10/6: Austin on Lemmens, Elam, Hill and tackling

Florida Gators defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin along sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Omar Hunter spoke to the media Wednesday as the team took a final look back on its crushing loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide and ahead to its match-up against the LSU Tigers at home on Saturday night.

LEMMENS “BETTER THAN YOU THINK”

Though he began the season as a starting defensive end, senior Duke Lemmens is now playing a hybrid role in what the Gators call their “heavy package,” where a larger player is used as a stand-up linebacker in an effort to close rushing lanes. Austin raved Wednesday about what Lemmens brings to the table and how effective he has been.

“What we’re getting from Duke is great effort. He plays in space better than you think. He’s a big guy, he’s a 250 lb. guy on the edge, and that really helped solidify some of the run lanes,” Austin said. “Duke’s done a great job with it and we’re going to keep moving forward with it. Because of his size he gives you a real stout guy at the edge of the defense to hold the edge of the defense, but he also gives you some pass rush being a former defensive end.”

YOUNGSTERS RESPOND TO VETERAN LEADERSHIP

With more than half of Florida’s players in their first or second year on the team, rebounding from a tough road loss is a difficult thing to do. Austin noted that the veteran leadership on the defense has gone a long way to making the younger players get over the loss and concentrate on the game ahead. “[There are] not a lot of losses around here to reach back and dig from and talk about, but the one thing they did [say] what happened Saturday we can’t change that so what do we have to do to get better this week? The seniors and the older guys have really led the way and they’re trying to bring the young guys [in],” he said. “We’ve had two pretty good, spirited practices, and that’s really what you’re really looking for as a coach – the guys really coming out, competing and trying to get better. Because what happened last Saturday has no effect on what happens this Saturday.”

THE TIME IS NOW FOR HILL TO IMPROVE

Over the last few weeks OGGOA has been poking and prodding around to find out what exactly has been going on with the development of junior safety Will Hill. The most anyone would tell us was that he was inconsistent in practice and not showing the same gumption he did in the offseason. Austin confirmed exactly that Wednesday when asked directly about Hill’s performances.

“No. [He has to] play better,” said Austin about Hill’s consistency. “He has the ability really to be an impact-type player because he’s big, he has range, he can tackle, he can do all the things you want a safety to do – [what] all the great safeties around here have done. He hasn’t taken that step yet so we need him to take it. It starts out there on the practice field and hopefully carries over to the game. Because he’s been working hard. We gotta get it to carry over into games, and I think hopefully it will start this week.

“Right now he’s just not playing up to the ability he has right now, and that will come. I’m not worried about him. I think he’ll play better this week and he’ll continue to play better as we move [forward] because he had an outstanding fall camp. You want him to play better, but I know he can play better and he will.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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10/4: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Updated Oct. 5 at 1:15 p.m.

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

DEMPS REMAINS PROBABLE, GILLISLEE TOO

The last thing Florida needed after having junior running back Jeff Demps at less than 100 percent on Saturday was another one of its top rushers to go down; unfortunately, that is exactly what happened as sophomore RB Mike Gillislee badly bruised his ankle against Alabama. Meyer noted that both players are Probable (read: 75 percent) for Saturday night’s game against LSU. Expect them to play.

In addition to limiting him in the backfield, Demps’ injured foot kept him off of special teams with Gillislee handling kickoff returns. As long as both are able to play Saturday, expect that to continue until Demps is completely healthy and able to practice at full speed for an entire week without “sharp pains” in his foot.

RED ZONE REVERSE

Entering the Alabama game Florida had gone 14-for-14 in the red zone over the previous two games with 13 touchdowns and a field goal. In fact, the Gators’ red zone efficiency on the season was 89.5 percent including 16 touchdowns. That changed for the worse Saturday as Florida went 1-for-4 in similar opportunities, something that has certainly gotten Meyer’s attention.

WEEK FIVE CHAMPIONS

Meyer did not announce any Champions for the Alabama game because, let’s face it, there was little to be proud of when the game was over. In lieu of his accolades, OGGOA has decided to name senior punter/kicker Chas Henry our week five champion for his top-notch performances during the contest. Henry averaged 62.3 yards per punt with a career-long of 75 and, filling in for injured junior K Caleb Sturgis, knocked through field goals of 39 and 22 yards for the Gators’ only points of the game.

He also received a honorable mention from the Southeastern Conference on Monday and this statement from Meyer: “If we had won the game, his contributions would have probably been player-of-gamish.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Grading the Florida Gators vs. Kentucky 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. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Kentucky Wildcats in the fourth game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: A+
Standing on his own, redshirt junior John Brantley had an “A-” performance on Saturday, completing over 68 percent of his passes (24-of-35) for a career-high 248 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Though his 131.81 passer rating was his third-best of the season (due to the turnover), Brantley posted the best performance of his career and was instrumental in the Gators converting 7-of-11 third downs. Of course Brantley’s positive output was overshadowed by freshman Trey Burton, who accounted for six touchdowns on the day. Playing as single wing QB, running back, wide receiver and tight end, Burton rushed for 40 yards and five touchdowns, caught five balls for 37 yards and a touchdown and completed a pass on his only attempt for 42 yards. When you combine Brantley’s significant improvement with Burton’s stellar evening, there is truly no other grade to give his unit.

RUNNING BACKS: B+
After a monster 267-yard performance against South Florida, Florida’s running game came back down to earth against Tennessee. It returned to prominence once again against Kentucky, with all three of the team’s rushers posting good statistics. Junior Jeff Demps (who left the game in the second half with an injured foot) rushed eight times for 57 yards (7.1 average), redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody gained 46 yards on 10 carries (4.6 average) and sophomore Mike Gillislee ran the ball six times for 32 yards (5.3 average). Burton, a QB, scored all of the Gators’ rushing touchdowns, but these backs were instrumental in all six of UF’s scoring drives.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Kentucky game after the jump…
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9/27: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

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

AILING DEMPS SHOULD PLAY SATURDAY

Junior running back Jeff Demps aggravated a foot injury on Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats, something that forced him to get X-rays after the game (they were negative). Doctors have diagnosed Demps with a sprained foot and have placed him in a temporary boot so it can heal for a few days before he returns to practice. “[We are] hearing positive things about [Demps returning] later in the week,” Meyer said Monday. “We’ll update you as we go. It’s not broken. It’s not a stress fracture. [The X-ray] came back negative. Now [we] just gotta get him healthy. […] I think we are going to have Demps, so I’d rather not even think that way.”

WEEK FOUR CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that 24 Florida players graded out as Champions after the Kentucky game, more than double any other game so far this season. Freshman quarterback Trey Burton, redshirt junior QB John Brantley and redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard were singled out as Players of the Week.

Offensively, senior center Mike Pouncey; wide receivers redshirt junior Denote Thompson, redshirt senior Carl Moore and redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr.; running backs Demps, redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody and sophomore Mike Gillislee; redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson; redshirt senior left tackle Marcus Gilbert; redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt; sophomore right tackle Xavier Nixon; and redshirt freshman G Jon Halapio were honored. Nine players on defense – senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens; safeties senior Ahmad Black and junior Will Hill; cornerbacks junior Janoris Jenkins and redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown; linebackers redshirt senior A.J. Jones and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins; and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Omar Hunter – shined Saturday.

It appears that there were even more Champions this week, but Meyer said there were too many to name. “There’s too many names on there to get into each one of them,” he said.

Burton was also named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday for his school-record six touchdown performance. He is the fifth Florida player this year to win a weekly SEC honor and the second to win Freshman of the Week.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Grading the Florida Gators at Tennessee 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. This week, we look at how the Gators fared against the Tennessee Volunteers in the third game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has not had a stellar start to the season; however, in the same respect, he hasn’t played poorly either. A week after seeing his completion percentage fall by 10 points, Brantley once again hovered around 60 percent, going 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He also showed his mobility Saturday, rushing four times for 19 yards. For a second-straight week Brantley did a better job finding open receivers and even spread the ball around a bit more to seven different pass catchers. Most notably was his efficiency on third down, in which he completed six passes to keep drives going. However, Brantley also made a number of mistakes during the game including poorly managing the play clock and tripping over himself. For that reason, his grade remains the same as last week.

RUNNING BACKS: B
No, the Gators did not rush for 267 yards like they did last week and the unit certainly wasn’t as efficient either (three players averaged over 7.3 yards per carry). Even so, junior Jeff Demps (26 carries for 74 yards) and sophomore Mike Gillislee (eight rushes for 27 yards) were impactful and an important reason why their team emerged victorious. Demps will not be able to shoulder such a load game-in and game-out, especially as the schedule gets tougher, and the unit as a whole gets an “A” for effort.

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the Tennessee game after the jump…
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9/20: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer meets with the media each Monday after the Florida Gators participate in a game the previous Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

WILSON TO MISS MORE TIME

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson, injured on Sept. 4 against Miami (OH), recently had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and will be out of action for the foreseeable future. Wilson’s injury comes at a time when Florida’s offensive line is as solid as its been all year with sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back in the starting lineup for the first time on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist) remains out of action but is close to returning, perhaps as early as Oct. 2 against Alabama.

Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks told the media Monday that, contrary to the belief that it was dislocated, he has actually been playing with a heeling broken thumb over the last three weeks. He will continue to get major time on the field and should continue to impact the game as he has been thus far.

Though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson went down at the end of the game Saturday, he will be fine. However, redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody‘s bruised thigh will continue to be monitored throughout the week.

WEEK THREE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that nine Gators graded out as Champions after the Tennessee Volunteers game. Redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Moore and senior defensive end Duke Lemmens were singled out as Players of the Week.

Offensively, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt seniors right tackle Marcus Gilbert and right guard Maurice Hurt were all honored. Four players on defense – senior DE Justin Trattou and LBs senior Hicks, sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins – shined throughout the game. Jenkins was also named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week on Monday for his career-high six tackles and first career sack.

BRANTLEY TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISCUE

As OGGOA noted in both our game story and tweets during Saturday’s contest, Pouncey’s bad snap early in the first quarter appeared to have occurred due to Brantley rushing to get a snap off when he realized the play clock was ticking down. The signal caller said the same thing Monday, taking the blame for the poor snap. Though not on him specifically for that mistake, Meyer noted that Brantley must progress and get better.

“I think he’s got to get better,” he said. “There’s one way we evaluate quarterbacks here. He’s 3-0 as a starter at Florida, so that’s pretty good, going on the road and winning a game. To say we’re thrilled with where we’re at offensively, and he’s the focal point of the offense, that would be a false statement. To say that he’s handled himself very well, to say he’s managing the team, to say that he does throw a very nice pass and hit five third-and-longs against Tennessee – those are all very good. We just need to improve. We’re pleased with where we’re at, we just need to keep improving.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 3: Gators post-game news and notes

Starting slow for the third consecutive game, the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) once again pulled out a double-digit win against their opponent, taking down the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. With so much to discuss, OGGOA first presents some of the most important notes and quotes.

EIGHT FOR EIGHT IS GREAT

In his six years coaching the University of Florida, head coach Urban Meyer has run eight fake punt plays. And all eight times that decision has paid off for the Gators. On Saturday, Meyer said he did not hesitate to call a fake punt in which sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines took a direct snap up the field 36 yards for a first down in what would eventually become a touchdown scoring drive. “We’ve been working on that since the beginning of the year,” Meyer said after the game. “We tried to get the numbers, and we got the numbers, and they executed well. As soon as I heard from the press box we had numbers, I knew all we had to do was execute it.” Hines was just as prepared for the play call. “We’ve been practicing it every day in practice,” he said. “It was my chance to get the first down. I wasn’t nervous. We’ve been practicing on it too much. I was ready for it. [Tennessee] had two guys, and when they went outside, I cut inside and got the first down. I knew it was going to work. We really needed that. We were down in the first half. I just tried to help the team get the momentum back.”

SUSPENDED PLAYERS RETURN, CONTRIBUTE

Three Florida players missed the first two games of the season not due to injury but instead because of team suspension. Junior safety Will Hill (most prominently), redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and sophomore linebacker Dee Finley all returned Saturday, each contributing in one way or another. While Hill was in on some blown coverages in the secondary, he made a few big tackles on special teams, which was also populated by Hammond and Finley. Hammond was also able to make his first catch of the year in the third quarter for a touchdown. “It felt good,” Hammond said. “I just go out there and try to make plays and do what I can for the team. I’m just trying to stay humble. I got another chance at it [after getting arrested]. I made a mistake and I learned from it. Whatever they want me to do, special teams or offense, I’ll do what I need to do just to get back on the team and help them out. I’m trying to move on now.”

GILLISLEE MAKING HIS CASE FOR PLAYING TIME

Sophomore running back Mike Gillislee, like any player, wants to get on the field as much as possible. Stuck behind junior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody, Gillislee appears to be on a mission this season to prove to coaches that he deserves more playing time. Though Demps once again led the Gators in rushing Saturday, Gillislee’s two powerful touchdowns once again proved he is as much of a spark plug as anyone on the team.

HEALTHY OFFENSIVE LINE STICKING TOGETHER

For the first time all season, Florida was able to begin the game and play with its starting offensive line – consisting of sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson, senior center Mike Pouncey, redshirt senior right guard Maurice Hurt and redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert – healthy and intact. On a rushed snap in the first quarter, Pouncey rolled the ball on the ground to redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, almost causing a turnover. At the end of the game, Johnson appeared to suffer an arm injury, but trainers believe he will be fine.

SECONDARY ROLLS BUT FLAWS EMERGE

Nabbing two more interceptions against the Volunteers, the Gators’ defense continues to lead the nation with 10 grabs on the season. The secondary itself is responsible for seven of them, with redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown bringing down his second of the year on Saturday. However, a unit that was the model of consistency for Florida throughout the first two games showed some flaws against Tennessee, allowing three big catches and two long touchdowns in the contest. Brown was victimized a few time, Hill was out of position on another throw and even junior CB Janoris Jenkins (who muffed a punt for a fumble as a returner) may have blown an assignment.

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN STEPS UP

While the secondary dealt with a few issues, the defensive linemen and linebackers did whatever they had to in order to get pressure on QB Matt Simms and stifle Volunteers star RB Tauren Poole (10 carries for 23 yards). Senior defensive ends Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens, redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins and freshman DE Ronald Powell all achieved sacks, and sophomore LB Jon Bostic pulled down his second interception of the season.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Week 3: No. 7 Florida Gators at Tenn. Volunteers

Location: Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN [Capacity: 102,459]
Weather Forecast: 87°F, 0% chance of precipitation
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 122/143
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 7/10 FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Derek Dooley
Record: 2-0 Record: 1-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -14; O/U 45.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida has won 22 consecutive regular season games, 12-straight on the road and 14 regular season SEC games in a row.
» Under Meyer, the Gators are 5-0 against the Volunteers and 2-0 on the road. This is the 40th all-time meeting between Florida and Tennessee, with UF leading the series 20-19; however, the Vols have an 11-9 advantage when playing at home.
» The Gators lead the nation with eight interceptions in two games. That total is twice as many as any other SEC school and two more than any other team in the nation. Florida has recorded four interceptions in back-to-back games this year; Saturday’s game was the fourth time the defense has picked off four balls under Meyer.
» UF has committed a nation-low 84 turnovers since 2005 and has had 24 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation).
» The Gators went 4-for-4 in the red zone against South Florida with three touchdowns and a field goal. Florida’s red zone efficiency is 77 percent on the season including six touchdowns in nine chances.
» Florida has had a kickoff return of 50-plus yards and a rush of 40-plus yards by a player in each game this season. Sophomore running back Mike Gillislee accomplished it against Miami (OH), while junior RB Jeff Demps hit the mark against South Florida.
» UF’s RB coach Stan Drayton held the same position with UT in 2008.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who is looking to rebound from a rough outing in which he started his first collegiate game. He has thrown 117 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 14-1 TD/INT ratio while playing for the Gators.
» Demps…who had a career-long 72-yard rushing TD in the opening game and totaled 255 all-purpose yards last week. Demps leads the nation in rushing yards per touch (8.1) since 2008 and yards per carry (12.5) in 2010.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson…who had career-highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (83) last week. As Brantley’s primary pass catcher, eight of Thompson’s nine catches this season have been for first downs.
» Tennessee RB Tauren Poole…who has rushed 40 times for 272 yards and three touchdowns this season. Poole is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and ran the ball 23 times for 162 yards (7.0 average) and one touchdown last week against Oregon.
» Sophomore WR Omarius Hines…who made his first career start last week but is moving to slot receiver for the remainder of the season. He had 49 yards on three catches with a touchdown against Miami (OH).
» Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose…who missed the 2009 season with an injured hamstring but hopes to make an impact with redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey gone. Debose did not play against Miami (OH) and saw limited time against South Florida.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted six balls – three in each of the last two games. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) are leading the way for the unit with their performance and leadership. Black is also tops in the SEC with 20 tackles on the year and is the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233). Junior starting S Will Hill is expected to see the field for the first time this season.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Doubtful – Redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh (stitches), freshman WR Chris Dunkley (hamstring)
Out – Redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist)

Inactives
(Will update closer to game time)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators are not set to be featured in particular 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. However, the analysts will certainly be discussing the Florida-Tennessee game at various points during the broadcast.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers preview after the jump!
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