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79 posts from October 2009

October 24, 2009

So that's what Florida Gators' Tim Tebow meant when he said a 'different style'

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It's a crisp and beautiful day in Mississippi. Currently about 50 degrees and the mercury is supposed to dip to 40 degrees tonight. This is football weather, folks!

As you get ready for the game tonight and you still don't know what to think about Florida's offense, consider this: Tim Tebow said it would be different. Apparently, no one was really listening. In today's Miami Herald, we take a look at the misconceptions of the Florida Gators' offense. Here's the link. CLICK ME! Pretty good read.

So, I ventured out of my hotel room last night against the advice of one of my best friends (who happens to be a Gator). We'll call him Gator Peru.

I asked Gator Peru, "What do I do in Mississippi on a Friday night?"

Gator Peru and his Peruvian wit: "Stay inside your hotel room and pray, bro. Maybe go to the hotel bar."

Well, I went and mingled with the natives anyway. Met some cool dudes. For most of the night we talked about rebuilding muscle cars, which I know nothing about but received some cred for my devotion to buying Fords.

The Southern accents in Mississippi kill me. So harsh and exaggerated. Like speaking with marbles in your mouth almost. Nice people, though. Got invited to a couple tailgates today at The Junction. Pretty sure I'm going to pass.


October 23, 2009

A warm welcome awaited Gator Clause in Mississippi

SOMEWHERE IN MISSISSIPPI -- This is not a joke. This is real. What I'm about to write is completely true. I stepped out of my rental car in the parking lot of a Courtyard Marriott somewhere in who-knows-where Mississippi, looked down at my shoe and noticed what appeared to be a nice present of the canine variety. It's true. You can call my brother and ask him. I was on the phone with him when it happened. Man, it's great to be alive and in Mississippi!

It's cold here by Florida standards. The skies are gross and gray and pretty much match perfectly the first pair of camo pants I spotted. Packed two bottles of hand sanitzer. Never can be too safe in gun country...

OK, all senseless needling aside, Mississippi really is a beautiful state. It's good to be here. Let's get ready for some football!

Just finished my college football picks column inside the ol' hotel room. I'm thinking Florida 38, Mississippi State 10. As for Alabama-Tennessee, I'm calling for a close one: Bama 21, Vols 20. Might be giving Tennessee too much credit but Monte has had two weeks to prepare for Mark Ingram and the boys and this is pretty much Tennessee's game of the year.

Here's a link to my story today on Florida-Mississippi State. LINK! We've had our fun on the blog this week but there really ARE some good angles here to keep everyone interested for at least the first two quarters of the game. Florida fans are waiting to see how their Gators respond after a mostly poor performance against Arkansas. Mississippi State fans will go to bed tonight dreaming of upsetting the No.1 team in the Bowl Championship Series.

Herald columnist Israel Gutierrez thinks Tim Tebow isn't doing enough to win the Heisman. You can read that column by clicking on this link. LINK!

As for my Friday column, here's the link. Link! I took a look around the state and filled out my midseason ballot for the Herald's College Football All-Florida defense. I outlined my mideseason offensive ballot last week. (Already made one change to that list. UF tight end Aaron Hernandez is hands down the best tight end in the state. Sorry Jimmy Graham and Jason Harmon.) The All-Florida team will be published around Christmas.


October 22, 2009

EMAILS I GET: Mississippi State fan challenges Gator Clause to a fight!!!

GAINESVILLE -- Proof that the good folks of Mississippi have the Internet and love their Mississippi State Bulldogs, this email comes to us from Justin Martian, an otherwise unassuming employee at a Mississippi health-care facility. Mr. Martian apparently took great offense at this blog post, which, by the way, was meant to be an over-the-top example of sarcasm.

Mr. Martian took us seriously, though. So seriously, in fact, that he fired off this email:

If this weeks game is "boooorrring" to you, I'll meet you out at the Junction, and beat you back to the state that can't vote correctly!!!!  Hope you have fun...

Thanks for the invite, Justin, but I think I'm going to pass. After all, Goodmans, historically, have not been treated so kindly in the great state of Mississippi. I will, however, pass this email off to my good friend Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clairon-Ledger as a warning. Don't ever joke around with Mississippi State fans, Kyle, they'll go Junction on you!

Since Justin Martian decided to threaten me from his company email address, which included his full name, place of employment and telephone number, Gator Clause took the kind of liberty of changing his name and not contacting his boss to protect him from himself.


Quick update on Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe

GAINESVILLE -- I asked Joe Haden this week if safety Dorian Munroe might return against Mississippi State. Haden said he saw Munroe "walking around" at practice on Tuesday, which probably means Munroe will sit out UF's game against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Munroe, who missed all of 2008 with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament, re-injured his knee during the preseason (meniscus). Initially, Munroe had hoped to return to action in time for UF's away game against LSU. Munroe did not play against Arkansas and it looks like he might make his debut against Georgia. For Munroe's sake, we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Munroe, a fifth-year senior who received his undergraduate degree this summer, is now working on a graduate degree. He's pretty much one of the coolest guys on the team (duh, he's from Miami) and hopes to begin a career as a sports agent after graduation.


What do Steve Phillips and the Florida Gators have in common?

GAINESVILLE -- Everyone needs a slump buster once in awhile.

Steve Phillips

PICTURED: Steve Phillips and his bulldog.


PICTURED: Mississippi State's Bully, looking fly.


October 21, 2009

Mississippi State? Booooring. Wake us up when it's Halloween! Plus, why the Florida Gators are better than the Alabama Crimson Tide

GAINESVILLE -- Sports writers are really good at hyping things out of proportion. Pretty much only preachers and politicians have us beat. (Gator Clause has lent a hand in launching Tebow beyond the "hypeosphere" for the past three seasons.) Are we wrong in doing the opposite? Is Gator Clause wrong in launching an anti-hype campaign for Florida at Mississippi State?

I just wrote a story for the paper about how there are plenty of signs pointing to a possible Mississippi State upset on Saturday. There's the ol' trusty Dan Mullen angle that everyone has been hyping. Booooring. Who cares if Tebow and Mullen are friends? To me, that just means Tebow is going to kick a hole in his friends teeth on Saturday.

Urban meyer There's the whole angle about how UF hasn't won a game in Starkville since 1985 (four-game losing streak). Booooring! Just checked the record books. Yep.  Florida has won 16 in a row. Pretty sure that streak isn't ending at the hands of Mississippi State.

[PICTURED, A man whose brain and heart are both ready for Halloween.]

There's the whole angle about how UF's defensive line is struggling with depth (DTs Lawrence Marsh, Brandon Antwine and Jaye Howard are either questionable or doubtful for Saturday's game). Booooring! Florida is going to load the box on Saturday, shut down the run and beat Mississippi State by about 35 points. I'm calling 42-7.

You know what excites us? Florida vs. Georgia on Halloween! You know what else gets are blood pumping? Florida at South Carolina on Nov.14 and Florida vs. Florida State on Nov. 28 AND Florida vs. Alabama in the SEC championship game!!! Mississippi State? Sorry, guys, y'all are just the team in the middle.

The comparisons between Florida and Alabama have already started. Who's better? While I agree that Alabama deserves its ranking at No.1 in The Associated Press poll (defeated two ranked teams soundly compared to UF's one), I've watched every game both teams have played and it's fairly obvious to me that Florida is just as good as Alabama, BUT PROBABLY BETTER! I know, I know. Which games have I been watching, right? Well, Florida hasn't peaked yet and Alabama hasn't faced a team good enough to capitalize off of the Crimson Tide's mistakes. Simple as that.

Check these stats out: Florida's defense is ranked No.1 in the country, allowing just 8.67 points per game. Florida has allowed a total of 52 points this season. Now, here's something to consider when comparing Florida and Alabama. Opponents have scored 20 points against Florida's defense off of turnovers. That means 38.46 percent of the points Florida's defense has surrounded have come after Florida's offense has given the Nottimtebow ball away! Alabama's defense has allowed a total of 81 points this season (the Crimson Tide has played one more game than Florida) but Alabama's opponents have only scored three points off of Alabama turnovers. Three points! Florida has 11 turnovers and Alabama has eight.

[PICTURED, Not Tim Tebow.]

What does all this mean? Well, it could mean that Alabama is due for a clunker of a game similar to what Florida survived against Arkansas. Tennessee has had two weeks to prepare for Alabama. You really want to compare Florida and Alabama? Wait until this weekend.

Is there something wrong with Florida's offense? Yes, the Gators have been turning the ball over in the red zone too often. If this team can limit its turnovers, nothing will likely stop this team. Not even Alabama. Florida is 6-0, ranked No.1 in the BCS, has the best player in college football at quarterback running the Thundercat Offense (which is ranked No.6 nationally in rushing and No.1 nationally in toughness), a defense that's one of the best in the country, a kicker who can hit from 50 and a punter who can pin a team deep. That's all you need to win a championship, folks.


SEC officiating crew suspended after Florida-Arkansas debacle

Just got this press release in my email inbox. Wow! A side note to this story: I spoke with UF offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert on Tuesday and he told me that the infamous personal foul call on Arkansas that led to UF's touchdown should not have been called. Guess Gilbert was right.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (October 21, 2009) -- The officiating crew from Saturday’s Arkansas at Florida football game will be removed from its next scheduled assignment on Oct. 31 and will not be assigned to officiate as a crew until Nov. 14, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive announced Wednesday.

“A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews,” said Slive.  “I believe our officiating program is the best in the country, however, there are times when these actions must be taken.”

Following each weekend, the conference office reviews games from the previous week, using video replays as well as interviews with officials, coaches and administrators.

“While only a few calls have been identified, the entire crew shoulders responsibility for each play.  I have taken this action because there must be accountability in our officiating program,” added Slive.  “Our institutions expect the highest level of officiating in all of our sports and it is the duty of the conference office to uphold that expectation.”

In addition, there will be an impact on eligibility for post-season bowl assignments for the crew.


October 20, 2009

Is Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow losing ground in the Heisman Trophy race?

GAINESVILLE -- According to ESPN, Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is losing ground in the race for the Heisman Trophy.

In a poll of 15 ESPN.com staffers, Tebow trails Alabama running back Mark Ingram by one point this week in the website's Heisman Watch feature. LINK! Tebow rushed for 69 yards on 27 carries (minus six sacks Tebow rushed for 110 yards on 21 carries) and threw for 255 yards on 17 of 26 attempts with one touchdown. Florida's quarterback led the Gators' game-winning drive with several excellent passes and rushes. On the other hand, Tebow fumbled twice.

Ingram, who is having a great year, rushed for 246 yards on 24 carries and a touchdownon Saturday against South Carolina.

Fans should realize where this is headed. Florida is ranked No.1 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and Alabama is ranked No.2. If both teams survive their regular-season schedules, then Florida and Alabama will meet in Atlanta for the SEC championship game. The match up would likely be a de facto national championship semifinal and could also determine the Heisman Trophy.

Something to consider about the Heisman Trophy: If Ingram and Tebow continue to have excellent seasons and both Alabama and Florida remain undefeated until the SEC championship game, voters in the Southeast might split their vote for Tebow and Ingram, meaning the rest of the country would ultimately determine the winner. Don't forget about Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. The Longhorns are undefeated and ranked No.3 in the BCS standings. If Texas runs the table, then McCoy would likely carry the vote in the Southwest region.


A few out-of-the-box ideas to improve the Florida Gators' red-zone offense

GAINESVILLE -- OK, by now we've all heard of the Thundercat Offense, the Florida Gators' offense this season which revolves around the unique talents of quarterback Tim Tebow. And, by now, we all realize that the Thundercat is great in the open field but pretty much stinks when it's in the red zone. In conference play, UF is opperating at a 30 percent success rate in converting red-zone chances into touchdowns. Well, Gator Clause has an offensive wrinkle that might help UF get the ball across the goal line.

UF should strongly consider (now, this is sarcasm, people, so don't get all freaking crazy on me) implementing the Doublecat Offense when it reaches the red zone. It's the next logical step. Line up Tim Tebow and Joe Haden side-by-side in the backfield and turn them lose. Haden can role right. Tebow can role left. Tebow can block for Haden. Haden can block for Tebow. Then, and this would throw everyone off, stick Tebow and John Brantley into the game at the same time.

OK, the Doublecat doesn't sound as intimidating as the Thundercat, but what about adding the old Notre Dame Box to the playbook for red-zone situations. Think about it: Tebow, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Emmanuel Moody all on the field at the same time. OK, scratch that. UF only has one tight end. (Unless Riley Cooper can play tight end, which might actually work on a limited basis, but would probably get him killed in the process.) Oh well, guess Florida fans are left with the good ol' Thundercat and a bunch of field goals.


Congressmen join political action committee to change college football. You can join the cause, too.

GAINESVILLE -- The newly formed Playoff PAC, a political action committee aimed at forcing college football to ditch the Bowl Championship Series and institute a playoff, is receiving support from a few politicians. And here's what makes me really happy, it's bipartisan! Isn't that wonderful! The leaders of our country can actually agree on something when it's important. LINK to the Playoff PAC website! There's a link on the website to join the PAC.

Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii.), senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas) joined Playoff PAC on Monday, the day the first set of BCS standings were released. Florida is ranked first in the BCS standings. Alabama is second and Texas is third.

President Barack Obama, a democrat, has long supported the idea of a playoff system for major college football.

Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) stated: “Yesterday’s release of the first BCS rankings for 2009 remind us that selecting a major college football national champion is still arbitrary and anti-competitive. The BCS process continues to operate like an exclusive country club rather than a true play-off system. I fully support Playoff PAC’s efforts to bring change to college football.”

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said: “I think I’ve made it clear that I believe the BCS to be fundamentally unfair. I’ve always hoped that the government would not have to get involved and that those with the power to reform the system would recognize the error of their ways. But, even after hearing the complaints of millions of college football fans, not to mention government officials, they are apparently unwilling to make any significant changes. That being case, I’m supportive of all reasonable efforts to ensure that students and schools are treated fairly and a national playoff system being advocated by Playoff PAC seems like a reasonable way to accomplish that goal."

Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas) stated: “The entire BCS system is a farce. It arbitrarily selects champions and reduces competition between conferences. College football’s post-season championship should be decided on the field, and that’s why a playoff system is needed. I look forward to working with Playoff PAC in reforming college football.”

Bryson Morgan, a member of Playoff PAC’s Board of Directors, said: "All of us recognize that our nation has weightier issues to tackle. However, this issue merits attention because college football's reach extends beyond the playing field. Democratically elected leaders should devote attention to a national institution that is financially and culturally important to their constituents—particularly when BCS officials demonstrate repeated, willful deafness to public appeals for change. We look forward to working with candidates and officeholders to bring about an accessible playoff system that rewards on-the-field accomplishment."

We understand why Mr. Morgan felt the need to clarity his statement -- This isn't that important but ... -- however, Gator Clause fundamentally disagrees with Morgan in that regard. This is important. I can sit here and argue the philosophy of importance all day. Let me sum it up this way: If it's important to you, then it's important.


October 19, 2009

Notebook: Basketball poll, blown calls, players of the week, Urban's champions club, Gators injury report

The University of Florida men's basketball team was predicted to finish fifth in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference on Monday by league reporters. (FYI: Gator Clause does not vote in preseason polls. Pointless.) In a related bit of news, UF returning starters Chandler Parsons, Dan Werner and Alex Tyus were left off the writers' preseason all-conference teams. The nerve.

Kentucky and new Big Blue coach John Calipari was picked to win the SEC. Predicted finish of the SEC East: Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. Predicted finish of the SEC West: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn. (Wow, Arkansas and Florida both picked to finish fifth. The perception of Billy Ball is struggling these days.)

Writers tabbed Kentucky power forward Patrick Patterson as the preseason SEC Player of the Year. (How many years to not landing Patterson set back Florida basketball? Setting the over/under at four years.)

Preseason SEC first-team: PG Devan Downey, South Carolina; SG Terrico White, Ole Miss; F Patrick Patterson, Kentucky; F Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State; G/F Tyler Smith, Tennessee.

Preseason SEC second-team: G DeWayne Reed, Auburn; G John Wall, Kentucky; G Chris Warren, Ole Miss; F Tasmin Mitchell.

That phantom personal foul call against Arkansas defensive lineman Malcolm Sheppard during the Razorbacks' loss to Florida on Saturday? Yeah, the SEC said on Monday that their refs blew it. Arkansas sent in video of Sheppard's foul against Gators tackle Marcus Gilbert. The SEC informed Arkansas that "there was no evidence on the video to support the personal foul penalty."

Coincidentally (or maybe not) the crew that worked the Arkansas-Florida game on Saturday was the same set of officials who worked the Georgia-LSU game when UGA receiver A.J. Green was wrongly flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty. Hmmmm...

Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis was named SEC special teams player of the week for his three-field goal performance against Arkansas. Sturgis kicked a 27-yard field goal to win the game. He finished the game 3 of 4 in field-goal attempts and drilled a 51-yard field goal, a career long.

Alabama running back Mark Ingram was named SEC offensive player of the week after churning out 246 yards on 24 carries and touchdown against South Carolina. Kentucky linebacker Micah Johnson appears to finally be living up to his potential. Johnson had 14 tackles in the 'Cats win against Auburn.

Ole Miss center Daverin Geralds was named SEC offensive lineman of the week. Georgia defensive tackle Geno Atkins of Pembroke Pines was named defensive lineman of the week. Atkins had eight tackles in the Bulldogs' win against Vandy.

OFFENSE: Linemen Carl Johnson, Marcus Gilbert, Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, running back Jeff Demps, receiver Deonte Thompson, quarterback Tim Tebow and receiver Riley Cooper was named player of the game.

DEFENSE: Linemen Omar Hunter and Terron Sanders, free safety Major Wright and cornerback Joe Haden was the defensive player of the game.

FLORIDA INJURY REPORT (According to Meyer)
MLB Brandon Spikes (groin) probable; DE Justin Trattou (pulled bicep tendon) doubtful; WR Riley Cooper (hip pointer) probable; defensive tackle Lawrence Marsh (ankle) questionable; defensive tackle Jaye Howard (knee) questionable.


Florida Gators' Thundercat Offense stranded on Planet Tebow? Not quite.

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators innovative Thundercat Offense had a rough go of it on Saturday. Even Gators coach Urban Meyer seemed slightly concerned after the game when he admitted that "I don't think we are on the same planet as we were last year statistically."

Meyer's planetary observation begs the question: Exactly what planet does the Thundercat Offense call home? For now, we're calling it Planet Tebow. UF's quarterback carried the football 27 times on Saturday for 69 yards. Take away the six sacks from those stats and Tebow rushed it 21 times for 110 yards. Through the air, Tebow completed 17 of 26 attempts for 255 yards and a touchdown. Through six games, Florida is ranked No.1 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Those are good numbers. Tebow's two fumbles against Arkansas ... not a good number.

TimTebow2 Must the Gators rely on Tebow to win games? Obviously, yes. Should they? Absolutely. Is he not one of the greatest college football players in the history of the game? OK, so don't complain when the guy goes out and wins games.

[PICTURED, Time machine Timmy, circa 2007. Early permutations of the Thundercat Offense.] 

Gators fans should step back from the ledge, relax and embrace the Thundercat. All this talk about a struggling Gators' offense seems to be a little overstated. Here's what Mark Schlabach of the ESPN wrote after Florida's 23-20 win against Arkansas: "The offense struggles to run the football unless Tebow is doing it, and there is hardly any threat of a down-field passing game."

We love Mark Schlabach, but he was a little ... off the mark in that analysis of UF's running game. In reality, the Gators have no problems running the football until they reach the red zone. Check this story in Monday's Miami Herald for accurate and fair criticism of the Gators' offense. LINK!

Consider these statistics, Gators fan, before you even consider writing off UF's offense. Florida is ranked sixth in the nation (and first in the SEC) in rushing offense (259.83 ypg), sixth nationally (and first in the SEC) in total offense (470.50 ypg) and 11th nationally (and first in the SEC) in scoring offense (36.33 ppg).

As for interceptions, Tebow has only thrown two, which is tied for second fewest in the nation. Florida leads the nation in passing efficiency (167.25 quarterback rating) and is ranked sixth nationally (and first in the SEC) in third-down conversion percentage (51.35).

Then why all the fuss? Because Florida is ranked eighth (80 percent) in the SEC in red-zone offense. (Alabama is only ranked sixth (86.1 percent), by the way.) In conference games, Florida is 6 of 20 (30 percent) in converting red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. Last season, Florida finished conference play with a 73 percent success rate in converting red-zone chances into touchdowns.

Fumbles have also been a problem. Florida has lost six fumbles this season. In 2008, the Gators lost eight fumbles all season.

What about sacks? Florida is ranked ninth in sacks allowed (13 for minus-79 yards) in the SEC.

So, there you have it. Red-zone touchdowns, fumbles and sacks are the three areas where the Gators' offense needs to improve. Oh, and passing offense. Florida is ranked fifth in the SEC in passing offense behind Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina. But do the Gators really need to pass the ball more? Probably not. The combined conference record of Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina stands at 8-9. Florida's conference record: 4-0.


October 18, 2009

Florida Gators fall to No.2 in Associated Press poll

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators fell to No.2 in the AP poll on Sunday, less than a day after escaping a major upset with a 23-20 win against Arkansas. Here's a link to the poll. LINK!

Alabama is the nation's new No.1. The Crimson Tide (7-0) defeated South Carolina 20-6. Alabama received 39 first-place votes in the AP poll while Florida received only 20. Last week, Florida received 50 first-place votes and Alabama, then ranked No.2, received 10. Since the beginning of the season, the Crimson Tide has climbed steadily in the polls. Alabama began the season ranked No.5. Alabama

Florida (6-0), which was ranked No.1 for six straight weeks, has won 16 games in a row dating back to last season's loss to Ole Miss. The winning streak is the nation's longest. 


October 17, 2009

Florida Gators win a wild one; Defeat Arkansas 23-20

GAINESVILLE -- Kicker Caleb Sturgis kicked a 27-yard field goal with nine seconds left and the Florida Gators defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 23-20 on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

It was a wild game and after it was over the Gators, who survived despite losing four fumbles throughout the day, celebrated at midfield like they had just won the SEC championship. Believe it or not, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's game-winning drive late in the four quarter was the first of his career with less than five minutes remaining in a game.

Tebow completed 3 of 5 passes on the final drive, including a 12-yard completion to his roommate, Riley Cooper, on third-and-10 from the Arkansas 40 with 1:07 left. Tebow carried the ball six times on the final drive, which spanned 69 yards on 14 plays in 2:59.

(More coming later.)


Florida Gators answer with 65-yard touchdown drive; Gators 20, Arkansas 20

GAINESVILLE -- The Swamp is rocking. With 7:27 left in the fourth quarter the Florida Gators are tied 20-20 with Arkansas.

Florida trailed by a touchdown with 9:40 left in the game but UF tied the score with a 65-yard drive that took 2:13. UF running back Jeff Demps scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game with 7:27 to play. The drive was helped along by a pair of back-to-back 15-yard penalties by Arkansas (pass interference and a personal foul).


Gators trail 20-13 with 9:40 left

GAINESVILLE -- Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins was burned badly for the second time on Saturday when Arkansas receiver Greg Childs raced passed him and scored a 75-yard touchdown on an Arkansas third-and-16.

Jenkins was beaten by Childs in the first half but that play only led to a field goal.

No.1-ranked Florida trails Arkansas 20-13 with 9:40 left in the game. 


Florida and Arkansas tied at 13 heading into fourth quarter

GAINESVILLE -- Finally, Florida decided to throw downfield against the SEC's worst pass defense. Tim Tebow connected with Deonte Thompson for a 77-yard touchdown with 3:10 left in the third quarter. UF led 13-10 but only briefly.

Arkansas responded with a 31-yard field goal at the end of the quarter. The Hogs' drive was highlighted by runs of 25 and 18 yards by UA back Broderick Johnson.

Florida and Arkansas are tied at 13-all at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Florida has lost four fumbles, including three in the first half.


Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes done for the day

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes didn't dress for the second half of UF's game against Arkansas. Florida trailed Arkansas 10-3 at halftime.

An All-American linebacker, Spikes has suffered from tendonitis in his Achilles heel this season. He led UF in tackles (32) before Saturday. Spikes was limited during the first half of Saturday's game. Weak-side linebacker Ryan Stamper will likely play middle linebacker in the second half. Dustin Doe will play weak-side linebacker.


Gators finally on scoreboard; Trail Arkansas 10-3 at halftime

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators finally cracked the scoreboard with 1:40 left in the second quarter when kicker Caleb Sturgis booted a 30-yard field goal. Florida trails Arkansas 10-3 at halftime.

Credit Florida's defense with keeping Florida in this game. While UF's offense fumbled three times and looked as bad or worse than it has since Urban Meyer took over for Ron Zook in 2005, the Gators defense limited Arkansas' high-powered offense to 10 points and 147 yards.

Arkansas added a field goal just before halftime with an impressive drive highlighted by a 46-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Mallett to receiver Greg Childs. If Childs had kept his feet, Arkansas would be leading 14-3 at the half. Instead, Arkansas settled for a 22-yard field goal.

The Gators offense was absolutely terrible in the first half. Fumbles, two drops by receiver Riley Cooper, a missed field goal, running backs with little room to run: It couldn't have been much worse. Florida gained just 129 yards in the first half (42 rushing; 38 passing).


Another Florida Gators drive; Yet another Florida Gators fumble

GAINESVILLE -- It seems like I'm repeating myself. Another Florida drive. Another Florida fumble. This time it was tight end Aaron Hernandez who fumbled on the Arkansas 6 after a shovel pass by Tebow.

For the record, UF has lost three fumbles in less than two quarters and trails Arkansas 7-0.


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