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38 posts from July 2008

July 31, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Maurkice Pouncey drinks Natty Lite!!!

GAINESVILLE -- Well, just when you thought it was going to be a relatively quiet summer for the Gators, the team's projected starting center, Maurkice Pouncey, was issued a traffic citation for possession of an open container in a motor vehicle. What, kid can't crack a beer?

Twins_2Gator Clause pulled the report from the Alachua County public records this afternoon. Maurkice Pouncey was issued the citation on Sunday, July 20 at 9 p.m. near 3500 NW 8th Ave. Just four days before Maurkice's 19th birthday. What a killjoy, right?

According to the traffic citation, Maurkice wasn't driving the 2006 silver Chevy registered to his stepfather, Rob Webster. Maurkice was riding shotgun when his wheelman was pulled over for "no tag light," according to the report.

No clue who the driver was but the type of beer that was opened in the car was named in the Natty_lightreport. Natural Lite, of course. What else would underage college kids be drinking on a Sunday night in July other than Natty Lite? (I was and still am a champagne man. It's always a good time for a High Life.) Good to know Maurkice is just like the rest of us when we were in college. Poor and stupid.

Maurkice's fine? $94, according to the helpful folks at the Alachua County courthouse. .

-jo-

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...Offensive Line

There will be plenty of time during preseason practice and two-a-days to write about the unknowns. For one week, let's break down the Gators' perceived strengths...

FOUR DAYS TO GO ... OFFENSIVE LINE

GAINESVILLE -- Excitement grows as Aug. 4 approaches. Just a friendly reminder before we analyze the Gators' offensive line: Free doughnuts for anybody who joins me at 6 a.m. on Monday for the Gators' first practice!

OK, offensive line. Florida coach Urban Meyer has twice [FSWA Media Days and SEC Media Days] called his offensive line the strength of the entire football team. Gator Clause doesn't agree (last time we checked, Tim Tebow was still on this team) but the fact remains, the O-line has the potential to be pretty good this season.

WatkinsFour starters return and Meyer said recently that he's "ready to go to war" (or something like that) with more than enough depth at the position. Meyer probably found it slightly insulting that reporters who cover the SEC didn't agree. Only one returning offensive lineman, guard Jim Tartt, was voted to the preseason all-SEC team. (And it was third-team offense, at that.)

Individually, Florida might not have a superstar offensive lineman but as a whole the group appears solid. When it comes to offensive line, it's all about the group and not the individual. Barring injury this preseason, the starting offensive line seems to be set in stone. Tackles: Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins [PICTURED]. Interior guards: Mike Pouncey and Jim Tartt. Center: Maurkice Pouncey.

Trautwein was the starting right tackle last season before he was sidelined with micro-fractures in his foot. Will Trautwein move back to his old position -- protecting Tim's blindside -- or will Jason Watkins slide over from the left side? Just a guess, but I expect Watkins to emerge from two-a-Tarttdays as the Gators' best lineman. Either way, the Gators begin fall camp with two excellent tackles.

Jim Tartt [PICTURED WITH TEBOW] started every game last season at left guard and we expect him to stay put. Tartt might be the toughest dude on the ranch, if you know what I mean. Maurkice Pouncey played right guard in 2007 but will now replace Drew Miller at center. Mike Pouncey is the lone newcomer to the starting offensive line. He'll take over his twin brother's old digs. How proud are the Pouncey parents right about now? What a dream, right? Both your twin sons starting alongside each other on the Florida Gators' offensive line...AS SOPHOMORES.

With the Gators experimenting with the no-huddle offense this season, Maurkice's job becomes that much more important. Last season, Drew Miller had a little trouble during fall camp adjusting to the shotgun offense. Watch for Maurkice to go through the same early struggles.

Gilbert_2For those die-hard fans out there, Gator Clause is now about to project the second-string offensive line. We realize most of you could care less, but some of us are just football junkies that way.

Marcus Gilbert [PICTURED], a redshirt sophomore from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, had a tremendous offseason and should emerge from fall camp as a second-string tackle. He'll be in the rotation and if Trautwein or Watkins goes down, then Gilbert will be the first guy off the bench.

Mike Pouncey will likely serve as the back-up center.  The game-ready back-up guards include Carl Johnson (redshirt sophomore), James Wilson (redshirt freshman) and Maurice Hurt (redshirt sophomore).

THE RONNIE WILSON SITUATION
And what about Ronnie Wilson? Everyone remembers Ronnie's meltdown last year, right? He shot an AK-47 into the air because some idiot kept following him in his car after a dispute at a nightclub. Turns out the guy tailing Wilson was on the phone with 911 the whole time. Everyone remebers that, right? Well, Ronnie was banished from campus for a while but he's back and is enrolled in school. If he gets a second chance with the Gators, look for Wilson to add depth at offensive line. Last offseason he was a projected starter at left guard before his arrest.

SHOULD RONNIE WILSON BE ALLOWED BACK ON THE TEAM? And if so, should he have to sit out this season and participate solely on the scout team?

Remember, folks, FREE DOUGHUTS!

-jo-   

July 30, 2008

Practice schedule released: Go watch your Gators and eat free doughnuts

GAINESVILLE -- I'm being serious now. Gator Clause will give a free doughnut to any FAN (and maybe a couple poor Independent Alligator kids) who joins me for the Gators' first practice of the fall. It's at 6 a.m. on Monday. Gator Clause will be there with a couple dozen free doughnuts (I do take requests but more than likely it's going to be a dozen glazed and a dozen chocolate-covered glazed.) First come first eat. Coffee, too!!!

OK, here's the news. Florida released its practice schedule today. Fans and media can watch practice from Aug. 4-8. After that, two-a-days are closed to the public and the media. (They don't want Miami or Georgia watching their secret quarterback sneaks.)

FAN FRIENDLY PRACTICE SCHEDULE (All listed practices take place at the UF practice field next to the O'Connell Center)

Monday 6-7:25 a.m. (free doughnut practice) and 4:40-6:20 p.m.
Tuesday 6-7:25 a.m. (another free doughnut practice) and 4:40-6:20 p.m.
Wednesday 4:40-6:20 p.m.
Thursday 6-8 p.m.
Friday 6-8 p.m.

-jo-

REPORT: Gators spent $1.45 million on recruiting in 2007

GAINESVILLE -- Florida ranks third nationally behind Tennessee and Notre Dame in money spent annual on recruiting, according to research published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Gators spent $1,451,400 on luring the nation's best athletic recruits to Gainesville in 2007. Tennessee topped the list with a recruiting price tag of $2 million. Notre Dame spent $1,758,300.

Florida spent $1,097,300 on recruiting in 2002 and $655,000 on recruiting in 1996, according to the report. Of the nation's top 10 biggest spenders, five are members of the Southeastern Conference: Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas.

Here's a link to the full report. CLICK ME! Thoughts are welcomed on this subject, people. Is it absurd that schools spend so much money recruiting football and basketball players? Is it justifiable? Should the NCAA make a spending cap? Did I mention that Florida is the No.1-ranked party school in the country?

Other figures of interest: South Florida ($468,813), FSU ($946,356), Miami ($772,950), Central Florida ($632,564) and Florida Atlantic ($256,903).

-jo-

Mike Pouncey moving back to defensive line? Official roster says yes...

GAINESVILLE -- In glancing over the Gators' official 2008 online roster today, Gator Clause noticed something very interesting. Mike Pouncey has apparently been changed back to a defensive lineman. See for yourself. CLICK THE LINK!

Mike Pouncey filled in at defensive tackle last season when Javier Estopinan went down with an ACL injury. The original plan was for Mike Pouncey to rejoin his brother Maurkice on the offensive line this season. Mike Pouncey is listed as an offensive lineman in the Gators' recently released 2008 media guide. If you believe the Gators' OFFICIAL roster on its OFFICIAL website, then Mike is now moving BACK to defense. This raises several questions:

1. Is the website wrong? UF officials haven't texted me back yet about Mike Pouncey's current status. It's probably just a clerical error but let's pretend, for fun, that Pouncey is moving back to defense.
2. Does this mean Torrey Davis is in the doghouse again?
3. Is Ronnie Wilson rejoining the team as an offensive lineman? Wilson, who was kicked off the team for one year, has been enrolled at UF since the fall semester. He's not on scholarship but he could conceivably make the team as a walk-on.
4. Who's going to start at offensive guard? James Wilson, Carl Johnson...perhaps Joey Sorrentino.

-jo-

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...Brandon Spikes

There will be plenty of time during preseason practice and two-a-days to write about the unknowns. For one week, let's break down the Gators' perceived strengths...

FIVE DAYS TO GO ... BRANDON SPIKES

GAINESVILLE -- Consider this when you're in the local sporting goods store, trying to figure out which UF jersey to rock on Sept 6: The success of the 2008 Gators might have more to do with No. 51 than No.15. (Interesting how those numbers mirror each other, isn't it.)

Spikesbrandon06wcu01Gator Clause posed this question to Florida coach Urban Meyer during SEC Media Days: All things considered, is the leadership of Brandon Spikes more important to the team's success this year than Tebow's?

I got some weird looks (well, that's nothing new) from some of the 56,003 reporters in the press conference who wanted nothing more than to talk about Tim Tebow for 30 minutes. But Meyer's answer confirmed my suspicion: Brandon Spikes' responsibilities this season are just as demanding as Tebow's.

Meyer's response: "That's a great question. I'd probably agree with that. You're asking me the question, I'd probably say yes. I thought about that quite often. That's a big part of our success. It was a void last year. Brandon Spikes is a great player. Could be a great leader. That's going to be a big part of our success, if that happens."

Ncf_g_spikes_275_2Brandon Spikes didn't begin to fully develop into a good football player until the second half of the season last year. That was the case for three reasons: 1. He was a first-year starter; 2. He was a sophomore; 3. He had a poor offseason.

According to Meyer and UF strength coach Mickey Marotti, Spikes didn't improve himself physically or mentally during the summer before his sophomore season. In short, he didn't feel like he needed to earn his starting position. Spikes' lack of preparation left a major hole in the defense when Brandon Siler left for the NFL.

Marotti tells a different story about Spikes one year later. According to Marotti, Spikes was one of the Gators' hardest workers this summer. Marotti now says that Spikes has the work ethic of a captain and will be the fulcrum of the Gators' defense.

Spikes led the Gators with 131 tackles (81 solo) in 2007. He begins fall camp on the Ronnie Lott Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists.

-jo-

July 29, 2008

COMMITMENT ALERT: Was Desmond Parks reading my blog?

GAINESVILLE -- Does anyone other than me find it mildly interesting that Florida got a commitment from a tight end on the same day Gator Clause wrote about the position?

Recruiting websites got word earlier today that Desmond Parks of South Carolina recently committed to Florida. Parks is a (6-4, 225-pound) senior at Greer High. Greer has a pretty good football tradition, so we assume the kid can play a little bit.

So, was Parks playing around on the Internet on Monday, searching for a reason to commit to the Gators, when he happened upon this very blog. On Monday we talked all about how Florid coach Urban Meyer can't wait to see the Gators' new two-tight end sets in action once fall camp begins on Monday.

Nah, doubt it. Parks probably looked at the Gators' 2009 roster and realized only one scholarship tight end (Aaron Hernandez) will still be on the team. Florida has nine commitments so far from the class of 2009.

--IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T HEARD...Florida is now the reigning party school in the nation, according to a magazine (Princeton Review) published by a bunch of people who we know for a fact have no clue what they're talking about when it comes to partying. More on this tomorrow, maybe.

-jo-

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...Special Teams

The kids go to summer camp in one week. There will be plenty of time during preseason practice and two-a-days to write about the unknown. For one week, let's break down the Gators' perceived strengths...

SIX DAYS TO GO ... SPECIAL TEAMS

GAINESVILLE -- Special teams might not be the most exciting thing to read about on the eve of preseason practice, but it will likely be the difference this season in making a BCS bowl or a return trip to the Capitol One Bowl. Everyone remembers 2006, right? Florida had a school record eight blocks, including three against South Carolina.

BrandonjamesThe pieces are in place this preseason for the Gators' best collection of special teams units since Florida coach Urban Meyer arrived in Gainesville. Without questions, special teams will be one of the Gators' seven greatest strengths.

PUNT RETURNS: Junior Brandon James [PICTURED] has been a special teams dynamo for two seasons. The Gators led the SEC in punt-return average last season (15.1 yards) and should rank among the nation's best this season. James is a preseason all-SEC first-team special teams selection.   

KICKOFF RETURNS: This will be the second season for the new kickoff length. Kickoffs from the 35-yard line instead of the 40-yard line have added extra importance to return specialist around the country. In 2007, the Gators ranked ninth in the Southeastern Conference in kickoff returns (20.7 yards per return). With the additions of Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps, two of the fastest players in college football, Florida should improve dramatically in this category. (Assuming they can hold onto the ball during preseason practice.)

HenryPUNT DEFENSE: This is the Gators' most efficient unit. In 2007, Florida led the SEC in punt return defense, allowing an average of 0.6 yards per return. Sophomore punter Chas Henry led the SEC in net punting average (38.7 yards) and opposing teams only gained 22 yards ALL SEASON. Gator Clause has one request to the Gators' coaching staff regarding Mr. Henry. Could we please get at least one fake punt this season? Henry was a quarterback in high school and has an excellent arm. And believe it or not, he's also one of the most confident athletes on the team. (Can a punter even be considered an athlete?) There's got to be one or two special teams fakes in Meyer's playbook designed for Henry. Make the call!

FIELD GOALS: Field-goal kicking was not a strength for the Gators in 2007 but it was still an improvement from 2006. Last season, Florida made 67 percent of its field goals (10 of 15), which ranked ninth in the SEC. In 2006, Florida made only 6-of-15 field goals. Florida returns a kicker from last season, but Jonathan Phillips (Wellington) isn't a guaranteed starter. He will have to battle highly touted freshman Caleb Sturgis for the position. Most expect Sturgis to be the starter. We'll see how he can handle the pressure. Meyer, who coaches special teams, will certainly test the freshman.

-jo-

July 28, 2008

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...Tight Ends

The kids go to summer camp in one week. There will be plenty of time during preseason practice and two-a-days to write about the unknown. For one week, let's break down the Gators' perceived strengths...

SEVEN DAYS TO GO ... TIGHT ENDS

GAINESVILLE -- At the beginning of the 2006 season, the tight end position was a weakness for the Gators. Cornelius Ingram, Florida's only reliable option, was still learning the position. One year later, tight end is one of the Gators' top seven strengths.

IngramIngram wisely passed on the NFL Draft and returned for his senior season and sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez is an emerging star. Florida's coaching staff is so excited about the possibility of using a two-tight end power set that Meyer told reporters about the plan during SEC Media Days.

"We have a luxury this year," Meyer said. "We have two very good tight ends, two guys that are going to be playing football for a living if they stay healthy. So, you'll see two tight ends in the game at the same time quite often because they're both dynamic receivers. That's probably an element we have not done a lot of just because of personnel.

"Two years ago or three years ago we introduced a fullback. Everybody said, 'What a great addition to your offense.' Yeah, because we had a great fullback. Our fullback is gone. Now we have these two tight ends. We've been working quite diligently on putting together a little package with that."

Finally, a red zone option that doesn't involve Tebow scrambling or bulldozing his way across the goal line. Of course, I'm excited about this for selfish reasons. I'll have something different to write about on Saturdays.

HernandezIt's not like passing to Ingram in the red zone will be anything new. He had 34 receptions for 508 yards in 2007. And while her anked fourth in team receptions, Ingram led Florida in receiving touchdowns. By the end of the season, Hernandez could be better than Ingram.

With TWO all-SEC caliber tight ends on the field in 2008, opposing defensive coordinators will be overmatched. Teams simply won't have the personnel to properly defend each of the Gators' options. At least, that's the plan.

-jo-

July 27, 2008

Gators should wear pink jerseys this season and Brandon Spikes is a young Kimbo Slice

Back in Hogtowne...

GAINESVILLE -- The trip to Hoover, Ala., was nice but it's good to back in Gainesville. The worst part of SEC Media Days was missing the Gators' first fan friendly strength and conditioning competition held inside The Swamp on Friday. UF has always held a strong man competition to mark the end of the offseason but Friday's event was the first time it was open to the public. About 1,800 people showed up. Luckily for everyone in attendance, Tebow did not wear his Crocs.

370pxpink_ribbonUF strength coach Mickey Marotti divided the football team into six workout squads and each team represented a different charity. The six charities: American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Children's Miracle Network, March of Dimes and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The workout team captained by offensive lineman Jason Watkins won the event. Nice job by the Florida football team to help raise awareness for these important causes. To take the idea further, it would be pretty neat if Florida raised awareness for these charities during the season. Here's how it could get done: Take the color that signifies the representative charity of the team that won the strong man competition and color coordinate an alternate jersey for one of the football games. Do this every year.

Watkins' workout team won Friday's event and represented the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in the process. Each player on Watkins' team wore pink shirts (pink, of course, is the color that signifies break cancer awareness). Now take that color and make a pink jersey and get the football team to wear the jerseys during one of the home games this season. Sell the pink commemorative jerseys to fans and donate all the money to the charity. If a team representing the American Heart Association wins the strong man competition next year, then the Gators would wear red jerseys for one game.

Wow, what a great idea. I blame Tebow for my charitable epiphany this fine Sunday morning. He's quite the influence, you know. BUT I WILL NEVER WEAR CROCS!

I'll leave y'all with these haunting images...First, UF starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes during the strong man competition.
Spikes

I think Spikes has been watching too much UFC during the offseason.

Kimboslice

Got a feeling Miami native Kimbo Slice is not a Gators fan. Could be wrong.

-jo-

July 26, 2008

SEC podcast: Top 10 Countdown from Media Days

First a link to my story in this morning's Miami Herald...CLICK ME!

HOOVER, Ala. -- Here's the podcast outline. Run time is six minutes. Huddle up.

10. The BIG Prediction
9. The Percy Situation
8. Auburn, are you kidding?
7. Calling out the Dumbest Reporter
6. Meyer listens to the Gator Clause podcast?
5. The Race
4. Did you know? SABAN!
3. You know you're in SEC country when...
2. Mark Richt shut your mouth
1. A dramatic reading of Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons, Jr.'s dream about Matt Stafford (Yeah, it's weird.)
BONUS FEATURES:
1. By The Numbers: STEVE SPURRIER
2. Predicting the Gators' breakout player of the year

CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON!!!


-jo-

July 25, 2008

Writers pick Florida and Auburn to meet in The ATL

HOOVER, Ala. -- Assuming everyone remembers Auburn kicker Wes Byrum's in-your-face Gator chomp in The Swamp last season, Florida fans should be tossing their coffee with excitement when they read this next sentence. Football writers have voted Florida and Auburn to meet for the SEC championship game come early December.

We don't have to write much more to hype that thought. But we will. That's why we're here. A rematch against the Tigers is intriguing for several reasons.

1. That means Florida likely beat Georgia and LSU.
2. That means Auburn likely beat LSU and Georgia.

Well, not necessarily. But if that actually happens...

If Florida fans weren't drunk with glee about this football season, then this last shot of pure joy should put everyone over the edge. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son. (To quote a movie.)

NOW, BEFORE EVERYONE STOPS READING...y'all need to know something important. The sports writers here in wonderful Hoover, Ala., also picked Florida to win the whole thing. The only jinx that could possibly be more damning than that one is if Tim Tebow winds up on the cover of Sports Illustrated's college preview. (Uh...wink-wink.)

--Five Gators were selected to the writers' preseason all-league teams. Brandon Spikes, Cornelius Ingram, Tebow, Brandon James and Percy Harvin all made first-team. Auburn led the league with nine selections. LSU had eight. Alabama and South Carolina each had five players honored. Here's the link to all the teams and the SEC press release. Click Me!

OK, I'm off to the Wynfrey Hotel for the last day of SEC Media Days. Check back later for a post or two. A quick programming note before we press the shut down button on the old Dell laptop: Gator Clause will probably have a podcast either late tonight or early tomorrow with a top 10 list from SEC Media Days.

Oh, I almost forget. Here are links the four stories I've written for the newspaper since I've been in Alabama.

THE SABAN STORY (Warning: If you like Saban, then you might not like this one.)
THE TEBOW STORY
THE MARK RICHT-SHUT-YOUR-MOUTH STORY
THE HOMETOWN-BOY-MAKES-GOOD STORY

-jo-

July 24, 2008

Richt apologizes for 'Gator Stomp'

Blogging from my Blackberry today, so this might get ugly...

HOOVER, Ala. -- First, I just wanted to address something really important. Georgia coach Mark Richt is a millionaire, right? So why does he show up to SEC Media Days with a $5 haircut? Seriously, Mark. Do something different with the hair. You look like a 40-something Dennis The Menace.

ANYWAY, Richt just stepped away from the microphone here in Hoover, Ala. It felt like he spent more time addressing last season's end zone celebration against Florida more than anything else.

Richt said he called Meyer the day after the game and apologized. "I told him what I told you," Richt said. "I was a coach desperate for some enthusiasm and I was willing to take a 15-yard penalty."

Meyer, apparently, isn't letting the thing go. In his biography (release date in September) Meyer called Georgia's excessive celebration "a bad deal. And it will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team."

(You know Meyer is pissed when he speaks in the third person.)

Meyer later said that Florida "will handle it. And it's going to be a big deal."

To be continued...in November.

As apologetic as Richt sounded about the celebration, he did make a point to let reporters know that Florida's dominance of the rivalry is officially over. "If you want to talk about recent history, then just go back to the last few games."

Finally, SEC Media Days is getting interesting!

-jo-

July 23, 2008

Rainey beat Demps!?! According to Meyer and Tebow it's true

Sorry this blog post is way late tonight. My computer freaked out in the middle of SEC media days and vomited all over the place. I couldn't log on to the Internet and then I had to run back to the hotel to write for tomorrow's paper! Totally stressful day...

HOOVER, Ala. -- Anyway, you didn't miss much. The biggest news out of the SEC media days was that Chris Rainey apparently beat Jeff Demps in a footrace. At least that's Meyer's story.

Rainey apparently challenged Demps to a race last week and the two settled the discussion like men. They went behind Springs Dormitory and raced a 40. Rainey "out-nudged" Demps according to Meyer. Tebow says there were a lot of false starts and that Rainey won't shut up about it now.

Of course, I'd be bragging too if I beat the fastest teenager in American track history. That's what they're calling Demps.

OTHER NEWS
--Meyer says he plans to move a freshman from offense to defense to help at safety. I'm guessing T.J. Lawrence.

--Les Miles is boring.

--Meyer says that nine teams can win the SEC championship this season. Can anyone name the correct nine?

--Meyer says Percy is 80 to 90 percent healthy following his offseason heel surgery.

--Tebow has put on some weight since last season.

--Why does Les Miles come off as such a phony?

--Did anyone hear Tebow on the Dan Patrick Show? Good stuff. Here's the link. CLICK ME!

--Meyer says Will Hill and Ahmad Black are going to "battle" for a starting safety spot. Which one? If Hill is a starter, does that mean Major Wright moves to strong safety?

--Meyer said that Brandon Spikes' leadership this season is more important to the team's success than Tebow's leadership.

--Tebow said that 60 percent of the entire state will be in Gainesville the night of UF-UM.

--Meyer says that Kestahn Moore is the starter at running back. Do you agree? Should it be Rainey? Should it be Moody?

--Meyer says that the Gators' offensive coaches have devised plenty of plays that feature both tight ends: Aaron Hernandez and Cornelius Ingram. I'm excited about this formation. Am I the only one?

-jo-

July 22, 2008

Star-studded SEC meets the press this week...

GAINESVILLE -- Never before has the SEC featured so many high-profile coaches than this season. Those guys will meet the press beginning Wednesday and ending Friday in Hoover, Ala. Gator Clause will bring you all the news, quotes and jokes from the event as it happens.

Five of the league's coaches have won national championships -- Urban Meyer (Florida), Les Miles (LSU), Nick Saban (Alabama/won title with LSU), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina/won title with Florida) and Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee) -- and another coach -- Auburn's Tommy Tuberville -- has had an undefeated season. Two of the league's coaches -- Saban and Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) -- have been head coaches in the NFL. Houston Nutt (Ole Miss) is one of the nation's best recruiters. And then there's Mississippi State coach Sly Croom and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, who both enter the 2008 season on the heels of their best efforts at their respective schools. It should be an interesting week.

A few things before I hit the road...

1. If anyone has any questions that want answered during media days, feel free to write it down in the comment field and post it for everybody. I'll answer everyone's questions on Friday afternoon after the entire ordeal is over.

2. Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has been named to the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year preseason watch list. Cunningham had 66 tackles in his first two seasons with the Gators. You might remember, Cunningham's best game was against the national champion LSU Tigers. The Atlanta native had 17 tackles.

Urbansway3. I just received an advance copy of Urban Meyer's soon-to-be released autobiography by Buddy Martin, Urban's Way. Buddy is a good friend of mine and a great writer, so I can't wait to dive in. I'll start reading it today and give y'all the highlights.

4. Florida didn't nominate Tebow for the preseason Playboy All-American team. No shocker there.

5. Tebow has a photo shoot with Sporting News and Sports Illustrated before flying to Birmingham, Ala, for the SEC media days.

-jo- 

July 21, 2008

Surprising selections to preseason all-SEC coaches' teams; Wondy made the list!?!

My first-team prediction total was off by one (of course, if you want to be technical, I was wrong on three names)...

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban said last week that he expects his offensive line to be one of the nation's best units. Southeastern Conference coaches aren't too sure about that prediction.

Wondy20danceThe SEC coaches' preseason all-SEC football teams were released on Monday and Florida's best returning offensive lineman, Phil Trautwein and Jim Tartt, were voted to the third-team offense. No other Florida linemen were honored. Five Gators made first team offense and defense: quarterback Tim Tebow, receiver Percy Harvin, tight end Cornelius Ingram, return specialist Brandon James and linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Perhaps the most interesting selections of teams were the three Florida defensive backs named to the third-team defense: safety Major Wright and cornerbacks Wondy Pierre-Louis [PICTURED AND DANCING] and Joe Haden. Wright, Pierre-Louis and Haden are returning starters but UF's poor secondary was a major reason why the Gators' passing defense was the worst in the league (258.5 yards per game).

Florida trailed only LSU (14) in total number of players selected to the teams. The SEC media days begin on Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. Meyer Tebow and Trautwein will represent the Gators.

For the record, I thought Tartt and Trautwein would make first-team offense. Tartt has made several first-team preseason lists and Trautwein was a first-team offensive selection last season before he fractured his foot.

Here's a link to a complete list of the teams...CLICK ME!   

-jo-

July 20, 2008

UF Podcast: The linebacker UF can't keep on the sidelines this season

GAINESVILLE -- Ah, yes. This is when y'all get to hear my wonderful voice. Beware, folks. I'm no polished AM 790 radio personality. (For those not familiar with Miami media references, AM 790 is the sports talk frequency in South Florida that features, among other people, our good buddy Dan LeBatard.)

On tap this week: ESPN GameDay news, weekly awards, a look to next week and my thoughts on the one UF reserve linebacker the Gators' defensive coaches must find a way to get onto the field this season. Here's the podcast. Click on the PLAY BUTTON to listen. Run time is about four minutes. Leave me some feedback and I'll address whatever topic you guys/gals want during next Sunday's podcast.

Oh, I almost forgot. Here's a link to my UF story from the FSWA college football media days. You guys have probably already read it, but just in case y'all missed it here's the link: CLICK ME!

-jo-

2008 roster features several changes...

GAINESVILLE -- Gator Clause posted some of these roster numbers last week but a few people have been asking about the entire team. Here it is...

YOUR 2008 GATORS ... minus Dee Finley, of course (highlighted in red are the new guys and changes)
1. Percy Harvin
2. Adrian Bushell
3. Chris Rainey (formerly No.8)

3. Brandon Frazier
4. Levi Leigh
4. Wondy Pierre-Louis
5. Joe Haden (formerly No.12)
6. Deonte Thompson
6. Jaye Howard
7. Cornelius Ingram
8. Carlos Dunlap
9. Louis Murphy
12. John Brantley
13. Cameron Newton
14. Markihe Anderson
14. Andrew Blaylock
15. Tim Tebow
16. A.J. Jones
16. Carl Moore
17. Curtis Carr
17. Chas Henry
18. Caleb Sturgis
20. Dorian Munroe
20. Christopher Scott
21. Emmanuel Moody
21. Major Wright
22. Cade Holliday
23. Corey Henderson
24. John Curtis
25. Brandon James
26. Lorenzo Edwards
27. Mon Williams
28. Jeremy Brown
29. Janoris Jenkins

30. John Jones
31. Bryan Thomas
32. Dustin Doe
32. Jeffrey Demps
33. Kestahn Moore
33. Will Hill
34. Reginald Hopkins
34. Lerentee McCray
35. Ahmad Black
36. Moses Jenkins
37. Vincent Brown
37. Butch Rowley
38. Jonathan Phillips
38. Dee Finley (Off to prep school. Did not qualify.
39. Joey Sorrentino
40. Brandon Hicks
41. Ryan Stamper
42. Miguel Carodine
42. Steven Wilks
43. James Smith
44. Duke Lemmens
44. Ean McQuay
45. Kyle Pratt
45. T.J. Pridemore
47. Brandon Antwine
48. Rick Burgess
48. Marquis Hannah
49. Jermaine Cunningham
50. Chris Pintado
50. Sam Robey
51. Brandon Spikes
53. Jamaal Deveaux
54. Roderick Blackett
54. Brendan Beal
55. Mike Pouncey
56. Maurkice Pouncey
57. Carl Johnson
58. Mike Williamson
58. Omar Hunter
59. John Fairbanks
60. William Steinmann
61. Gary Beemer
62. Lamar Abel
63. Jim Tartt
64. Kyle Newell
65. Brad Hiers
66. James Wilson
68. Jim Barrie
71. Corey Hobbs
71. Matt Patchan
72. Shawn Schmieder
72. Bryan Jones
74. Maurice Hurt
75. Phil Trautwein
76. Marcus Gilbert
77. Jason Watkins
78. David Young
79. Jamal Autry
80. T.J. Lawrence
81. Aaron Hernandez
82. Omarius Hines
83. David Nelson
84. Tate Casey
85. Frankie Hammond, Jr.
85. Andrew Fritze
85. Greg Taussig
86. Riley Cooper
87. Justin Williams
88. Paul Wilson
90. Lawrence Marsh
91. Earl Okine
92. Bobby Kane
92. Terron Sanders
93. Javier Estopinan
94. Justin Trattou
95. Torrey Davis
96. William Green
97. John Brown
98. Troy Epps

-jo-

July 19, 2008

"The Dark Knight" after Friday Night Lights...

Sometimes on Gator Clause you get more than you asked for...

GAINESVILLE -- In case you didn't know this already, Gator Clause oftentimes doesn't limit itself to writing about football. This is one of those times.

After stopping by The Swamp last night for Urban's recruiting emporium (Friday Night Lights), I went to the movies over on Archer road, watched The Dark Knight and drank Cherry Coke. Scroll down if all you want to do is read about Friday Night Lights. Keep reading if you're interested in my thoughts on the movie. I'm not going to write much about it (because I'm no Rene Rodriguez) but here are a few thoughts you might not have read anywhere else. 

The_dark_knight_outro_poster5. There's a reason why we love Batman. He's human and we can relate. He loves, he hates, he errs and he suffers. People understand the painful feeling of simply being overwhelmed with the problems of the day and that's just one reason why The Dark Knight is such a powerful film. This superhero is flawed just like you and me. Good writing -- in any form -- is hidden in the details. Most people can't relate to a billionaire vigilante but most people can relate to the fear of getting bitten by a dog, losing a loved one and not being liked.

4. The Dark Knight is a story about selflessness and choices. Batman must choose between what's best for Gotham (saving Gotham's District Attorney) or what's best for Batman (saving the girl he loves). Gotham's citizens and convicts must choose between saving themselves or putting the fate of their lives into the hands of total strangers. Rachel Dawes must choose between her promise to Batman or marrying Harvey Dent. And then there's the Joker, who makes no choices. He just does. The polarization of these two ideas (hero and villain/good and bad/human consciousness and animalistic savagery) manifests itself in the form of another character, Dent, who falls and becomes Two Face, a villain who lost everything (His girl, his good looks, his will and then his mind and conscience). The random flip of a coin becomes his moral guide.

3. Did anyone other than me whisper, "That's my bike, punk." just before Zeus delivers his only line of the movie?

2. The Joker was the star of this movie. He was more than a villain. He was pure chaos. There was no motivation behind his evil other than the motivation to be evil. He destroyed order without reason. No one even knows what drove the Joker to madness. It didn't matter. That's why he made up those elaborate stories about his facial scars. Most people are driven to evil because of a dark Dark_knight_18past or daddy issues. Not the Joker. Nothing created this, he explained to the audience. I just am. Again, this movie was well written.

1. The movie left us with two metaphors. Joker was literally left hanging. Was this a nod to Heath Ledger's untimely death? The second metaphor was the white knight/dark knight image of Batman and Dent lying side by side. The Dark Knight gets up and keeps running. You've got to be a little bad to do a lot of good.

DID YOU KNOW? The actress who played Rachel Dawes in Dark Knight (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the niece of Anders Gyllenhaal, editor of The Miami Herald.

Feel free, folks, to leave your own thoughts on the movie. Now for my take on Friday Night Lights...

OK, let's first get one thing straight. I'm not here to write about all the recruits that were at Friday Night Lights. That's for the weirdoes over at Rivals.com and Scout.com. It's one thing that Urban and his staff want to get a jump on the classes of 2010 and 2011 but it's quite another thing if you think I'm going to write about how some juniors and sophomores in high school performed at a summer camp. No one spit up on their bibs or shoulder pads. There, enough said.

My official report:
There were about 150 high school kids. According to a couple parents, they were invited to this camp by UF's coaching staff in the form of a mailed letter. The price of admission was $35. The speakers inside The Swamp pumped trendy bubble gum hip-hop into everyone's ear canals within a 10-mile radius. (I really hate this new hip-hop. What happened to good rap?) I chatted it up with a couple parents from South Florida who shelled out major bread at the gas pump just to be there.

From Broward, I'll highlight the kids from Deerfield Beach who made the trip. Senior quarterback Denard Robinson looked pretty good. He's got a good arm and can scramble. I spoke with Merilyn Strawbridge, the mother of Deerfield Beach junior running back Cassius McDowell for about 20 minutes. The Bucks are pretty excited about the combination of Robinson and McDowell in the backfield this season. I'm pretty sure Florida's coaching staff will be at some games. Robinson and McDowell are both speedsters. They anchored Deerfield Beach's state championship 4x100 relay.

From Miami-Dade, I spoke with the father of Miami Northwestern junior slot receiver/running back Corvin Lamb. Lamb (5-10, 190 pounds) apparently ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the camp. Here's an interesting story about Lamb. He played at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas his freshman season and guess who gave him a ride to school every day? None other than the Gators' starting free safety Major Wright. (Now that's inside information you won't read anywhere else.) Pretty sure that means Lamb will take a close look at the Gators next season.

RaineySpeaking of Major Wright and St. Thomas Aquinas, I'll finish up this blog with a nice picture I took last night of former Lakeland standout Chris Rainey, who beat Wright's St. Thomas Raiders three straight times in the 5A state championship game. I'm pretty sure Major will never be borrowing this shirt from Rainey. (Rainey has put on some muscle, by the way. He's looking pretty good.)

Oh, one more thing. I spoke with Urban's wife Shelley Meyer on Friday night and asked her about this spinning class I've been hearing about. Meyer teaches a spin class at Gainesville Health & Fitness and guess what? That's right, I'm going to take the class and see if I can hang. Check back on Tuesday or Wednesday for details. Check back tomorrow for my first podcast of the football season. I'll have a top 10 list from the FSWA college football media days, talk about the football team's worst dresser (Will Hill) and also preview what's on the agenda for next week.

-jo-

July 18, 2008

Gators' mailman: You asked and we answered

FYI...I'll be heading to Friday Night Ligths here in a little bit to get a handle on this whole recruiting thing. Check back on Saturday for what I learned. I would blog it tonight but I'm going to see Dark Knight right after I leave The Swamp...

TAMPA -- Gator Clause received such a great response from you guys about a previous blog post that we felt inclined to answer everyone's question. Here goes...

UF Peru asked: With the Defensive tackle position not being productive last season, having to bring a player from the offensive line to fill the need. How does that position look right now, before two-a-days, and who are the most outstanding players at that position and possible starters?

Meyer indicated that Javier Estopinan is the leader at defensive tackle right now. Recently, UF strength coach told me that Troy Epps is doing well in workouts and improving rapidly. With Omar Hunter behind schedule because of his back injury, don't expect too much out of the freshman right off the bat.

DeVontae Brooks asked: With limited pressure and quarterback sacks last year has your defensive coaches drawn up different schemes to apply more pressure and increase chances for turnovers?

DeVontae Brooks asked: During the spring it was a goal for the coaching staff to integrate a no huddle offense. Do you believe it was successful during the spring and do you plan on still using it this season?

Meyer and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen are committed to the no-huddle offense.

DeVontae Brooks asked: You mentioned that you will be going under center more in this years offense. Do you have a certain percentage of plays you are determined to run under center?

No word yet if the offense will use less shotgun this season.

1gatorbear asked: Will Percy be a 100% healthy for the first game?

Meyer sure hopes so. It's too early to tell. Let's address this question during two-a-days.

mcanly asked: Will Major Wright stay at free safety or will he be moved to strong safety since Ahmad Black is much smaller and not suited for the strong saftey position.

Major tells me he is not moving. No way.

fsogator asked: What are your thoughts on the defensive line especially defensive tackle coming into this season?

The verdict is still out. Coaches need to fully evaluate the players during two-a-days and see how much they have improved.

Gatorman asked: Give us a hint at what you have in stor for UGA this year after they pulled that stunt last year.

UF Pere asked: Are you planning on lining up Percy Harvin in the backfield a considerable number of times? Or finally are we are gonna have a real tailback in the backfield and if so who is the player standing out the most to take that spot?

Harvin is the best player on the team. The goal is for him to touch the ball at least 20 times a game.

UF Peru asked: Yeah, can you ask about Patchan's status and if he is gonna be able to play any role on the defense this season? Thanks.

Meyer said Patchan "will be ready to go." That's coach speak for he'll at least be on the field and in a uniform when practice starts.

GatorGirl asked: Can we ever beat the U?

Didn't ask Meyer that one either.

Dan asked: Is UM as bad as they look on film??? Have you ever seen a team with a worse attitude?
UM's football team still gets filmed?

-jo-


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