Bulldogs’ head strength coach Matt Balis was on the Gators’ staff from 2005-06 and left with Mullen.
» No. 22 is the lowest Florida has been ranked in Meyer’s tenure. The Gators have been listed in every poll since he took over the team in 2005.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 6-4 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing another pick last week. He has completed 105-of-169 passes (62.1 percent) for 1,056 yards and has a passer rating of 121.6.
» Redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose…who has led UF in all-purpose yards each of the last two weeks posting 75 against Alabama and 163 against LSU including an 88-yard kickoff return touchdown.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has nine scores on the season, has played five positions and may see more time behind center with the team wanting to run the ball better out of the option.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who has led the Gators in rushing in every game this season with totals of 98, 139, 73, 57 and 47 yards. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry this year and is the nation’s active RB leader in yards per touch since 2008 (7.3).
» Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson…who is averaging almost 60 yards per game this season. As Brantley’s primary pass catcher, 18 of Thompson’s 23 receptions this year have been for first downs.
» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore…who continues to be clutch for the Gators each week. Eleven of Moore’s last 12 catches have been for first downs including two against Tennessee, four against Kentucky, two against Alabama and three against LSU.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted eight balls this season but has been held without a pick for back-to-back contests. 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 50 tackles on the year while also being the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233).
» Redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins…who is coming on strong for the Gators with 35 tackles on the season. He intercepted his first pass last week against LSU, returning it 47 yards and setting up a touchdown for the offense, and had a career-high and team-leading eight tackles against Kentucky earlier in the year.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry missed two field goals on one drive (the first was negated by a penalty) last week after scoring all of his team’s points on two field goals against Alabama.

MISSISSIPPI STATE
» Junior RB Vick Ballard…who has already scored 12 touchdowns this year and has reached the end zone in every game while leading the SEC with a total of 72 points and 11 rushing scores. Ballard also has 58 carries for 418 yards (7.2 average) and three receptions for 50 yards.
» Junior QB Chris Relf…who leads his team in passing and rushing attempts. Relf completes 59.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 675 yards and five touchdowns along with three interceptions. He has also rushed 65 times for 295 yards and a score.
» Sophomore WR Chad Bumphis…who has a team-high 32 receptions for 431 yards and four touchdowns on the season as MSU’s primary pass catcher.
» Senior LBs Chris White and K.J. Wright…who have been huge defensive playmakers for the Bulldogs. White leads the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and 46 total tackles, while Wright has 42 total tackles and seven pass break-ups (tops in the SEC).

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Active – Redshirt junior QB John Brantley (ribs, thumb, shoulder), redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson (concussion), redshirt freshman right guard Jon Halapio (finger)
Questionable – Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (foot), freshman safety Matt Elam (concussion)

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), senior CB Moses Jenkins (hyperextended elbow), redshirt senior DT Brandon Antwine (shoulder), junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators are not 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. From what we hear ESPN is not planning to specifically talk about Florida other than during a “State of Florida” segment and when the analysts pick games at the end of the program.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Miss. State Bulldogs preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 7: No. 22 Florida Gators vs. MSU Bulldogs

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10/14: Florida Gators week seven practice notes

Updated Oct. 15, 1:45 a.m.

No. 22/22 Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s sixth game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details which you can check out below.

INJURIES MOUNTING

Over the past two weeks Meyer and his coaches have been optimistic that the injury plague surrounding the program was lifting, especially when it came to Florida’s playmakers. Unfortunately the opposite seems to be the case as running backs junior Jeff Demps and sophomore Mike Gillislee have each been downgraded.

Called “Probable” by Meyer last week and this week, Demps (sprained foot) is now considered 50-50 (“Questionable”) for the Mississippi State game. Meyer slotted Gillislee (bruised foot) somewhere between the two designations, saying he has a 60 percent chance to play. Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson and freshman safety Matt Elam, both of whom suffered concussions against LSU, practiced in full Thursday and will play Saturday. Also injured last week was redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio (broken finger), but he had surgery Sunday and will be good to go.

Other injures Meyer updated the media on include the following:

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley (ribs, thumb, shoulder) – will start
» Redshirt sophomore guard David Young (fractured kneecap) – out for season
» Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins (hyperextended elbow) – maybe vs. Georgia
» Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (broken wrist) – maybe vs. Georgia
» Sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (fractured collarbone) – out “a few weeks”
» Freshman WR Chris Dunkley (hamstring) – 80 percent healthy
» Freshman WR Quinton Dunbar (hamstring – on his way back

DEBOSE PRAISE BEGINS

Just two weeks ago Meyer was sending some not-so-subtle hints that redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose needed to step his game up in practice in order to see significant time on the field. But as Florida has struggled on offense and as Debose has made some athletic and dynamic plays (including a 88-yard kickoff return last week) in his limited game action, Meyer has begun to see him as a one of the Gators’ much-needed home run threats – especially while Demps is out of action.

“Debose keeps getting better and better,” he said Thursday. “He’s much bigger, stronger [than he was when he came in]. He’s a whole different player now. He still needs more, and strength. He’s a talented guy.”

Meyer added that some big plays must come from beyond the backfield in order for Florida to be successful in the near future. “[The threat will come] from the receivers and maybe some quarterback runs,” he said. “We’re real hamstrung right now. We just gotta get these guys healthy and get with it. […] Deonte Thompson has got to be a home run threat for us. And obviously Andre Debose.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/13: Austin, Heater talk defensive improvement

Florida Gators defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin and co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater spoke to the media Wednesday taking a look back on the tough loss to the LSU Tigers and ahead to the match-up against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home on Saturday night.

WHAT’s UP WITH WILL HILL?

A five-star recruit coming out of high school, special teams dynamo and one of the reasons now-senior safety Ahmad Black was partially forced out of his starting job last year, junior S Will Hill missed the first two games of the 2010 season due to team discipline and has not been the same since. Heater says the Hill is struggling most with his tackling but that the staff remains confident he will turn things around.

“He’s had some missed tackles. That’s a situation you’re always coaching against on the back end because a missed tackle on the back end can become a problem in a hurry,” Heater said. “He’s not the only guy [doing that], but he’s a guy we’re trying to improve and he’s trying to improve and get where he wants to get to.”

ELAM’s CONCUSSION KEEPS HIM OUT

Speaking of the secondary, freshman S Matt Elam (who has been playing nickel cornerback this year) was concussed during the LSU game. He has yet to practice this week and could be held out of the Mississippi State game if he does not improve later in the week. “He’s getting close, missed a few days this week but he’s getting closer,” Heater told the media Wednesday. “He observed practice today. We’ll reevaluate tomorrow. They have a whole systematic approach to these things so I just defer to the trainers. I think he’s making progress. He’s certainly better than he was two days ago and he’s able to do more things today than he did yesterday, so he’s making progress.”

The Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser spoke with Elam’s high school coach, Jack Daniels, who said he has never had a concussion before.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/12: Addazio not bothered, Debose poised

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, assistant head coach and defensive line coach Dan McCarney, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins and freshman quarterback Trey Burton spoke to the media Tuesday as the team took a final look back on its close loss to the LSU Tigers and ahead to its match-up against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday.

BOOING DOESN’T BOTHER ADDAZIO

Addazio was booed during Florida’s final scoring drive on Saturday, something he has claims does not bother him. In fact, he has taken the incident in stride and understands what is expected of him and the offense.

“I really don’t pay much attention to any of that stuff,” he said on Tuesday. “You are locked into the game. What I really hear in that game is just the energy from the game. I’ve got so much going on; I’ve got headsets on. […] Hey, this is not a sport for the thin-skinned now. It’s a tough business and I think we’ve talked about this before here. You came here for a reason – [there are] high expectations, that’s why you’re here, that’s what it’s all about. You better embrace that. If you don’t embrace that, then you are at the wrong place.”

DEBOSE A READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYER

Showing his playmaking ability with an 88-yard kickoff return and some other nice passing routes on Saturday, Debose has proven to coaches that he deserves more touches and should be a bigger part of the Gators offense. “He’s emerging as a guy that can make a play. You can see that. It’s really nice to see that. He’s a guy that can make plays,” noted Addazio. “[He’s improving because of] experience and getting on the field and doing it and gaining all that confidence and that trust. That’s what’s happening with him right now.”

The player agrees with his coach’s assessment. “[It was] just picking up the plays. Just feeling comfortable and making the coaches feel real comfortable with me and the ball and everything,” Debose said. “It was just the little things as far as reading coverages on the run and stuff that takes time and takes more game experience.”

POWELL MOVED TO LINEBACKER

One interesting tidbit coming out of the media availability Tuesday was McCarney confirming that five-star freshman defensive end Ronald Powell has been moved to the strong outside linebacker position for the remainder of the season. Powell, who also played tight end in high school, is more than athletic enough to play the position and coaches feel he is a better fit at linebacker right now. Expect him to head back to defensive end after the year is over.

POSSIBILITY OF A FAKE WAS BROUGHT UP

Asked whether or not the concept of a fake field goal was discussed with the field goal blocking unit prior to LSU running that exact play, Jenkins told the that it was part of the team’s conversation during the timeout. This confirms what a handful of other players said after the game.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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FOUR BITS: volleyball at No. 1, soccer, swimming

1 » Continuing a string of dominating Southeastern Conference performance, the Florida Gators volleyball team took home a pair of 3-0 sweeps while on the road over the weekend against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday night (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) and the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday (25-14, 25-20, 25-16). Juniors outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and right-side/setter Kelly Murphy combined for 21 kills to led Florida (14-1, 7-0 SEC) on Friday over Alabama (8-8, 0-6 SEC), while Murphy was at it again with a team-high 13 kills Sunday as UF rolled over Mississippi State (10-8, 2-4 SEC). The Gators received exciting news on Monday as the American Volleyball Coaches Association moved them up to No. 1 in their rankings for the first time since 1996. UF is 8-1 against teams ranked in the top 25 this season.

2 » Contrary to volleyball’s performance, No. 6 Florida soccer (10-2-2, 4-1-1 SEC) had a rougher road trip weekend tying Alabama (8-2-2, 3-0-2 SEC) 1-1 in double overtime Friday before falling to the Auburn Tigers (9-5, 3-3 SEC) 1-0 on Sunday. Against the Crimson Tide, Gators midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis got her team on the board early with a goal from four yards out at 47’. Unfortunately on both Friday and Sunday, Florida allowed an opposing goal at 90’ which led to the respective tie and loss. The Gators remain the leaders in the SEC even after the tough weekend.

3 » Florida men’s (0-1) and women’s (1-0) swimming and diving competed against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium on Monday with the men falling short 153-145 while the women pulled off a close 150-148 victory in the first team event of the season. Freshman Elizabeth Beisel led the ladies by winning the 200-yard backstroke (1:58:.29) and 200-yard individual medley (2:00.89). Like usual senior captain Conor Dwyer was the best men’s performer winning the 200-yard IM and both 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle.

4 » As the Gators basketball team prepares for the 2010-11 season (media day is this week!), head coach Billy Donovan spoke about the expectations surrounding his squad, which is returning all five starters from a year ago. “What ends up happening sometimes in college basketball is that when you have all five starters returning from a team that went to the NCAA Tournament, the expectation is we’re going to be really, really good,” Donovan said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “But I also think we were one of those teams on Selection Sunday that had our fingers crossed. If we were left out, it would maybe be a different feel.”

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Mullen, Tebow’s jersey

1 » In a special to ESPN, Matt Winkeljohn takes a closer look at high school juniors Scottie Wilbekin and Matt Carlino skipping their senior seasons to (hopefully) join the Florida Gators and UCLA Bruins, respectively. Most importantly, Wilbekin’s father said that there is a “99 percent chance” of everything working out so he can enroll in the University of Florida next year. Nevertheless there is still “a lot [that] has to happen on our part” for it all to go down, according to Svend Wilbekin, including his son taking all necessary classes and receiving a high enough SAT score.

2 » After an hour interview with him on the radio, Alabama sports talk show host Paul Finebaum has declared former Gators offensive coordinator and current Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen “the future of college football.” What is interesting is that Finebaum cites Mullen’s youth, beautiful wife, attitude, demeanor and politics as the main reasons he will be a success rather than, you know, his football acumen. “He left me with my eyes wide open and shaking my head with admiration and respect,” Finebaum wrote. OGGOA wonders if he would have felt the same way if Mullen ended up becoming the top guy at Florida.

3 » Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s No. 15 Denver Broncos jersey is flying off the shelves both in Denver, CO, and nationally. The jerseys are going so fast that, according to a Champs Sports outlet employee who spoke with Denver News, they are being put on display immediately when they arrive without price tags ($80 per) for expediting purposes. Stores are being so careful that Tebow’s jerseys – unlike others on the racks – are being attached with a heavy cable as to prevent shoplifting.

4 » Fans do not need to shoplift Tebow’s jersey in order to save a few bucks on it. They can just dust off the jersey of former Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall (or purchase a new one for half-price or as little as $10) and bring it to embroiderer Daniella Grieve, who is removing Marshall’s name and replacing it with Tebow’s for customers. “[This idea] could turn into something big, and if not we have Tebow jerseys for our two little boys,” Grieve told CBS4 in Denver.

» Of course, if you wish to purchase Tebow’s real NFL jersey, you can grab it directly through OGGOA’s store! You can also visit our Gators-specific store here!

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SIX BITS: Nelson, Cunningham, softball, lax, UK

1 » On Feb. 1, OGGOA reported that former Florida Gators safety Reggie Nelson could be cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars if he does not show significant improvement by the time training camp concludes. Nelson owned up to ESPN about his issues in 2009 and has figured out why they occurred. “I had mistakes last year, I did,” he said. “I’ve watched film since I’ve been here in February and I can own up and say, ‘Yes, I did blow some coverages. Yes, I did miss tackles.’ That’s something I’ve looked at. I have to correct them. You’ve got to look at it: I played safety, corner, nickel, so many different positions. Most players would be like, ‘Oh, no, I’m not doing that, y’all drafted me for this.’ That’s not me, I want to win. I took that challenge, I played corner, I played nickel. I am a competitive guy. [...] They made their decision and I’ve got to live with it.” Nelson also said he will not do the same thing in 2010 – if it is up to him. “The way things happened last year, I don’t think I’d do it,” he said. “I will not do it. I tried that last year. It didn’t work. I don’t think it was fair to me. I would not go back. You live and you lean. It’s their decision, regardless. The only thing I can do is show up and play football.”

2 » The New England Patriots want former Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham to replace recently released outside linebacker Adalius Thomas – this much is known. How he will progress in the transition remains to be seen, but head coach Bill Belichick is just as confident as Cunningham is in himself. “It’s all football. I’m a football player,” Cunningham said. “I’m going to study the playbooks and just do whatever it takes to get better, and keep on getting better. […] I’m a hard worker and fundamental technician. […] Left or right, just get to the ball.” For what its worth, Cunningham has also taken to giving a name to the influx of former Gators with the Patriots – “Gator Nation North,” he calls it.

Four more BITS on softball, lacrosse, baseball and Kentucky basketball posting the lowest average GPA in the SEC…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Nelson, Cunningham, softball, lax, UK

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SIX BITS: Tennis, Tebow’s defense, Cunningham’s future, Mullen’s job, Johnson’s start, Moyer

1 » The No. 3 Florida Gators women’s tennis team was honored extensively by the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday, taking home the top three available annual awards. Freshman Lauren Embree won SEC Player of the Year, freshman Allie Will took home SEC Freshman of the Year honors and Roland Thornqvist was named SEC Coach of the Year. Also representing the team were seniors Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina, who were named to the All-SEC First Team and Second Team, respectively. Embree and Will also earned All-SEC First Team honors and placement on the SEC All-Freshman Team. Florida was undefeated (11-0) during the regular season, won the 2010 SEC Tournament and will compete in the 2010 NCAA Team Championship beginning May 14.

2 » When it comes to former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s future with the Denver Broncos, you will find no stronger advocate or staunch defender than Denver Post columnist Woody Paige. As someone who suggested the team select Tebow from the get-go, Paige has gone on the offensive against a number of his readers who continue to question head coach Josh McDaniels’ decision, comparing Tebow to the likes of John Elway and San Francisco’s Steve Young.

Check out four more BITS on Cunningham, Mullen and Florida baseball…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tennis, Tebow’s defense, Cunningham’s future, Mullen’s job, Johnson’s start, Moyer

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