Snell’s Slant: What the hell happened to Florida?

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

What in the world happened to Florida? The last time we saw this team, it was hitting Florida State in the mouth and running up and down the field on its in-state rival. On the flip side, Louisville looked as if it did not even belong in a BCS bowl after losing two of its last three regular season games. It is truly amazing the difference one month can make. And it’s exactly why they play the game on the field and not on paper.

The Gators clearly got outcoached, outplayed and outsmarted in every phase of the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Wednesday. The Cardinals were obviously the more focused team on a night where both squads were being showcased on a national stage for the whole country to see. One team took advantage of the moment.

What was so amazing about Florida’s failure is that this team played the toughest schedule in the country and went 4-1 against teams ranked in the top of the BCS standings. All five of those teams were better than Louisville. That brings me back to my original question: What the hell happened? Why did a team so much better lose to a team that is definitely not at the same level?

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No. 21 Louisville stuns No. 3 Florida in Sugar Bowl

Despite being overwhelming favorites and the team with the BCS pedigree, the No. 3 Florida Gators (11-2) were blasted on Wednesday evening by the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (11-2), which pulled off a 33-23 upset victory at the 2013 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

Louisville scored on the first play from scrimmage of each half, overwhelmed Florida’s defense throughout the game and capitalized on each one of its opponent’s miscues to pull off the greatest victory in program history and biggest upset in BCS bowl game history. The Gators also snapped their streak of four-straight bowl wins and fell in a BCS game for the first time since 2000.

Florida put itself in an early hole on the very first play from scrimmage as sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel’s pass was tipped off the hands of redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose only to be intercepted by Louisville cornerback Terrell Floyd and returned for a touchdown just 15 seconds into the game. The defensive score was the Cardinals’ first of the season.

The Gators then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and allowed UL QB Teddy Bridgewater to convert three third downs before running back Jeremy Wright carried the ball in for a one-yard touchdown. The 12-play, 83-yard drive ended with 6:47 left in the first quarter and gave UF its largest deficit of the season.

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1/1: Muschamp, Strong talk teams, Sugar Bowl

No. 3 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and No. 21 Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming 2013 Sugar Bowl and their respective teams heading into the game. Below are some choice notes and quotes from the media sessions.

» Muschamp on freshman standouts: “You look at Antonio Morrison, [Jonathan] Bullard and [Dante] Fowler. Those three guys have been as productive as any freshman I’ve been around.”

» Muschamp on becoming a head coach: “It’s taking the right job. I had other opportunities before the Florida job came. It’s about taking the right job. It’s about the right situation, the right people, the right circumstances, being in a situation where you think you can be successful. All the critical factors as far as recruiting base, support from the administration, all of those things need to be in place.”

» Muschamp on Florida’s lagging Sugar Bowl ticket sales and if the numbers worry him: “Obviously right now economically we’re going through a tough time in our country. I think that certainly has affected everyone, not just Gator fans. And so that’s a tough time right now and there’s different ways to get tickets other than going through the University Athletic Association. Obviously we’re seeing a little bit of a loophole those things happening as well. … I don’t worry about that. I worry about third down and stuff like that. I let Jeremy [Foley] worry about that.”

» Muschamp on an injury update: “We’re fine. We’re good to go for the game.”

» Muschamp on playing in a dome and what the team has had to do to prepare: “Adjusting to the lights. We’ve worked it all week, as far as seeing the punt catchers and kick off and receivers working and catching the football because it’s a little different with the lights in the stadium there. We’ve worked on that. And kicking in an environment for [Caleb] Sturgis is good for us. We can probably be at the 38 yard line and be in range for a 55-yard, 56-yard [field goal] maybe even to the 40 [yard line].”

» Muschamp said sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson will be the punt returner while sophomore CB Loucheiz Pufioy and redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose will both be back for kick returns.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and Strong had to say…after the break!
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12/27: Strong, Louisville talk Florida, Sugar Bowl

No. 21 Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong met with the media on Thursday upon his team’s arrival in New Orleans, LA to preview the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the No. 3 Florida Gators and provide updates on his team.

» Strong’s opening statement: “I was here three years ago on the other sideline coaching at the University of Florida preparing for Cincinnati. The next day I left for Louisville and our goal the first season was just get to a bowl game. It was the same scenario we had this season when we had to go to Rutgers and pull off a big win. […] We know we are playing an excellent football team in the University of Florida. We are happy and excited, and it’s really great for the school and the city of Louisville and the administration. To represent them is such an honor.”

» Strong on moving Florida senior Jon Bostic from safety to linebacker: “Bostic is a really good football player and I went to visit him as many times as the administration would let me. Bostic was too big to play safety and it was just a matter of time before he could eat his way into playing linebacker. But I have to hand it to the university for giving me the opportunity to recruit such a talented player like him.”

» Strong on coaching the Gators: “My success started at Florida. I was a part of two national championship teams and worked for so many outstanding coaches. One after the next, those coaches gave me opportunities and built tremendous programs with tradition. That same tradition is what we are trying to establish at Louisville as the program continues to get better each year. Though, it was a great experience at Florida and a lot of fun.”

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, July 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee of the Golden State Warriors was the subject of a piece by Harvey Araton of The New York Times on Monday. Lee, who has spent his whole career with the New York Knicks after they drafted him coming out of college, has a special bond with the team and has been the face of the franchise over the last few years. Read about how he went out of his way to represent the team (even after being traded to Golden State) at a funeral for longtime NBA and Madison Square Garden security official Scott Jaffer and how he will always be remembered in New York for being such an upstanding person.

» Interviewed by the NFL Network about his throwing mechanics, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers went through the motions with some of the studio analysts on Monday. Because of the subject matter, Rivers was asked about Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow’s motion, and the veteran offered advice and insight into what Tebow may and may not need to do going forward.

» Florida should be excited about 2011 five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) – he could be the best player the team has signed since guard Nick Calathes. Then again, with one of the top players in the country considering his future in a different sport, there is a slight cause for concern. With his father and two brothers all having played collegiate football, Beal tells USA Today that he is “still trying to decide” which sport to play. “My brothers, especially my younger brothers, want me to play football so we can be on the same team,” Beal said. “But my mom always tells me, ‘You don’t have the body for football, so you have to stick to basketball.’” Don’t get it twisted – his future is on the court – not the field. Having a former Gators star like Lee (who also graduated from Chaminade High School) in his ear certainly helps. “We don’t have that much in common because we play different positions,” Beal said. “He came back to visit the school, and I talk to him during lunch period. He gave me input on the game.”

» While Beal is deciding what sport to play, four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) is just trying to figure out what school to end. According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, Waisome now considers his final five to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina; he plans to decide in August.

» Updating a previous item, four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) still considers the Gators to be the leader for his services, even after having Miami Hurricanes commitment four-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, FL) in his ear during the Nike 7-on-7 Championship last Saturday. “Florida is still in the lead,” Benjamin told SoFLAfootball.com. “I like Florida and what they showed me, how they would use me. I like Miami too and Florida State, so all the Florida teams, they’re really up there. But I like Florida.”

Three more BITES on Meyer, Smith and Werner…after the break!
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Twenty recruits the Gators are eyeing for 2011

Recruiting contributor Zach Abolverdi in his first submission to OGGOA…

Now that football recruiting for the 2010 term is in the books and Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has assembled one of the best classes of all-time, OGGOA brings you a look ahead to the Gators’ (in our opinion) top 20 targets for 2011. These are prospects that the coaching staff has already targeted and is pursuing the hardest as of press time. Perhaps even more important, the 20 targets listed below have a mutually high level of interest in Florida. [Preliminary star ratings provided by Scout.com.]

1. DT Tim Jernigan (Lake City, FL) – 6’2” 275 lbs.
Nicknamed “Hercules” for his superior size and strength, Jernigan also runs a remarkable 4.6 in the forty yard dash. He received his very first scholarship offer from Florida as a ninth grader and has visited on several occasions including this past summer when he dominated at the Urban Meyer Football Camp. In an interview with The Gainesville Sun following National Signing Day, Jernigan revealed that if he had to sign his letter of intent now, the Gators would be the recipient of his highly sought after signature.

2. ATH James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) – 6’2” 223 lbs.
Rivals’ “Junior of the Year,” Wilder, Jr. is the 2011 version of Ronald Powell with the athletic ability to play running back, linebacker and defensive end at the next level. He favors the Miami Hurricanes at the moment because they are recruiting him at running back, the position his father played in the NFL and his position of choice. However, most recruiting analysts project Wilder as an outside linebacker, and Florida is his leader if he chooses to play on defense in college.

Check out 18 more 2011 recruits the Florida Gators are targeting after the jump!
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