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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9/16: Florida Gators week three practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s third game Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HILL WILL PLAY, LIKELY TO START

Early this week OGGOA exclusively reported that junior safety Will Hill, who has missed the last two games due to team discipline, will be traveling with the team to Knoxville, TN, and playing against the Volunteers on Saturday. Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater told the media Wednesday that Hill will indeed travel with the team, and Meyer fully confirmed our report during a media availability Thursday, saying that Hill will play this week and will likely do so as a starter. “Hill’s gonna play,” Meyer said. “I’m not sure [if he'll start]. I think he will.”

MARSH, DUNKLEY SITTING SATURDAY

One week after being cleared to play, redshirt senior defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh will be forced to miss Saturday’s game against Tennessee. However, Marsh is not being held out due to an injury; instead, he will sit because he severely cut his arm during a freak accident in which he leaned on a sink and accidentally broke it. Marsh had approximately 20 stitches and should be able to return against Kentucky. He will still travel with the team as one of its captains.

Freshman wide receiver Chris Dunkley, who has yet to play this season, continues to have hamstring problems and will remain out of action while recovering. It was originally thought he might see the field this week as he was supposedly coming along nicely.

QUOTES

Meyer on taking his team on the road: “We can’t mess up the routine. All great players, all great teams have routines. When they’re disrupted, that’s usually when you get lack of concentration on your job.”

Meyer on how rivalry games stand out: “The intensity is a little different. […] We plan all summer, we talk about them. […] It’s not that I made this rivalry; this was a rivalry years and years ago. It’s the first SEC game, the third game of the year. I was educated about it six years ago.”

Meyer on redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey: “I did speak with him, and he’s very angry and disappointed that the whole thing happened. But you gotta move on.”

Meyer on how Rainey can get back on the team: “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. He’s not on the team.”

Meyer on redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose: “He’s more of an outside guy. When we recruited him, we thought he could be that inside [guy]. [...] Debose is a receiver. He is more of an elongated receiver that can go make plays. So he’s going to stay outside. He’s just got to learn at that same speed he’s been playing at. [...] He’s got a lot of speed – more speed than I thought.’’

Meyer on if Dunkley might redshirt: “No, no. He’s actually had this since November of his senior year in high school. He went through and banged it again in June. Hamstrings are tough injuries. We thought we had it, because we shut him down for a while, that’s exactly what we did. He was 100 percent the last two weeks. We were getting him ready to play and then he tugged it again.”

Meyer about all of the arrests under his watch: “I try to evaluate everything about our program. I’m real upset about that. After a while, enough’s enough. If there’s something that we can improve on, we’re certainly looking into that. It’s like if our graduation rate stinks, then we’ve got to improve that. If there’s other issues in the program, that’s our job to get it better. People making stupid mistakes – that’s something we’ve gotta correct.”

Meyer on the perception that his program is “dirty” because of the arrests: “I don’t care. We do our best to win games. Dirty program? It’s not a dirty program. We follow the rules and some guys make some mistakes and we gotta correct those mistakes. But we follow the rules and we do it the right way at Florida and we have to do a better job of correcting some of the people making mistakes.”

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9/15: Florida Gators week three practice notes

Florida Gators assistant coaches and players met with the media after practice on Wednesday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s third game Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HAVE HILL WILL TRAVEL

It came as no surprise to us here at OGGOA when, on Wednesday afternoon, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater told the media that junior safety Will Hill will travel with the team to Knoxville, TN, over the weekend. Though the coaching staff still contends that Hill’s participation in Saturday’s contest will be a game-time decision, OGGOA has been reporting since early in the week that he will be active and playing against Tennessee.

PEE ON THE “T”

According to a some players, the Gators’ coaching staff placed the Volunteers’ “Power T” symbol in all of the urinals in their facilities this week as a means of motivation. There were also plenty of photographs and quotes uniquely positioned to remind players of the importance of Saturday’s game. Let’s just hope there wasn’t a lot of splash back.

QUOTES

Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio on redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley: “We’ve seen really good development over the course of two weeks. He’s done a great job, really worked hard. I just really like where he’s headed now. I like his mind set. I think without a doubt, like anything else, there is no substitute for experience, and experience is gained. He’s gained throughout these first two games. You can see the growth. We’re really happy about that. That’s what we’re striving for with the whole offense.”

Brantley on his confidence: “My confidence has grown a lot. I’m starting to figure out how the game works, instead of staying on the sideline and watching. I’m just trying to learn each game and just keep getting better each game. [Being the starter is] completely different. Your adrenaline is pumping and you’re trying to make plays and help the team out. It’s tough seeing all the different kinds of defenses. You have to be locked in every play. You can’t take a play off. It’s been a great learning experience. I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far. We’re just going to try and get better every week.”

Brantley on Tim Tebow reaching out to him: “That was huge. Tim and I had such a great relationship when he was here. To know that. [...] He was one of the best college football players of all time. To know he has confidence in me is a great feeling. He knows what it’s like. He knows how everything works and he knows the SEC and how tough it is. With him having confidence in me, it gives me confidence knowing I’m able to do this.”

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders on playing Tennessee: “Everybody loves a rival game. The energy level is a little bit higher. The focus is a little bit higher. You can tell that everybody is ready to play. Of course, last week they tried to count it as a rival, that was our first time playing them. This week you can definitely tell the difference. There was more pictures, more slogans, more this, more that.”

Senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert on getting sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon back: “Having Xavier back, I think that brings a lot of stability to our offensive line. That will increase our play. Having him back puts everyone back to their normal positions, like Maurice back to [right] guard, me back to the right [tackle]. I think it will be pretty good.”

Wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni on a heads-up play by freshman WR Robert Clark: “We always talk about getting to where you’re supposed to be. You’re supposed to go in motion and end up where he was [on his reception Saturday]. Instead he just took off from where he was, got where he was supposed to be, affected the area he was supposed to affect. He was right there for Brantley where he was supposed to be in the first place [after Brantley forgot to put him in motion]. He was just there a different way. The play ended up working. It was just a heads-up play by a young kid who’s done that in practice before. It was really nice to see.”

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun and the Palm Beach Post for the above quotes.

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Grading the Florida Gators vs. South Florida 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 South Florida Bulls in the second game of the 2010-11 season, which took place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

QUARTERBACKS: B-
Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley played better Saturday than he did last week against Miami (OH), so why only a half-grade improvement? Following up a performance in which he completed 68 percent of his passes, Brantley’s accuracy fell 10 percent even though he gained almost 60 more yards through the air and once again passed for two scores. Brantley did do a better job finding open pass catchers and spread the ball around a bit more, but he has plenty to improve on in the coming weeks.

RUNNING BACKS: A
As a team, the Gators rushed for 267 yards on Saturday, and three running backs with multiple attempts averaged over 7.3 yards per carry. Junior Jeff Demps was the star of the game, rushing 11 times for 139 yards and a touchdown with a long of 62 and average of 12.6. Take away his breakaway run, and Demps still averaged 7.7 YPC. Redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody put on a respectable performance (especially in the second half) with 14 carries for 54 yards (3.9 average), sophomore Mike Gillislee had four powerful carries for 29 yards (7.3 average) and a score, and freshman Mack Brown even saw some action with three rushes for 23 yards (7.7 average).

Read the rest of Florida’s grades from the USF game after the jump…
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Week 2: Gators post-game news and notes

Bouncing back from a lackluster showing during the first game of the 2010-11 season, the No. 6/8 Florida Gators ran down the South Florida Bulls 38-14 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss following the contest, OGGOA presents some of the most important notes and quotes coming out of The Swamp.

RAINEY OUT WITH CONCUSSION

Named by head coach Urban Meyer before the season as one of the Gators’ primary offensive weapons, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was knocked out of the game Saturday with a concussion. Rainey had only touched the ball three times prior to heading off the field, and his status for next week’s game at Tennessee is unknown, though Meyer seemed optimistic.

SNAPPING OUT OF “DISASTER MISTAKES”

After a week in which Florida struggled with one of the simplest aspects of the game – snapping the ball – senior center Mike Pouncey and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley were back in sync and playing well together. Pouncey did have some errant snaps during the Gators’ first two series, one of which Brantley mishandled and fumbled, but overall the problems were corrected and UF’s offense was able to proceed free of easy miscues.

YOUNGSTERS SEE THE FIELD

Offensively, Florida made it a point to get redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose and freshman WR Robert Clark in the game – something the coaching staff failed in doing the previous week. On the defensive side of the ball, youth was all over the Gators’ secondary with freshman cornerback Cody Riggs getting extra time in place of redshirt sophomore starting CB Jeremy Brown, who went down with full body cramps in the second half. Fellow freshman CBs Jaylen Watkins and Josh Shaw also saw action, and freshman safety Matt Elam played as much as he did last week.

MEYER NOT HAPPY WITH HILL, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER

After the game, Meyer explained that junior safety Will Hill was benched for a second straight week because he was “not ready to play.” Earlier in the week, it appeared as if Hill was going to see the field in his normal staring role, but it is being made to look as if there was a change of heart as the game approached. As OGGOA reported last Saturday, Hill was out not because of his preparedness but rather as a team punishment; we are of the belief that he sat for the same reason this week.

Also held out were redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely and freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who Meyer also gave the “not ready to play” tag to. Finley, like Hill, was dressed; Easley was not. Like he said last week with his suspended starters, Meyer expects all three to play against Tennessee.

THOMPSON AND MOORE STEP THEIR GAMES UP

One week after redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson barely contributed and redshirt senior WR Carl Moore did not catch a single ball, both players played a major part of the Gators’ offense. The duo combined to catch 11 passes for 123 yards, though Thompson did drop another touchdown (which was well-defended) and bobbled a few of the passes he ended up bringing in. Each will have to remain consistent throughout the season, and Saturday was a good first step toward that end.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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9/6: 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.

PLAYERS SET TO RETURN SATURDAY

Meyer plans to have redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., junior free safety Will Hill and redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson back with the team for next Saturday’s game against South Florida after all three served suspensions during Florida’s opening game against Miami (OH). Though it is known that Hammond’s punishment came as part of his DUI arrest earlier in the summer, Meyer did not disclose the particular reasons for sitting Hill and Johnson.

On the injury front, Meyer believes redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (knee) and sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) will be able to play on Saturday. However, he is not as optimistic about redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (wrist), who is still recovering.

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR MOSES

After three years of mostly playing special teams, senior cornerback Moses Jenkins was finally able to see the field as a starter on Saturday. Unfortunately for Jenkins, he hyperextended his left elbow while in action and will be out for at least six weeks. Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown, with whom Jenkins was competing with for the job during summer and fall practice, took over for him during the game even though he was nursing a sprained ankle. He is expected to be the starter this week.

Redshirt junior guard James Wilson was also injured during the game, but he will be fine to play on Saturday.

WEEK ONE CHAMPIONS

Meyer announced that eight Gators graded out as Champions after the Miami (OH) game. As indicated by the contest itself, seven were defensive players while only senior tackle Marcus Gilbert earned the honor on offense. The defenders who were awarded include Brown, junior CB Janoris Jenkins, senior safety Ahmad Black, redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard, senior defensive end Justin Trattou, sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic and redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE SNAPPING?

After reviewing game tape, Meyer said he and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio discovered that senior center Mike Pouncey was not locking his wrist while snapping the ball, causing it to come out at any number of different angles. It was also mentioned that redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, in his first game as a starter, was not paying as much attention to the snap as he should have been, leading him to mishandle some bad snaps that nevertheless should have been corralled.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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