11/15: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

STAFF/PERSONNEL EVALUATIONS

Though Meyer said that, like every year, he will evaluate his staff and team members at the appropriate time (read: end of the season), he also made it a point that there is still plenty of year left and the No. 1 objective at this point is to win games for the seniors as well as the rest of the team. “We’re into solutions, not blame and not excuses,” he said. “We need to get this place back to where we need to get it.”

Asked if he believed offensive coordinator Steve Addazio would be removed from his current position with different responsibilities next year, Meyer said the following: “I don’t think that will happen. I’m not into blame, I’m not into excuses, we’re into solutions. Right now the solution is somehow have a great Tuesday and Wednesday. I know that’s a coach-speak answer, especially around here, but that’s what we do.”

ENERGY VOID AT ISSUE IN GAINESVILLE

All season, through the close wins and losses, Meyer along with his coaching staff and players discussed “execution” as the main issue. Things changed on Monday with everyone talking about a lack of energy on a game-to-game basis. “I don’t see an offense full of life. I don’t see a lot of energy,” Meyer said. “That’s one thing as a head coach that concerns me. That’s all personnel based and success based. [...] We’re a staff that believes energy equals production.”

“We have energy givers on the team, but it’s a collective effort,” senior center Mike Pouncey added later. “When you have one or two guys giving energy on the field, it turns out like that. [...] [Our team has] guys that just drift away during the course of a game.”

BRANTLEY IS THE QUARTERBACK AT FLORIDA

Contrary to what many may think hope, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley will remain the Gators’ signal caller now and for the foreseeable future. “He’ll start at quarterback for Florida this weekend,” Meyer said. “We have to do a better job in a lot of areas and to say it’s all our quarterback – that’s not fair – and that won’t be said. Obviously our team wouldn’t say that. [...] We have to raise the level of play around him.”

Though the roles of freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed behind center will expand, Brantley is the starter and will likely remain that way through 2011. He has not raised any issue with being replaced for option plays, and that is likely what will continue happening the rest of his time in the orange and blue.

MEYER PANICKED EARLY ON SATURDAY

Meyer also put the onus on himself for how the team performed once it was down 15-7 to the South Carolina Gamecocks. He said that – as he tends to do – he panicked and that resonated throughout the entire team. Instead, Meyer believes they should have stuck to the offensive game plan (using three QBs, hurry-up offense) rather than putting the ball mostly in Brantley’s hands with the thought that the team had to throw to get out from behind a deficit.

Because the team did not get into a rhythm, Meyer said the up-tempo was ineffective. The team could not gain any yardage on first down – leading to too many 3rd down and longs – and it went away from utilizing Burton simply because he was shut down early by South Carolina’s run defense.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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9/1: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from Meyer’s media availability (full transcript later):

» Meyer answering OGGOA’s question about redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey’s importance to the offense: “It’s his year. He’s gonna perform. He’s ready for it. He’s up to almost 180 – 178 he told me yesterday. He’s stronger than he’s ever been. He’s now focused on a position that really his body is more trained to be. And he has to give us the home run shot, and he’s got the ability. There’s really not an offense who can function without a home run hitter. And he’s either one or two on our list of guys that can take it to the distance.”

» Asked about whether or not he was concerned about junior running back Jeff Demps returning kickoffs, Meyer said the team is being “very cautious” but “hopefully we don’t return many kicks.” He also noted that Demps getting injured is one of the team’s main concerns; he no longer participates in “non-essential running” drills during practice and the team is “very cautious” with him throughout the week. “He just goes 40 yards every time he touches it at warp speed.”

» Meyer refused to pick either redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown or senior Moses Jenkins as the team’s No. 2 cornerback, saying the duo is both competing in practice and will split time.

» He went out of his way to give shout-outs to freshmen quarterback Trey Burton and safety Matt Elam, redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins and sophomore LB Jon Bostic as four players who will soon become household names among Florida fans.

» Read the rest of what Meyer had to say…after the break!
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TWO BITS: Stamper’s chance, soccer begins

1 » Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions, former Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper was forced to leave the team due to concerns about his injured back. After working out in Detroit on July 27, Stamper was expected to sign a contract with the Lions, but he left without a deal in place. On Saturday, Detroit middle linebacker Jordon Dizon suffered a likely season-ending knee injury, leaving an open spot on at least the practice roster that could very well be filled by Stamper.

2 » With their 2010 season set to begin on Friday at home against the Miami Hurricanes, No. 11 Florida soccer participated in an exhibition match Saturday, defeating Alabama-Birmingham 3-0. Senior defender Nicky Kit (19’), sophomore midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak (23’) and sophomore MF Holly King connected for the Gators’ three goals. Florida’s game against Miami will air live on Sun Sports at 7 p.m. It is the first game of the University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season.

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8/13: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators has been participating fall practice for just about a week and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur during the morning session. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the day.

DEHYDRATION CONCERNS

The University of Florida announced Friday afternoon that senior linebacker Brandon Hicks left morning practice and was rushed to a hospital to be treated for dehydration. A team spokesperson said Hicks is “doing fine” and is expected to fully recover.

SPEEDSTER RETURNS

Redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey is fast, but an accelerated heart rate had kept him out of practice for a few days. After undergoing a non-invasive procedure and resting, Rainey returned to practice Friday but was held out of contract drills. He will get contact either Saturday during the Gators’ first scrimmage of the fall or when practice resumes on Monday.

CAST OFF

Seemingly always injured, redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Matt Patchan suffered a hairline fracture in his wrist a few practices ago and was scheduled to miss action for 10-14 days. Head coach Urban Meyer told reporters Friday that Patchan’s cast is coming off and he will begin working out again on Saturday.

Check out the rest of Friday’s morning practice notes…after the break!
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Stamper set for workout with Lions on Tuesday

Two bulging discs causing excruciating pain in his back prevented former Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper from showing teams what he was made of prior to the 2010 NFL Draft in April. Regardless, there remained plenty of interest from a variety of teams throughout the league, one of which acted on instinct just after the seventh round was completed.

Fortunately, the Gators’ leading tackler in 2009 was one of the very first players contacted by the Detroit Lions after the draft; he was immediately signed to an undrafted free agent contract.

“It was frustrating to sit back while everybody else was working out,” Stamper told the Orlando Sentinel back in April. “All teams had on me was game film and they kept saying they wanted to see me live. It was impossible to work out because every time I tried, it felt like I couldn’t walk the next day.”

Unfortunately for Stamper, his injury had not fully healed when he met with trainers, causing him to fail a team physical and forcing the Lions to cut him right away.

Even so, the team has decided to give him another chance by inviting him back to Detroit to workout Tuesday, according to The Detroit News. Stamper has been staying in shape and completing full workouts in Gainesville, FL, recently; he is expected to be ready to earn a roster spot with the Lions before training camp beings on July 31.

A non-updated version of the above article was first published by OGGOA on July 4.

Photo Credit: Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMI

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Ryan Stamper set for workout with Detriot Lions

Two bulging discs causing excruciating pain in his back prevented former Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper from showing teams what he was made of prior to the 2010 NFL Draft in April. Regardless, there remained plenty of interest from a variety of teams throughout the league, one of which acted on instinct just after the seventh round was completed.

Fortunately, the Gators’ leading tackler in 2009 was one of the very first players contacted by the Detroit Lions after the draft; he was immediately signed to an undrafted free agent contract.

“It was frustrating to sit back while everybody else was working out,” Stamper told the Orlando Sentinel back in April. “All teams had on me was game film and they kept saying they wanted to see me live. It was impossible to work out because every time I tried, it felt like I couldn’t walk the next day.”

Unfortunately for Stamper, his injury had not fully healed when he met with trainers, causing him to fail a team physical and forcing the Lions to cut him right away.

Even so, the team has decided to give him another chance by inviting him back to Detroit in two weeks – as early as July 18 – for a workout. Stamper has been staying in shape and completing full workouts in Gainesville, FL, recently; he is expected to be ready to earn a roster spot with the Lions before training camp beings on July 30.

Photo Credit: Richard C. Lewis/Icon SMI

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FOUR BITS: Tebow & McDaniels, Stamper, Patriots

1 » Apparently the already close relationship between former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his new head coach, Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos, was like an old-fashioned story – love at first sight. The Denver Post reports that occurrence took place at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine when the two met in a private room along with other Broncos’ staffers. “I was jacked leaving that room. I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time,” Tebow said. “We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”

2 » Two bulging discs in his back prevented former Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper from showing teams what he was made of prior to the 2010 NFL Draft – even though there was plenty of interest. What his injury did not faze was the Detroit Lions’ interest in signing him to an undrafted free agent contract. “It was frustrating to sit back while everybody else was working out,” Stamper told the Orlando Sentinel. “All teams had on me was game film and they kept saying they wanted to see me live. It was impossible to work out because every time I tried, it felt like I couldn’t walk the next day.”

3 » The New England Patriots drafted three former Florida players over the weekend – defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez. However, only one of the three already has ties (albeit limited ones) to the area. According to a variety of reports, Spikes has been dating Callie Rivers, a volleyball player at UF who happens to be the daughter of Boston Celtics‘ coach Doc Rivers and brother of former Gators five-star basketball commitment Austin Rivers. Needless to say, her father is happy to have Spikes close and even gave Patriots head coach Bill Belichick a recommendation. “Big guy, big for an inside linebacker,” Belichick told the Boston Herald. “Very highly respected […] and, of course, came with a good recommendation from Doc. Of course, I appreciate that. He can keep an eye on him up here, keep his daughter a little closer to home.”

4 » Already a close personal friend with Gators head coach Urban Meyer, Belichick spoke fondly of the Florida football program when asked why he drafted three players from it over the weekend. “[When] we were in Florida, I felt like we were working out half of the first and second round,” he said. “We saw all those guys [...] it was the day after their Pro Day down there. It was a good meeting like it always is with Florida. Those kids are very focused on football. Football’s important to them. They’re in a good program. It’s important for them to win. They know what they are doing. They’ve worked hard both on and off the field. They’re extremely well-coached by Coach Meyer and his staff, so it’s a lot of fun to sit down and talk football with them.”

Extra Bit » Former Gators cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis has been given a tryout with the New York Giants and will attend the team’s mini camp hoping to earn a contract, according to the Naples News.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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KR James, WR Nelson, LB Stamper find homes

Though they were not fortunate enough to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, three former Florida Gators players have already signed professional contracts as undrafted free agents.

Kick returner Brandon James was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver David Nelson found a home with the Buffalo Bills and linebacker Ryan Stamper agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions.

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