8/17: Rainey, Demps, Floyd, Howard, Elam speak

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preseason practice preparing for their first game on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing.


Citing a source close to the team, the Independent Florida Alligator reported Wednesday evening that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown suffered a knee injury during practice and “could miss up to three weeks.” If that timeline is accurate, Brown (likely one of the team’s two starters at cornerback this season) could miss the Gators’ first game of 2011 against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3.

Additionally, The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu reports that the three Gators named in the Yahoo! Sports report alleging illegal benefits and impressible recruiting activities at Miami – wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive tackle Matt Patchan – all participated in practice with the team on Wednesday.


Though offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has infused the Gators with an entirely new playbook, one carryover from the previous regime are some Wildcat formations featuring a trio of the team’s running backs – redshirt senior Chris Rainey, senior Jeff Demps and sophomore Trey Burton – taking direct snaps from the center and either reading rushing lanes or (rarely) throwing the ball.

“It’s fun,” Rainey said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I was nervous a little bit the first time, but I love it a lot. I ain’t never done it before. It’s fun, though.” Demps echoed a similar sentiment. “I haven’t been in the Wildcat very much, but when I got in it was pretty fun,” he added. “I can see the little hole a little faster and hit it.”

Rainey also conveyed his overall enthusiasm for Weis’s offense. “It feels good,” he said per The Sun. “I’m super happy. Everybody gets the ball in the offense. It’s not a one-man show. Basically, you see better. You see everything, you see the whole field. […] I’m super comfortable. I don’t even have to bring my playbook into the [meeting] room. I know everything. It took me a week to know it in the spring.”

As seems to be the theme, Demps shares Rainey’s opinion in the topic. “It’s a tailback-friendly offense,” he said. “It’s a run-first, pass-second offense. I think this year the running backs are going to get a lot of touches.” He also spoke about getting the ball deeper in the backfield. “It makes a difference,” Demps said. “You can actually see the holes developing and be able to track the linebackers and make your reads. The two yards was kind of fast, so everything was closing in on you [in the spread].”


Every defender who spoke on Wednesday had something positive to say about their offensive counterparts, words that are likely music to the ears of fans who were disappointed with the offensive production one year ago.

Discussing Florida’s speedy running backs, sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd glowed. “Them boys – they can do it all,” he said about Rainey and Demps. “Preparing for a season with them two in the backfield is great because you’re going to get every look that you can possibly imagine. Rainey can cut on a dime, Rainey can do this, Rainey can do that, Demps can do the same thing. It gets you moving fast and gives you a better motor and all of that. That’s the plus side of it.”

For redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard, the Gators quarterbacks (especially redshirt senior John Brantley) are the biggest difference this year. “All I can say is the SEC better watch out, man,” Howard said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Brantley is on fire right now. His whole demeanor has changed. He’s taken charge of the offense. He’s running the show now and you can really tell it. In my eyes, he’s a Heisman candidate.” He provided equally lofty praise for freshman signal caller Jeff Driskel. “He’s great, man,” Howard added. “In my eyes, he’s the next Tim Tebow. He’s so fast. He’s explosive. If something happens and Brantley goes down, we feel reliable with him coming in the game.”

Sophomore safety Matt Elam, who tries to stop the team’s wide receivers all practice long, said two in particular stood out to him. “All of them are good, “Elam said. “The one[s] that stuck out the most to me [were] Frankie [Hammond, Jr.] and Quinton Dunbar. It seems like they don’t drop anything. They’re really good receivers.”


Whether you’ve noticed players tweeting #TEAMMUSCHAMP hashtags or the overall sense of camaraderie in the locker room, it appears that the Gators have once again become a cohesive unit after being pretty fractured during the 2010 season. As Floyd describes it, 2011 is a “new year, new era, and we’re just pushing forward,” with the team as a whole is looking to “control what you can control.”

He also opened up a bit about how the team is more unified this year. “The chemistry is way better on both sides of the ball,” Floyd explained. “We’re not just the offense and not just the defense anymore, we’re a team and we break as a team. After practice we don’t break it down as an offense and a defense, we break it down as a team.”

Evan Elam, who had a close relationship with former head coach Urban Meyer, is beginning to become a big-time fan of the new top dog, Will Muschamp. “I feel like [our relationship is] getting better every day,” he said. “He’s teaching me a lot, and I respect him a lot, and I’m learning a lot from him. So that’s making us closer.”


» Rainey on Muschamp’s attitude during practice: “We just saw him yelling at a trainer across the field and everybody looked at each other like, ‘Wow. He’s the real deal.’ He’s bipolar, too. Don’t tell him I said it.” (PBP)

» Rainey on Burton being an unselfish player: “He do[es] the same thing every year. He’s a ‘program guy,’ they call it. He’s great. He do everything right. I love him. We need people like that. It’s very rare. It would be nice to have the whole team like that.” (PBP)

» Demps on how he and Rainey are different: “I’d say he’s more shiftier than I am, but other than that we’re fast guys, tough and can run the ball.”

» Demps on where he is struggling “I have a little problem with protections. Going through the plays in the spring, I never really had a chance to go over the protections. I’m trying to catch up now.” (SUN)

» Floyd on how he likes playing on the end: “You can’t get double-teamed at that position; I’m loving it. I’m getting a feel for it, learning everything I can get, learning the situations and everything like that. It’s a good opportunity for me, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

» Floyd on the defensive line’s rotation: “It’s the biggest rotation we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’re doing good with it. Each player is learning and we’re just trying to get better.”

» Floyd on how often the defense is in the 3-4: “It’s pretty balanced 3-4 and 4-3; the whole front can play either position. Now it’s just seeing what we’re going to get and learning from it that way.”

» Floyd comparing Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn: “Different personalities, but you can say that – they have the same style of coaching, getting after it. The big thing with them is aggressiveness and sticking your face in someone.”

» Floyd on if the defensive line feels pressure to lead the unit: “We’re not really worried about it. We’re just honestly trying to get better every day and just learn what is told to us and taking what we learn in the meeting room out to the field.”

» Howard on which formation he is more comfortable playing in: “I’ve become more accustomed to playing a 3-4 now. It fits my body type and it’s working well with our team, so it’s going to look good this season.”

» Howard on the offensive line’s progression since last year: “The offensive line, I can really tell a difference from last year. They’re coming off the ball, they’re putting their face into the blocks, I think they’re going to help Brantley out a lot this year.” (ITG)

» Elam on freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson: “I expected a lot with him coming in, and he’s living up to everything I expected.”

» Elam on what he learned from Ahmad Black: “I learned a lot from him – practice tempo. I learned toughness and just the way to practice and how to approach things; how to approach practice and how to approach games. I learned a lot of mental things.”

» Elam on how Brantley has been playing: “Brantley has been looking real good to me. I’ve been seeing a lot of good things from Brantley this camp – a lot of good things.”

Source Key: SUN = The Gainesville Sun; PBP = Palm Beach Post; ITG = InsidetheGators.com

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FOUR BITS: Young, Wright, K. Moore, Dorsey

1 » USA Basketball has released a profile piece on Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) completed as he joined the Men’s U-18 National Team for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-40. Among the topics covered, Young says that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is working him and the rest of the team hard, the experience will do him well for his freshman year at Florida, he has plans to study sports medicine, his family is huge Gators fans and he wants to do what he can to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. “My parents put [giving back] into my head, I grew up with my own morals that I learned from them,” Young said. “I just applied it to my life and that’s just me.”

2 » Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo discussed how former Florida safety Major Wright has been progressing with his team thus far through mini camp; suffice to say, he is coming away impressed. “He’s billed as advertised. He’s a great kid who’s very competitive,” Angelo said. “He brings a lot of emotion and energy to the [secondary], which is great to see. He’s getting better with each practice. There’s going to be a learning curve at all positions for rookies, probably more so in the secondary because there’s much more going on at the safety position. But he’s doing a fine job. The coaches are very pleased with the way he’s progressing, particularly with his work habits. In terms of whether he’ll start this season, the players and coaches will determine that, but we’re very excited about seeing him in pads.”

3 » While some of the Gators’ more prominent stars over the years were unable to make a career for themselves in the NFL (see: quarterback Leak, Chris of the Montreal Alouettes), others have found slots on practice teams and in the back of rosters. Picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2009, as an insurance policy against a dwindling backfield, former Florida running back Kestahn Moore caught on and signed a deal with the team on Jan. 5. This offseason, Moore has been getting a lot of work in during practice – he has taken Wildcat formation snaps behind rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster, run the ball as what many believe is the team’s third or fourth back and impressed coaches with what Chiefs writer Bob Gretz calls “a nice wiggle and burst.” As camp wrapped up on June 14, Gertz had this to say about Moore: “The first-year back out of Florida got a lot of opportunities with Jamaal Charles on the sidelines because of his shoulder surgery/recovery. There is no live action in these practices, so running backs can be hard to judge. But in every practice, Moore ripped off at least one impressive run with a burst of speed or moves. Moore has become a shadow of Thomas Jones and he’s trying to learn how to stay in the NFL from the 11-year veteran.”

4 » Safety Demar Dorsey, a five-star recruit who was previously committed to Florida before being forced to find a fit elsewhere, was released from his letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines in early June for undisclosed reasons most likely relating to his past legal issues and was hoping to catch on with another program. As previously rumored and projected by OGGOA, he has officially landed with the Louisville Cardinals and two former Florida coaches – head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford.

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Gators spring practice news and notes – 03/29

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice now in full swing, there is plenty of newsworthy information around the program. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. We continue this series with a look at a team scrimmage from Mon., March 29.

» Redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore no-showed practice Monday. Either the staff is keeping the reason for his absence secret, or they really did not know at the time (see quotes section below). The Gainesville Sun reports that Moore was “seen leaving the field after practice [on Saturday] visibly upset.”

» Redshirt sophomore cornerback Adrian Bushell returned to practice Monday but did not wear pads. Head coach Urban Meyer suspended him from team activities for two weeks for grades and other off-the-field issues. He will also not be given pads at Wednesday’s practice but should return to full activity on Friday.

» Redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody remained out of practice with an injured ankle. There is not an official date for a return.

Check out many more practice, notes and interesting quotes…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gators spring practice news and notes – 03/29

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Tebow excited to prove himself at Senior Bowl

Never one to shy away from doubters and skeptics, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has a prime opportunity to increase his value to NFL brass during practices this week for the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. It is a challenge he is neither taking lightly nor backing down from. Head coach Urban Meyer is confident that Tebow will face the NFL challenge head-on and be immensely successful but still provided some words of advice.

“Coach Meyer called me last night and he said, ‘Promise me one thing: Just be you and you’ll be fine,'” Tebow told reporters Sunday during a pre-Senior Bowl press conference. “I’m just going to be me. I’m going to be excited, I’m going to be passionate, I’m going to have fun. I’m going to love playing the game out there, just like I always have. Hopefully the coaching staffs and the owners and general managers will just like me.”

It is hard to imagine anyone not liking Tebow, as a football player, that is. One of the most prolific and arguably the best player in the history of college football, Tebow’s accomplishments seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent weeks while some of his attributes like throwing motion, arm speed and footwork have been picked on.

Find out what Tebow thinks of his many critics (and more) after the jump!
Continue Reading » Tebow excited to prove himself at Senior Bowl

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